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Thread: Radial Arm Saw Table/jig

  1. #1

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    Brendon's Tools

    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig

    The debate on Radial Arm Saws seems to go on forever. I'm in the "For" category. To help those who may be 'on the fence' make up their minds and to perhaps, persuade those in the "Against" category to look again, here is a look at my RAS set-up. It was developed primarily with safety in mind but also convenience.
    Firstly, there is the table itself, which in my case, is not sacrificial:
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5208%5B1%5D.jpg
    It is made from melamine-faced particleboard; for ease of cleaning and for slipperiness.
    Next comes a sideways sliding table (x direction, that is) made from the same material. This might seem a strange idea with and RAS but, read on. The table is constructed in a way that it hooks over or straddles the rear fence of the original table in a way that prevents slop:
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5209%5B1%5D.jpg Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5211%5B1%5D.jpg
    Kerf lines are visible on the auxiliary table in the photo from previous ripping operations; the auxiliary table is sacrificial.
    The back fence of this auxiliary table is designed to be exactly parallel with the original table's fence. Examination of the photographs will show that the are three clamping devices which hold down the work piece firmly when cross cutting or ripping. Another important feature of the auxiliary table is a pin which automatically drops into a corresponding hole in the original table's fence when aligned, thus, locking the auxiliary table into place when cross-cutting for example.
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5210%5B1%5D.jpg
    The following photo shows a board of walnut ready to be cross-cut to length. It is clamped in position. A stop arrangement to the right ensures that repeat cuts will be exactly the same. The auxiliary table's lock pin is in the down position, so everything is solid. The cut can be made safely and cleanly with no hands or thumbs needing to be near the blade. In fact, the cut cut could be made with just one hand operating the saw.
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5213%5B1%5D.jpg
    The next photo shows the set-up for a rip cut; here it is set up for trimming the edge of a board. It could just as easy be for straightening a board, ripping down the middle or be even set up to cut tapers.
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5228%5B2%5D.jpg
    Here's a view looking towards the blade:
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5229%5B1%5D.jpg
    And finally, after the cut; the sliding table has been moved from left to right and the operator didn't need to stand in the line of fire of the blade. All done from the front of the table.
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5230%5B2%5D.jpg
    Now you can see why I wanted to use a melamine faced board for the tables as it slides relatively easily.
    The set-up described above is also great for cutting medium to small sized sheet materials. The next photo shows a plywood square panel being cut to size. Cutting a panel like this is basically like doing long cross-cuts.
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5215%5B1%5D.jpg
    And now a nice little jig that simply clamps straight onto the auxiliary table. Can you see what it is? It may come as a surprise to know that it is actually a circle-cutting jig; and one that works remarkably well. How, you might ask, does one cut a circle on a RAS?
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5216%5B1%5D.jpg
    Well, the principle is very simple: keep cutting the corners off a square shape, again and again. and you will end up with a circle. Believe it or not, from set-up to finished circle only takes a few minutes.
    The following sequence of photos show the setting up and cutting process:
    First setting the jig for a 14" dia. circle.
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5217%5B2%5D.jpg
    Now, see the knob on the left that tightens up the setting on the jig:
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5218%5B2%5D.jpg
    Now, imagine the square of plywood we cut earlier; we find its centre-point and drill an appropriately sized hole and drop it over the pin on the jig. Now, we simply hold it firmly in place and cut off the first corner; just as if we were doing a regular cross-cut.
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5219%5B1%5D.jpg
    The photo above shows the first corner cut off. It is now only a matter of rotating the plywood 90 degrees and cutting of the next corner and so on. When all four corners are cut off, we start on the next lot of smaller corners until we end up with what we see in the next photos:
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5221%5B1%5D.jpg Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5222%5B1%5D.jpg,
    A near-perfect circle and a little pile of debris.
    All that is left now is to set the blade at the appropriate position along the arm and turn the disc-shaped plywood into the blade to trim off the hairs:
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5223%5B1%5D.jpg.
    Of course, a Radial Arm Saw is capable of doing all sorts of unusual jobs but I will cover just one more of the common tasks that I use the RAS for; cutting mitres (perhaps 'miters' where you are). Again, this requires the simplest of jigs clamped down onto the auxiliary table. A fence fixed at the required angle to a piece of MDF :
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5226%5B1%5D.jpg
    The final photos show a mitre (miter) after being nipped off the end of a piece of plywood and the cut being checked against a 45 degree square. Looks pretty accurate to me!
    Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5225%5B1%5D.jpg Radial Arm Saw Table/jig-img_5227%5B1%5D.jpg
    To conclude; I designed this set-up primarily with safety in mind. Secondly with accuracy and thirdly with convenience in mind. I hope it will persuade some of the Naysayers that the RAS is not so bad after all. Indeed, it is pretty well the mainstay of my shop. Few projects take place without some recourse to my RAS. Moreover, it is no more dangerous than any other machine if treated with respect. It is also no less forgiving. Note that all machines are dangerous. Even hand tools can be deadly if incorrectly used. The system described here works for me, it may not work for you. You are responsible for your own safety. Your shop, your machines, your methods etc. will undoubtedly differ from mine. So, whatever you do, think about the safety aspect of it and stay safe.
    For more details about this project, including notes on safety, visit my blog.
    Last edited by Brendon; 03-21-2016 at 03:27 AM.
    Visit my blog at www.waneyedgeworkshop.com

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  3. #2
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    Hi Brendon,

    Another beautiful job! Your Radial Arm Saw Table/Jig is the 'Tool of the Week'!

