Delta Sliding Table Review

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The Realization
After wasting a lot of time and energy building several versions of crosscut sleds I finally realized how inadequate these jigs are and I began a search for a sliding table to fit onto my saw. I looked at all those I could easily find on the market at that time (there are a couple more now) and finally decided upon the Delta unit. The primary reason for selecting the Delta is because of cost and I spent a lot of time inspecting one the local dealer had on the showroom floor.
Delta Slider
I ordered my slider from Amazon (TCON), the unit was on back order and took two or three weeks to arrive. I have noted that the price of this accessory varies quiet a bit over time even from the same supplier, shopping around will probably save some money. It appears to me that the unit Grizzly sells is identical except for the color; at the time I bought mine they were about the same price so I opted for the Delta since it matched my Unisaw color. The unit arrived via UPS in a big heavy box, the box was damaged a little but none of the parts inside were harmed and none were missing.

Like all sliding tables, the Delta requires the removal of the left extension wing and the cutting or repositioning of the rip fence rail(s). I've read where some people have cut the rails instead of just shifting them, from my evaluation, none of the OEM or aftermarket rip fences need to be cut although one may choose to do so due to space requirements or because they just don't want to drill new holes to shift them.

There isn't a lot of assembly involved and as far as the unit itself goes it is all pretty straightforward. On my example an attachment plate that is used to mount the vertical support to the carriage was welded up off-square a little. I shimmed one side so it would fit up better. The table board was also bowed down by about 1/16". The table board is made of laminated OSB and is not really as good as it needs to be. Since my table was bowed down it was easy to flatten it out by placing some shims between it and a part of the carriage. Aside from these issues the assembly was fairly uneventful.

All sliding tables must be aligned when they are installed. Compared to others the Delta is slightly easier than most however none of the aftermarket sliding tables provide a very good means of achieving alignment without a bit of iteration. The good news is that sliding tables tend to hold their alignment for a long time. In the time I used the Delta I never had to realign it due to it drifting out of alignment on it's own. I did align it a few times due to the modifications I performed on it but I imagine this Delta unit in particular would hold an alignment indefinitely.

While the instructions describe the assembly of the unit and its installation on a machine well, there isn't a lot of detailed information on how to perform an alignment. After a bit of fiddling around it becomes pretty obvious how to align the unit but it does take some time to perform if one hasn't done this before. There is a bit of an art to aligning a sliding table, I'm not aware of any sliding table supplier that demystifies this process, Delta certainly doesn't.

At the end of the alignment process the slider needs to be:
  • Travel parallel to the blade.
  • Sliding table even with or less than 0.010" above the table (but NOT below it).
  • Table travel in the same plane as the saw table, ie: not going up or down relative to the table.
  • Crosscut fence set ninety degrees to the travel of the table.

Because of the weight of the guide bar and its support it is a little difficult getting this piece installed in a position relative to the saw table. This is what may cause some people problems. I eventually made modifications so that this could be dialed in exactly. One thing that can't be "dialed in" exactly is parallelism to the blade. If it doesn't bolt up to the table this way the mount would need to be shimmed into alignment. Mine was right on so I didn't have any problem in this regard.

The force required to move the slider is controllable by how tightly the bearings grip the guide bar. One can set them too tightly so that it requires a noticeable force to move or so that it moves with almost zero effort. I found the best setting to be a little above what is required to move just due to gravity. On the stock slider this force setting is related to alignment of the table height.

The fence can be placed in the "forward" or "aft" positions. In the more American "aft" position (like a miter gauge) the cutting capacity is about 26", the "forward" position is more at 36". It takes a few minutes to change the fence positions if one desired to do so, I don't imagine many operators would move the fence but would rather keep it in one position or the other.

The fence needs to be removed for some rip cuts, many times it would be possible to just slide it to the left out of the way. If the fence is removed, one will have six loose parts to keep track of. This along with the time it takes to accomplish the process is inconvenient. The fence can be slid to the left but either method of getting it out of the way for a rip will cause the fence flip stop to need to be re-calibrated, this is a nuisance.

A miter scale is embedded in the table surface, it can be used only with the crosscut fence in the aft position. Although the scale graduations look big and crude, due to the geometry of the parts involved the settings can be made very accurately. I haven't measured this to prove it but I suspect it is as accurate in setting angles as any of the deluxe miter gauges from Incra or others.

I periodically applied a THIN coat of Slip-It to the guide bar, it improves the sliding action but an automotive wax would also work. It is important to periodically clean the guide bar and bearings. The Delta is not equipped with sweepers so dust eventually builds up and affects slider performance. It doesn't keep it from working, it just changes the sliding action from great to better than anything else.

The linear performance is better than a miter gauge and small pieces that can't even be carried by the table are guided by the fence very easily and accurately. The load carrying capacity is more than adequate for a slider in this size range. If a very large load is cantilevered off of the table it will cause some deflection and some form of support should be used, this type of load would be far in excess of anything normal.

A new owner will probably notice right away that the guide bar assembly protrudes from the infeed side of the saw in somewhat of an inconvenient manner. It just takes some getting used to and after a while one begins to adopt a different stance when making crosscuts anyway. This new position will place the user away from the kick back zone.

Once aligned, it only takes a couple of uses to become aware of the benefits of a sliding table. After having used a sliding table it would be very difficult to use a saw without one. In my opinion a sliding table like this makes a saw fully twice as useful. Before I even bought the unit I knew that with some simple modifications I could measurably improve the performance. The main drivers for these changes were:

  1. Sweepers to keep the guide bar clean and the sliding action working very well.
  2. Limit the number of loose parts when the crosscut fence is removed and lessen the time it took to remove and replace (without recalibrating the flip stop).
  3. Cover the gaps between the slider and the saw (and correct the flatness issue while I was at it).

While I was working on these main issues I went ahead and made a few more modifications to improve a some other aspects. To be clear, in the original state, the slider worked very well. The modifications listed above could have easily been designed into the unit by the manufacturer and it is a shame they did not. The additional modifications I performed transformed a good accessory into one that performed exceptionally well.

Modifications Article