I recently was gifted a Craftsman radial saw. Not a large one, but medium.
I have gone over it, and it's all there. Played with the dials and stops
and got a feel for it.
It does not have a fence on the V shaped base, which I need to add. I did
cut a couple of boards, and it works fine. I'm not sure though of the
direction of feed. Do I make the fence in the rear and push the blade into
the wood, or make the fence close to me, and pull the blade through the
This may be a simple question, but that's how one learns.
I have heard lots of people say these are nasty and dangerous. To me,
anything with a blade is in that category. I think it is up to the user.
But are there any inherent dangers with these saws, and things I should
watch out for?
Neither...the fence is to the rear just far enough from the rear table
so the blade (when down to the table for through cutting) is fully
behind the fence.
For a crosscut you then place the material to be cut against the fence
(in front of the fence toward you) and pull the blade through to make
the cut. This takes some practice to get the hang of to not let the
blade grab and overfeed as it will have a tendency to do so if you do
not maintain a firm control and have some resistance ready to prevent
the carriage from trying to go on its own.
Just like a TS you don't push where the material will pass the blade so
hand(s) are in danger, on a RAS you have to be absolutely sure you place
the off hand away from the line of travel of the carriage.
The blade guard should be down and hopefully yours has the attached
hanging guards with it and they are also installed. Be sure the
kickback pawls are in place as well altho for crosscutting they serve
mostly to prevent any tendency of the outside edge to raise since saw
travel is out.
And, be sure to have sufficient outboard support for workpieces longer
than will be adequately supported on the table itself.
We'll leave ripping until you've master crosscutting... :)
Anybody who says to push through starting the saw outside the material
instead of behind the fence on a RAS is, simply, wrong... :)
Not exactly now I'd describe it--normally (unless one is plowing a
groove) the saw is set to be cutting through the wood entirely and
there's no difference since the height of the blade is controlled by the
Which is the opportunity I overlooked in earlier response to remind the
OP to install a sacrifical cutting layer over the actual finish tabletop.
On 9/28/2011 3:48 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Tend to agree w/ the hardboard for a different reason (I've never had
the minute differences in thickness that average out over a workpiece
matter)--the hardboard surface is slicker that is nice, particularly
I was thinking more about voids in the plywood. OTOH, I've had some plywood
lately that has some pretty serious bumps where the plys start/end. Hardboard
is great stuff. It doesn't seem to be as available as it once was. Perhaps
it's part of the HomeDepoting of America.
On 9/28/2011 5:57 PM, email@example.com wrote:
Oh....hadn't thought internal voids particularly significant so didn't
think of them...
For the most part I use the RAS as a cutoff tool and for ripping of
heavy stuff so real precision is rarely a necessity altho can do so if need.
I've a 16" ancient Rockwell mounted in a 20-ft bench; the main table is
3" laminated beech strips (original which starts to show the age; since
when would a manufacturer ship such an accessory? :) ) and the
sacrificial top is 1" soft maple I glued up from some leftover 5/4 stock
and ran thru the widebelt sander. Every few years I give it another
lick to clean it up a little--it'll undoubtedly outlast me by now...
Pull the blade-- but always be conscious that it will want to push you
hand-- so you are pulling, but holding back at the same time.
There is probably a manual online for yours-- but this one shows where
the fence goes.
Do a lot of crosscutting before you go for any ripping. And if you
have a table saw- use *it* to rip.
I had one for years and liked it- I got a better deal on table saw
when the RAS died. And now I have a chop saw for precise crosscuts.
But I had a lot of fun with the RAS & still have 10 fingers.
The fence goes toward the rear between the two (or more) table boards... the
rear one is loose and is tightened against the fence with (often with
Craftsman) two locked in place thumb screws.
If you want to rip, the fence can be moved back behind all table boards so
that you can rip wider. When ripping, you position the saw opposite to that
when crosscutting; i.e. so the blade is spinning away from you and trying to
push the board toward you. Be sure the anti-kickback pawls are set
The saw is used by pulling it toward you; since it is also spinning toward
you, the teeth push the board being cut down and back toward the fence. Cut
by pushing, and the blade will try to flip the board up. Not good.
Not really. As some have mentioned, some blades will try to climb up on
crosscuts so keep a stiff arm as you pull. Best is to get a blade made for
radial saws...they have a lower - even negative - hook angle.
Radial saws can be really handy for lots of things, primarily dealing with
cross cutting. Handy for cross laps on a long board, for one. A sanding
disk is handy on them too. I don't like them for ripping even though I
ripped a lot of lumber on mine before getting a cabinet saw. I still prefer
the radial for crosscuting; problem is that they have a fraction of the
power of my cabinet saw, need to keep the blade clean and sharp.
If you wind up using yours a fair amount you might want to mark the outboard
teeth on the blade. By that I mean the two teeth that stick out the
farthest. Way to do it is lay a framing square on the table with one leg
against the fence. Raise the saw so the edge of the teeth just touch the
edge of the square and rotate the blade until you find the one that sticks
out the farthest. Move square to other side and repeat. I use a red felt
tip marker to mark those teeth, also draw a line from them toward the hub so
I can spot them easily.
What good is all that? You can now position a board with a knife cut (or
pencil mark) by rotating the blade until the proud tooth lines up with it
and get a very precise cut.
One other tip...one normally cuts then pushes the saw back behind the fence
and turns off the saw before moving the pieces that were cut. When you move
the saw in either direction, take care that you do not apply any lateral
pressure toward the keeper piece; doing so will deflect the saw a bit and
your cut will be less precise than it could be..
And for stopping the blade, there is a brake on the arbor...sort of a shoe
at the accessory end. Press down and it brakes the blade.
These saws were recalled because the guards were not compliant with safety
regulations. Plenty of craftsmen have used them without injury.
Recall info link- http://radialarmsawrecall.com /
Make sure the saw blade you choose has at most 0 degrees hook angle ,even better
with negative 5 or 6 degrees as this helps prevent overfeeding and gives you a
more controlled cut.
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