Radial Arm saw cutting question... Help needed...

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Hello, I am having a small difficulty cutting some over-sized pieces of plywood on my Radial arm saw and was looking for suggestions. Here's the problem: I have a standard 4' x 8' piece of plywood. I start by cutting it in half lengthwise. (2 pieces of 24" x 96") Now I need to cut each of the above pieces in the following way: 2 pieces that are 34" x 24" and one piece that is 20" x 24". (So I need a total of 4 of the 34x24 and 2 of the 20x24). The problem comes from trying to cut the 34"x24" pieces. My Radial Arm Saw only cuts a maximum of about 26". I have a table saw too, but the fence only extends to about 20" or 22". (It's a real small one.) The only solution I have been able to work out so far is to make a 26" cut, flip the wood over. Use a 36" straight edge ruler to line up the saw blade with the cut and then cut from the other side. The drawback is that sometimes I am off by a 1/16th or as much as 3/32nds. I suppose I could also use my skil saw, but it doesn't give as nice a cut. Any other suggestions.....? Thanks for your time, Sean.
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Make a crosscut sled for the table saw and remove the fence. You should not crosscut against the fence anyway, you are just asking for a kickback. Use a roller stand or similar to the side of the saw to support the part that is hanging over.

Try putting a good quality plywood blade on the saw, and score the cut line with a utility knife
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Sean wrote:

So if you need to cut a 36" length off of a piece of 24" wide stock and your RAS cuts 26" then where's the problem? Are you trying to cut it in the rip position or something? If so change over to crosscut, put the fence in the back position, and cut away. If you still need to flip the piece, then use a stop. If the cuts don't match with a stop then you need to align the saw.

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Thanks for the reply. I am afraid that I mispoke when I said I could do a 26" cut. I meant that the length of RAS "arm" was about 26". So by the time you knock off two or three inches at the front of the cut, and 2 or 3 inches at the back of the cut, you end up with a maximum cut length of about 20-21 inches I think. (That would be assuming that you put the fence in the rearmost position and then turned on the saw and lowered it into the wood at the back. You would still be short a couple of inches from the 24" that I need.) I used a stop for some shorter pieces that I cut on the last sheet I was cutting, but the RAS table is too narrow to allow a stop at the 34" mark. Nuts! I just realized how to do that as I was typing! I'll clamp a longer sheet onto the RAS table and then clamp a stop to the longer sheet. Thanks for the suggestions Sean

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rearmost position and then turned on the saw and lowered it into the wood at the back.
Your suggested procedure is not recommended by anyone in the world of RAS users.

Don't, just use a longer fence and clamp your stop to the fence.
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Thanks for the reference to Mr. Sawdust. I'll check that out. Regarding my post about lowering the blade into the wood... I wasn't actually suggesting doing that, I was actually stating that it wouldn't work to do that. Thanks for the advice! Sean

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on
cut,
Although this is not the most graceful approach in the world, sometimes we have to do what we have to do. You should be able to hit the kerf dead on. Think of it this way - the mark you're making to indicate where the kerf is that you started, is really no different at all than any other mark you make to indicate a cut line. If you can cut a fresh piece of wood exactly where you want to, then you should be able to cut to your kerf just as easily. If you're off by 1/16-3/32 then you're not taking the time to line up your mark properly, or you're moving the wood and not following you line, or you have an alignment problem with your saw. All of those can be fixed, but the basic practice should work.

Your circular saw with a good blade in it so that you make a nice clean cut, and a guide clamped on the sheet will give you an cut edge that is as good as your table saw. Take your time, line it up, and saw it. Again, if your circular saw is not giving clean cuts, fix the problem.
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"Mike Marlow" wrote:

That would be my experience. I have a sheet cutting rack made of 2 x 2s. I use a 1" x 2" steel tube, 100" long as a guide. Clamp it at both ends. I had to do some light filing on the shoe of my Milwaukee circular saw to be sure it was exactly parallel with the blade. I use a freud blade. I get straight, accurate cuts every time.
Max
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Max wrote: ...

I built a "cheap 'n cheery" panel saw essentially the same way except started w/ a barn door rail and a pair of rollers to hold the saw carriage. A sliding bolt on each end lets the whole thing adjust up and down and a wing nut locks it in.
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You know, I've got 4 biiiiiig linear slide bearings that I've been trying to find a use for. Are they destined to be a panel cutter, I wonder? Has anyone used something like that for a panel cutter?
Dave Hinz
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Dave Hinz wrote:

Yeah, I've seen them done...I would have if I'd had a set around...
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We do this cut all the time, our RAS saws all have out feed tables which we use a stop on for cuts such as this. Place your panel on the table, align your "mark" to the cut on the fence (perhaps you need a fresh fence cut), pull the saw half way and return. Flip the panel over and align with the stop and finish the cut. If this method doesn't prove satisfactory your saw probably needs alignment. If you don't have an out feed table, replace your fence with a nice long fence to which you can position a stop.
What make RAS are you using?
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Thanks for the suggestion of replacing the fence with a longer fence. That's definitely the way to go. I used a stop on a couple of smaller cuts that I needed to do on the last sheet I just did. I just never thought of replacing the fence. Thanks! Sean (It's a Craftsman RAS from Sears. I've been very happy with it since I bought it about 5 years ago.)

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Sean,
Suggested reading: http://mrsawdust.com /
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I see how a longer fence with stops will work. Another method is to cut part way through as you are doing now. Then, crank the blade up. Now flip the board over. Crank the blade down into the already cut slot, moving the wood left and right for perfect (as you can get it) alignment. Then lower the blade down more and WITH POWER OFF move it back and forth in the cut slot for further alignment adjustments. Once you are happy with the set up, crank the blade up, push the saw back, then crank the blade down and make the cut.
I also second Rob Ritch who suggested you make a crosscut sled for the table saw. If you make a real nice sled, you might notice that you aren't using your RAS as much...
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I guess I'll take issue with that last statement. I initially made a lot of use of the table saw sled I built. However, it's been sitting on a shelf ever since I got a RAS. (I'll bet Rumpy will love this post!) GerryG

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You will get all sorts of good advice on how to use your radial arm saw. I watched my neighbour ripping some wood with his, and wound up giving him a table saw ...which he still uses and makes money at it. He still uses the RAS but for other reasons. I've used it very effectively with a jig for doing door panels, repetetive cuts etc.. My message is simple: Safety first and foremost. If you want to cut wood, get the right tools and supports. People make mistakes both in material and on themselves by making do. A good investment at the start is a good investment in the future.
A simplest solution might be to purchase, or have made, an extension for your table saw to accommodate wider cuts supporting the same fence, or go for a better guide-rail/fence altogether.
One saw is best for one purpose, and another for another. You can intermingle a little, but use common sense for larger projects for one or the other. It's not a case of one saw does all.
Your choice, of course.
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and supports
A DeWalt RAS will out perform any TS.
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Rumpty wrote:

Except for those it won't, of course... :)
See Original Saw Company, for example... http://www.originalsaw.com /
And it's like comparing paint--there's no comparion except on a specific model-by-model basis that is absolute.
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http://www.originalsaw.com /
Well considering OSC bought out the DeWalt line and went forward with the design, I guess you are correct! ;-)
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