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Thread: Shop Tour #3: The Martin T-17 Tablesaw.

  1. #1
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    Shop Tour #3: The Martin T-17 Tablesaw.

    Well, here is shop tour #3. As I have said, the shop is in flux right now. I am moving and redoing lots so please forgive the mess and remodel pains. I still have sawdust left over from the summer work as well. But Richard wants some photos and Lou wants to see this beastie even if its wearing its old, used underwear (i.e. old paint).

    The first photo shows the front shot of the martin T-17. The boxes are not part of the saw.. that is my mess. For some reason, many tablesaws are a bit low for me so I often "lift" the saws using these wooden platforms. As you can see, this saw is an old fashioned hardwood slider. You can see the large sliding beam for the sliding table on the left and the electrical box on the right. The main body is solid 3/4 inch thick cast iron. So is the table and its right mounted extension. The sliding table folds down and the folding portion is aluminum. The main portion is cast iron. The red button on the lower left of the base is the panic kill button.

    Note that this saw does not have two individual controls for blade height and blade tilt. Rather, they are mounted in a concentric mannor. The origional oliver 88 was also like this but they changed back to the the two discrete wheels. The center wheel lifts and lowers the blade. The outer spider ring tilts the blade.

    The second photo shows a side shot of the sliding table beam. This is an older design and does not have the outrigger that most euro saws today are sporting. Sometimes this is a pain when its in the way. You can release the beam and shove it backwards. But the beam weighs well over 100 pounds so moving it is not easy.

    The thrid photo shows the beam detail. The beam has two symetrical cast iron ways that are V shaped. One at the top and one at the bottom. The sliding table attaches to this beam by four or six heavy duty, double row, sealed for life ball bearings. Very similar to how DeWalt built the very large GE radial arm saws. This table slides like a greased pig on rails! Wear is an issue with this design as cast iron is soft. But as long as the bearings roll freely, I should be O.K. Personally, I like the SKF linear bearings used in a similar design for my shaper sliding table better. You can unbolt the hardened and polished round way and replace it should it be needed. So far, I have had no complaints. I often trim entire doors to size with this saw. Just throw the door up on the table, take a quick measurement and lock it down. Zip through the saw and the door is now shorter and dead nuts square!

    Photo #4 covers the insides. Clearly I will need to paint this beast as the paint is in need. I am going to paint this saw the new martin blue to be consistant. But as you can see, there are two motors. The big motor drives the main blade and has three speeds. For woodworking, the center speed is just fine and there has never been a need to change speeds. The motor is about 6.5 HP. The second motor towards the upper left is the scoring blade motor. The tiny hoses you see are grease lines feeding that vital motor nutrient from the grease plugs to where its needed. The europeans used a different grease plug than the standard zerk we are used to. This took some getting used to.

    Photo #5 shows the business end of the saw. Here you can see the stock items. Toward the left you see the sliding table. Then you see the one and only mitre gage. Unlike unisaws, there is only one mitre gage on the T-17. Personaly I hate miter gages. They wear out and offer a very small support area. Notice the very large throat plate. This is huge! This plate is aluminium but I also use homemade ones when needed. You will also notice that martin installed a very thin blade insert to the right of the blade on the main table to protect the main table. This can be replaced with a wooden one also if you bugger up the main portion of the table edge.

    You cannot see this detail as the fence is in the way. But there is smooth notch machined into the table about 6 inches long and about 1.5 inches wide. The bottom is painted green as well. At first, I did not know what this was. But then one day, I reached over to take an item out of the saw after cutting it and my fingers gingerly went into this notch to grasp the item. WOW! That feature is nice! Those germans thought of everything.

    I will post some more photos in a response to this one as I have used up my five photos.
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    Last edited by Dev Emch; 10-08-2005 at 2:35 AM.
    Had the dog not stopped to go to the bathroom, he would have caught the rabbit.

