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Dremel 4 Inch Table Saw Adventures, Modeling Tools

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Part 001


I looked at my available options for a modeling table saw. The contenders are:


1.      The Harbor Freight type 4” table saw (many similar types of this basic type of saw).

2.      The Proxxon table saws, the cheapest is in my price range, the others cost enough that they are almost as expensive as the Gold Standard Byrnes table saw (see below).

3.      The old Dremel 4” table saw.

4.      The Byrnes table saw. The best and the Gold Standard, but well over my present funding level at about $500 with shipping. I hope to get one of these in the future, but that is at least a year or more away.

The Harbor Freight type table saws are poorly built, and the blade height adjustment is by raising the table, on I’m sure poorly fitting leg/slides. It also does not have a fence. The saw blade slot is cast integrally with the table. This prevents you from cutting thin pieces, as they will tend to be pulled down into the slot. On a regular table saw the blade comes up through the table in a removable insert. If you are cutting thin pieces you replace the insert with one with a thinner slot. In many cases you put a solid plate in and run the blade up through the insert, giving you a zero clearance fit. Of course you need a carbide blade if it is a metal insert, but you can make a thin wood insert from hobby plywood for a regular steel blade. I can’t imagine the Harbor Freight type having good enough tolerances on the table slides for this, even if you can attach something to span the slot. Prices on these range from about $40 to over a $100.


The cheaper Proxxon saw has a fixed blade height, also no insert, and only a 2” diameter blade. It does however come with a small plastic fence that does not span the full depth of the table. Prices range about $125 to $200.


The Byrnes saw is built more like a machine tool, rather than a saw, and has a large array of available accessories, but it comes with a matching price tag. If you have the money get this.


The Dremel saw is no longer made, but is available used for about $125 to $225,with shipping on Ebay. It has a blade that can be raised from under the table, as in a standard large table saw, and the blade can be angled also as in a standard saw. The blade is belt driven and the motor is more powerful than the Proxxon and HF type saws. It does come with a fence that spans the whole depth of the table, and a miter gauge. It has a removable insert. The base is a thick plastic, but durable. There are some accessories available in the aftermarket, but the sources are drying up. The blades and belt are still readily available, though.


I chose this route as it falls within my price range, and has more standard table saw features, including a blade insert. My saw did not come with a blade protector, some of the later models did.


The blade raising/tilting mechanism is not as sturdy as I would like, the miter gauge is a bit loose in the slots, and the fence is not the most robust, however. I will attempt to remedy some of these faults as this build log continues. The saw is eminently usable, though.


This log will not be a regularly updated one, but I will relate all my experiences with both using and upgrading it as time goes on.


Here are pictures of the saw as I got it.


The first shot is the top. I noticed when I was editing the photos, that I had a visitor. I’ll have to fog the shop, this week.


This is the front with the blade raising and tilting controls. These are the same types as a standard table saw. The power switch is on the lower right corner. If you look closely you will see that both front mounting lugs are broken off. The seller did not pack the saw well, and I guess the box got dropped at some point! Both lugs were in the box, though. I assume that they were still attached when it was packed, otherwise I’m sure they would have disappeared before the unit was sold. I’ll glue them back on with epoxy. I am not sure what type of plastic the base is molded of, so using a plastic cement may not work. If I had to guess, I would say ABS plastic.


Here is the “guts of the saw from underneath. This is also similar to how a standard table saw is built. Notice though that there is no back to the saw. At one point there was an aftermarket back available, with a vacuum outlet, but they are no longer sold. I will make my own back for mine. Note that the rust is not atypical, the metal parts were not painted when built. It does not affect the operation of the saw.


The saw ran well when I plugged it in, with the belt running smoothly.


To start with I will disassemble and clean the saw mechanism, using the tips on this site.




I will also need to come up with a support for the back of the blade mechanism when making fine cuts. This support may have to be removed to tilt the blade. I have to think more on this idea.


Until the next part, thank you for reading my thread.

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Posted (edited)


Instead of Epoxy you might try to fix the mounting lug by building it up with J-B Weld. Then drill it out. 


A friend of mine had a VW Beetle with a cracked case. He cleaned it off and globed some J-B Weld on it and drove home on leave from Paris Island to Arkansas and back. Then drove a few more years and sold it that way.


It won't look very pretty but it might get the job done.

Edited by RussR
added something

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Posted (edited)

I concur entirely with your evaluation of the options. I bought a new Horror Fright mini-saw as you described years ago. Fortunately, I got it with one of their coupons, so I don't think it cost me more than $25 at the time. It's still in the box, used once to see what it could do, and never touched again. Gutless and totally lacking in the accuracy needed for modeling. Totally useless for ripping strips.


