Equipping the Shop #2: RAS side table with Incra Rail and Stop

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Blog entry by Ocelot posted 03-07-2011 06:26 AM 3721 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Starting Point Part 2 of Equipping the Shop series Part 3: 1961 Craftsman RAS with added crosscut stop rail »

Over the past couple of weeks, as I’ve found time, I’ve built a 8-ft side table for the old Craftsman Radial Arm Saw so that I can easily cut things to length and do crosscut dados. I have a bookcase project that I started before this – during which I realized that before I cut all those dados I need a precision length stop.

A few thoughts (mini-review) on the Incra track.

Had I realized that this is the old-style Incra track (non-flip-stop), I might have considered the newer one, even though it was a bit more expensive.

I bought two 52-inch track sections, one with the “shop stop” included, from Amazon – for about $140 for all. They arrived in good shape without delay.

Each 52-inch track came with 3, 16-inch long sections of plastic scale (nice plastic), marked 16-0, 32-16, 48-32 (from left to right). Since I considered that it would be a nuisance to have the scale start over at 48”, I ordered the 96-48 (3 sections of 16” each) directly from Incra. These scale sections are what I consider to be a minor shortcoming of this track system, since you must allign (on a 96” track), 5 joints between the mylar scales – and redo it any time you move the zero point. The instructions for zeroing the stop to the saw suggest that you set the stop in a fixed location, push the stop rod up agaist the saw tooth, then slide the scale to zero. That’s not practical with the scale divided into 6 sections which have to be alligned at the ends.

So, I leave the scale where it is and just move the stop rod to the saw tooth to zero it. I can’t imagine why they would suggest doing it the other way. It occurs to me that I could just replace the steel stop rod with a piece of wooden dowel (each time I change blades or dado stacks) – and then just clamp the stop at zero on the scale, and cut off the end of the dowel to zero the stop. Probably, that’s overkill. I’ll just use the steel stop rod for now.

I’ve already discovered that the stop rod floats a little more than 1/4” off the surface of the table, so that if I cut a 1/4” piece of MDF, the stop rod slips over the top of the piece I’m trying to cut. I just line it up by eye and it seems to be easy to get it dead on.

I’ll post photos when I take them. I keep forgetting to take a camera to the shop.

Llimitations of the RAS aside, I already very much like this setup. The limitations are that this RAS has a bit of slop in the column so that I have to square it to the fence with the arm of the saw pushed to the right, and remember to push it to the right before each cut. I’m going to try to figure out where the slop is and see if I can tighten it up, but it seems that the arm moves about a 1/16” at the far end, which is a lot more than I would like. Does anybody know where I can tighten this up?

Oh, and I’ve discovered that Emerson (manufacturer of this saw for Sears) will give me $100 to scrap it and send them the motor – due to some lawsuit or recall or something. I think I’ll keep it, though it has no brake and spins a loooong time when switched off.

Next post will be 1 picture longer and 1000 words shorter.

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