  2. #2
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    O.K. The next photo shows more of the fence. The fence rides on a machined front edge of the table. This keeps it extremely square. Ontop of the table are two delron guide pins. This is the only flaw to this fence. The previous owner had let these wear down and the stumps rubbed wear marks into the table. One along the front edge and one towards the middle of the table. It is possible that over 20 years, this type of wear would be considered normal. In any case, the best way to fix this is to machine a dado into the table and glue in thin metal inlay strips. Its a method used by hardinge to build super precision metalworking machines so it should work just fine for my saw. Besides, the new strips look like cast iron but they are heat treated A2 tool steel. They will never wear again!

    In general, I find the fence quite useable and very accurate. If I dont need the fence, then I can slide it to the right of the saw and park it on the end wing extension of the extension. This little 10 inch long nose extension hinges downwards and takes the fence with it. One second you have a full bore rip fence, the next second the rip fence is gone for sheet good operations. With a fence that weighs about 75 pounds, this feature is nice to have.

    The main face of the fence can drop down to the table for veneer cutting or be lifted upwards so that its off the table by about 1/8 inch. Two clamp levers allow this to happen.

    The knob on the right front side of the fence body is a micrometer adjust. In practice, you want to turn this thing about half way through its limits so that when its needed, you can go comfortably in either direction for tiny adjustments.

    The second photo shows the bottom of the blade flask. The blade way assembly and arbor structure are such that the saw is divided into two very isolated regions. On the left is the blade flask and on the right is the motor compartment. Very little sawdust enters the motor compartment. Some does get in but its minor. The flask channels the dust to the bottom groove which is lined up with the DC nozzle. So sucking out the dust is childs play.

    The third photo shows a picture of the scoring motor arbor. Here, you have a tiny motor that tracks the main trunion and under scores the cut to prevent tear out. Currenly mine is not running as I need to repair a motor starter in the electric box. I can get it to run with a stand alone motor contactor. But I will redo my electric box just to fix all these items and to bring it up to modern standards. For you plywood and melamine gurus, this feature is a godsend. For you hardwood guys, this is one of those take it or leave it options. My real love is pure hardwood so I dont have a burning desire to get this feature. But it does a wonderful job cutting sheet goods. Also note that you can mask off the bottom of the kerf line with masking tape to achieve the same result. Also, use of a zero clearance insert also helps here.

    So that is my tour of the "OLD MAN". This is the old martin and its one that I have cut lots of wood on. I am about the 4th or 5th owner of this saw and its still dead on accurate in every way. The only major item that has had problems is the electrics which is understandable. The europeans have never used allan bradley and so their electric devices will not hold up as long. When I redo the electric package on this saw, it will be replaced with full bore, NEMA class allan bradley with bulletin 800 switch controls.
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    Last edited by Dev Emch; 10-08-2005 at 2:11 AM.
    Had the dog not stopped to go to the bathroom, he would have caught the rabbit.

  3. #3
    Dev, I'll bet that bad boy can sharpen a few pencils, huh? It's a beast, for sure. Thanks for finally posting some pics.

    - Vaughn

  4. #4
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    Dave,

    Man, you live in a different world. I get a hernia just looking at those pictures.

    John
    John Bailey
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  5. #5
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    hi dev

    I know that given all these tidy shop shots that you did not want to show one that was used to make a living but thanks. My shop is just a hobby shop and so it can sort of stay neat. I am sure that it would start to get messy if I was trying to earn a living though. anyway ....

    wow that martin is really nice. I have only seen one other in a junky picture and not with the detail that you have shown. the trunions are massive. The saw sort of reminds me of the oliver 260d, except the twin motor stuff. I see that the scoring motor on yours is not running the scoring blade. Would you use it for hardwood or do you only use it for sheet stock?


    how does the martin compare to the unisaw ( or general ) in comfort to use? I love my rockwell rt-40 but it took about 3 years of use to unlearn the unisaw. It now finally feels comfortable to use. how comfortable is the t-17?

    I hear you on the european electrics vs AB 800 controls. I have worked on a lot of european machines over the years and I hate it. The used to have a nasty habit of always energizing a coil to stop a motor on some machines. I just never liked that way of doing things. In my mind you drop out the contact to stop the action and not pull it in to stop it. My casadei has some pathetic electrics as well; it still runs though. When I rebuilt the mechanicals I left the electrics alone. I am going to have to eventually work them over and will switch them out with AB stuff as well.



    lou
    Last edited by lou sansone; 10-08-2005 at 8:04 AM.

