First Stage of Design

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Blog entry by Blake posted 01-23-2008 09:16 AM 16761 reads 5 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Ok, so the next piece of shop furniture that needs updating is my radial arm saw table. The original table I built was meant to be a temporary home for the old saw after its restoration about two years ago.

I spent some down time at work drawing a few different designs and ideas and then put it in sketchup when I got home. Please… let’s discuss the design before I actually make any cuts! I am totally open to any constructive criticism.

Here is what I have come up with so far:

The design: My vision is to have the two DeWalts from different ages side by side. Sort of like grandfather and grandson. It reminds me of many of the projects I worked on with my grandpa. I have a 1959 8 1/2” DeWalt RAS and a new 12” DeWalt compound miter saw. There are things that I like about both saws but they are quite different.

The structure is basically a carcass which is divided into sections for each saw as well as space in between for storage (drawers). It is 8’ long from side to side whereas the current table is 6’. So I believe it is enough working space for both saws.

The biggest problem with my current table is the fact that I can’t adjust the table top in relationship to the saw. Even with all the time I spent trying to get the table to be perfectly flat and level, there is allways that tiny bit of accuracy that can only be achieved if it is adjustable.

My current “temporary” Radial Arm Saw table:

I spent some time trying to figure out how to make the table top adjustable. The design which seems to work the best involves a perfectly flat table and the base of the saw being adjustable.

Here is what I am thinking for the spacing of the two saws: I usually keep the measured side of my cuts on the left of the blade. So I wanted to have the most space to the left of the RAS. The Chop saw will be mostly used for cutting miters and bevels on wood that has already been dimensioned (keep in mind most of my projects are small). So it doesn’t need as much room.

I was thinking of making the top the same way I made the top for my router table (particle board laminated with melamine).

For the base/stand I have a pair of metal workbench legs that I will use for now and I will later build a bottom cabinet for more storage. The workbench legs are too wide so they will have to be placed diagonally under the table.

I have some Ideas for the fence and dust collection (of course) but that will come later.

Let me know what you think… I’m gonna keep working on it.

-- Happy woodworking!

17 comments so far

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3943 days

#1 posted 01-23-2008 12:46 PM

I like the looks of the new design, but I’d be worried about one saw getting in the way of the other.

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Grant Davis's profile

Grant Davis

780 posts in 4055 days

#2 posted 01-23-2008 02:38 PM

I have seen several designs like this and everyone says they are the cats meow after getting them completed. I am looking forward to seeing yours complete.

-- Grant...."GO BUCKEYES"

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

406 posts in 3979 days

#3 posted 01-23-2008 03:03 PM

I’ve just completed a similar style setup for my new shop. You’re absolutely correct about the adjustable base. A couple years ago I built a mobile miter stand from plans that I believe were from a FWW mag publication that included an adjustable “floating platform” and it worked so well I copied the design for my new setup. The original plan calls for large stove bolts for the platform to “ride” on but since I was unable to find any I used carriage bolts instead. Apparently within the last couple years they’ve stopped selling carriage bolts threaded their entire length (ugh!) so I used threaded rods and hex caps this time.

I don’t have the details in SketchUp but here’s a cropped closeup:
saw platform closeup

Hope you find this useful.

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View Tony Z's profile

Tony Z

205 posts in 3937 days

#4 posted 01-23-2008 03:36 PM

Nice job on the restoration Blake, it looks very retro. I also have a Radial Arm Saw Dilema. About a year ago I got an old siezed-up Craftsman 10” at an auction and have since restored and installed it. It works like butter. I installed a whole wall of cabinets around this saw. My dilema is this, I’ve been thinking about getting rid of it and replacing it with a 10” sliding CMS. All I use the RAS for is cutting things to length. I keep seeing everyones thoughts on radial arm saws being dangerous and how you should get rid of them. I can’t help but agree. I feel like this thing is going to jump right into my chest sometimes. I figure I can cut things to length with a Sliding CMS just as easy with much more control. I would like to hear everyones thoughts on this.

-- Tony, Ohio

View SPalm's profile


5322 posts in 4029 days

#5 posted 01-23-2008 04:23 PM

Looks good Blake.
I would think a replaceable top (or top section) and fence on the RAS would be needed also.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4021 days

#6 posted 01-23-2008 06:27 PM

Patrick: That picture is such a bit help! It’s just what I needed to see because that is basically what I was planning on doing. It’s nice to be able to see that someone else has actually done this before… much less that it was published as a method in FWW mag. Perfect… that just solidified my idea.

SPalm: I probably will make some portion of it replaceable if not all of it. I haven’t settled on a material for the top yet.