    As you've already received one of our official HomemadeTools.net T-shirts, we'd be glad to award you a $25 online gift card.

    Just let me have your email address via PM and we'll get things processed directly.

    Congrats!

    Ken

  4. #3

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    Great work. I've always liked RAS for doing dados and the like since you can see what the blade is doing (or not). Had a DeWalt 7770 ( late 70's) and GWI (1954). Sold the 7770 when we moved. Still looking for a 12" or 14" so I can cut a 4x4 in one pass.

    JohnMTO

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    Brendon's Tools
    Many thanks Ken.
    Brendon
    Visit my blog at www.waneyedgeworkshop.com

  6. #5

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    Brendon's Tools
    Hi John,
    Thanks for your comment.
    Good luck in your search for a new RAS.
    Would be interested to hear if you set up a system like mine when you get it.
    I agree with you about being able to see what is going on at the blade.
    Best Wishes.
    Brendon
    Visit my blog at www.waneyedgeworkshop.com

  7. #6
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    Thanks Brendon! We've added your Radial Arm Saw Table to our Woodworking category, as well as to your builder page: Brendon's Homemade Tools. Your receipt:


  8. #7

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    I was recently given an older working RAS,never used or saw one before.After seeing this, i am anxious to replace its old cutting table with this idea.Thank for the great spark to start the rebirth of a fine old tool. ...Tom

  9. #8

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    Brendon's Tools
    Thanks for your comment Tom. I am assuming from your comment that you don't have much experience with the RAS.
    So do proceed with caution, Radial Arm Saws are wonderful machines but very unforgiving,
    especially when ripping. But then all saws and machines are unforgiving.No machine has a consciense.
    Make sure everything is straight and clamped down. When ripping, if there is the slightest tendency for
    the blade to bind or stick, be ready to back off from the blade. To do this you will need a solid
    pull handle of some sort on the table. There must be no sideways slop on the table but it must be smooth running at the same time to enable a back-off if required. Always make sure anti-kickback pawls are in place.
    Check what sort of blade is in the saw; make sure it has a negative hook angle and is sharp.
    Never stand directly behind the saw when ripping, or let anyone else stand directly behind it (you don't want to be in the line of fire if there is a kickback).
    I never rip heavy boards on it but do find it very useful for ripping, edge-trimming and straightening boards and jointing boards
    up to about 3/4" or 5/8" thick. That's about as heavy a board that I use anyway.
    Never rush a rip cut (or any cut for that matter), keep the feed rate slow.
    Some people seem to think the RAS is best suited to cross cutting 2x4s and such.
    I don't. In my view it is much better suited to doing the tasty work for joinery.
    That's what I designed this system for.
    That's what The RAS was designed for in the first place.
    I will be posting another article on my blog: waneyedgeworkshop.com very shortly. It details how the RAS should tuned and set-up. You could have a read of that. The RAS must be kept tuned and in proper adjustment.
    Make sure you undrstand the concept of "Heel" in regard to the RAS and learn how to eliminate it.
    If you take note of all safety precautions you should be fine and have fun with your saw
    but then safety needs to be observed with all saws and machines.
    I hear people say that the RAS is a dangerous saw and that they wouldn't use one
    and then see them doing blatantly unsafe things with chop saws and table saws.
    That doesn't make sense to me.

    Good luck and think safe
    B
    Visit my blog at www.waneyedgeworkshop.com

  10. #9

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    Ripping on a RAS



    http://joneakes.com/learning-curve/75-radial-arm-saws

    An excellent Investment at $15.00

    From the world of Mr Sawdust the must have book:
    Mr Sawdust site http://www.mrsawdust.com/

    Order Book [A real deal at $25]
    OR

    https://www.dovetalebooks.com/sawdus...prod=sawdust01

    Great write up on RAS rebuild
    http://www.woodcentral.com/bparticles/dewaltrebuild.pdf

    Extra Fun OR Old Steam saw mill


    JohnMTO

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  12. #10

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    Brendon's Tools
    Cheers John,
    I've seen a lot of the videos on Youtube. Some are downright scary.
    I watched one recently of a guy demonstrating how to cut a dado with a big sliding compound miter saw. It was frightening; the saw wasn't even bolted down to the bench. He was whacking away cutting slices and the saw was sliding and bucking around. I thought he was going pull it down on top of himself. When he was finished he proudly displayed what looked like a very rough cut that would have to be cleaned out with a chisel. He claimed to have 20 years experience as a furniture maker but the video scared the crap out of me.
    I was very happy to go back to my controlled RAS system.

    Brendon
    Last edited by Brendon; 03-20-2016 at 01:39 PM.
    Visit my blog at www.waneyedgeworkshop.com

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