table saw rewire

Busy busy weekend in the shop. Several different projects going on at the same time. Just the right time for some wires to burn.

My saw is a hand me down from my buddy. One of the first projects with the saw was to wire an outlet to the saw switch. I keep the vacuum connected to that outlet and also use it for other tools like the router which is in the extension table. It’s convenient for anything that gets connected to the vacuum.

I wired it poorly, just stuffing the bare leads under the terminal push connectors and using 18 awg wire. That’s way too small. Anyway I was using the planer and the breaker blew. Reset the breaker and the outlet doesn’t work. I opened the switch and the wire to the outlet was completely melted. Just what I need on a busy day.

I decided to fix it right this time. Off to harbor freight where I picked up some terminal connectors and a 12 awg extension cord. I cut off the receptacle side plug and then enough length to wire the outlet from the switch. I properly joined the wire at the terminal connectors. The main length of the extension cord is the new power cord for the saw. The old power cord didn’t have a ground prong anyway so all is now good.

I used to have an extension cord plugged into the power cord so it would reach the wall outlet. When I went to salvage it because the new cord is plenty long, I found that I could not separate the 2 cords. The plugs were fused together. The extension cord was 18 awg.

Basically everything was undersized and I’m lucky I didn’t have a fire. I guess this should be a lesson – wire size is important. Never use an extension cord that is smaller wire diameter than the power cord of your tool. Harbor freight carries a bunch of 10, 12 and 14 awg extension cables cheap.

Also if you’re crazy like me and wire up an outlet to your table saw, buy a switch rated for 20A or more. I found one on Amazon and it’s on its way. I should have it tomorrow. Big STOP paddle and all. That will complete the rewire but the original switch got me through the weekend no problem. I don’t know the amperage rating but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were very high. I image delta used the same 2 pole switches for all their saw motors.

I should have taken pictures but I was rushing to finish because the kids wanted to go to the beach. Next time I almost cause a fire I’ll be sure to take pictures. :-) By the way I got everything on my weekend list accomplished which is extremely rare.

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7 Comments

lanwater ...

Luck you on two front:
1-You did not get a fire.
2-You accomplish everything on you list.

When I took this hobby. it quickly became clear to me that the two 20A circuit in the garage will not adequate. In fact I discovered that one of them was also feeding the downstairs bathroom.
So it was popping for no apparent reason when I only had one tool connected until I discovered that my wife was using the hair dryer at the same time.

I called an electrician to install subpanel in the garage since I don’t know anything about the code and wanted it to be done right. He installed the subpanel and I pulled the rest of the circuit.
That also gave me the opportunity to have 220V as well. That was a blessing. Once I bought my cabinet saw I was ready to go electricity wise.

Brian ...

I only have one 20A circuit (lights are separate). Once in a blue moon it pops if I push the saw too hard but it’s fine for all my other tools. And that’s with the vacuum on at the same time. I do want to rewire the saw motor to 220V someday. I have a pathway to run a new wire to the panel but it’s one of those things that’s low on the priority list.

David E. ...

I have one 20A circuit feeding the entire garage. Washing machine, deep freezer, lighting, garage door, table saw, drill press, dust collector, and any misc bench top or roll around tool I might plug into it. So far, the only issues are when I’m resawing on the table saw and running the dust collector at the same time. An upgrade is sorely needed though, especially since I plan on putting in a window AC unit….

Brian, good job on fixing it up right! Certainly sounds like a busy weekend!

Mike40 ...

Reminds me of the time my combi machine wouldn’t start up. I didn’t know that what was causing the problem. I went to a local electrician and after I explaining the problem to him the first thing he said was “I guess you have a jerry rigged electricians nightmare in your shop”. Well, I didn’t and I didn’t like this guys cynical attitude, but my guess is that he has had to fix some pretty bad amateur electrical work. Anyway he didn’t seem interested in having a look so I just guessed it was the start capacitor and bought a replacement which did the trick. It’s illegal for non authorise electricians to do and electrical work here in Norway.

Brian ...

Technically it’s illegal here too but who’s going to stop me? All the work is inside away from snooping party poppers. :-)

MontyJ ...

You’re very lucky you didn’t have a fire. 18ga wire is only rated for 9.5A. Sounds like you might be pushing the limits of your 20A circuit as well. If you have a electrical questions, feel free to shoot me a PM. The code varies some from place to place, but I can give you the basics of safe practices from the NEC.

Brian ...

Thanks. I installed the 18 awg and knew it was too small. But it was just a short link between the table saw switch and the outlet 12" away. I knew what I was getting into. Originally it was just for the vacuum. The problem is that it became obsolete after I discovered how dang useful that outlet is. I started plugging in larger equipment to it. I always knew I had to change it but I wasn’t worried about fire because the only place for it to burn, realistically, was inside the switch housing which is exactly where it occurred.

What caught me off guard was the extension cord receptacle getting fused to the power cord plug. There was a real chance of something bad happening there. It was one of those “heavy duty” ones for air conditioners. All is good now. I replaced every wire except for the one that connects the motor to the switch. I figure it’s original equipment and already rated for its maximum current draw.