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Leveling a radial arm saw

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Forum topic by Majik365 posted 08-29-2014 01:33 AM 1553 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Majik365

22 posts in 856 days


08-29-2014 01:33 AM

So I just bought a used RAS got it all set up and square but it cuts deeper at the end of the cut and shallow at the start. This isn’t a problem if im just cross cutting but it makes the saw unusable for dados. Even if I were to flip the work piece around and clear the stock out of the other side of the cut it still leaves a high center in the dado. Its a craftsman 113.29461 I dont have the manual but as far as I can tell there are no adjustments for this on the machine and I can see the table is sitting flat on the mounts. Short of shimming the back of the table any ideas?


16 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5764 posts in 946 days


#1 posted 08-29-2014 01:38 AM

Shimming the table.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View MAKZ06's profile

MAKZ06

50 posts in 1264 days


#2 posted 08-29-2014 01:46 AM

The angle iron supports on each side of the table are usually attached through slotted holes so that you can slightly raise or lower the front or back. It takes a while to get it adjusted just right. You usually remove the blade and turn the head 90 degrees to use the arbor to just kiss the top of the table as you slide it back and forth. You have to do the same thing as the arm is set in miter positions to the left and right.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Setting-Up-a-Radial-Arm-Saw/?ALLSTEPS

View Loren's profile

Loren

8295 posts in 3108 days


#3 posted 08-29-2014 02:31 AM

There are often holes or threaded holes for leveler bolts.
The bolts may be missing. Once the leveler bolts are
set close to where you want them, you snug the
other bolts that go through the table top.

There’s often a leveler in the center of the table to
control sagging at the section where the table gets
kerfed.

I would remove the table and just check it out,
see what’s there to adjust it. You’ll figure it out.

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TheFridge

5764 posts in 946 days


#4 posted 08-29-2014 02:35 AM

What they said.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Majik365's profile

Majik365

22 posts in 856 days


#5 posted 08-29-2014 10:34 AM

I just went out to the shop and checked the bolts are slotted so I should be able to move the bracket no shimming!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3926 posts in 1953 days


#6 posted 08-29-2014 11:50 AM

Here's the manual, you’ll find it really useful.

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

View timbertailor's profile

timbertailor

1591 posts in 884 days


#7 posted 08-29-2014 12:39 PM


I just went out to the shop and checked the bolts are slotted so I should be able to move the bracket no shimming!

- Majik365

Shimming is a lot easier than trying to get the brackets level and perpendicular to the blade.
I use a Wixey Digital Gauge. Makes the process much easier and is really accurate.

They wrote these manuals a long time ago when digital measurement was still a glimmer in the woodworker’s eye.

-- Brad, Texas, https://www.youtube.com/user/tonkatoytruck/feed

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ChrisK

1809 posts in 2541 days


#8 posted 08-29-2014 01:40 PM

I have a similar saw and found that using the radial arm saw for long dados was a real problem. The arm of the saw would sag as the blade and motor was pulled forward. I could tighten up the screws on the column but than raising or lower the blade was a real issue.

I only use my hand held router or table saw for dados. I use the Dadowiz for the router and works great. http://www.amazon.com/Dadowiz-Precision-Fixture-Peachtree-woodworking/dp/B004E85QP8/ref=pd_sxp_f_pt Though i think Ptree discontinued it. I also use my own jig with the router.

Thinking back, I have not used my radial arm saw in about 5 or 6 years. I use my 12” sliding compound saw, circular saw and table saw for almost every type of cut. The RAS just was not accurate enough. i still keep it because taking it out the shop is a huge pain and it is not really in the way. I used it when I was doing a lot of 2x cuts and did not have the SCMS.

-- Chris K

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4448 posts in 3420 days


#9 posted 08-29-2014 02:13 PM

Use the manual. It will show ya how to turn the arbor vertically (without the blade) and swing the arm right and left to set the height of the brackets that hold the table. Not tricky at all.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View REO's profile

REO

889 posts in 1534 days


#10 posted 08-29-2014 02:19 PM

Fred gave you an excellent resource! whether they had the digital gauges or not by using the process in the manual you are squaring the saw to itself and not an external source. if you have the table on the saw it can still be leveled and squared in this fashion just use the top of the table with mounts and anchors loose.

View timbertailor's profile

timbertailor

1591 posts in 884 days


#11 posted 08-29-2014 02:49 PM



Fred gave you an excellent resource! whether they had the digital gauges or not by using the process in the manual you are squaring the saw to itself and not an external source. if you have the table on the saw it can still be leveled and squared in this fashion just use the top of the table with mounts and anchors loose.

- REO

Squaring to the RAS frame is useless. You must square to the blade. That is all that matters. Going from a perpendicular motor position to a horizontal position does not insure a perpendicular blade or table.

-- Brad, Texas, https://www.youtube.com/user/tonkatoytruck/feed

View REO's profile

REO

889 posts in 1534 days


#12 posted 08-29-2014 03:36 PM

there are also adjustments for perpendicularity of the blade to the table and perpendicularity of the arm to the fence.The first step is getting the column perpendicular to the base. That is the OP’s original concern.

By using the column as a reference as the set up says it establishes perpendicularity to a plane first established by three points then moves to a fourth point to establish that the two lines determined by two points are coplanar. with any other means of external reference you can end up chasing your tail! Not to mention creating new places that have to be shimmed. why go through shimming the table AND the column when adjusting the table to the column is so easy?

