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Thread: Table Saw Advice: Old Rockwell 10" Tilting Arbor vs. Bosch 4100

  1. #1

    Table Saw Advice: Old Rockwell 10" Tilting Arbor vs. Bosch 4100

    Looking for some advice on buying a new table saw. I used to be able to use a large workshop with a nice cabinet saw, but unfortunately no longer have access. I have a small home shop that I can get some stuff done in, but really need to add a table saw to do anymore. At this point I'm on a budget of about $500-$600. Though I could save more I'm not sure it would matter as I don't have the room for a cabinet saw at this point. So as of now, I'm down to 2 options:

    1) Bosch 4100 with the stand. Main selling point on this is to be able to collapse it and roll it out of the way. However, I suspect I would grow out of this pretty quickly, and would be looking to upgrade as soon as I had more room.
    2) An old Rockwell 10" Tilting Arbor (picture attached). I'm going to look at it next week, but from the pictures it looks like it's in great condition. Don't have the details yet, but looks like a 34-400 and has the blade guard and cast iron wings. Assuming it has the 1.5HP motor on it. It's going at auction, but I'm guessing I can get it for $200-300 (which seems to be what it should be worth).

    I'm leaning toward thee Rockwell, but I figure I'd want to upgrade the fence which would bring it to the same cost as the Bosch. It also wouldn't be as easy to move around in the shop. Thoughts?


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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Central North Carolina
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    1,281
    I don't know anything about the Bosch saw, but here are a few things about the Rockwell to use for comparison..

    But the old Delta and Rockwell Contractor Saws are quite accurate and reliable. They have the standard 3/4 X 3.8 miter slots and many of the newer saws don't seem to have this. This is very important if you will be using any table saw jigs, since most are made to fit this standard sized miter slot. The fence on these saws works OK, but not as good as a Biesmeier or Unifence or some other improved new fences like the VSCT fence. The biggest reason for not buying one is that there is no saw dust containment and saw dust goes everywhere when the saw is used. I would prefer cast iron table extensions, but the sheet metal extensions work and are lighter. The motor that was included in these saws hangs out the back and it's weight keeps tension on the belt. Putting an out feed table on these is a little difficult because of the motor too, but it can be done. I have a Unisaw, but a few years ago bought a Delta Contractors Saw for my son and we found it to be a very good fit for his remodeling needs. The motor on his is a specially designed motor that produces 1 1/2 hp on 120 volts, so it can be used on a 15 amp 129 volt circuit, but it can be converted to 240 volts and produces a full 2 hp when connected to 240 volts. I'm not certain if the motor in this Rockwell saw has this capability, so check the label on the motor. Another feature of these contractor saws is that the motor and mount can be easily removed and replaced, and the saw can be removed from the stand making the whole saw easy to move from the shop to job site and back, which is what they were designed for. There are many different model numbers for these saws and very little difference between them. My son's is a Delta 34-444. I think they incremented the model number for each year that they were making them, but again, all are quite similar. The big negative with them is the saw dust containment issue as the bottom and back of the saw is completely open.

    Charley
    Last edited by Charles Lent; 07-12-2018 at 12:02 PM.

  3. #3
    I've just replaced that same Rockwell saw with a cabinet saw after years of service. A tough old work horse for sure, and when dialed in, is dead nuts accurate. It originally came with a 1.5hp motor that can be wired for 110v or 220v. I upgraded the fence a few years back; however, the original fence, which locked at both ends, worked just fine. I had it sitting on a mobile base, and as you stated, was easily moved around the shop. The down side: 1. lousy dust collection (as with any of the older contractors saws), 2. blade alignment to the miter slot, if needed, can be a royal PIA. I tried using the PALs alignment jig, but unfortunately they weren't compatible with the trunion. 3. It's heavy and not something you just throw in your pickup. All in all - a great old saw for its time and still works as it was intended.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Upland CA
    Posts
    4,005
    Since you don't mention needing to transport the saw, that would eliminate the Bosch for me, as it's main asset is portability.

    I would opt for the Rockwell, and do a few quick mods to it. As mentioned above, the fence is not as good as a Beis, but the one I had was just fine and I used it for years.

    A piece of 3/4" ply with LOCKING polyurethane wheels makes a great inexpensive base, and would make it easy to move around in the shop. For out feed...the motor already sticks out in the back, so make a permanent 10" or so outfeed table attached to the saw. It will still take up the same amount of floor space. If you want more, make a hinged drop down extension on that. There are plenty of ideas on the interweb.

