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Thread: vintage Craftsman radial arm saw tune-up/upgrade

  1. #16
    This is an update narrative in my goal to update the vintage RAS:
    1. no one has responded to my question regarding the cutting table: why do cuts have to be made into the table at 90 degrees and 45 degrees left and right? Is it necessary?
    2. is there another fence design to allow attaching a measuring tape guide on the left and right sides of the blade for more accurate cross cutting measurements?
    3. lastly, any ideas for upgrading the on/off switch on the arm.
    Thanks for all of your responses so far!
    Mark Mrsa

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Northwest Indiana
    Posts
    715
    1. No requirement to make a cut anywhere, but one could. I set my crosscut blade between 1/16" and 1/8" deep into the sacrificial top--no need to go any deeper than the cut. A few folks mentioned leaving the arm at 90 deg and using mitered inserts for other angles. I swing my arm where it needs to go as my GWI is quite accurate and returns to 90 with an absolute stop. As i face my saw, i have one odd-ball angle to the left side (don't recall what i was cutting), the line at 90, then several angle cuts betwee n there and 45 deg to the right. With the arbor on the left side of the motor, i feel like i run out of room to cut much on the left side. Others may feel different.
    2. One of the key functions of the fence is to serve as a zero-clearance backstop for your material, helping minimize tear-out on the entry of the cut. Over a little time, even on a well-tuned saw, that slot wallows out, so just shift the fence. When that kerf in the fence is fresh and true, i can put a single pencil mark on the edge of my stock and line up my cut with the kerf mark. If i have multiples, i clamp a stop to the fence for repeatability. Thinking about it--i i wanted to add at tape, i'd probably embed a rule in the sacrificial top, about an inch back from the blade. But--since different blades cut different width kerfs--error would creep in if you changed blades. I rotate between 3 blades on my RAS--one cuts about .126", another at 3/32" (thin kerf), and a little 7 1/4" blade that cuts a tick over 1/16" (to cut inserts for pen blanks) Even the Incra fence on my table saw has to be adjusted for the blade thickness--fence kisses blade, slide scale to zero, takes about 2 seconds if i'm slow.
    3. On the GWI and my table saw, i have added a magnetic paddle switch in a box i mounted under the front edge of the table--directly in front of my left thigh (normally!!). I always turn off with my thigh, never with my hand, so that the muscle memory is ingrained. The "magnetic" part breaks the contact in event of a power loss, so if you lose power for a few seconds or a few days the machine will not automatically restart when power is restored. If it's a quick spike in the midst of a cut--increased chance of kickback if it pops right back on. If power is out longer--no problem leaving in the dark (still good to hit the switch). I use one similar to this: https://www.amazon.com/POWERTEC-7105...7&sr=8-22&th=1

    Hope this helps!!
    earl

  3. #18
    Earl, thanks for your guidance reguarding the cutting table and fence. I made the cutting table from 1" thick MDF material, just as the original one was. I kept the measurements the same. I'm now considering a scarifical surface on top of that that would align with the 90 and 45 degree zero clearance kerf cuts through the fence. Any thoughts on the thickness of the scarifical surface on top of the 1" MDF board?
    There is an old Sears Craftsman 10" blade on the RAS now which I intent to upgrade. Will probably look at a Frued blade. I've read not to use thin kerf width blades. Any comment on that point. Also, I know that zero or negative angle teeth are the safest, any comment on the type of blade, combination or just cross cut? I don't know if there are blades especially designed for an RAS?
    Lastly, in regard to the switch, I installed a similar one on my table saw. I looked at your link. Did you have to do any re-wiring to make the updated switch work?
    Mark

  4. #19
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Lancaster, Ohio
    Posts
    836
    Get a copy of the Mr Sawdust book mentioned earlier
    I have a solid board for the fence and marks every inch from cutting edge of blade both ways, takes years to cut it up bad enough to replace it. works great for quick fast measurements, for high accuracy I mark on board and cut to mark.
    Dado cuts always have to be measured as they always are various widths
    Only have the 90 deg cut in table which is a piece of 1/4" plywood
    RAS in basement mounted to have support for 10'+ to left and 6'+ to right( can hang over 20' to right with support stands)
    RAS in garage has support for 8' to left (12'+ clearance) and 2' to right ( 40'++ with stands)
    RAS at work has a 40" wide table
    Prefer Forrest blade made back around 1988 for RAS, Have a European blade on the one in basement works good, bought it at THE BLADE in Columbus, Ohio a few years ago. Negative hook. SHARP BLADE is very important, get blade sharpened before you think it is getting dull and you will find it was dull.
    All factory switches and used to them, probably would be a good idea to add magnetic paddle switches, one more item for the to do list. Hasn't been a problem for almost 50 years however could be.
    Rip on RAS as needed, prefer a table saw but not scared of RAS for ripping IF SET UP CORRECTLY
    Basement and work RAS have new style guard and REALLY like it
    Ron

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Northwest Indiana
    Posts
    715
    I use a crosscut blade for crosscutting and a ripping blade for ripping. I own a few combo blades--can't remember i put one on a RAS, table saw or circular saw. Ron Selzer mentions the Forrest blade made for RAS--it's officially a "Woodworker 1", but you have to call in and ask for the "Mr. Sawdust blade" to order as it's not on their website. (Mr. Sawdust was Wally Kunkel). The folks at Carbide Processors are great to talk to as well, one i see that could be a good blade is https://carbideprocessors.com/chop-s...tools-ra1060t/ I've got a few Popular Tools blades, and they are a very good value--but i've not used this particular blade.
    earl

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Upland CA
    Posts
    4,899
    Here is my RAS setup.