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3926 posts in 1953 days


#13 posted 08-29-2014 04:50 PM

Reo, I’m not trying to start an argument, but I don’t recall ever trying to get a column perpendicular to the frame, and that includes reading the manual. I’ve had 3 Craftsman RAS and 5 Dewalts; I have a Craftsman manual in my hand….it goes straight from bolting the frame to a stand to installing the table. On the op’s saw the manual goes from bolting the saw to a table to installing and leveling the table supports. You then insure the table (or supports) is perpendicular to the ways (carriage tracks) on the arm, and then square the arm to the fence. All of these done properly means the arm doesn’t have to be perfectly perpendicular to the frame. Maybe other brands have an adjustment for that, but at least the early Craftsmans (mine were all pre-1975 or so) and the Dewalts do not. Squaring the table to the ways is what will solve the OP’s problem.

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

View REO's profile

REO

889 posts in 1534 days


#14 posted 08-29-2014 06:43 PM

first step after generally assembling the base is turning the motor perpendicular. this gives you a reference point either the end of the shaft or quill if you have one installed. unless you have something wrong with the saw column it can be swung through 360 degrees. every point in that circle lies in a plane perpendicular to the column. You are instructed to set one end of one support rail. (the first point of a line) then the opposite end(the second point in a line) which means that every point in between is on the line and the line itself is on the plane that is perpendicular to the column. third step is setting one end of the second support. (the first point of a second line) and then the opposite end of the same rail. (the second point of a line) which has every point on that line on a plane that is perpendicular to the column. now every line that can be drawn through any other point on these two lines is in the same plane. the only way this can happen is if the column is perpendicular to the plane(table) you have just established. Now for those who are thinking.”what if the column base or the top of the column are off.” The above is an oversimplification but still entirely valid. even if the parts are made wrong or during assembly someone got something stuck between two mating surfaces this process still sets the axis of rotation (which would be the center axis of the column)perpendicular to the table. If the column is not round, if the machined surface that the collumn rotates against, if the clamping process changes the angle of the arm to the table there is NO process electronic, eyball, gut feel or the one in the manual that can be counted on to give you repeatable results.

The last step in the manual concerning attachment of the table is tying down the center of the table because when you start cutting into the table it will become flexible from the kerfs and the center ties shorten the span so there is less deflection.
now the Z axiz of the saw is set in regards to the plane of the X and Y axis. the overarm travel is parallel to the table so that a set depth of cut can be maintained throughout the cut.

Fred no offense taken. kinda fun actually running through some 3D geometry that doesn’t get trotted out much lol. Hope it helps understand whats going on.

once the table is in place with the fence THEN it goes on to establish the arm is perpendicular to the fence. which are the X and Y axis.

View Straightlines's profile

Straightlines

70 posts in 1353 days


#15 posted 08-29-2014 06:50 PM

OP, I’m an “RAS only” kinda guy, I have a 1959 Delta 40C and an ‘84 Delta RAS-12, both of which have been tuned up and are seriously accurate, smooth cutting machines that are on par w/ my old cabinet saw (now sold off due to the 2 RAS) in terms of accuracy and cut quality. The RAS is superior in versatility, ergonomics, and space management. The way I got them to such a fine level of operation is that I discovered the DeWalt RAS Forum which set me on the right path to RAS bliss. Read the FAQ’s (not too lengthy) for a good distillation.

There are a few important things to understand:
3) According to Mr. Sawdust, and everyone I know who knows anything worthwhile about successfully using an RAS, and according to my experience, the #1 step for you to complete on your RAS is to construct and install a proper reference grade table top for the tool, this is because the stock tops are really only sufficient for use as a pattern; in effect, your tool is incomplete until you provide a good top. This is what Mr. Sawdust’s book is for.
4) Then properly tune the thing; this is where John Eakes’ book comes into play (Mr. Sawdust does this too, but his writing style is atrocious reading)—he specifically addresses DeWalt, Craftsman, and Delta saws in great detail. Understand that there is a key sequence to follow, which starts with leveling the new table top to be co-planar with the arm; someone spoke of the “ways,” which is referred to in those books as the “arm.”
5) DeCristoforo’s book will open your eyes to what an amazing machine the RAS is and give you the confidence to do things with the RAS that will amaze you.
5) Within today’s woodworking community, there is a generation’s worth of misunderstanding and misinformation regarding RAS use, capabilities, and safety. I suspect this is partly due to the inevitable “churn and burn” marketing efforts of mfrs, partly lawsuits, and partly due to the funky bleed over of industrial use into the domestic arena. My experience shows that the RAS is just as safe and produces equivalent quality cuts to the TS, but it does much more without the need for a whole raft of jigs and whiz-bang add-on gizmo’s, and it does this faster and easier too.

1) Like the Golden Age of the RAS was pre-1964~1966, and there were consumer and pro grades of tools. The best of the RAS have cast arn arms. The consumer grade RAS got progressively worse over time, and some of them are just flat out crappy tools that can never be brought to a level of performance that serious hobbyists and professionals demand. If you’re serious, then read a bunch of the stuff on the RAS Forum so you know whether to bother with your Craftsman or if you should seek out something different before investing more time and money into a lost cause.
2) The vintage of your saw and being a Craftsman means that it was made in Taiwan by Emerson—the concept of high quality and cast iron was long gone by that point, as was the understanding of the tool by Asian interpreters, so the Owner’s Manual will be of limited value. You will be better served by getting 3 RAS books: Wally Kunkel’s Mr. Sawdust book, DeCristoforo’s The Magic of Your RAS, and John Eakes’ Fine Tuning Your Radial Arm Saw. These 3 tomes are “must have” reading.

—Bradley

-- Cut twice, measure once ... DOH!

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