I recently purchased the Delta sliding table for addition to my Unisaw, and offer the following review:
The two options readily available for a sliding table seem to be Delta and Excalibur. I donít know of anyone who owns either, so the decision to buy the Delta was based on catalog information, and phone conversations with both manufacturers. The Delta unit was considerably less expensive than the Excalibur, but it appears correspondingly lighter duty, (although certainly sufficient).
The table came packed in one carton, and is shippable by UPS. It came with an excellent, well written instruction manual with lots of helpful pictures. The installation took most of one evening, (four hours), but the largest portion of that time is devoted to somewhat tricky "fine tuning adjustments".
Drilling two holes in the saw cabinet was required, as was modification of the fence guide bars. I still use the original Delta jet-lock fence with the round tubes front and back. To install the sliding table required cutting 5" off of each tube, left end. The instructions said mounting with a Unifence required moving the front rail to the right 5", but no cutting. Consequently, you sacrifice some "left of the blade" cutting capacity if you ever need to mount your fence in that position.
After drilling and cutting, straight-forward bolt together construction was well explained and illustrated. Note: metric wrenches are required. The only glitch in the assembly process was a locking handle assembly mistakenly packed with the wrong thread pitch. A phone call to Delta the next morning got a correct part on the way to me the same day. A 5/16-18 bolt sufficed for a temporary lock.
The fine tuning adjustments described in the manual are less than precise, and somewhat difficult to accomplish. It took a lot of &fiddling& back and forth between adjustments to finally arrive at an acceptable overall setting. Once achieved, it appears that the bearing alignments, etc. will stay where you put them and seldom require resetting.
The reduction in floor space by adding the unit to the saw was a concern, but turned out to be negligible. (To clarify, none of the table assembly actually rests on the floor, it just makes the saw table wider). You must remove the left extension wing, (8&wide) to install the table assembly (21& wide) for a net gain of only 13& in width.
The next morning I got to put the table through itís paces by beginning a kitchen cabinet job, and here was where the amazement set in! I had never used a sliding table before, and found it to be incredibly productive. It easily handled sheet goods ripped to standard cabinet dimensions for precision cutoff. Throughout the job, I was continually impressed with the normal operations that became so much faster, easier, and more precise. More than just for sheet goods, door panels, completed doors, etc. all became much easier to handle.
For true precision (square) cutoffs on large panels, the fence must be tested and minor adjustments made each time itís removed (which it must be for ripping operations) and reinstalled. But for routine cutoffs of rails, stiles, stretchers, etc., the (adjustable) factory stops are fairly accurate, certainly more than most miter gauges.
After only two weeks of use, I canít imagine a one-man shop being without one, particularly considering the cost is not much more than a good router, at $329.00. Iíll be happy to answer any specific questions anyone has. Just ask a question on Badger Pond Woodworking Forum, or if you want, you can email me at the address below.
Greg Visser - 1/6/98