RE:Looking for a SAFE way to rip thin strips on a Radial Arm Saw

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Forum topic by parkerdude posted 03-31-2009 07:35 AM 2232 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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182 posts in 3692 days

03-31-2009 07:35 AM

Topic tags/keywords: radial arm saw

I tried this question over in the “Safety” forum and I’d like to thank those that replied, but I really am interested in ripping thin (1/4”) strips on a RAS.

Please, if you don’t have a solution, you don’t need to reply.

Thanks !


The question as posted earlier;

The title kind of sums it up. I’ve got an old Craftsman RA saw that’s in very good shape and is my primary power saw, (I’m mostly a hand tool guy).

I’m making several utility cabinets from birch plywood and I’d like to edge band all of the exposed edges for durability.

Does anyone have a safe solution to rip 1/4 X 3/4” thin strips?

Thanks for your help everyone,

I like this forum.


-- dust control

13 replies so far

View oldskoolmodder's profile


801 posts in 3921 days

#1 posted 03-31-2009 04:45 PM

So, basically we who responded on the other thread didn’t give you the answer you wanted, and you are determined to possibly do something unsafe, even though you could have heeded our advice and gone with edge banding in the time since the first posting. At this point, you would have been better off just trying it on the RAS and if it didn’t work, then… You don’t want a solution, you want someone to validate your thought that you can do it on the RAS safely and most here are smart enough to know you are most likely using the wrong tool for the job.

-- Respect your shop tools and they will respect you - Ric

View parkerdude's profile


182 posts in 3692 days

#2 posted 03-31-2009 05:43 PM

Hey thanks bentlyj, I was thinking along the lines of some kind of sled doing an “outrip” setup. I’d seen something like this in the past but I couldn’t find the article / post to refer to.

oldskoolmodder, thanks again for you time. Please read the third line again. I realize that in some cases I’m getting what I paid for.

So, yes basically you who responded on the other thread didn’t give me the answer that I wanted, in fact as well meaning as they might be, they didn’t address my question AT ALL. That’s why I tried to clarify my request and re-post in a different forum.

The reason I refrain from interacting in most forums is the shear volume of unwanted posters that feel need to add their 2 cents. It’s dangerously close to SPAM. I made one request and received 5 reply’s, none of which answered my question. One would hope that in the event of an emergency, 100% of the answers are not to tell you what you didn’t ask for.

oldskoolmodder, I’m not seeking, nor need your approval, if my idea is unsound then the silence it receives will guide me.

I do no need fatherly advice, though I do miss mine, he left us 23 years ago. So the next time I need to be scolded I’ll give my baby girl a call, she’s 27.

In the mean time I thank any and all those lumberjocks who took the time and thought about a solution, whether you answered or not.

Thanks again,

-- dust control

View BlankMan's profile


1490 posts in 3594 days

#3 posted 04-01-2009 01:15 AM

I used to rip on a RAS when I used my Dad’s and that’s all he had, it was scary. Now I consider it dangerous. I never ripped 1/4” strips, I ripped wider, but still, it was not fun.

If you’re intent on doing it be sure you got your kick back bar set properly, low enough to be effective. Too easy for that 1/4” strip to pinch between the blade and the fence (if you’re cutting it that way, on the inside instead of the outside) and come flying out of there like a missile. After years of woodworking twice last year I got nailed by kickback on my Unisaw, happened so fast I couldn’t believe it, it was bad but it could of been worse. My stomach was black and blue and purple and yellow for weeks, and hurt so bad I was worried I could have some internal organ damage. Was I standing in the wrong spot, most likely, otherwise I shouldn’t have been hit. Did I do something not quite right or have a momentary lapse in attention, most likely, otherwise it wouldn’t have happened.

If I really had to do it his way I’d consider using a board a foot longer then I needed and stop the cut short by that much, shut off the saw waiting for it to stop, and pull the board out then cross cut the strip to free it. You could start cutting 1/4” strips on the outside, farthest away from the fence, then move the blade in a 1/4” plus the thickness of the blade then cut another. Continue that process until you’ve cut what the board allows then crosscut them free. Be the biggest featherboard I’d ever seen. ;)

Or, find a friend with a table saw and do it there. I’ve had cousins and friends over using my Unisaw to do cuts they couldn’t do on their machines. I’ll let them use it anytime they want to be safe.

I know you don’t want to hear this, but personally, I wouldn’t take the risk, would not try to rip 1/4” strips on a RAS. I’d go to some Mill shop and have them do it. Or I’d go to Harbor Freight and buy a $150 cheapo table saw to do it. Well worth keeping all my body parts attached and in proper working order.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View BlankMan's profile


1490 posts in 3594 days

#4 posted 04-01-2009 01:50 AM

Actually, taking bentlyj’s idea one step further. If you ran the sled against the fence with the fence board on the sled perpendicular to the fence so that it’s pushing the board you’re cutting through the blade and had the blade height set to cut through your board and only score the top of the sled board cutting through the sled fence board you could cut all the way through, keep going past the blade, and not have to pull the sled back. The RAS fence would have to be high enough so that the board you’re cutting slides against it, but there’s still a chance it could pinch and come flying out. And this may not be practical if you have to cut really long pieces. Also, if you’re using 1×4’s or 1×6’s to make these strips and holding them down on the sled with you hands your fingers would be getting to close too the blade for my tastes.

