How to Rehab an Old Saw Table

Buying secondhand woodworking tools can be a great way to save some money and get a good.
By: Dan Lipe
Related To:

Early last week, I got a call regarding an older Craftsman table saw that was up for grabs, all I had to do was pick it up. Without a doubt, the older Craftsman table saws are decent tools and are considerably better than my little Delta contractor saw. For one, the Craftsman has a more powerful motor, allowing the saw to support using a dado stack. The short of it is that the saw has the potential to be a nice addition to my shop. At first glance this saw looks a little like a rust bucket, but looks can be deceiving.

Here is how I approached putting the saw to service (unplug the machine first):

The Manual.

Since most used tools don’t come with a manual, the first step is to get a copy. A quick internet search is often all you need. Having the manual lets you know what the machine should be, what parts to order if need be, and how to properly use/maintain the tool.

Clean It.

Clean out all that dust and dirt.

This is a shop machine, so I don’t believe that I need to be able to eat off of it, but I do need to see what is under all that sawdust. Using the shop vac, a paint brush and a rag, I got all of the dust/sawdust off the machine. This particular machine seems to be in great condition — either hardly used or well taken care of.

Inspect it.

The nice thing about a table saw is that it has relatively few parts. This one has an external motor, making the inspection of the guts even easier. On the outside, two of the casters are broken and there is plenty of rust. On the inside: some saw dust, very little rust, an old belt and a pulley that is installed backwards.  All in all, there is very little for me to do. Replace a few things, fix a couple others.

Some things to look for:

  • Broken or missing parts
  • Damaged parts
  • Is the motor working? 
  • Is the belt good?
  • How much rust?
  • What condition is the blade in?


It’s a machine. It requires some sort of lube. Refer to the manual to know what to use and where to use it. This particular machine takes 20 or 30 weight oil on the screws and joints.

Set Up.

Set the machine up for proper working procedures. This may sound obvious, but you might be surprised what you discover. In this case, I found that the previous owner never achieved a square cut due to a pulley being backwards and rubbing against the table frame. It simply would not adjust to 90°. I found that I needed to set the hard stops for 90° and for 45°. I also found that the table saw fence is a piece of junk. I’ll replace that one of these days. It simply will not easily set parallel to the blade.

Rust Removal.

The table needs some work. Here’s how I clean it. I vac the loose rust from the surface and followed that with a green pad and some vinegar. Vinegar and steel chemically react, so I leave the vinegar on the table for 30 minutes or so, scrub with the pad and wipe off the extra. When the surface is dry, I clean it with mineral spirits. Over the course of 3 days, I do this 4 or 5 times. Then I wax. The reason I don’t use any sort of grinder or sanding abrasive is that I don’t want to make and low spots in the table top if I can help it. This is pretty much as far as I’m going with this particular machine.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Make a Flower Basket Tote

Learn how to make a simple wooden crate that doubles as a fun twist on a traditional basket.

12 Things to Know Before You Start Your Snow Blower

Check out these tips for using a snowblower so you'll be ready when the next storm hits.

Best Vacuums for Pet Owners

Find the most effective vacuums for preventing pet fur pile-ups.

Garden Gifts so Good You Won't Want to Fork Them Over to Mom

Think outside the box with these creative garden-centric Mother's Day gifts for moms, wives, daughters or you!

Tips For Maintaining Your Snow Blower and Operating It Safely

Check out these important tips for using a snow blower and getting it prepped before a heavy snowfall.

How to Refurbish an Old Dresser

Learn how to give an old piece of furniture new life using a combo of paint and stain.

How to Build a DIY Pallet Table

Learn how to turn an old wood pallet into an outdoor table. 

10 Genius Ways to Upcycle Your Old Sports Equipment

MVP-worthy tips for transforming your athletic gear.

Where to Shop For Table Legs

Upgrade your furniture or find the right hardware to make your own. These cool table legs are sure to transform your home.

How to Upcycle Holiday Items for Everyday Use

Think about repurposing unused or dated holiday items into your next DIY project.