The Fighting Seabees


I was watching the old John Wayne movie (1944) tonight and there is a scene where "Sawyer" opens a pack of cigarettes by running the end of the pack through a Dewalt radial arm saw, that looked to be a 16" blade, while another guy was ripping lumber. The looks on Susan Hayward and Dennis O'Keefe's faces were great as was Hayward's line "Hadn't you better count your fingers sawyer?" Ripping lumber on a radial arm saw is foolhardy enough but to open a pack of cigarettes was even crazier! Sawyer's response was "It always turns out the same, 10 or 12 roughly." He was drunk... this was an advertisement for the CPSC and OSHA!
John
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Since when?
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After having had several near misses doing this I'll never do it again... seems to be a combination of no splitter, the wood not being pulled down to the table by the blade, an inadequate fence, a saw that would twist when under a ripping load causing the blade to bind, and inadequate power. Perhaps a really well built radial arm saw is up to the task... but I'll stick with my 3 HP table saw for such use in the future.
John
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Working with any tool that is badly set up and operated is dangerous. I've done a pretty fair amount of ripping on a 1980 Craftsman radial arm saw with no problem whatsoever. Only downside was that the table is not as slick and nice as a tablesaw.
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I probably should have qualified that statement by mentioning the volume of wood I was running through it... for days at a time 100s and 100s of linear feet of ripping was involved. It was a Craftsman of late 70s vintage and with that amount of use it wouldn't retain it's set up. Checking and resetting the adjustments was a daily task as was waiting for it to cool off enough for the reset button to work. It launched a few boards and bound up and stalled on others. It was slow going and stressful. For once in a while ripping of a few boards it was probably fine... for production ripping it was a hazard. In the movie the machine was clearly being used as a production ripping machine.
I recently ripped about 800 linear feet on the table saw. Biesemeyer T-Splitter, X-Acta Commercial fence and 3 HP... not once was there a time when it didn't feel safe. I'll stick with the table saw...
John
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Just in John's defense, I too have had horrible experiences ripping wood with a RAS.
Just seems to me that a badly setup table saw will just do bad job .. but .. a badly setup RAS is friggin dangerous.
just JMHO
mike
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