Ahem, ... well, ... yeah, .... I know nobody ever wants to hear, "I told you so." and i didn't, so I won't, but I sure wish I had the opportunity to do so before you bought the used Dremel you've got now. I agree with your assessment that it's "second best," albeit by a long, long ways far behind the Byrnes saw. I also agree that at less than $200 used, it's probably better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick and surely better than no saw at all.


That said, as you note, it can't hold a candle to the Byrnes saw, which, by the way, now offers a really snazzy super-accurate sliding table (cross-cut miter sled) which probably doubles its usefulness and accuracy on repetitive cross-cuts, particularly mitered ones, as an optional extra for around $135. I had never seen the "guts' of a Dremel table saw. What's remarkable in comparison to the Byrnes saw is 1.) The motor is about a third the size of the Byrnes saw. 2.)) The "mechanics" are nowhere near as "beefy" as the machined aluminum plate mechanism of the Byrnes, and 3.) there's no provision for effective dust collection (or parts of it have been removed.) Hooked up to a shop-vac, the Byrnes saw leaves virtually zero dust!


On the plus side, if, and only if you ever have a use for it, the Dremel does have blade-tilting capability and since the Dremel was once upon a time the best available, it still has a decent reputation among the general consumer population and half-way decent resale value if you can find somebody like yourself, which you probably can.


I agonized for years over whether I could justify treating myself to a Byrnes saw. It wasn't that I didn't have the money, but rather whether I could justify spending it on a "toy" for my "hobby." That didn't have anything to do with the machine. It was just my own sicko "psychology." Ultimately, I had the opportunity to buy a barely-used like-new Byrnes saw from an unfortunate RC airplane builder who had serious health problems that caused him to abandon his RC airplane hobby entirely. He also was selling a Byrnes disk sander and a Byrnes thickness sander, similarly like-new, and he was asking half of their list price exclusive of shipping. He was "local" and shipping wasn't a consideration for me. I took a deep breath and "pulled the trigger" on all three. I've never regretted it for a moment and I derive pleasure from them every day, even just by looking at them sitting there in my shop.


I won't tell you, "I told you so." but I'll say this:


Your Dremel saw will make you feel even better when you eventually get a Byrnes saw. The hungrier you are, the better food always tastes. 


In the meantime, you can get some practical use out of the Dremel saw and have fun trying to tweak it to perform better.


You can always keep the Dremel for its blade-tilting feature, so you don't have to ever feel "buyer's remorse." The only thing cooler than having a Byrnes saw is also having a Dremel just for making angled ripping cuts!


You can probably get back most of what you paid for the Dremel, maybe even more, if you resell it. (The same is true of the Byrnes saw when your dearly beloved pries it from your cold dead fingers. except that she'll have a lot easier job of selling the Byrnes than the Dremel.)


No question, the Byrnes saw is a costly piece of precision machinery, relatively speaking, but think of it this way, if you're $100 shy of affording one, all you have to do is find a way to set aside a buck a day and in about three months you'll have that hundred bucks. We're talking about throwing your pocket change in a Mason jar at the end of the day here. It's not going to change your life. Heck, if you're really in a hurry, start bringing a sandwich from home for lunch every day and skip buying your lunch every day and you'll have the full price in a less than three months. (Ha! And this is me giving you advice, the guy who couldn't bring himself to spend it for years even when he had it!) 


Thanks for the pics of the Dremel. Please do keep us apprised of your experiences with it!



Edited by Bob Cleek

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Give some thought to tossing out that blade as you don't know how sharp it is.  With Thurston being closed, you can get them from these folks:  https://www.malcosaw.com/


If you don't a copy, here's this which is great for figuring tooth count vs. wood thickness:   Byrnes Saw Operation.pdf

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I have one  I really really don't like it.     (Actually two - I inherited one from my father.)
My Jarmac is sort of pitiful too.
Neither is in the same galaxy as a Byrnes table saw.
Way under powered, your photo of the motor really brings that home.

Feels - cheesy, lots of play   - It needs fixing to a sturdy base.
The open back can be covered with a plate of cardboard or hardboard with a hole and connector for a shop vac hose
A spacer at each bottom corner between the bottom of the unit and a base may provide better air circulation.
The fence is long enough that a clamp might be fixed to the back to better lock the position - once you adjust it parallel to the blade. Gonna want to affirm that it is parallel with each movement.
The OEM gauge is not all that great.  There are 3rd party miter gauges - just not many that are cost effective. 


