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Radial Arm Saw Upgrades and Work Station

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Project by dgaiken posted 04-12-2016 12:51 PM 12228 views 9 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Currently in my shop I am limited on my number of larger tools. I have a miter saw that I have been using for all of my cross-cuts and a circular saw for ripping down sheet goods. However, after watching many videos on Youtube of the capabilities of a radial arm saw, and hearing Jay Bates say he would rather have a radial arm saw instead of a sliding miter saw, I decided it was time for me to find one. Luckily for me one my buddies had one he didn’t want and I picked it up from him for $50. I mainly plan to use the radial arm saw for making half-lap joints and dados. I know this task would be best suited for a a table saw, however, until I get one, I figured this would be great.

The saw I bought was a 2 hp craftsman 10” radial arm saw. I knew about the radial arm saw recall through my research and called the company right after I acquired the saw. The saw was in pretty rough shape as you can see in the below picture. It had a broken blade guard (not pictured), rusted column, and shady wiring. Amazingly, after speaking with the gentleman at the recall center, I was told my saw was the final saw they were providing the upgrade kit for, after checking again and again, he finally realized I didn’t want the $100, and they agreed to send out the kit and I would get it within 4-6 weeks. Now whether or not my model number was really the last one that qualifies for the kit, I don’t know, but just in case anyone is thinking about the recall kit, my model number was: 113.199410.

After a lot work, we got the saw mostly rust free, including the column that raises and lower, channel where the bearings slide, and the arbor. I had another friend rewire the saw so it was extremely safe and then I waited for the guard kit. After about 2 weeks it arrived and I decided it was finally time to tackle the work station I wanted to build. Unlike my miter saw, I wanted a large work surface with a fence stretching the full length that would provide support for my boards while cutting, and allow the implementation of stop blocks. I set out to design to cabinets of the same size and then mount the saw in-between the two and creating one single top across the entire work station.

I began by making the first cabinet, it measured 36” wide, 27” deep, and 36” tall. I assembled it using simple pocket holes because I plan on enclosing the bottom in the future and adding shelves and cabinet doors.

Once I got the first one built I simply repeated the same steps and built second one of the same size and then measured the width of my saw and cut the cross braces and mounted them at the correct height to connect the two bases and allow the saw to sit level in-between.

Here is an image test fitting the saw in the opening. I used a 3/4” piece of scrap particle board I had laying around for the saw to sit on. That should provide plenty of strength.

After debating about how to do the table top for a very long time, I decided I would simply start putting all of the upgrading parts on the saw and then figure out the table. Because I have never had, nor used a radial arm saw, I didn’t know what would be the proper mounting height for the table and placement of fence. However, since my work station was so different from the radial arm saw kit set up methods, it basically went out the door. Instead of adjusting the support arms for the saw, I simply made them flush with the top of the two work bench bases and decided I would put a top on then go from there. Below is a image of us test fitting the table top. A relief notch was cut out of the back with a jigsaw to account for the column and the base that is sits on.

After getting the table top test fit, we flipped it over and drilled all the holes so they would align with the studs on the outer edges of the workbench bases and with the cross braces I added to the top of each one. Then the top was set in place, the holes counter sunk, and screwed down with 3” GRK screws. I then went about putting on the new handle, blade guard, and blade I purchased for the saw. I chose to go with the Freud LU91R010. It is a 10” 60 tooth thin kerf sliding miter saw blade, but the key factor is the -5 degree hook angle which will prevent the blade from wanting to climb up the board when using the saw.

Once I got all of the upgraded equipment on the saw, I installed the fence, which was a piece of 3” x 5/8” x 96” MDF (same material used for the top)

Next I set up trying to adjust the saw. This was the most difficult part of the entire build. The radial arm saw has so many latches, levers, locks, and functions that you can think you have everything dialed in and still have forgotten to lock that one latch and everything is out of whack again. However, I knew this saw would only be as good as I made it. If I wanted to get perfect cuts I needed to take the time to make right, and I am sure glad I did.