  6. #6
    I dream of the day when my little shop looks like a hobby shop....course that'll never happen since I am not going to retire....

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly C. Hanna
    I dream of the day when my little shop looks like a hobby shop....course that'll never happen since I am not going to retire....
    That saw looks very heavy Dev! Bet it's smooth!!

  8. #8
    Hey Dev.Looks like you really are into the old iron.Definitley a professional looking saw.Dont think I would want the job of moving it around.

  9. #9
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    Hi Dev, The T-17 looks great. (I like the "T" designation on the Martin since T also designates Russian tanks).
    Does the T-17 incorporate Martin's patented integrated steel or cast iron in this case and concrete frame? Also is the T-17 the last saw before they went to the now standard format type slider. I think they went from a T-17 to the T-70 or T-71. A friend of mine just got a new T-73. That thing weighs about 4500lbs. Your T-17 is probably close to that.
    take care,
    John

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Bailey
    Dave,

    Man, you live in a different world. I get a hernia just looking at those pictures.

    John
    Hee hee

    Now THAT'S a table saw!

  11. #11
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    Thanks everyone for the compliments.

    Lou...

    The saw runs silk smooth with no vibration at all. The major problem with most cabinet saws be it a grizzley or unisaw or jet or general is that they tend to be top heavy and very small. Using a unisaw, for me, feels like doing mitre cuts on a typesetting saw. I did own a norm abram special unisaw years ago and never missed it one second when I went to this class of saw. My T-17 like most I have seen in this country is missing the mitre gage. In fact, even the martin folks here in the US have never seen a T-17 mitre gage. For me, the best thing to do is just machine up a dovetail filler strip and forget about it. I dont like mitre gages! For the wird angle stuff, I prefer my oliver 88 and its quadrant gage.

    Certainly you can use the scoring blade on hardwood. But tape and zero clearance inserts actually does a really good job and so you dont need one. Also bear this in mind. The idea of the scoring blade is to precent blowout on the bottom of the kerf. This is caused mainly by "cross cutting" thin veeners. Because of how thin the veener element is and its orientation to the blade, it makes it susceptable to blowout. Also, when ply is made from rotary cut veneer, the grain direction is goofy foot. Its neither long grain nor cross grain. So it too is susceptable to blowout. So in short, if your cross cutting hardwood lumber, the use of the score may actually help quite a bit. For rip cuts, you wont even notice it missing.

    I found that martin table saws take very little getting used to. Its the other way around! Once you start using martins, you will not be inclined to return to anything else. Even this cast iron beastie with its 4 or 5 previous owners is still outperforming anything out there today with the exception of the T-73. But the T-73 is a panel saw and not a hardwood slider. That long sliding table is a bit more akward to use than the one on the T-17.

    The T-17 was the last of the hardwood format saws made by martin. Since then, they have introduced a number of panel saws with the latest being the T-73. Because I have to do so much sheet goods work these days, I am in the process of ording a T-73. Its a painful thing because I need a saw that is not inline with my beliefs. I actually enjoy avoiding plywood and so the hardwood slider format is more my cup of tea. But the T-73 is an ideal machine for cranking out sheet good based articles. So that is why the tax dude (aka Da IRS) is going to have to help me with this one!

    One thing I am still working on with the T-73 deal is my ability to use shaper cutters. Right now, I use my T-17 as a horizontal arbor wood shaper in addition to a tablesaw. With a 1.25 in arbor and 6.5 HP motor, this thing will swing virtually any dado or rabbit shaper head out there. Its nice to have multiple shapers because you can keep one setup while doing something else. The saw, for what shaping operations it does, is easier to reset than doing a similar cutter head reset on the shaper.

    The new martins do not have cast iron bases. The new base structure is welded steel with "strategic" areas of the base double walled. In these double walled regions, there is a platicised concrete filling. This system provides a lighter and easier to make structure that still has the vibration damping ability of cast iron. And you dont need to man handle massive body castings into and out of metal planers the size of semi trucks. In theory, I dont like the idea as much as I like cast iron. But in practice, martin has some very skilled folks and the fit and finish of these body units is out of this world outstanding. Its a modern solution that even the old school guys like me can live with.

