Radial Arm Saw

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On 10/12/2012 12:12 PM, Lee Michaels wrote:

The problem w/ a lot of the inexpensive ones is that the arm and particularly the yoke are simply not stout enough to prevent movement during the cut.
I'd guess it was more likely the arm out of alignment w/ the table surface rather than actually physically bowed on the previous occasion. Although the arm connection and yoke is often a weak point, generally the arm itself is pretty solid and would take quite a lot to actually bend. OTOH, there were at least some that had basically just a round tube that I've not actually used one of--one of those might possibly happen I suppose.
The lighter saws also tend to come w/ nothing more substantial than a sheet of 3/4" particle board as a table. Speaking of which, for OP--after you've got the thing set up, if the original owner didn't, add a sacrificial surface to the main table--saves redoing the whole thing nearly as frequently.
The beast here has 2" beech as the actual table and I keep a 1/2" ply on it as the working surface that can quickly be replaced for precision work. For ordinary cutoff work that is its normal function it doesn't matter much so it gets pretty munged up w/ time...
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On 10/12/2012 10:39 AM, dpb wrote:

The sacrificial table in front of the fence also allows setting miter cuts without raising the blade as the blade is above the table when behind the fence. It can also allow not raising the blade for ripcuts if the inrip or outrip is set up without the fence and the saw head pulled all the way out with the blade just cutting a trough in the sacrificial top. Once this has been done, you just need to temorarily remove the fence while pulling the head to the rip position.
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Hi Steve, Radial arm saws are great for general utility work, especially with long stock that won't require extreme accuracy. I used to work for a local county government's recreation and parks service. We had one that was set into a long "Home made" table, with various jig stops built into the table. What we used it for primarily was cutting large quantities of boards for picnic table parts. The thing was a workhorse, which is what is was bought for. The level of accuracy was limited by the vary nature of the design, (there is always a degree of flex in the head, and variation in angle accuracy) so don't expect to do finish cabinetry with it. It is good for getting your long stock down to more reasonable lengths, or finish length for rough projects. I think the main advantage of the radial saw is that the board gets placed, and the saw does the moving. To realize this advantage, imagine moving a LOT of 4"x4"x16' boards on a standard table saw. Hardly something I would want to attempt. But I could trim them to a more reasonable length, and then do my finish cuts on the table saw. For the normal use though, the part is probably going to be of a nature that does not require extreme accuracy or finish. And the radial saw will allow some easy shaping of the ends of boards for sign posts etc.. It is also good for making a host of other "rough" projects a lot easier. Think in terms of sign posts, picnic tables, playground equipment, landscape boxes, planters or any other project that does not require extreme accuracy or cut finish. Not that you can't do a fairly decent job on these projects with one of these saws. In the right hands, they can turn out some very nice work. For most of the finer work, like interior trim moldings and such, a compound slide miter is vastly superior, and normally much more mobile. Plus the level of accuracy in terms of angle accuracy and repeatability is vastly superior. Once again, it is a matter of using the right tool for the right job. For the work we did in park maintenance, I wouldn't be without a radial arm saw. It is simply the best for the jobs we had to perform. They are powerful reliable work horses. And I can assure you that I have cut hundreds of parts a day for years on end, using wet ground contact lumber using one of them. They can take the work that is borderline wood butcher abuse! For a cabinet maker, probably not so much, and for fine furniture, don't even waste your time trying. I don't know what you are looking for as far as direction on using the saw, as I don't know your application. Get a copy of the manufacturers directions, read them, and respect the safety precautions. The first time that blade digs in and tries to ride up on that board, stuff goes bad real fast! Enough said! Know the tool you are using before you turn it on. These things are NOT toys! They have more power than you are likely going to control if you are not using it properly. I'm not even going to attempt to remember all the details about setup and use. It's been 20+ years since I've used one. I do know that our supervisor required every operator to sit down in front of him while you read THE ENTIRE BOOK, cover to cover, before you were allowed to touch the thing. And you didn't get that opportunity until he was reasonably sure that you were mature and reliable on the job. They are that dangerous when used improperly. He was so serious that it was common knowledge that his policy was automatic 5 day suspension if you touched it without compliance to initial permission, or any/all safety procedures. Once you know what you are doing, that thing will perform an amazing amount of work for you. Just don't ever get too hurried, lazy or tired while using it. It bites real hard, fast and serious!
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Be sure to have a look at the Dewalt radial arm saw forum over here http://www.delphiforums.com/index.ptt?query walt%20radial%20arm%20saw
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