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Author Topic: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.  (Read 568 times)

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Offline DR_Buck

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Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« on: February 22, 2021, 07:47:00 PM »

For the first time in a while I powered up the one tool in the shop I've had the longest and scares me the most.   I bought my Craftsman radial arm saw new back in 1980 and for the longest time it was my only non-handheld power tool.  I did everything with it.  Cross cuts, ripping, cutting dados and I even had a jig I made to use it as a horizontal boring machine.    I first used a radial arm saw when I was in high school in wood shop.   I really liked using it and I don't think it ever scared me back then.   Of course, we were all fearless and indestructible.    

Over the years between the few close calls I've had with it and the horror stories I've read about accidents others have had I began to be much more careful and even reluctant to use it if there were other options for whatever task I was working at.    About 7 or 8 years ago I found out about the recall on them and the safety modification kit that was available for free so I sent off for one and upgraded my saw.    Aside from the new safety guard, the best part about the mod kit is it came with a complete new cutting top.  Mine was way over due for replacement. 

These days it mostly sits idle and has become a collection spot for stuff I don't put away until either the pile gets to big or I actually need to use it.    It occasionally gets used if I need to do wide cross cuts.  I think with the fence in the rear position it will cross cut about 15".  My sliding miter, which I use most, does around 12".   And as long as its thicker than about 1 1/4" I can use my panel saw to cross cut up to 50".      

Probably the only reason I still have this saw is for doing dado cuts for shelving, which is what I used it for today.    I'm in the process of building the rest of the shelving for Kitty's pantry storage and I needed  to cut 14" dados in the plywood panels for the wall cabinets.   I use a high quality stacked dado set to do the cuts in a single pass and it makes quick work of the job.    I've tried different ways of cutting dados, including an expensive tool called DadoMax that gets used with a plunge router.    It's OK, but slow and setting up for each cut is a PIA.   So  it was back to my old standby --- the Radial Arm Saw.     





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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2021, 08:16:01 PM »
a craftsman RAS was the only table top tool my dad ever owned.  lots of crap made with these over the years.  rather have one of these than a shop smith.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline firefighter ontheside

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2021, 08:20:49 PM »
I used to use my dad's RAS when I was about 14 to make birdhouses.  It never did anything to scare me, but I can certainly see how it could happen.  Dad still has it and he has offered it to me, but I don't have anywhere to put it in my small shop.  It would come in handy for the dadoes you describe on long stock.  Is that a 6" or 8" powermatic jointer  I see?  
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Offline sawwood

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2021, 09:06:50 PM »

 I also have a 10" sears radial arm saw and now a 12" dewalt 7790 radial arm saw. I just use
 the saw for crosscutting and dadoes. With the sawmill i all ways need to trim the ends or cut
 the lumber in two. Been real carful when using it and so far not been hurt.

 Sawwood  
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Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2021, 09:16:47 PM »
Well I don't know why these get such a bad rap, but my son doesn't like mine either and he has no interest in the spare one we have. He thinks it's scary too, and he is a carpenter. ;D When I was 18 and in college, one of my part time jobs was as a company carpenter making crates for the commercial oil burners we made (big 'ums!). I had a 10" circ saw for the panel work and the RAS for all the crate stock cutting which had a 20' table. I went through a flatbed load of crate lumber about every quarter and would get a couple pallets of plywood every month or two. I ripped miles of stuff on that RAS and cut 10 of thousands of board feet to length. Never really had an issue except a couple of times when I had a brain fart while ripping the same stuff for days at time. I find mine very handy and have recently learned that running dados is a piece of cake, I don't know why I waited to so. Like you, I use it for long cross cuts up to about 15", you can make some great time doing production work. I also made up a jig for pointing stakes with it, but I am going to work on a better way this year. Mine is due for an overhaul, new table and some alignment, for some reason the head is out of square with the table and I haven't had time to investigate it yet.
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2021, 09:24:07 PM »
I think with over the board cutting, with a table underneath, it can feel like it could run away like a router going with the wood.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline sawguy21

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2021, 09:43:52 PM »
Dad had a Craftsman RAS for years, that thing cut a lot of wood and never gave a problem. The brake failed so came off, we were extra careful shutting it down. A table saw claimed the tip of a finger but that's another story.
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Offline DR_Buck

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2021, 09:45:35 PM »
I used to use my dad's RAS when I was about 14 to make birdhouses.  It never did anything to scare me, but I can certainly see how it could happen.  Dad still has it and he has offered it to me, but I don't have anywhere to put it in my small shop.  It would come in handy for the dadoes you describe on long stock.  Is that a 6" or 8" powermatic jointer  I see?  
Yep -- Longbed 6" Powermatic.    
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Offline DR_Buck

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2021, 09:48:59 PM »
......   A table saw claimed the tip of a finger but that's another story.
Table saws have to most reported accidents of all shop stationary tools.    Back before everyone owned a miter saw when they were the in thing although not as many accidents as table saws, radial arm saw accidents were far more severe.   I think when I researched and read that stuff is when it really started to scare me. 
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Offline doc henderson

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2021, 09:50:28 PM »
it seems it should be pulled back to front, but better to push front to back and not let it run away.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Online Larry

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2021, 09:53:28 PM »
I picked up a Dewalt GA at auction years ago for $50.  An industrial grade RAS, it had see hard use.  I re-machined the ways, put in all new bearings, and made it like new.

