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Old Radial Arm Saw

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Forum topic by scottishrose posted 1791 days ago 5019 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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scottishrose

110 posts in 1791 days


1791 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: radial arm saw tune up

I’m new here, and new to woodworking although I have been around it all my life, since I am a “girl” the knowledge of the family never got passed down, although some of the tools did :-)
I have a Dewalt/Black and Decker ca. mid 60’s radial arm saw. It is sitting over in the corner of the garage where it has been for the last 40 years, only it took me 3 months of cleaning the garage to get to it. I read the manual, and was surprised how much a RA saw can do. There is a decent blade mounted on it, quite a few very old blades inside which have not responded to soaking in Coca Cola for rust removal as suggested by someone at my local Woodcraft store, and an application of Goo Gone and a coat of WD 40 for good measure – I think they are goners, but I did what I could. There is another blade marked for “plywood paneling” which must have been for the plastic paneling my dad did to the basement back in 68 when we moved in after he installed insulation to the unfinished basement. The other one like it is in the goner pile. There are a couple of other blades that don’t look too bad with just a little rust on the tips that didn’t make it into the Coke bath. I remember my dad saying that he just couldn’t get the saw to cut right – way back when I wasn’t interested in it’s running. I suppose it is out of alignment. I don’t know if he was referring to the ripping or cross-cutting abilities or both. He died of Altzhiemers and I don’t know what stage if any he was in when he made these comments, so I don’t know if he was able to cope with fixing the problem. Any suggestions? Also, since I am learning to do most of the work I will use the RA saw for on a table saw, and by my observation the table on the RA saw is pretty cut up, For cross cut work do I use it mostly like a SBMS?
I guess I will have to read the manual again about depth gaging. Any suggestions for Dado blades for it or should I stick to my router? That’s probably not going to work on bigger pieces especially since my router table at present is about 16”x 24” at best. I guess a dado blade would be best for those kind of cuts. Any tips about ripping on a RA saw? At present I have no outfeed table, but saw a nifty plan for one made out of particle board in the new book I got this week from Taunton press about work stations and shop storage, it had a tilt top with a L bracket on the bottom that swiveled and locked in the upright position to save one from having to lift full sheets of plywood and also served as an outfeed table and worked for gluing up too. Kills two, no three! birds with one stone as I have arthritis and am not supposed to lift heavy objects. One project – many uses which in a very small one car shop is a very handy thing. Any help would be appreciated


20 replies so far

View MedicKen's profile

MedicKen

1599 posts in 2088 days


#1 posted 1791 days ago

Try looking for some evaporust at your local HF. Or you can alawys try electrolysis to remove the rust. Its easy and cheap. DO NOT rip on a radial arm under any circumstances.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their therapist....medic20447@gmail.com

View Kjuly's profile

Kjuly

302 posts in 1911 days


#2 posted 1791 days ago

I am with MedicKen,,,avoid ripping with the radial arm saw. There are much safer ways of getting the job done. The key to getting good results from the RAS ( aside from getting it set up properly) is to use a blade that is made for it. The following link covers blade selection and you will see that they make blades for RAS only and for table saw only. In your stack of old blades there is a good chance that some of those blades were not made for the RAS. I am not promoting Delta blades just using the information as a reference. www.deltaportercable.com/sawblades/selector.aspx
I hope this helps.

-- Keith, Charlotte, MI www.julyswoodworks.com

View scottishrose's profile

scottishrose

110 posts in 1791 days


#3 posted 1791 days ago

It was my understanding from reading the manual that the head can be swiveled 90 degrees and one can rip using the fence going across the table. Is there new info I should know about saftey and this proceedure? The only other option I have at present is a not so good skill saw.

View spindle's profile

spindle

11 posts in 1798 days


#4 posted 1791 days ago

I got by for a long time with a 1960’s cast iron RAS. And have ripped many many linear feet of wood. The saw MUST be setup correctly and have the cast iron arm. Try this book http://mrsawdust.com. I don’t call it gospel but it has some good information. The RAS just like any other tool has to be treated with respect. If your not comfortable setting up the saw or familiar with power tools you might want to stick to a table saw for ripping. But it must be set up correctly as well. The RAS is great for dado’s, miters and bevel miters. The Freud LU84 is a good combination blade for the RAS or table saw and can be had for 50 or 60 bucks. A lot of folks claim that the top line RAS blade is a Forrest Woodworker I. I like the Freud better myself.
Hope this helps.
Thanks, Greg

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scottishrose

110 posts in 1791 days


#5 posted 1790 days ago

Thanks spindle for that advice, I am ordering the book as we speak. I read the manual that came with the saw, but the adjustment proceedures were a bit vague and hard to understand. I do not have a table saw which is why I was hoping to at least be able rip plywood on it. From my research tonight, I think there are some safety updates I may be able to add to the saw as well as give it a good tune up. Just wish I could start cutting wood instead of spending so much time setting up equipment. Then at least I’d have something to put in my picture file. Thanks again for the book review.

