radial arm etiquette

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Forum topic by Danpaddles posted 02-01-2012 06:29 AM 2304 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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573 posts in 2518 days

02-01-2012 06:29 AM

I really should know enough not to have to ask this question. And if I weren’t so damn lazy maybe I’d read Wally Kunkle yet again, I suppose this topic was covered.

Now that I have my very old Dewalt RAS rebuilt, and ready to run as soon as I apply a sacrificial top, I need to know one very important thing. Am I supposed to crosscut a board starting from the back of the arm, pulling the saw towards me? Or am I supposed to pull the motor forward, then turn it on and push the blade away from me.

I suspect I am supposed to pull the motor forward, but will there be a tendency for the saw to “climb” or run up towards me?

Thanks for an honest (qualified) answer.


-- Dan V. in Indy

33 replies so far

View Graebeard's profile


7 posts in 2555 days

#1 posted 02-01-2012 06:41 AM

With the blade pushed back into it’s “parking spot”, place the board against the fence and pull the blade towards you, cutting through the board. There may be a tendency for the wood to climb, so pull gently and you shouldn’t have any problems. Hope you have a blade guard.

View DIYaholic's profile (online now)


19711 posts in 2881 days

#2 posted 02-01-2012 07:18 AM

Ditto on Graebeard’s advice/recommendation!

I’m sure I speak for many on this site. WE NEED PICTURES OF YOUR SAW!

I have a “vintage” DeWalt RAS also. It’s in need of some TLC, but I should have it up & running in a couple of weeks.

I might add, ALWAYS keep all appendages out of the path of the blade!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15706 posts in 2824 days

#3 posted 02-01-2012 07:33 AM

Firm grip helps, as if you expect the blade to climb but you’re ready for it…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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573 posts in 2518 days

#4 posted 02-01-2012 07:42 AM

I can shoot some picts tomorrow. I actually didn’t relate the WHOLE story. I have had a very old one, found under a tattered tarp (outside). Bought it last year, for 35 bucks. Spent much time de-rusting it, rewiring, and building a new top. Got side tracked (Summer time and the livin’ is easy), but returned to it a couple weeks back. About that time, another one shows up on CL, for 50 bucks. Well, I had some questions about how they were supposed to be screwed together, so I thought, I’d just go look at that one for sale. I stopped at the ATM on the way there. You can see where this is heading.

I have two 9 inch units now, one is a humpback, the other slightly newer, much like the one pictured above. I was able to get the first unit adjusted about 98%. The one I just bought, looks pretty damn good as it is, except it needs a new table, according to Mr. Sawdust.

The first unit (I think slightly older than I am) will go up for sale very soon, I am out of room, and I have things to do, money to be made, I need elbow room. It has a few issues yet, like, the Klickson thing is dead (bypassed). and the capacitor I found did not physically fit. and I think the bearings need replaced.

I am looking forward to leaving the second unit set up with a dado blade, so I don’t have to mess with changing blades in the table saw. Besides, dodos are easier to cut if you can see the cut lines, right? But the way this saw spins down after cutting the power- with a big dado set- it might spin overnight! So smooth incredible.

Thought about jumping on the OWWM forum, but I am managing to get it figured out on my own. So far.

Details tomorrow. and you know what they say- detales are de end o’ de fish.


-- Dan V. in Indy

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15706 posts in 2824 days

#5 posted 02-01-2012 07:49 AM

Oh, what a great ‘problem’ to have! Now I’m looking forward to pics of two saws.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View cloakie1's profile


204 posts in 2761 days

#6 posted 02-01-2012 09:28 AM

as was said above …draw the saw to you but make sure that your shoulder elbow and hand are all in line when you draw…this means that you have your body weight behind the saw and a grab is a lot easier to deal with…never cross your arms while sawing…eg stock on right side draw with your left hand…stock on the left draw with your right hand….keep the blade very sharp!!...simple rules but if followed then you can’t go to wrong

-- just get stuck in and have a go!!!

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3950 days

#7 posted 02-01-2012 02:40 PM

Pull through the cut. You should have a blade installed that has a negative hook to it, so it won’t be as likely to “jump” through the cut.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5180 posts in 2699 days

#8 posted 02-01-2012 03:00 PM

Ditto on that negative hook blade. You’ll hear some RAS fans poo-poo that because it’s very poor for rip cuts. In my case I don’t rip on the RAS anyway, and it’s (the negative hook blade) a lot more controllable on an RAS. Congrats on the saws…they will be very welcome additions to the shop…tuned properly, they are dead nuts accurate.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View ScottN's profile


261 posts in 2886 days

#9 posted 02-01-2012 03:08 PM

As mentioned above and doesn’t hurt to be repeated… Keep a SHARP blade. I’ve used a RAS a lot, and have never had a climb cut from a sharp blade.

-- New Auburn,WI

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3497 days

#10 posted 02-01-2012 03:08 PM

Is there any other way to make the cut? I’ve used RASs before, but very little, so I wouldn’t say I have any experience. To make a push cut, wouldn’t you have to pull the saw toward you, then put the workpiece between the blade and the fence? Wouldn’t this also cut down on the width you’d be able to cut? Or does the blade move up and down?

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2899 days

#11 posted 02-01-2012 03:10 PM

Agree with above. Be prepared for the saw to come toward you a bit during the cut. It’s a bit unnerving to some but I find the RAS quite safe. Mine’s dedicated to crosscuts, so I haven’t really experimented with different blades. Nice saw!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2896 days

#12 posted 02-02-2012 05:52 AM

Contrary to all the advice I have ever gotten, I continue to push rather than pull my 54 yr old Sears RAS. It works well for me and has always seemed safer. I always use my shop made hold down when cutting short stock.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Danpaddles's profile


573 posts in 2518 days

#13 posted 02-02-2012 06:03 AM

@gfadvm- so far the cuts I made I pushed. But everyone else says pull. Neg. rake blade ain’t happenin’ this month, but I think I can get used to pulling.

I like the advice about never crossing arms. Still have all my fingers, would like to keep it that way.

Here are the saws I am talking about. As mentioned, the old one will be on CL soon, I do want to run it a little, just to say I did.

Hey, there is the Mr. Sawdust book! cost more than the saw.

-- Dan V. in Indy

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15706 posts in 2824 days

#14 posted 02-02-2012 06:25 AM

Dan, nice saws, thanks for the pics. The older one is just like mine, I think… MBF?

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View Danpaddles's profile


573 posts in 2518 days

#15 posted 02-02-2012 06:30 AM

I started to track down model numbers once, and gave up. The only plate is on the motor, it does not list a model number. I think you are right tho. I put it’s age in the ball park of my age- born in ‘56. The newer one, I think is a 730, does that sound about right? Too late to run out and check right now. Not as old, but something in me wants to make the older saw the keeper. But I have to be realistic, the older one sat outside, and I worry about the windings. It is missing the overload protector. And I know the bearings are much better on the new one, that one takes a couple minutes to spin down! The older one is a bit noisy.

-- Dan V. in Indy

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