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Thread: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

  1. #1
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    Default Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    I want to buy a better table saw, used. I have an angle on a 1960s Delta Unisaw, but the blade tilts right. I am used to blades that tilt left.

    It seems to me that for right handed people, like me, one would want the fence on the right with the blade tilting away to the left so that the scrap piece doesn't bind between blade and fence. Or am I over thinking this? Why would Delta do that?
    Gerard>
    ​Freeland, WA

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    Left tilt v. Right tilt is usually more about how certain cuts might bind the wood between the right tilted blade and the fence than it does have anything to do with the handedness of the user.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    I don't think it matters a monkey's toss which way it tilts – the fence can go on either side. On some saws the table tilts – on others it is the blade that tilts.

    Cheers -- George
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    A C Grayling

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    If you can grab an older American made Unisaw in decent shape, grab it. Unifence or Beisemeyer fence is really a matter of preference. Delta is now owned by a Taiwanese company and Unisaws and other Delta stationary power tools are now made in Taiwan. I'd hope they would try to maintain the quality, but from what I've seen of the new Unisaw model, I have my doubts. When the new Unisaw model came out, there was a huge ballyhoo about it being "Made in America." ("Assembled in America" was the more accurate statement.) In short order, though, the assembly plant in Tennessee was converted to a shipping warehouse and all manufacturing moved to Taiwan.

    Nice 60's-70's Unisaw restoration:



    New "improved" version of the Unisaw:


    The jury is still out, I guess. The new Unisaw is pretty much an entirely different machine than the old one. The main difference is an entirely new one-piece trunion assembly, which is pretty much the most important part of the thing. (Note the different adjustment wheel positioning on the new one.) Time will tell, I guess, but so far the Asian machines have yet to match the quality of "Amuricun Old 'Arn."






    http://www.deltaportercable.com/unisaw/

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    Unisaw, right tilt, PM66, left tilt: pretty much a toss up.
    Steve Martinsen

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    Right tilt was the standard for a very long time. Left-tilt saws began to be offered primarily because of the kickback risk you mention. If you're aware of the risk, and be sure not to stand in the path - good practice any time, but esp. when an offcut sliver might be pinched and shot back... there's not much risk. For the right saw... I wouldn't let it deter a purchase.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    I've been pushing wood through table saws for a long time now and can truthfully say that I've never had the chance to use a left tilt blade.

    I don't think the wood cares either.

    Jeff

    edit: Please be kind and chalk this up to a senior moment. I originally said right tilt where I meant to say left.
    Last edited by jpatrick; 12-11-2015 at 04:18 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    My old saw is a right tilt (cheap-o Ryobi, but it still works) I've found that I have to be more careful about holding my workpiece down. Assuming a my fence is on the right (which it is due to my sliding table) my workpiece ends up under the tilt of the blade and If I'm not pretty careful and let it climb any I've overcut my part. A left tilt precludes that problem (but may introduce others), but other than that I don't think there's much difference.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    Like you, I use and like left-tilt. If someone were to give me a really nice right-tilt saw, I probably wouldn't turn it down, but if I had to shell out money, even upgrading to a good, old Unisaw I'd be hesitant, despite its reputation. I'd more likely set the money aside, add to it over time, and upgrade later to a PM66.

    If I had to guess, I'd say that saws started off more commonly right-tilt not for any utility to right handed users, but just because the first saw company had to choose one way to tilt and chose to have it tilt to the right on the flip of a coin. It could just as easily have been that left-tilt became the default standard. Then folks who like right-tilt saws would all be searching around for the less-common models.

    Although... I could see that if you're ripping a bevel, the right-tilt saws could have an advantage in accuracy by "clamping" the board between blade and fence and table, while a left-tilt might lose accuracy by the board's ability to float up out of the angle between blade and fence. Given that that "feature" is the ideal recipe for kickback, I don't think it's worth it. A couple overhead featherboards will get me close enough.