View scottishrose's profile

scottishrose

110 posts in 1791 days


#6 posted 1790 days ago

Keith,
Thanks for the advice and the link to the saw blade guide. Seems the porter cable folks don’t want anything to do with radial arm saws their co sold years ago and send anyone asking questions about them to another company altogether. Hopefully with the help of the good folks here I can get it tuned up and up to date safety wise.

View spindle's profile

spindle

11 posts in 1798 days


#7 posted 1790 days ago

I know that feeling of will I ever get to work. For cutting plywood you can use a circular saw (a really good blade can be had at Homedepot for less than 20) and a homemade cutting guide. I made a sacrificial 2×3 frame that sits on top of my work bench, the plywood and the cutting guide get clamped to it. Set your saw depth to cut through the ply and just in to the 2×3’s. Works really well since the plywood lays flat and the off fall stays right there. The frame is 3’x6’ put together with drywall screws.

View shinju's profile

shinju

185 posts in 1958 days


#8 posted 1790 days ago

nice to see the oldtools being used,the ras has a bad rap as being unsafe, get the book from mr.sawdust,i have a 1958 dewalt 1030 ras which can use 8” or 10” blades, the trick is to see if the bearings are good and you have complete guard set up on the saw ,i rip on mine with no problem, the most important thing is you know how to set the tool up and know fully what the saw can do.make sure you set the tool up right and you will have no problems with it.also wolf machine can help you with parts for it enjoy it.like any other tool be safe and it will work out great.shinju

-- enjoy, be well and enjoy life with all around you

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3404 posts in 2586 days


#9 posted 1790 days ago

‘Rose!! Throw all those old blades in the trash. Get a new, thin kerf Freud 80 th for crosscuts, and a 24th for rips. I use Board buddies on my RAS for hold-downs when ripping.
There will be those who will tell ya that the RAS can’t do this or that, but mine has served me well since 1978. I just bought my first TS 3 yrs ago (and I still have all my fingers).
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3404 posts in 2586 days


#10 posted 1790 days ago

OH, just a thought…...
Got anyone near ya that can help and show how to true up the RAS?
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View scottishrose's profile

scottishrose

110 posts in 1791 days


#11 posted 1790 days ago

thanks all for all the advice!

Spindle: what did you make the 3’x6’ part of that frame out of? Thanks for the info on Mr Sawdust! I’m ordering the book today even though I swore I would not buy another book this month; my other passion, which can compliment tools quite well when the books are about woodworking.
Bill: I was thinking the same thing – although most of the rust is gone (i think) there is just too much gunk on the blades for them to be usefull again.
A dado set is certanly high up on my next tool purchase list, although with what I learn from the book recommended by Spindle, I may have to purchase some upgrade and safety equipment for the RA saw.

One thing I learned while researching saw blades on the web recommended by Keith is that DeWalt made RA saws with a blade arbor that does not fit any blades made today so I will probably have to buy an adaptor to use any new blades specifically made for RA saws.
Thanks to all! The suggestions took me on an all night web research trip with many dead ends especially when dealing with DeWalt and Black and Decker who made the things but want nothing to do with any questions about them now, but with some of the new info supplied by LJ folks I have more confidence I can get the thing running, tuned up and working safely.

View spindle's profile

spindle

11 posts in 1798 days


#12 posted 1790 days ago

I made the frame out of construction grade 2×3’s from Homedepot or Lowes.

View shinju's profile

shinju

185 posts in 1958 days


#13 posted 1789 days ago

try this web site old woodwoorking machines, type in the model number and make of your saw and you will get a lot of info on your saw,question are you sure about the spindle size on your ras? they are standard size never heard of a dewalt with a other size spindle check it out, a good hint as with any saw is the blades get the best ones used for the ras,be safe ,be well ,shinju

-- enjoy, be well and enjoy life with all around you

View charlie48's profile

charlie48

248 posts in 1795 days


#14 posted 1789 days ago

I use a Freud 80T -3 degree hook thin kerf blade on my Dewalt 7730 and it works great, but I have to side with medicken and kjuly on not to rip on a RAS been there done that, it can be done but there are better ways to rip that are easier on the nerves,after all,all of this is supposed to be fun . Good luck.
Charlie

-- Charlie............Only time will tell if it was time well spent.

View UnionLabel's profile

UnionLabel

660 posts in 1826 days


#15 posted 1789 days ago

Scottishrose,
I have an RAS in my shop and I love it. Ripping plywood though, not a healthy idea. I mainly use it with a dado blade for making lap joints and for crosscutting wider stock that my CMS can’t handle. Now that being said, You really need to carefully go through all the measuring details and adjust the saw properly. If the Head is not square to the Arm your cuts will be off. If the Arm is not square(90 degrees) to the Fence, you will suffer run out. The wider the board the worse the run out. The adjustments aren’t hard, but you sound like you have the patience to do it right. Generally, Look into replacing the wood fence at the back of the RAS table. If your saw has sat for a while this little piece of wood can be come warped. If the fence is not square you won’t be able tp properly adjust the saw. I replace mine every 2 years, just because it gets beat up and sliced through in so many places.Also, invest in some of the plastic drafting triangles. You can quickly check run out and square to the blade. I also use a drywall square to check the trueness of the fence over its length. I make my fences out of white oak or ash, then wax the front side with bees wax to promote slippage.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

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