    Dust collection will be much better by simply enclosing the base with ply, putting a 4" plastic adaptor on the back for your dust collector if you have one, or shop vac (better than nothing). The open cabinet back can be covered with 1/4" ply held on with magnets, or some of that magnetic sign material. Get the ideas flowing, plenty of examples on YouTube.

    You haven't mentioned the most important thing though. You need some sort of riving knife on that saw for safety. Again, plenty of ideas out there.

    Hope this is of help.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  5. #5
    There is a common misconception about cabinet saws being "big". The contractor saw has a larger footprint than many 3HP cabinet saws but, it sounds like you are not interested in going that direction.

    I had a Rockwell contractor saw similar to the one you show 30-odd years ago. My experience was not as good as others report. The saw always had plenty of power and I enjoyed he mass of the cast iron. The identical fence requires that you measure front and rear to assure alignment and avoid kickback or poor cut quality. You can learn to mostly overcome this by holding your tongue right after some practice.

    As a contractor saw it exhibited the problems with bevel cuts that nearly all contractor saws do. The weight of the motor skews the frame when tilting it. Align it at 90 degrees and try not to move it and it will give you some good service. Bevel cuts frequently result in burning and aligning table mounted trunnions is no one's idea of a good time ,

    The Rockwell 10 should be well within your price range and leave you enough to almost buy a better fence. An inexpensive entry into the t-square fence world is the Delta T-2 or similar. By the time you get everything required to use a VSCT from scratch you are in the range of a lot of quality fences so your choices really open up. A couple hundred for the saw and a couple hundred for the fence and you can even pick up a good blade without going over budget.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 07-12-2018 at 2:25 PM.
    She said “How many woodworking tools do you need?”
    I said “Why? Do you know someone who is selling some?”


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Putney, Vermont
    Posts
    503
    I have a 9" Rockwell contractor saw and did what Rick P. suggested. I enclosed the legs with some particle board and cut a piece of cardboard to enclose the back around the motor.
    I set a dust collection shroud that came with my harbor freight dust collector kit under the tablesaw blade inside the saw. It has a 4" port that I connect out the side of the saw to my dust collector. I works pretty good.
    The fence on the saw does not bother me. I set it with a craftsman 16" combination square front and back of the fence.
    When initially setting the fence it is always out of square on tha front of the saw to the right of the blade so it would never pinch the board being ripped. And it is usually only out of square less then a 1/16", but I always double check it for safety reasons.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Grassy Lake Alberta
    Posts
    520
    Go with the Rockwell. It will hold the value that you are paying for it and when or if you want to upgrade you will get your money back. I have a Delta contractor saw that I use for my jobsite tablesaw.(carpenter) Great saw way more accurate and safer than a compact job saw with the larger table . Mike.

  8. #8
    Thanks all for the advice. Going to try and get the Rockwell, assuming it looks/runs well in person and it goes for something reasonable. Appreciate the suggestions on a base and dust collection...seems like it should be possible to retrofit something onto it without too much trouble.

    @Glenn, I hear you on cabinet saws not being too much bigger. But my current shop is in a basement, and I'll be moving likely within the next 2-3 years. So while I don't need something portable, I loathe the thought of having to move a cabinet saw in and then out again in the near future. If I was going to be in my place for awhile, it might be different.

    @Rick, I agree on the riving knife. My plan was to use the MJ Splitter.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Varley View Post
    Thanks all for the advice. Going to try and get the Rockwell, assuming it looks/runs well in person and it goes for something reasonable. Appreciate the suggestions on a base and dust collection...seems like it should be possible to retrofit something onto it without too much trouble.

    @Glenn, I hear you on cabinet saws not being too much bigger. But my current shop is in a basement, and I'll be moving likely within the next 2-3 years. So while I don't need something portable, I loathe the thought of having to move a cabinet saw in and then out again in the near future. If I was going to be in my place for awhile, it might be different.

    @Rick, I agree on the riving knife. My plan was to use the MJ Splitter.
    Makes sense Patrick. Just some more data - I ran the MJ Splitter with my contractor and my hybrid saws with good success. Dad is still using the hybrid with the MJ Splitter.
    She said “How many woodworking tools do you need?”
    I said “Why? Do you know someone who is selling some?”


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