Saturday, January 01, 2011

Restoring my Grandfather’s Craftsman Table Saw

I got up yesterday to a slow day in the shop with very little to do, and sometime mid-morning decided I wanted to get Papa’s table-saw out of storage before it got into any worse shape and see if I could restore it and build a table for it so I can use it in the shop. I currently use my Dad’s Makita 1/2 horse but that’s not strong enough for some of the needs I’ve had so I figured it was time to break out the big boy and put it to back to work.

It didn’t take me long to run into one problem after another. The saw had been sitting in storage for about 2 years and had developed a significant amount of rust.  I didn’t have the motor mounts to be able to install the motor, didn’t have the manual for the saw, and don’t really even know what model or year it is, so I have no reference point to start at for any of this. All I know is I have this saw and I want it to go in just this spot in my shop… no plan on how to get from step A to Z.


Visit Old Woodworking MachinesI’d like to give a big thanks to the members over at  “Old Woodworking Machines.” They have a members section where users across the US upload pictures of their saws, drill presses, lathes, and other tools. Through this database of member submissions, totaling 945 Craftsman uploads, I was able to determine the model, year and other info I needed to restore this old saw. They even had the original craftsman manual available for download, which I’d like to point out Sears does offer. lol



This is the saw when I first brought it out of storage. You can see the table (the cast-iron top) is extremely rust covered and in need of some real love and attention.



The base (the big box that hides the inner guts) isn’t in much prettier shape itself; showing signs of rust, dents, dings, scratches and 40 years of use.


This inner workings (also made of cast iron) that make up the working parts of the saw are mounted to what’s called the Cradle; the big piece of iron that hangs down from the middle of the table. They’re in pretty nasty shape too.

Just as a side note, my entire Makita table saw (including the table, saw motor, blades, case AND stand, only weighs about 40 pounds. This big girl here when completely assembled weighs in at about 400 pounds with all the accessories mounted. Since I’m missing a few pieces, she’ll weight about half that when I’m done.


What you’re seeing here is the table turned upside down and the base removed. You can see the Arbor where the blade attaches on the near-side of the cradle. That brown and tan stuff isn’t actually rust. Believe it or not that’s 40 years of caked sawdust… I had to literally break some of it off with a chisel to get it off!



The tilt screw and other adjustment mechanisms are caked with sawdust, but otherwise undamaged over the years, but I’m still going to have to take it completely apart to regrease them. I tried adjusting the saw before I took it apart, but the tilt screw and height screws are so caked with gunk as to make it too much work. I remember what this saw is supposed to function like from my childhood years so we’re taking this baby all the way apart to restore it back to as close to factory as I can.


The base and front panel have been separated for cleaning.  The front panel can’t be replaced since Sears no longer carries that part so I’m going to have to do the best I can with restoring the one I’ve got. It’s incredibly thin sheet aluminum so it’s not really easy to work with without breaking it.


Those silver aluminum guides are called trunnions. The cradle glides inside the lip for left-to-right adjustment of the blade tilt.  I took this picture just so I could remember which trunnion went on the front of the saw since they look almost identical, but one is for the front and one is for the back.



Once completely removed the cradle is ready to work on.



Amy took a picture about halfway through the process.



The finished cradle turned out beautifully. Cleaning it was easier than you’d imagine. First I sprayed it liberally with WD-40. That seemed to immediately loosen all the caked on grime and it almost all just washed off the iron frame. I took a medium grade wire wheel on my portable drill and just performed a quick scour of the remaining gunk. If you’re restoring your own I’ll share a quick tip with you. You’d think a wire-wheel spinning at 18,000 rpm’s would devestate cast iron, but it really doesn’t at all. Sand paper does more damage to metal than a wire-wheel, as long as you aren’t putting all your weight behind it. It made quick work of cleaning the cradle, totalling about 20 minutes from beginning to end.


This is the other side of the Cradle. Here you can see all the divots and recesses. I’d suggest WD-40 before you even try getting a grinder-wheel in those small spaces. This side was completely cleaned using only WD-40 and a kerosene-soaked rag. I didn’t even have to wipe it down afterwards. I just blew it dry with the air-compressor in a couple seconds.