What do you think I should use for the table tops? Maybe two layers of birch ply (for rigidity) topped with replaceable MDF? It’s gotta stay flat and true since the table won’t actually be adjustable (just the saws). I think the Formica would be too slippery anyway.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

406 posts in 3979 days

#7 posted 01-23-2008 06:57 PM

Cool…glad you found it helpful.

As for the tops…mine are only a couple months old, but so far I’m happy. I considered Norm’s half-lapped 2×4 method but decided it was too much trouble to pick through 2×4s and find enough straight ones. I wound up doing something nearly identical to what you’re thinking for the tops. To keep costs down I laminated 3/4” OSB – two layers of the full size and then a 3rd partial layer composed of 4”-wide strips along the edges and everywhere it “met” the cabinets – mainly to save on full sheets and keep the weight manageable for install. I then installed maple edging and tacked a piece of 1/4” tempered hardboard on top for a total thickness of ~2-1/2”. Rock solid. There’s no visible play even when I walk around on them.

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4135 days

#8 posted 01-23-2008 07:16 PM

Have you gotten the issues with your bandsaw straightened out?

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View DocK16's profile


1184 posts in 4234 days

#9 posted 01-23-2008 07:50 PM

My radial arm saw (yeah a Craftsman) was the first power tool I bought for my shop many years ago and some may chastise me for it but I still rely on it. There’s no better way of cross cutting wide planks. I have even used a wobble dado on mine, but thats another story/blog. It was nice to see the fine restoration job you did on your DeWalt. The biggest problem is with the big footprint the tool makes due to the widely flared metal legs and have pondered how to change this many times. A sliding CMS would be a nice alternative but don’t have the 5 bills to drop on one at the moment. I think Patrick has the right idea with the adjustable base for your CMS. My change is: since you want most of your table to the left of the RAS (which makes sense) I would put my CMS to the left of the RAS. You might be able to cut down on the overall length of the table, if your’re trying to save space. I’d definitely look at buiding in a Kreg Trak and Stop system also. (KMS-8000) As for the top I’d use MDF and a sacraficial top layer of 1/4” masonite applied with contact cement.

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View FritzM's profile


106 posts in 3959 days

#10 posted 01-23-2008 08:10 PM

I’ve got nothing of value to add here, but I will be keeping a close eye on the ideas and your final resolution so I can mimic it when I set up my shop. Good luck Blake! I’m sure once you hash it out it’ll be awesome!

-- Fritz Oakland, Ca (dedicated to my other hobby)

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4021 days

#11 posted 01-24-2008 01:47 AM

Gary: I am waiting on parts for the bandsaw.

Fritz: I’ve got some clever ideas up my sleeve which I will unveil later. Yea, It’ll be awesome.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Jeff's profile


10 posts in 3971 days

#12 posted 03-19-2008 10:19 PM

Blake – I have a somewhat different take on it.

I ahve an old DeWalt 925 similar to your MBF…
I have the table more of a Mr Sawdust style thaht is sittiong on teh RAS, and I put threaded insrts on the underside of it that allwo me to adjust it on the four corners of teh RAS frame and get it just right. Then on the left side of the table I mountadjustable roller supports to teh bench that I ahve on teh left of it, and rais ethem to where it is just rigth and clamp ‘em in… On the riogth side I am goign to put my sliding compound miter and put it on bolts much like that other commenter did, and have it adjust to the table of the RAS table…

kinda a hybrid approach.

View AJJ's profile


75 posts in 3295 days

#13 posted 12-28-2009 07:06 PM

Did you ever complete the RAS table? If so, I am very interested in how you did it.

-- AJJ, Eugene OR

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4021 days

#14 posted 12-29-2009 05:13 AM

No, this project is on the backburner for now.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Phillywood's profile


16 posts in 3172 days

#15 posted 02-13-2010 05:40 AM

Ok, i am lookig at your picture and you said that your current table is 6 Ft. long and you want to exten the new one to 8 Ft.? from wher I am looking you won’t be able to open the door to your shop to get in unless you have some roome to put the new table towards your right. Also, I got to your blog by googling the RAS ’s table repalcemnt. I just got my hans on a Craftsman 113-23100 model and the guy I baught the saw form siad that his Dad had the saw, anyways I have to replace the table top. I was thinking that I would copy the original one but add piano hinged side leaf on either side with a help of a heavy duty foldable table brakcets under the wings. So, i will fold them away when i am not needing the long support. if your going to spend the time on building the stnd why not go all the way and finish what yo uneed to do then in a long run youdon’t have to go back to it again. and. you’ll be done. Except that when your table top gets chewed out by running the saw blade into it. Just thinkk if you do it the way youdesigned it now when t comes the replacement time you’ll be replacinng a long top. but in practicality you’ll be only wering out the part directly under the saw not all the way to the left of it as extention. I’d design it that you only repalce a smaller part and leave the rest untact.

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