I still think this would be dangerous and don’t recommend or condone it and would not do it myself, because the cutoff piece by the fence could pinch and come flying out or the remaining piece of wood on the outside of the blade could cock, hit the blade and go flying. You could use locking spring clamps to hold the board down to the sled, but still, there’d be a risk it could slip.

Just not the proper machine for the job IMO.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View RichardDragin's profile


7 posts in 3584 days

#5 posted 04-01-2009 04:18 AM

Another thread that probably has Wally Kunkle rolling over…...

Why not just set the cut so your fall off is 1/4”? It is very easy to move the blade over a 1/4” at a time on a RAS.


View Don Niermann  's profile

Don Niermann

219 posts in 4213 days

#6 posted 04-01-2009 04:38 AM

I would not rip that on A rad WITH OUT a lot of hold downs. I love my RAS.

-- WOOD/DON ( has the right to ones opinion but not the right to ones own facts...)

View parkerdude's profile


182 posts in 3692 days

#7 posted 04-01-2009 05:16 AM

Thanks everyone, I won’t do this for a couple of days. I think that my first attempt will be to edge glue a 1 X 4 to a piece of 3’ X 12” plywood and out-rip as usual and let the small strip fall away from the blade. I’ll re-adjust as needed.

Thank you guys for helping me think this through.

I’ll try this later next week and include a pic or 2.


-- dust control

View fredf's profile


495 posts in 3951 days

#8 posted 04-01-2009 05:51 AM

Perhaps you could have a knowledgeable helper on the out feed to take over control of the work piece as it becomes available. You could also set up some sort of guard on the out feed side of the blade, perhaps a 1×6 clamped over a couple of 2x blocks to raise it over the fence, that the workpiece would pass under, to keep the helpers hands from getting sucked into the blade if he tries fighting the saw for the work piece. On my ras the back of the blade is exposed big time when ripping the saw will win, hopefully a guard there would keep his hands away from the blade.

If I had the choice of a ras or a hand held circular saw, I think I’ use a rip guide on the circular saw for that operation. Maybe even a jigsaw.

invite a paramedic friend over to watch :-/

-- Fred, Springfield, Ma

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3727 days

#9 posted 04-01-2009 06:38 AM

two trains are on the same track headed straight for each other. it is only a matter of minutes before they would crash right in front of the train station. the railroad station manager called a local representative and ask what to do. given no time to fix the problem the representative said “call my brother and tell him to get down to the station right away”. the station manager ask why should the brother come down to the station. the representative said “cause my brother has never seen a train wreck before”. funny, huh

train wrecks, sometimes they’re just not avoidable.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View RichardDragin's profile


7 posts in 3584 days

#10 posted 04-01-2009 06:44 AM

FredF wrote:”Perhaps you could have a knowledgeable helper on the out feed to take over control of the work piece as it becomes available.”

Any knowledgeable helper would never grab a piece as it came off the saw, same as a table saw. If and when it kicks back it’ll suck your hand into the saw, I have a friend who just had three fingers reattached doing that exact maneuver you suggest.

View HossMan's profile


42 posts in 3959 days

#11 posted 04-01-2009 07:03 AM

Just thinking out loud through my a…. I mean my hat: is there some means of adding 1/4” spacers to the fence for each succeeding cut? One could use a sled for safety…the strips would fall away from the blade.
I dunno….like I said: just thinkin’ out loud.

View BlankMan's profile


1490 posts in 3594 days

#12 posted 04-01-2009 10:11 AM

Good one bentlyj.

But he could rip some 1/4” stock or plywood.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View parkerdude's profile


182 posts in 3692 days

#13 posted 04-02-2009 05:04 AM

Hey thanks guys, I guess a little more detail is due. What I wanted to do was route a decorative edge on some 3/4 boards with my router table and then rip them free for some edge work on plywood.

My thoughts so far are to glue some 1 X 4 to a piece of plywood to make it 12” – 15” wide and make a sled. I’d set-up for an out-rip and have the blade just go full thickness through the trim strip to fall away from the blade on the off side. Then I can just move the whole piece over in the sled 1/4 inch or so for the next cut.

Believe me, I have a VERY health respect for sharp spinny things. First priority is to be able to count to 10, one on each finger!

Thanks for the humor too.

I’ll re-post when I have a SAFE way figured out, if not I’ll post back to say I’ve given up.

Thanks again,

-- dust control

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