Normal use it had a 14" blade but could be fitted with a 16" blade.  I made some waterfall tables and benches with it.  The only machine that had the depth to make the 45 degree cut in thick material.  Also used it on heavy timbers.




Other than those uses it took up a lot of precious real estate in my small shop.  Because I wanted that space, I sold it to a pallet outfit that runs in every day, all day.  They love it.

If I ever get a bigger shop I'll get another one....this one looks interesting!
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Offline Old Greenhorn

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2021, 10:00:05 PM »
I think with over the board cutting, with a table underneath, it can feel like it could run away like a router going with the wood.
Well, yeah, I suppose it's that and the fact that the blade is climb cutting as opposed to conventional cutting on pretty much all other saws. SO you have to have control of the machine and I guess a lot of folks seem to find that an issue. Kind of like the brake. My son think any saw without a brake is a dinosaur, but none of my tools do. I never notice. Its a rotating very sharp blade, I keep my 'stuff' away from it, even when it is stopped. Simple, until that one time I might forget.
 Gramps always said: " A poor workman always finds fault in his tools."
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Offline Don P

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2021, 10:57:03 PM »
I've got Dad's old one and use it often enough. It is one of the most versatile saws. It is set up blade horizontal at the moment for some end slots.

My roomate cut off his thumb with one, working too fast and tired. He always worked wide open. Threw the saw back to return, was feeding a board across for the next cut, it bounced and climbed over the board and his thumb. There were two broken rules in that accident. Return the saw and park it and never put any part of you in the path. Machines are always paying attention so you better be too. Nothing wrong with pause and proceed. They did reassemble him but I imagine that is a sore thumb now.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2021, 11:26:33 PM »
    I used mine this afternoon to start replacing the sides on my little ATV cart I use for hay and firewood and such. I removed the old ragged metal sides but not before they grabbed and ripped the knee out of the old pair of jeans I was wearing today. I just used the RAS to cut some 4/4 and 8/4 RO to length then trimmed the ends of the 8/4 stanchions on my table saw to fit the brackets which were designed for dimensional sized, not full sized, lumber and I assure you I was much more frightened of the tablesaw after my June 3 attack last summer.

  I salvage a lot of short boards off my flitches and such I used to scrap before I got it and lots of times I use the RAS to cut a longer board or slab in two for a customer who is driving an SUV instead of a truck or towing a trailer.
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Offline Dan_Shade

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2021, 07:03:30 AM »
I used mine last weekend to cut a shallow angle dado.  My wife stepped in the shop as was replacing all the normal junk back on the flat surface.  I told her that it's the only tool in my shop that actually scares me.  I do a risk assessment and take reduction steps, including hold downs so that my hands aren't on the table. 

I had mine climb over a board once  and shoot out to the end of its travel very fast.

Stumpy Nubs on YouTube has a few good videos on radial arm saws. 
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Offline farmfromkansas

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2021, 08:24:13 AM »
Think the major safety rule is to keep your hand holding the board out of line with the blade.  In case the saw crawls up on top of the board and comes out at you.  Ripping on one is not the safest way to rip a board.  But I knew a guy who framed houses, had one like Larry's mounted on the side of a car trailer, and cut all his headers, cripples and such with it, and had nice square cuts.  They ripped their soffit material with it, and had a dado blade to groove the fascia.  Did a nice job.       I use a router table with a big router and a 3/4" bit to make dados.  And the undersize bit for plywood. Makes the cuts easy.  When I use it on hardwood, use the 3/4" and sand the piece that fits in the groove to fit.  On my wide belt sander.  Having all these tools makes woodworking fun.
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Offline rastis

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2021, 01:31:53 PM »
I have a 70s Craftsman RAS I got from my parents years ago that I integrated it into a 14 workbench. When its not being used I swing the arm out of the way. 

Offline 21incher

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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2021, 09:11:18 PM »
I started with a craftsman RAS. Bought my first house in the early 80s (14.5% mortgage) and had no money left but needed a saw. Went to Sears they gave me a credit card and I took the saw home. I used that saw for a couple years with no problems then the motor  went up in a big cloud of smoke. They wanted a fortune for the replacement motor so I bought a new Delta RAS. That one scared me bad while making some 3/4 -1/4 round molding by routing the radius and ripping the 3/4 off a wider board. Well the Delta kickback pawls did not work as good as the craftsman ones and a 3/4 square x 8 ft long strip came out like an arrow and took a big chunk of mortar out of my stone basement wall where it hit. Next day I bought a contractors saw and miter saw. That RAS sat for over 15 years in my shop without being  turned  on again. Finally sold it last year because It was just taking  up space. Those RAS splitters are to flexible and just don't work reliably plus the blade tooth angle limits the number  of safe blades to choose from. I would never turn another one on.
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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2021, 08:56:12 AM »
My RAS doesnt scare me anymore.
It is a 1969 Wards Powercraft, still chugging along.
A friend gave me his old one for parts, but havent had to use it yet.
used it for everything for several years.
It is now relegated to just cutting off stock, not needed to be square, the table collects stuff and has to be cleared off regularly.
Never had mine jump a piece but it has a clutch so if it jams the blade just stops.
Only cuts I have gotten were on my table saw first in 1966, then again in 1996, 30 years apart.
Next one due in 2026 but probably wont be using one by then.
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Re: Used my scariest woodshop tool today.
« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2021, 11:09:08 AM »
I've never had the desire to own a Radical Harm Saw, but I can appreciate their versatility. 
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