Here is the saw in its current state. The bottom has yet to be enclosed, but it is cutting wonderfully now. It is like it is a brand new saw. Once I get a little more money I will add the side panels, which I think will be 3/4” particle board or MDF (Plywood is too expensive for a broke college kid haha) and then I will add the shelf to the bottom and eventually a shelf half-way up the base and finally two doors to each workbench base. I also plan to add a scrap bin directly below the saw. The entire work station is about 7 foot 8 inches long, but I went ahead and put a table top on it that was 8 feet long and 30 inches wide. This provided me with a nice over hang, and at the end of the day, the maximum cut I can make is 13 1/2 inches which is great compared to the 6 inches on my single bevel compound miter saw. All in all, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

Not only is this one of my first builds in setting up my shop, but it is also my first project to ever post on Lumber Jocks. I apologize for the poor quality pictures. If you read my bio you will know I am a professional photographer by trade, and had I known I would have posted this project here, I would have taken a lot higher quality photos. As I said this was my first major build, and it has made me a lot more confident in what I can do, so there should be many more projects in the coming future, and if they turn out good I will post them here. Thank you for everyone who read the post about my project and if there is any advice or criticism you can give me I would love to hear from you. Thanks!





9 comments so far

View TechTeacher04's profile

TechTeacher04

350 posts in 1284 days


#1 posted 04-12-2016 02:17 PM

I agree with you. The radial arm is more adept at making dados and half laps. I parted way with mine to save space, luckily my father still has one and is only 5 miles away. Nice build

View htl's profile

htl

2895 posts in 912 days


#2 posted 04-12-2016 11:18 PM

She cleaned up nicely and will get er done for a long time.
Do some research and you will find some great uses for it.

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

View Eddie_T's profile

Eddie_T

199 posts in 1824 days


#3 posted 04-13-2016 05:00 PM

Nice to have that large work table for your RAS. I built my house with a Craftsman 9” RAS (including all millwork) and presently have a Rockwell 10”.

View Lee's profile

Lee

87 posts in 630 days


#4 posted 04-16-2016 11:29 PM

Beautiful work station, the RAS is a versatile tool, the only thing it cant do very well is rip. I’ve had the exact RAS you do for 25 years and after the initial dial in I’ve had to do nothing to it except routine maintenance. One thought you might consider is dust collection, you will have a pile of sawdust behind the saw in no time. Once again nice build, well done.

-- Colombia Custom woodworking

View redsox9's profile

redsox9

105 posts in 2039 days


#5 posted 04-26-2016 01:54 PM

That’s a beautiful station and a beautiful saw; I wouldn’t mind one of those myself. Excellent post and story telling, welcome to LJ!

-- Jeff, North Andover, MA

View Markie48836's profile

Markie48836

9 posts in 432 days


#6 posted 07-18-2016 01:08 AM

Great looking saw table. Simple design too. I am going to use your same design!

View Timberwolf323's profile

Timberwolf323

68 posts in 595 days


#7 posted 10-26-2016 05:06 AM

i just bought one of these for $25. its a little rusty, but it turned on. :)

View bobbg's profile

bobbg

2 posts in 120 days


#8 posted 05-24-2017 08:30 AM

I’ve thought about adding a 8’ table on my RAS but I also use it to rip wood and contrary to what others think they rip just fine. I use it more than a tablesaw. Just pay close attention to pushing the wood the correct direction. Read your owner’s manual. If you do not have one google the model number and see if you can find it.

I use board buddies and push sticks on mine.
I plan on using a 3 cutter corbain cutter as a shaper, and finding a drill chuck for it as well.
I doubt i’ll ever find an overarm router fixture for it but Craftsman made one. I’ve got an old overarm router stand now made by craftsman so I don’t really need one, its also called a pin router or overarm pin router.
Its like a router table only the bits over the work and not coming from under the table.

Speaking of have you thought about adding a router lift on that work bench over one cabinet side?
Also you can drill dog holes to add or remove a fence system without damage to the top. The fence line can have built in stops Norm did somthing like this to his RAS.
Oh one more trick make sure all the bolts on the arm shaft are tight and it has some lube on it and it will help true up the saw, RAS are not known for being real accurate and staying on point and squar. If you move the arm they tend to be off a bit but like I said you can tighten the bolts up and make it better.

Anyone use the Shaper head on one yet? I’m a bit nervous to try. I can’t find much information about it online.

View IDWoodworker's profile

IDWoodworker

1 post in 78 days


#9 posted 07-05-2017 02:25 PM

I’ve been trying for years to get my old RAS to cut well repeatably. This may be the ticket! One big question: because one of the first steps listed in the manual is to check the table level to the spindle- how is that done here? Since the table supports can each be adjusted in each corner, how did you assure your arm is fully parallel to the final work surface? Do you shim the base of the saw, or how?

Thanks in Advance- this is a great idea!

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