You can make a sliding table - definitely worth the effort.
With something like this:
STEELWORKS BOLTMASTER 11285 Flat Aluminium Bar, 1/8 x 1/2 x 36"
A tempered hardboard base
a top edge and bottom edge  piece of wood 1/2" by 1.5"  full width - to keep the slit base as a single unit.  A belt and suspenders level of attachment -   ( glue and screws/dowels ) = hardboard can debond from itself.
a piece of Pine perpendicular to the above outside the bottom support - to cover the blade as it comes thru. -to keep from crosscutting your fingers or hand.


I am not sure that the tilting blade feature is not a solution in search of a need.  Having to re tune the blade back to 90 degrees every time does make it more trouble than it is worth.

I advise against being too hopeful in how thick of a billet this saw can rip or crosscut.

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Posted (edited)

Another table saw option if you are willing to do some searching is the old Sears 8" 103.21040 series sold under the Craftsman, King and Seeley names.  I believe they were manufactured by Seeley.  They were produced in the 50's and are all cast iron and machined steel, belt driven and come with full size motors.  I picked mine up off of Craigslist for $50.  They show up on Ebay from time to time and  parts seem to be available.  Bigger than a Dremel but small enough that they can be used in a small shop.  Only down side is the arbor diameter is only 1/2".  So far I have not had a problem finding blades that fit but it is harder than finding saws with 3/4" holes.




Edited by grsjax

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for all the input! For now I just need to rip planking for some dioramas and decks. I will not be doing a lot of scratch building, for now. I just need the saw for upgrading some of the woods supplied with the kits I have, and a couple of small scratch built boats I want to do.


Mark, I will test the supplied blade carefully before doing any major work with it, safety first! Thanks for the link to the saw blades.


At some point, if I find that I need a table saw more frequently, I will get the Byrnes saw.

Edited by thibaultron

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, grsjax said:

Another table saw option if you are willing to do some searching is the old Sears 8" 103.21040 series sold under the Craftsman, King and Seeley names.  I believe they were manufactured by Seeley.  They were produced in the 50's and are all cast iron and machined steel, belt driven and come with full size motors.  I picked mine up off of Craigslist for $50.  They show up on Ebay from time to time and  parts seem to be available.  Bigger than a Dremel but small enough that they can be used in a small shop.  Only down side is the arbor diameter is only 1/2".  So far I have not had a problem finding blades that fit but it is harder than finding saws with 3/4" holes.





Good point. I have one, too. It was my father's. He bought it in 1951. I still have the sales papers from Sears and Roebuck. It cost $50 new, which was serious money back then. It's set up so that the motor mount slides on a rail and the belts from either the saw or the 4" jointer can be driven from the same motor. It's been pretty much replaced by my 10" Delta Unisaw, but I still use it for milling trim occasionally because I have a set of milling heads for it. It's particularly scary, given it's 1950's era total lack of any safety devices. I walk around it to switch on the motor and never reach over the table and blade to do that. Caution is the watchword for any table saw, of course. The fence is quite primitive and setup is fiddly. It's got plenty of power, though. Very well made "old 'arn."



Edited by Bob Cleek

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5 hours ago, Bob Cleek said:

The fence is quite primitive and setup is fiddly.

Interesting thing about this is that Seeley introduced the first fence that was clamped from both ends.  For it's time it was a major improvement.


My apologies to Ron for getting off the subject of the Dremel saw.

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2 hours ago, grsjax said:

Interesting thing about this is that Seeley introduced the first fence that was clamped from both ends.  For it's time it was a major improvement.

 I didn't know that. The way mine works, the back end of the fence is hooked over the table top with a set-bolt against the edge of the table.  The front end of the fence has a cam lever that when pushed down pushes against the front fence track, pushing the fence towards the front and causing the hook and adjustment bolt on the back end of the fence to fetch up against the back edge of the table. In theory, it works, but the adjustment bolt at the back of the fence is always needing adjustment so that the cam lever will place pressure properly to make the fence tight. If the bolt isn't just right, the cam lever won't go all the way down and hold, and if not tight enough, the cam lever will go down, but the fence will be loose. Additionally, care has to be taken to make sure the fence is parallel to the plane of he blade and this must be checked every time the fence is moved. All cut width measurements have to be taken with a rule and transferred to the fence. Accuracy is dependent upon the operator's set up skills more than with modern table saws.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Bob Cleek said:

The way mine works, the back end of the fence is hooked over the table top

I believe that is the older version.  Later ones have an arrangement to tighten the fence on the table that uses a lever for the rear but the adjustment knob is on the front so it is much simpler to get right.  there was also a version that used a rack and pinon along the front of the saw to give fine adjustment of the position.

