Buying a Used Straight Line Rip Saw

Maintenance, wear and tear, and other factors to consider when purchasing a second-hand straight line rip saw. November 14, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I'm looking to buy a used straightline rip saw and from reading other posts it would seem that Diehl is the way to go. There are many models of Diehl and I can't seem to find a reference to describe the differences. Can someone point me in the right direction or provide some summary of the differences?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor M:
The main difference in models is the larger the machine the thicker material the machine can handle. Also the larger the model the longer the material can be and stay straight. A small model may guarantee a six feet straight rip, where the larger model has an infinite length guarantee.

From contributor V:
I have the small SL20 and no problems. That said, I would not buy one that I could not check out the glue line, or run a few long boards to check for straightness. If you have to have new chains and races you’re talking 6 or 8K for new parts. Ask me how I know...

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the responses. Sorry for the stupid question but when you say larger models does this correspond with larger model numbers? Which model numbers would be in this larger category?

From contributor V:
I'm not sure about that, but I assume so. I have a SL20, then there is a 55 and then a 75.

From Contributor K:
I have researched your question but have never owned an SLR. I may someday but the counsel of WOODWEB members convinced me I don't need one yet which has nothing to do with whether you need one. The model numbers are without regard to the order they were introduced. Diehl survives in part because they give marvelous but costly support for everything they built. That includes information. I don't mean the information is costly. I mean Diehl provides it.

The two digit year of manufacture is included in the first few digits of the serial number but don't suppose that an old machine is necessarily junk. Besides legendary longevity, Diehl does wonderful, thorough rebuilds. As I understand it, those rebuilds extend even to retrofitting anti-kickback fingers and other safety devices on machines that weren't originally so equipped, re-wiring, too.

There are many versions of most models and great differences between one model and another. Some have the blade above the chain and some have two chains with the blade rising up between the halves. Judging by a glance from a distance, the Diehls with cast arms were made before those with fabricated arms though that doesn't say anything about condition. A thing is what it is, not what someone says it is. I wonder whether some or all of Diehl's current, smaller production is made overseas. There are uncanny similarities between some of the new, smaller Diehls and some Asian imports.

From Contributor O:
Diehl does have excellent support ongoing for all their equipment, and maintains records of parts and service. If you have a serial number for a saw you are considering, you can call them and they will tell you what they know. Obviously, this info is limited, but it beats going in blind. They replaced motor bearings on SL 55 for me for four hours labor, parts and shipping. Took less than a week and was a bargain. I paid $1,200 for the saw on auction, bought blind, shipped it here and replaced bearings. The races were not within specs, so technically it did not straight line 16' but made molder blanks like nothing. A great saw for much less than new.

The chains and races are what makes the machine work. The proper oiling of them is critical and essential to the saw performing as desired. Hours should be tracked and then the two tracks are switched and reversed so the wear is evened out. This avoids replacement - which is costly. They can even re-machine the teeth if they are worn.

From contributor D:
I don't believe you mentioned what you will use the straightline for? If using it to get a straightedge then you are on the right track. If you are using it to salvage drop (off-fall) from your gangrip so you can run screen, shoe, lattice, etc. then save yourself a few trips to the emergency room and buy a horizontal re-saw. Baker makes the best one from my experience. I've had seven of them. This advice also goes to anybody out there that is running vertical re-saws. Life is too short - it was a pretty good day the day I switched from verticals to horizontals. With regard to straightlines I would offer this advice. Go with a Diehl or a brand that has the blade mounted on the bottom as opposed to the Taiwanese saws (Northtech, Extrema, etc.) that have the blade mounted on the top. In my experience there are a lot fewer kickbacks.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the response. I did already pick up a Diehl ripsaw so I hope it's good for the intended purpose. We have a horizontal bandmill but we are sawing furniture lumber by commonly sawing through the log. We want to use the Diehl effectively as an edger. I know this is a very slow way to do it but we are dealing with high dollar lumber and want the fine level of control that we think this will afford.