I bought a molding head set today. Scared the he.. out of me when I used it
the first time. Any suggestions for setup, use, safety? Better yet what
shouldn't be done with it (failure to tighten set screws completely).
Yea...I remember when I fired up the molding head on MY
tablesaw all those years ago. I had not heard that sort of a
scary growl out of anything before. It really sounds like it
wants to chew you into small parts. Now...here is what *I*
do when I am going to use it.
1) Try and determine if I can use the router or shaper
for the job first. If not...put the head on the saw.
2) I make sure that the cutters on the head are razor
sharp. I usually touch them up on 1000 grit paper, and get a
good, polished edge on them.
3) I use a zero-clearance insert matched to the cutters.
If I don't already have one, I make one out of 1/2" plywood,
and, make it zero-clearance by clamping it in place, then,
after firing up the saw, bringing the cutters up through it
to the appropriate height.
4) I use hold-downs of some sort for the stock.
I have a few fingerboards that stabilize the stock. I suspect
that some of the wheeled sort would work really well, too.
If I had a power feeder, I would CERTAINLY use
5) I take several light cuts to get to the final shape,
rather than one deep cut.
6) I ALWAYS have eye and ear protection, and, use
push-sticks to move the stock through the cutters.
A firm hand is necessary here, but, you don't want
to force the wood through the head. When the blades are
really sharp, it should not take much more effort than it
does to push a board through a regular sawblade. If you are
having to push really hard...the blades are dull, and, need
I use the Delta moulding head system, this is the 4" dia head with 3 cutter
knives on the RAS. Sharp bits are required, and multiple passes are
recommended whether you use a moulding system on a RAS or TS. Finger boards
and "orange wheels" types of hold downs are a good investment. Using a
moulding head on a RAS is no more complicated than using a router table,
plus you have the benefit to use the moulding head in the in rip and out rip
positions to create mouldings you cannot make otherwise. Wally Kunkel's
book "How To Master The Radial saw" http://mrsawdust.com has very good
instruction for using the RAS in shaping and moulding operations
Radial Arm Saw Forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/woodbutcher/start
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