Radial Arm Saw usage

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All,
I've owned my 1970's vintage Craftsman radial arm saw for about six years now, injury free (other than splinters, and whacking my elbow once on the blade when adjusting it :). The table top (not original) is designed such that you push the blade forward:
blade --> material --> fence --> supporting post
The blade spins clockwise as you face the blade from the left side, so the wood is pushed into the fence by both the forward motion of the saw and spin of the blade. Any sort of kickback will result in either the board being pushed harder into a 2" thick fence or the radial arm saw pushed back along the rail toward me (no danger since I keep my hands well away from the plane of rotation).
Today I looked at a better radial arm saw that had a different setup, where the blade is pulled backward:
material <-- fence <-- blade <-- supporting post
Again, the blade spins clockwise, but pulls the material into the fence. This has a tendency to make the blade speed up as it hits the material, and is harder to control. Also, the action of pulling the radial arm saw is much less smooth than pushing it.
Which way is the correct way? Is there something fundamentally wrong with the way I've set up my saw??
Thanks.
--
Michael White "To protect people from the effects of folly is to
fill the world with fools." -Herbert Spencer
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Michael White (in UvULe.6437$ snipped-for-privacy@newsread3.news.pas.earthlink.net) said:
| I've owned my 1970's vintage Craftsman radial arm saw for about six | years now, injury free (other than splinters, and whacking my elbow | once on the blade when adjusting it :). The table top (not | original) is designed such that you push the blade forward: | | blade --> material --> fence --> supporting post
This is the way I've used my ToolKraft RAS since 1972 (without injury). You can follow the link below to see my table setup.
-- Morris Dovey DeSoto Solar DeSoto, Iowa USA http://www.iedu.com/DeSoto/RAS_Table.html
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Pulling encourages self-feeding and climbing in the saw itself.
Pushing allows lifting of the material as the saw makes contact.
The first will get the saw out of adjustment if it's severe, second won't. Against this, the kickback protection is sometimes unusable.
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================Ghee..
I am in my 60's and have owned a RAS since the mid 60's and honestly I always pull the blade thru the lumber .... Maybe I have been doing it wrong for almost 40 years....oh well it always worked just fine...
Post...> Blade >...fence..> Material..> ME !
Bob G.
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On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 04:05:08 GMT, Michael White
I guess I'm unclear how the design of the table affects whether you push or pull the blade. In any event, the proper use of the RAS, at least according to the instructions that came with mine (1972 Craftsman), and the supplemental aftermarket book I have, as well as Wally Kunkel's book (How to Master the Radial Saw, which you must have) is that the carriage (motor/blade/guard assembly) remains back by the column while you position the work, set stops, etc., and then you pull the carriage toward you, through the work. When you complete the cut, you push the carriage back against the stop near the column.
Starting with the carriage out beyond the work, even with the motor off, requires you to have to work around the assembly to position the work, set stops, etc. Even if it weren't dangerous (which it shouldn't be with the saw off), it's decidedly inconvenient.
Note that every safety conscious piece of writing I've seen concerning working around power tools advises to unplug the tool when changing bits, blades, adjustments, etc. Having that big chunk of motor/blade sitting in the middle of your setup area while plugged in seems utterly counter to that safety protocol.
Yes, RAS work is climb cutting. No, it's not particularly dangerous. Yes, there is a technique to develop of simultaneously pulling the carriage while resisting the push of the carriage with the same set of muscles. No, I can't describe it any better than that.
I fear that your idea of technique has evolved from what I see commonly done with sliding compound miter saws (SCMS) wherein they position the work, pull out the carriage, plunge the carriage down into the work, and push it forward to make the cut. It makes me gag whenever I see it because it's counter to how a RAS is operated. But at least it's justifiable because the carriage can be brought out OVER the work before plunging into it, unlike a RAS which has a relatively zero vertical component of carriage travel (I say relatively, because, of course, the arm can be raised and lowered, but that's a setup function, not an operational function).

--
LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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I agree with everything LRod said. One thing worth adding is that a blade with a negative hook (mine is -5 degrees, I think) substantially reduces the climb cut phenomenon. Since I installed mine, I am MUCH more comfortable using my RAS.
-John
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LRod wrote:

<snip>
And it can be minimized by a blade with the correct tooth geometry.
--
dadiOH
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Michael White wrote:

Yep, you've got the fence misplaced relative to the carriage--
When the carriage is in the furthest position towards the rear (post) the blade should be <fully behind> the fence.
A RAS is designed to be used for cross-cutting in a "climb-cutting" fashion, not pushed. For ripping, of course, one rotates the head and adjusts the blade guard with its integral hold down to feed material into the blade from the front, <not> the rear.
It takes some practice to get used to operating a RAS smoothly, but it does become second nature w/ practice. Here's a case where size <does> matter--the less under-powered the saw, the less the type/size of the cut piece affects the tendency of the saw to either bog down or "grab"...
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Thanks for all the input. Seems like most (but not all) people think I've got my fence wrong. I may try moving the fence to the other side of the saw to see what sort of results I get.
--
Michael White "To protect people from the effects of folly is to
fill the world with fools." -Herbert Spencer
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Michael White wrote:

Why would you have to move the fence (couldn't anyway)? Your fence isn't wrong, you are using the saw wrong...start cuts with the saw *behind* the fence (post side).
-- dadiOH ____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.06... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico
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Well, if his RAS is anything like mine, you can swap the location of the fence and an ~4 inch strip of the table, effectively moving the fence 4" further back than 'normal'. In such a scenario, there is no room to place your stock when the carriage is all the way towards the post. I believe the intended purpose of the fence swap is to extend the width of the widest rip that your RAS can do, and it involves swiveling the motor 180 degrees from its normal rip position when looking at it from above (in rip vs. out rip, though I'm not sure which is which).
To clarify, when crosscutting the fence should be as close to the operator / fixed front table as possible.
-John
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John you are correct. Many times a previous owner doesn't know why there is a need for a back board, nor do they understand the correct operation of the RAS and the make a replacement table wrong. You need a back board behind the fence for various cuts, rips and safe operation.
--
Rumpty

Radial Arm Saw Forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/woodbutcher/start
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wrote:

In rip=sawblade is "inside" the motor with respect to the column Out rip=sawblade is "outside" the motor with respect to the column.
You referred to one as "normal" but I don't believe one is preferred over the other except insofar as rip capacity is concerned. If you need to rip a 4x8 sheet in half, then outrip (and fence at the rear position) is your *only* choice, making it "normal."
Similarly, if you're ripping 2" wide pieces, then outrip is contraindicated regardless of where the fence is; inrip is the only way to do it, and is thus arguably "normal."
As I reflect on it, save for the two special circumstances cite above (both of which relate to capacity) I think I'm fully ambidextrous with regard to inrip vs outrip. I think I'm equally balanced in swinging the motor--in other words, I don't have a "normal" position I use.
--
LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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You bring up some good points, as usual. Reading your reply also made me realize that in-rip and out-rip configurations can be completely independent of the fence position, though I certainly implied differently in my earlier response. Thanks!
-John
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dadiOH ( snipped-for-privacy@wherever.com) wrote on Tuesday 16 August 2005 08:57 am:

dadiOH,
This isn't the original table. The fence is mounted an inch or two from the support post. I can barely get the front of the blade past the fence. The table is a pair of 4'x 2', 3/4" plywood pieces glued together back to back. Perhaps I need to plop a couple of photos out there on a web site to clear things up, as Rumpty suggested.
Thanks.
--
Michael White "To protect people from the effects of folly is to
fill the world with fools." -Herbert Spencer
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Michael,
It's time to ditch that table and the fence system. It's unsafe to operate your RAS in this fashion. I suggest obtaining a copy of the Mr. Sawdust book "How To Master The Radial Saw" http://mrsawdust.com and build a new table as per his suggestions. You'll end up with a two ply steel reinforced table that will remain flat. Also you'll use a two back board system so that you can position the motor for various RAS operations.
--
Rumpty

Radial Arm Saw Forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/woodbutcher/start
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What I've looked at on that web page looks good, but I noticed the book seemed to be geared toward DeWalt. Will I get much out of the maintenance for my ancient Craftsman?
--
Michael White "To protect people from the effects of folly is to
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Mr. Sawdust's book applies to any RAS with respect to operation. His alignment suggestions apply to DeWalt's. If you wan a good book for alignment of your Craftsman, you want the Jon Eakes radial saw book. (do a google).
--
Rumpty

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Michael White wrote:

Did you try Sears parts? Did you check at OWWM.COM to see if they might have a manual for your machine? OWWM is a treasure trove for things related to old woodworking machinery.
Just about ANY good book on radial arm saws will lay down the specific principles of maintaining and aligning your saw. The implementation thereof will vary somewhat between makes but it typically is NOT rocket science.
As for the table problem you seem to have:
Typically, you will see four, maybe more bolts which fasten the main table to the saw frame along with one or two adjusting screws towards the center of the table which provide adjustment/support to keep the top from sagging and screwing up your hard work aligning<g>
What you need to do is fabricate a top which is less deep (front to rear so there's no confusion) which will, in turn allow you to place the following BEHIND the main table and in front of the support column:     1) a 3/4" thick fence,     2) a piece approx 3 1/2" wide and     3) a piece approx 1 1/2" wide
The latter dimensions are not critical, more proportionate than anything else. They allow for the in and out rip mentioned by others. Changing those dimensions will really only affect the measuring device (if any) on the arm. No biggie.
The fence and the two spacers mentioned are then clamped into position somehow - my Craftsman uses a little L-bracket on each side with a thumbscrew not unlike what you'd find on a small C or bar clamp.
If you strike out at Sears and OWWM.com in your quest for a manual, let me know and I'll scan in the relevant portions of my early 70's Craftsman RAS and send it to you as a .pdf file.
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Unquestionably Confused ( snipped-for-privacy@ameritech.net) wrote on Thursday 18 August 2005 07:50 am:

That's one of the first sites Google hit - there's not one there.

I figured as much. As far as I know, I have it set up pretty darn close - all my crosscuts are square, and the blade is parallel to the fence for rips. There does seem to be a bit of warp or slop in the guide bar (i.e. the one -not- primarily supporting the saw), though. This usually shows up as making one side of a 4' long, 12" wide cut 1/32" longer than the other, and as a bit of a bow in the cut. I spent several hours one afternoon tearing things completely down and putting them back together trying to eliminate it. It's more noticeable on oak than soft pine.

Mine has four threaded holes, two on each of the table supports. The first pair of threaded holes is 10" from the front of the table support, the second 20". At the front of the table support (nearest the post) is a pair of non-threaded holes that look like some of the picture hangers that are meant to hang on a bolt or nail head (i.e. two circles of differing diameters sort of squished together).
There is no adjusting screws, or any place adjusting screws would be.

There's no scale on the arm of this thing.

I'm downloading the Emerson's manual from owwm.com right now. Thanks.
--
Michael White "To protect people from the effects of folly is to
fill the world with fools." -Herbert Spencer
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