Edited by grsjax

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Posted (edited)

Here is a link to the manual. Note that this is for the second version, circa 1990. The saws only had slight differences. You can tell a 580-2 from the first model, as it has a black background on the front panel decal. The first version had a red background.



Edited by thibaultron

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Part 002


I started working on the saw today. The first task (after I disassembled it), was to make a wrench for the blade shaft. The shaft has two flats on it to hold the shaft steady while you remove the blade nut. When new, the saw was supplied with a little wrench made out of sheet steel, shown circled in the picture below.



The photo below shows the area the wrench has to fit in, with the flats circled.



The space for this is too thin for a regular wrench to fit, and the Dremel part is long gone. So I made one from a piece of an old carpenters square. It is not fancy, but it works. I cut out a ¾ inch wide slot in one end with a Dremel tool with a cutoff disk, then I chamfered the other end to remove the sharp corners.




The next task is to firm up the assembly that tilts with the blade and motor, to make angled cuts. The whole assembly rotates on hinges mounted on a sheet metal plate. The motor and blade assembly then slide on this plate to raise and lower the blade. The picture below shows the plate. The hinge for the assembly is one the right, and the slot that allows the motor/blade assembly to slide up and down is on the left.


This shot shows the two bolts, circled in red.


The saw has bolts for mounting the motor/blade assembly. The instructions say to tighten them, then loosen slightly to allow movement. This allows some slop. My idea is to put a nylon washer under the regular washers, and tighten the bolts so that there is no slop, but the assembly can still slide freely on the slippery nylon. I did not know the size of the bolts, so I bought washers for #6 and #8 screws. The store was out of the #10s. Well guess what, the bolts are #10s, naturally. I’ll stop at a different store and get some #10s. I need to buy a nut for the one screw, the factory supplied one is missing. The housing is taped and the nuts are used as lock nuts, once the bolts are adjusted.


The hinge/plate assembly is tight, so there is no slop in it, though there is some flex. There is another area that allows some slop, and once I correct this, I’ll see if I have to further work on this problem.


I also need to clean up the rust and add a protective coating to the steel parts. I’m a little short on funds, so that will have to wait until next payday.

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    Nice video Ron.  I have made a version of most of them myself, both for my full size saw and my MicroLux hobby saw.  One thing that I noticed on the video that is of some concern however is that on almost all of the  cuts that he makes, his body acts as a stop for his cutoffs.  One thing that was always stressed to me in all my shop training is to NEVER stand directly in the path of your cutoffs.  That powerful motor can propel that cutoff with sufficient force to cause great bodily harm to you. (or anyone standing behind you in its path) 

    One student in one of my classes was not paying heed to this rule and was skewered by a long thin cutoff of Ebony that went right thru his shirt and shop apron into his abdomen where it remained lodged until it was removed in the ER!  While that was bad enough, they were unable to remove some undetected slivers of Ebony and cloth fibers that caused an infection to set in that led to his death!  

    While this accident was an extreme case,  I am sure that similar incidents have happened before and since.  After all, I have seen a piece of straw driven thru a 2 X 4 from a tornado once, so with sufficient force even straw can become lethal.  He says several times in the video "safety first", but I guess he is unaware of the danger he puts himself in.

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Let's further this a bit... even the "small" saws like those sold my MicroMark, Proxxon, etc. can do some serious damage.  Be aware of kickback and also always use a push stick.  

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I realize I am late in mentioning this but have not been on the website for a couple of weeks due to a hospital visit.  I like many others that have mentioned this above, have been a sucker for every saw produced looking for one with some degree of accuracy.  Like everyone else has reiterated this have finally been solved with the Bryrnes Saw.  I did however fail to see you mentioning the Preac which I used for many years prior to the production of the "Jim" Saw.  This is a great little saw with a lot of capabilities.  I have no idea how available they are now or how they are priced but sooner or later everything shows up on E-Bay and this is one great little saw.  I still use mine to supplement the Brynes Saw.  Just thought I should mention this.



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Part 003


I received the Boesheild rust converter/protector/blade cleaning kit recommended in the site I talked about earlier, and worked on cleaning up the sheet metal parts of the saw.


The protectant and the resin cleaners are both recommended for wood working tools and are stated not to effect the finishing of the wood.


Here are three shots of the sheet metal assembly, before I treated it. In the first shot I had already tested the rust converter on the inside of the center area.





