Done correctly the RAS fence keeps the board from moving backwards. If you
are using a sled to push the board into the RAS the blade could aggressively
grab and bad results could happen. For those that think pushing the blade
is correct, the blade is always trying to lift the board. When correctly
pulling, the blade is pushing the board down against the table and against
Obviously in the crosscut position. Some folks who are used to using a
SCMS think the same technique of pushing the blade through the work on a
crosscut applies to a RAS. It doesn't. In the rip position on a RAS,
the work should be fed against the rotation of the blade, the same as a
You're not getting the full utility out of your RAS. What it excels at
when properly adjusted is crosscutting, particularly if you also have a
tablesaw for ripping.
If the arm travel would be as smooth as my slide table, fine.
The slide table is mounted on my table saw top and BOTH are mounted on
my Craftsman 10" radial saw.
I have, in effect, an upside down table saw that tilts on both
Can you imagine it?
The splitter is on the front side of the guard when cross cutting. When
ripping the splitter should be down and on the back side of the blade from
the feed side. You should feed the wood against the spin direction of the
blade. The splitter will then be positioned in the kerf on the back side of
You cannot use the splitter in the cross cut position with a RAS. The
cross cut operation is the opposite to ripping. When properly cross cutting
there is not kerf for the splitter to be located in as the splitter is in
front of the blade when cross cutting.
To rip with a RAS you swivel the saw around so the blade is parallel to the
fence. It's a good idea to install a featherboard that will push the timber to
be ripped against the fence. You then feed the timber into the blade, so that
the blade throws the chips into your face, rather than the blade pulling the
timber through. It's messy. It's not as accurate as ripping on a tablesaw and
nowhere near as good as ripping on a bandsaw. It also gets dangerous towards
the end of the board that you're pushing through. Pushstick is a must there,
and a receiver at the far end to hold the board is preferable. I certainly
wouldn't recommend doing production runs that way.
Having said that, I once used my RAS to rip weathergrooves into a couple
hundred meters of 3" battens for vertical board and batten cladding.
Preferably, I'll never ever do that again.
As for push vs pull - this is what I do: hold the wood firmly agains the fence,
with the saw behind the fence. With a straight arm, shoulder behind the arm,
pull the saw towards me, while firmly holding the wood against the fence. If
the saw wants to climb, I have the physical means to slow it, and if it gets
out of control after all, the thumb is near the power button ( I hope: at least
on my saw it is ). This can happen with very wet and or hard wood if you go too
fast in the first place. There's a learnig curve to that, it hasn't happened to
me in years and years. NB: if the saw does climb, you'll have to re-adjust or
at least check EVERYTHING afterwards.
When I was still learning the tool I tried the push technique. A couple of
times the saw grabbed an offcut and flung it - chucked an 8" length of 2x4 20
yards across a building site once, and smashed a hole into a sheet of ply on
another occasion. Nearly collected the rebound with my head. I don't know why
it happened that way, but it did. Lets just say I do not push the RAS into a
cut any more ... unless I am doing a partial depth cut only to rough out a
tenon or a lap joint, then I go back and forth, back and forth while moving the
timber from side to side into the line of cutting. It's safe for partial depth
RAS has been the main tool in my shop for 20odd years, cause I had a crap
bandsaw. Since I've bought the new BS, the RAS is starting to lose a lot of
ground. But it's superb for cross cutting long chunks of lumber :)
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Ripping safety and kickback are both dependent upon the rip fence
Using the full length RAS back fence is dangerous.
Once the blade is though the board that portion of the board is cut.
There is no need for a fence beyond the cut.
Anything longer than that is a part to be pushed against, the first
requirement for kickback.
What is needed is a very short rip fence, just long enough to guide
the board to a complete vertical cut.
After that point, both portions of the cut board are free to go their
own ways without any possibility of kickback.
This is why IMHO ripping on a RAS is inherently dangerous.
Do you now see the rip advantage of my upside down table saw design?
What model saw is it? I'm pretty familiar with the older ones. In any
case, I would think just about any Craftsman RAS should be capable of
working pretty smoothly through the crosscut motion. It's unlikely
that your saw would have been used heavily enough to wear out the
bearings, so I'd guess that it's an adjustment or set-up issue. Sears
is good about carrying manuals and parts for older machines. Check out
You'll need the model number which starts with 3 digits, a decimal
point, then lots more digits (can't remember exactly how many)
xxx.xxxxxxxx or something.
I encourage you to get it working properly to your satisfaction. Since
you have already committed the shop space, it's extremely useful to
have a dedicated crosscut machine, especially for cutting long stock
precisely. My RAS, like many others, is carefully tuned to 90 degrees
and is never moved.
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