My dad was famous for initialing everything in his shop. If you had your tools stolen off job sites enough times you would be too. Apparently there was another coat of paint put on the base in recent years because when I sanded through it I revealed this on the undercoat. It’s just a neat memory. I don’t recall ever seeing this on Papa’s saw so it might have been repainted when I was too young to remember.  Regardless, there’s another coat of paint here to get through. I did all the sanding with 120 grit paper on a large pad-sander and was very happy with the results.


Sorry for the dirt on my camera lens. I shouldn’t have left it near all the WD-40 and kerosene when I was blowing the trash off the cradle earlier. Oops! Here you can see (through the dirt on my lens) the cleaned shiny steel, ready for a new coat of paint.



While waiting on the paint to dry on the base, I decided to take a look at the motor. Earlier in the day I rewired the motor and tested it. Now that I know it works, I figured I’d better see what kind of shape it’s in. As you can see here it’s pretty dirty, even after being cleaned out with the air compressor.

NOTE: If you’re reconditioning something like this for use in your shop as a hobby, be very careful with the motor you’re using. The Craftsman 113.29660 saw came from sears with a 3/4 horsepower sears motor rated for 110V. My dad replaced it sometime back (like many other’s did) with a stronger motor. If you’re cutting 4x4 pilings or hardwood all the time the original motor is too weak, so carpenters often replace the motor of some of their saws with stronger ones for larger jobs.  Dad had a “big saw” (this one) and a smaller saw (my Makita). This is a 2HP WEG reversible, dual voltage, motor. Reversible means of course that it can be wired to spin in either direction. Dual voltage means it can run on 110V or 220V, depending on the need. My shop is only wired with 110V at the moment so I had to rewire the motor to work with my power requirements. On 110V this motor can draw up to 22 amps. (Considering I only have a dedicated 20-Amp breaker for it I guess I might be rewiring my house again in the coming months… sigh.)

It’s really important to be extremely careful with these big motors.  My Makita saw will sometimes bog down on a 2x4 if it’s wet, so I’m not too scared of it accidentally grabbing a piece of wood and throwing it back at me. This saw however it another story. I remember as a kid that dad was running a piece of 2x4 through it.  Either a nail or an extremely dense knot caught the blade. Since it’s 4 times as powerful as the other motor, rather than bogging down and stopping the motor, this motor grabbed the 2x4 and hurled it backwards so hard that the board went THROUGH the wall behind it. I don’t mean  it hit it and knocked a hole in it. I mean it took a 20 pound piece of lumber and shot it like a cannon right through a wooden wall about 12 feet away. If I’d been behind the motor that day it would have shot it right through me like it was going through a stick of butter. If you don’t NEED a strong motor, don’t use one. And if you do, be cognizant of it at all times.


A closer look at the electromagnet inside the motor. Not too bad but needs cleaning. Do NOT clean something like this with a flammable solvent, or really ANY kind of solvent in my opinion. I’m not an electrician by any means but I can only imagine what would happen if you fired this thing up with solvent still inside the motor. I’d suggest a toothbrush and an air compressor or can of compressed air for cleaning it.


At this point I’ve repainted the base, the bottom of the table, and reassembled most of it back to working order.



Here she is reassembled. I cleaned the wheel assembly (the handle) carefully with a wire-wheel on low speed, repainted the base, and coated the underside of the table with engine enamel. (I figure that ought to keep it rust free for another 20 years or so. lol)


This is a front view once she’s been reassembled. Now I just need to wait for my new motor mount to come in from eBay and then I can get her working again.

If you want to see what a guy can REALLY do when he sets his mind to restoring one of these, check out this guy’s restoration. Click here.

I’m still a long way from that, but I’ll get the parts together somehow and get her completed one day. In the meantime she’s ready to work in Jordan’s Woodshop once again!


  1. That is really cool "TJ".
    Looks almost new! It is the same saw that I had the pleasure of using a few times so many years ago... Mada a sewing machine cabinet table thing for Lynda that she uses still today.
    I remember Papa Jordan had the saw set up in a vast table in his woodshop. This made ripping the sheets of plywood easier and a lot more accurate.

    I love that you took time to ensure that not only was the appearance complete, but also the function.
    You get an "A"
    Uncle Reese

  2. Lol. Thanks Reese. Remember the extensions on the sides of it? I can't find those. I guess Dad either lost/sold them years ago. I also need a fence for it. Ugh.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to document this. I'm in the middle of doing the same thing with a 70's model.

  4. Absolutely! If you find a good source for the drive belt let me know. That's been the last part I need to setup and I haven't done it yet.


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