Radial Arm Saw Table Fence...


Hi,
I aquired a radial arm saw without a table. I've built a new table out of 2 pieces of 3/4 MDF laminated together. I plan on putting a sacrificial top on it, as well embedding a fence into it. Which brings me to the actual question. I need to know where to put the fence. How far from the post of the RAS? Do I want the blade to be COMPLETELY behind the fence when pushed all the way back?
I'm not going to be using the RAS for anything but cross cutting, so I'm not going to use any clamping mechanisms to hold the fence in place. I assumed I would put a 3/4 dado where I want the fence, and just place a 3/4 MDF fence in the slot.
So...any thoughts about this? Also, how tall should the fence be?
- Thanks,
Todd
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Todd wrote:

For the most part, whatever seems to make sense for your intended use will be fine regarding both the position and the height of the fence. Many factory fences are designed to allow you to reposition the fence within the range of a few inches. Since I am of the camp that prefers to pull the blade through the workpiece, I like the blade to be able to sit completely behind the fence in the rest position. Occasionally I will move the fence to get a few extra inches of crosscut capacity and push the blade through the work. I do this much less now that I have a table saw.
I made a taller fence for mine to give me some additional room to clamp hold-downs and stops for repetitive cuts. You just have to make sure it's not so tall as to interfere with the travel of the motor carriage.
It's a real timesaver to have a crosscut-dedicated RAS in the shop, especially if you're in anything like a production mode. You might also want to make some jigs for common mitre angles. It's nice to be able to do that on the RAS if you have a table saw setup that you don't want to change.
Enjoy it! Tom
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You didn't say what size or brand your RAS was.
Really, if all you plan to do is cross cutting, why not just measure where the blade is in the back position and then set the fence position slightly forward of that. Another thought, if you have a Craftsman saw, is to pay a visit to the nearest Sears store with your tape measure and notepad in your pocket. They don't seem to mind if you tell them that all you want is a few measurements. I've done it myself a few times.
--
Charley


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I use a 2"x2" aluminum angle. Its 36" long and allows for easy clamping of stops for repetitive cuts. In Addition, add a 45 deg champher to the top of the table where it meets the fence. This will allow the odd bit of sawdust/chip a place to go and assure your workpiece meets the fence squarely.
Dave
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Todd wrote:

Yes. Assuming you value your hands and fingers. __________

Normally, a RAS table is two or more pieces, front table is fixed, back table removeable. The fence is placed between them and the integral clamps on the saw are used to clamp the back table against the fence and front table.
Personally, I wouldn't want a fence just sitting in a dado. Even if you glue or screw it in, fences get chewed up - yes, just from crosscutting - and it is nice to be able to replace them. And even though you plan to only crosscut you may change your mind in the future and it is handy to be able to use specialized fences. ______________

High enough so the piece being cut can be firmly held against it. Generally, they are about 3/4" but I like mine higher...as high as possible without the saw bottom hitting it.
--

dadiOH
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Todd, I've had a Craftsman RAS for quite a few years. As others have posted the table is in two or three pieces. Mine has a larger table fixed to the frame in front and it used to have two narrow tables towards the back. When I replaced the table I combined the rear two tables into just one and put the fence between the front fence and the rear. I definitely wouldn't use a dado to attach the fence since either it won't be very well secured or you won't be able to easily replace it. My saw carriage has a plastic guard that you raise with the saws grip handle. When it's in the down position it's right behind the fence. This is important because this way the saw carriage, and therefore the blade, won't be able to creep toward the front of the saw while it's running unless you purposely raise the guard. If your saw doesn't have a guard you should look into getting one. So I would suggest putting the fence right in front of the guard, or where the guard should be. I suppose different manufacturers use different types of guards but I would hope that they all would be as safe as the one on my much maligned Craftsman. Mine is from the early '90s and has made excellent cuts of all sorts for a long time now with only occasional maintenance. Even though my shop is completely full of most major tools it still gets used almost every day for one job or another. If you happen to have a Craftsman let me know and I'll send you some table measurements. Be safe with that saw by not using a blade with too much hook. I use a blade with a negative hook and it has much less of a tendancy to want to grab onto and pull it's way through a board.
Bruce
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Been using mine since 1970! You'll be doing long rips on it soon, far safer than a TS and it's easy to handle long stock on a long table. Mine is eight ft. but I have used 16ft tables for long stuff. Wilson

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As other have said, clamp the fence between two separate table top pieces. Mounting a fence in a dado is not secure enough or anywhere near strong enough - the saw is quite capable of pushing a cut-off piece of wood through a 3/4" fence, if the situation arises. And, yes, the blade is meant to be behind the fence (measured somewhat above the cutting height of the workpiece) when it's at the back position. The front edge of the blade (behind the guard) can be slightly forward of the fence.
If setup properly, a RAS won't creep forward, even when running. The blade runs in a slot in the table, and the stand should be set so the motor/saw assembly runs to the back stop under the pull of gravity. (Of course, when cutting, you have to restrain the saw from feeding too quickly into the workpiece.)
You will probably have more than one fence, depending on what cut you are doing at a particular time. And fences are meant to be replaceable. The only limit on fence height is the bottom of the motor.
If you have a Craftsman saw, there still is a recall in effect - http://www.radialarmsawrecall.com/ - that covered many saws made from the 1960s through the 1990s. The free retrofit kit included a new saw guard and table.
Email me if you want more detailed measurements or pics...
--
JeffB
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Thanks for the input.
I was actually thinking that a DADO would work well, since it would be about an inch deep in a inch and a half thick table (not including the replacable table top.)
The problem is, I don't have the clamps for the fence. The saw came to me free, and used, and it didn't have the clamps on it. I figured I could get away without it. Anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do in place of those clamps to hold a fence in place?
- Thanks,
Todd
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"Todd" wrote...

Todd:
I just use a scrap piece of cherry, planed straight, mebbe 2" wide by 3/4" high. Screwed to the top. It's a good idea to make the fence adjustable for square, and replacable so when you start making mitre cuts or dados or whatever, you can move the fence to eliminate the cut parts, or just replace it. IMO, the dado would be unnecessary and make the fence hard to adjust for square, or to move backward or forward if you should decide you want that.
Also, the saw blade should be entirely behind the face of the fence. You don't ever want to put a thick piece of lumber up to the running saw and have it touch the blade. On my saw, the blade is about an inch back from the face of the fence.
-- Timothy Juvenal www.rude-tone.com/work.htm
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Todd wrote:

On my Craftsman they are just two 1/4" wing bolts that go through threaded steel "L"s that are mounted on the frame at the back. To clamp, the wing bolts are turned so that they push the back table toward the fence. Wouldn't be hard to make, would be far more convenient if they could be turned from the front of the saw.
You could also secure both front and back tables to the saw frame leaving a gap sufficient for the fence and wedges.
A nicety... Sawdust accumulates on the table at the fence and you can't make accurate cuts with it there. Your life can be easier if you attach some inverted 1/4" or 1/2" ply "V"s to the back of the front table so that there is a gap between it and the fence; thus, much of the sawdust will fall through by itself and what doesn't is easy to get rid of.
--

dadiOH
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I always have a hearth-brush sitting on the radial arm saw. That's all it takes. Except for when I have a stop clamped to the fence for making a lot of same-length cuts. In that case I use the dust gun. Having compressed air on tap in the workshop is ever so nice :-) One of the best ideas I ever had was to get that 200 NZdollar minimalist compressor and mounting it out of the way under a bench.
-P.
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