I disassembled the main and end pieces, so I could get to the area between them.


I started with the smaller piece, spraying the converter on and using a green kitchen scrubby to work the solution into the pits, and loosen the flakes of rust.


I then repeated the process for the rest of the assembly. The write-up I mentioned said to use a brass brush, but I could not find mine. Looking at the photos, the scrubby did not get down into all the pits, so I would recommend using the brush.



In the last picture, you can see that the converter also darkened the galvanizing slightly.


After rinsing the parts with water, I sprayed on the protectant. It seems to be similar to WD-40 in application. I set the parts to dry, as in the instructions on the can, and will check them out tomorrow.

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Part 004


A quick review of the Boesheild products I used in the last installment.


The Rust and Stain remover and the blade cleaner, both worked well. The protectant did not work as well as I had hoped. The metal stayed “wet” and after several days I had to wipe the parts off to get them to dry. I think that there is a wax coating on them, only time will tell.


I ordered some accessories from Radical RC for the saw.




Here are shots of the parts. I’ll describe them as I go.

These are laser cut slides for the miter slots. I’m going to use them to make a sliding table for the saw.


These are support disks for use when you are using thinner blades than those the saw was designed for. These blades are typically the modern high tooth count ones such as 100 or 200 tooth blades. If I’m using the 100 tooth original Dremel 8004 blades, these are not needed. There are two disks in the package, one is placed on each side of the thinner blade. They both add stiffness to the thin blade and bulk out the total thickness so the factory nut can clamp the assembly. Without the support disks, the blade alone would be too thin for the nut to clamp the blade.


This is a nut that is machined so that 5/8” arbor blades can be used on the saw, which is designed with a ½” shaft. This allows me a wider selection of blades to be used in the future.


The last part I bought is an alignment jig for setting up the saw.


Once built, it allows quick setup of the blade mechanism. The jig holds the blade vertical, and square to the miter slots. You loosen the blade assembly hinge bolts and clamp the blade in the jig. You can then tighten them, and the blade will be parallel to the miter slots. You then can move the blade tilt marking plate so that it falls at the zero degree mark. The jig also holds the fence in position, so that you can tighten the bolts that hold the fence body to the fence clamp, insuring that it is also parallel to the blade.


Here is a picture from the catalog.


Here is the package and the wood parts it contains. There are also two screws and washers for installing the clamp piece (the smallest wood piece).



You are to assemble the parts on the saw table, and use a square to align the body pieces, then wick thin superglue into the joints.


These photos shows the parts assembled on the table, with a machinist square clamped on to hold them square.




I wish I’d had another long clamp for the other joint area, but I was able to hold the pieces with my hand. I carefully wicked in the glue one joint at a time, and let it set before moving on. I even managed not to glue the jig to the table! If I had a smaller square I would have clamped it inside the assembly rather than how I had to clamp the larger one.


Once the last joint was set, I removed the jig, and wicked in more glue along the lengths of the joints.


Here are a couple shots of the finished jig. I still have to install the clamp. I could not locate my Allen wrenches for the cap head clamp screws, yesterday. I’ll find them the next time I get to the shop.




Next month I’ll buy a couple of the blank 3D printed saw blade inserts, and their aftermarket miter gauge.


I also drew up a insert blank on my CAD program, so that I can design my own future inserts.



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Part 005


I stopped by Lowes today and bought some nylon washers, for the saw. I bought #10 washers for the blade drive assembly, and ¼” washers to fix the blade angle/lift mechanism.


The #10s will replace the Mylar washers I installed earlier. I have a better feeling about their durability.


The blade tilt/lift assembly was loose and allowed the mechanism to flop around a bit. Maybe not a problem, but I don’t want it to change angle, even slightly, while I’m cutting.


The shaft that raises and lowers the blade, runs through the center of the block that adjusts the blade angle, there is a gap between this shaft and the block that allows the assembly to flop a little. I slit one side of two of the ¼ inch washers and inserted them into the gap (yes it was “fun”). This tightened up the assembly quite well.


By the way the copper wire you see, is suppose to be the spring that holds the shaft into position. Being copper it does not hold very well! I’ll make a new one out of some brass or steel wire.


There is still enough movement that I think I’ll add a second adjustment point at the back. Nothing fancy, just a curved slot with a screw I can tighten when I get the blade at the angle I want.


In anticipation of this I installed the angled blade cover on the inside of the assembly, rather than at the back, like it came from the factory.


I’ll grind the ends of the screws off, when I build the back.

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