    I also like the modern blue and black paint better than the ugly green that they used to use. That is why I will paint this saw blue and black when its time for restoration rolls around.

    Believe it or not, moving 4500 pounds is easy. The trick is not to lift it using your own hydraulics! I use rollers, jacks, jack stands, etc. to move things. Usually, the use of a toe jack and rollers is all I need to move this stuff all by myself. With the rollers under foot, its easier to move this saw than a unisaw with an HTC mobil base and that is saying something! Granted, I have to jack & crib the saw before and after with the toe jack and wood blocks but a toe jack is actually a large bottle jack and you guys know how easy they are to move about.

    Drill presses and mortisers are much harder to move because they have those small narrow footprints and high center of gravity. Bandsaws are in the same category. Table saws are low and have a huge froot print. That makes them easy.
    Had the dog not stopped to go to the bathroom, he would have caught the rabbit.

  12. #12
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    Hi dev
    I am curious about two things on this saw and wonder if you could walk me though it, maybe with pictures

    first is the fence. I see a little window on the top of the rip fence. Is that really there and are there numbers there to mark the distance. also, I see that the fence can be moved back and forth with the 2 hand levers. can the fence be layed down ( turned 90 degrees )?

    Second, could you go over again the tilt of the blade with the outer concentric hand wheel. I see that there seems to be little green tightening levers near the tunions. do you loosen them up and then turn the outer wheel? You have said that it only takes 1/2 turn to move the blade from 90 to 45. How is that done? is the saw assembly counterbalanced so you are not wrestling with the whole thing? Do you loosen the little green hand tightening levers and then use 2 hands to hold the outer concentric wheel knobs.

    ok while I am at it could you just provide a couple more shots of the sliding miter table that folds down.

    thanks
    lou

  13. #13
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    Looks like you'd need about 300 pages of instructions just to operate it to it's potential Dev, could you back up about 20ft and show the whole saw? I, having no idea what it looks like can't picture what/where I'm looking I know it's a big saw, looks like sorta like a minimax with a slider? Is this the industrial version of such a type of saw?

    Jim

    PS: Does the table tilt instead of the blade? Or do both tilt?
    Last edited by Jim Dunn; 12-10-2005 at 11:40 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dunn
    Looks like you'd need about 300 pages of instructions just to operate it to it's potential Dev, could you back up about 20ft and show the whole saw? I, having no idea what it looks like can't picture what/where I'm looking I know it's a big saw, looks like sorta like a minimax with a slider? Is this the industrial version of such a type of saw?

    Jim

    PS: Does the table tilt instead of the blade? Or do both tilt?
    Actually this is a very late model T-17 and was one of the last ones made my martin prior to going to the composite steel and concrete construction. Its a very very modern saw as can be noted by the red emergency foot switch which most T-17s dont have. THE TABLE DOES NOT TILT!!!! OSHA would have a cow on the spot if it did!!!

    Even though it has a bunch of features, its operation is very simple and straight forward. Only the blade tilts. The table is a massive machined cast iron table and it also has an extended cast iron extension table on the right of the saw.

    The two knobs on the trunnon are actually the smaller controls for moving the scoring motor. Its very easy to tilt and i usually take two hands and rotate the outer spider. From 0 to 45 degrees takes about 1/2 ish turns. You are not going to get any gym time here on the tilt.

    The fence attaches to the saw by virtue of a precisely machined front table lip or skirt. The long lever releases the fence and the silver knob controls the micrometer adjust. The fence is super dead on accurate. In fact, its so accurate that I have never never never had a kick back on this saw. Sometimes an offcut will come off and sit by the blade but its so solid and smooth that I just turn the saw off and then remove the offcut.

    My only dislike about this saw is that does not do long panels. I do lots of kitchen and bath work and a panel saw is more suited to the work I do and i will most likely replace this saw with a true panel saw. This is more of a hardwood slider or furniture maker saw who deals in solid woods.
    Had the dog not stopped to go to the bathroom, he would have caught the rabbit.

  15. #15
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    Hey Dev why is your saw listed today on woodweb for sale by some guy named Arthur?

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