    Alex

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    On a saw that old I'd be a lot more concerned about the bearings and the run-out.

    I don't think anyone even makes a right tilt anymore do they? Too many people got whacked in the gut with offcuts getting pinched and rifled back at them. A piece of rock maple from a right tilt took me off my feet and knocked me back about six feet when I was young and foolish....

    Old machinery can be a real crapshhoot. If you cant lay your hands on it and test it with a good straight edge, a dial indicator and make a half dozen cuts your rolling the dice. A fifty year old is an OLD saw.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    I've been pushing wood through table saws for a long time now and can truthfully say that I've never had the chance to use a right tilt blade.

    I don't think the wood cares either.

    Jeff
    Ditto in spades! (For over 50 years)

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    I have an old Delta Milwaukee tilting table saw. Which I never use. Neat old saw.
    basil

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    Quote Originally Posted by GregH View Post
    Ditto in spades! (For over 50 years)
    You may want to un-ditto this. I corrected my prior posting. I've only used right tilt blades. Forever and ever.

    If one understands the limitations and the hazard of trapping a chunk of off-cut between the blade and fence, then the right tilt saw is perfectly fine. If the understanding isn't there, then the operator really ought to sit this one out.

    Jeff

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    For my sins and to support my addiction to small boats I get to service and repair woodworking machinery. I see all sorts from the 1930s vintage bandsaw ( Sagar 5 hp 36in, I'd love to own that one) to the very latest when I install a new one.
    One of the very best single phase sawbenches around is the Taiwan built MBS machine, sold under a lot of different brand names. If you look at the machines serial number plate, it will have MBS as a preface to the serial number.
    They have substantial cast carriages with big spindle bearings in good solid housings, a very solid table and base. I know about that, I'm about to install one in my own shop and I have to manhandle it though a standard doorway, it weighs in at way more than enough so the table is coming off to help me do that. Thats another thing, a lot of sawbenches have their works bolted to the underside of the table so you cant get at them to service anything without disassembling the whole caboodle, these have four bolts to take the top off, and the works are all mounted separately so you can work on them without having to disturb anything.
    Triple drive belts, a riving knife that moves up and down with the blade, when low is low enough to cut rebates without removing it, a very solid motor mount, ground worm gears for rise and fall and tilt, a properly machined plate for saw blade change, a fence that is both rigid and adjustable for square.

    I get to work on European machinery such as MiniMax ( crap) and Felder, ( ok, but not much more than that) but this is the best of all of the heavy home user ones. Its a right tilt, I'm happy with that.

    So I bought one.

    John Welsford
    Last edited by john welsford; 12-12-2015 at 06:05 PM.
    An expert is but a beginner with experience.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    Quote Originally Posted by jpatrick View Post
    You may want to un-ditto this. I corrected my prior posting. I've only used right tilt blades. Forever and ever.

    If one understands the limitations and the hazard of trapping a chunk of off-cut between the blade and fence, then the right tilt saw is perfectly fine. If the understanding isn't there, then the operator really ought to sit this one out.

    Jeff
    Nope - I'm a right-tilt only guy too. Any piece of equipment had the potential to be safe or unsafe- it's all in the hands of the operator.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    Most people who favor a left tilt blade do so because of perceived safety issues with cutting bevels. I devised a simple jig/method that makes cutting bevels both safer and far more accurate than on the left tilting blade. Being that I am ambi-challenged in sighting and motion, everything about the left tilting blade is wrong. For me its a right tilt blade, always.
    Tom L

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Right hand versus left hand tilt table saw

    I've had the pleasure to cut on both. I really don't think it makes a darn bit of difference as others have said. It's up to the operator to learn their machine and make it work best for them.

    You DO want to heed the advice of those that speak of buying used machines though. While you can get a real good deal and or a well made machine this way, know what to examine for when you shop. I know more than a few that have gotten stung pretty good assuming that they really got something decent without doing their proper homework and testing first.

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