    Sorry, I am not very good with attaching pics. This obviously is not a Craftsman, it's a DeWalt 7790 12", but the setup would be the same.


    Notice the red section of the table. This is the sacrificial part, held on with countersunk screws. Obviously I only cut 90's with it, and will never move it. This is only the second sacrificial insert I have used in 15 years, and the only reason I had to put a new one in was because I let someone else use the saw and he tried to muscle it through some construction 4x6, not realizing there was a blade stabilizer on it which didn't fit through the kerf. He bound the saw up and tried to force it, knocking it out of adjustment.


    The second kerf in the fence is for the safety leaf to pass through on the left side of the blade. I didn't use the leaf on the right side, because I never have my hands near the right side.

    The white melamine fence is about 4' on the left, and just past the table on the right. It has a t-slot in the face of the fence, I did it by cutting a dado, and then finishing off with a t-slot bit. The stops are home made, just a simple block slightly above the table with a top lip of 1/4" hardboard, and a 5/16 t-bolt and wing nut. The block and top lip are lined up so I can read the measurement directly off the tape measure that runs on the top of the fence.

    There are also stops, with in and out 45's on them for cutting molding. I use the same type fences on miter gages, and try to standardize the placement of the stops. Not always successful at that though.

    My setup is a bit different, placing it on top of a bench, rather than having the top level with the bench. This allows me to use the bench for other tasks without interfering with the RAS use, as you can see in the pic.

    The chop saw is the same height and depth, and I use the RAS fence stops quite often with it. Also lined up with the RAS you can see a Kreg Foreman, and past the bench the drill press and router table are the right height also, so I can easily cut longer pieces than the fence. My Craftsman RAS, used only for dado's on drawers and such usually sits in line also. The band saw, drill press and router table change positions from time to time.

    Hope this is of help.

    PS: If you want to cut dados with your RAS, without ruining your good fence you spent so much time on......Make an accessory table that sits at the same height as your good fence with a sacrificial fence sticking up a little higher than the work you are dadoing. Clamp it over the original table.

    Make sure the arm is raised enough to avoid cutting the good fence. Once you get your dado width dialed in, by cutting the 'new' fence, move the fence over a bit on the 'new' table, make one cut through it, and you now have a perfect visual of exactly where the dado will be on the work.

    Hope this is clear enough to understand.






    [ATTACH=CONFIG]4520180702_123811.jpg20180702_123857.jpg6563[/ATTACH]
    Last edited by Rick Potter; 04-23-2021 at 3:03 AM.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    5,929
    The top layer of plywood on mine was intended as a sacrificial piece. It gets changed occasionally. This 1974 saw has served me well in building more than a few millions of dollars worth of stuff. Stops are often just nails driven into the top, and for long runs of sometimes hundreds of pieces, a wooden stop is screwed in place.

    I've intended to make a "better" system, but this one has worked just fine for 47 years now.

    For precise cuts, such as this tenon shoulder, I'll often use a thick 10" blade, like this old Systematic, on the 12" saw.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Eastern Iowa
    Posts
    643
    As mentioned, the fence is designed to be sacrificial, serve as a zero clearance back, and as a guide to provide alignment of where your cut will be. As mentioned, those will be compromised as your fence wallows out. This can be overcome, though and still be part of a non-consumable fence.
    Do a search for Brian Weekly videos on YouTube. He is a member of the DeWalt RAS forum and all of his videos have been vetted by the membership. Most RAS YouTube videos are terrible, his are excellent. He describes his fence adaptation to maintain the zci function without sacrificing the fence. Also, videos on almost all other aspects of the RAS.

    Wrt tuning the table saw... The recommendation for Wally Kunkel's book is not bad, you will gain insights on its use by arguably the best RAS user of all time. But for the Craftsman user Jon Eakes book is better. It is out of print and original copies are going for $100+ a pop. But the PDF version is available for cheap on his website. I have a DeWalt, and it is still my go to bible, if I had a fire it would be the one I save.
    A well tuned RAS is a precision, safe (relatively) machine. Eakes book will help. Again, look to the Brian Weekly videos.

    Wrt the table, the blade will cut below the table so your question is moot. With that said....
    The table is extremely important. All your tune up calibrations will be referenced from the table. Making a table to the original craftsman specs is not sufficient. Kunkel's book will describe a "Mr. Sawdust table". Others have come up with alternate designs that they say can match the MST for flatness, but why? The MST is easy and has been the standard for decades. After the construction of your MST, you will want to protect it with a sacrificial top. Your MST will last a lifetime. Again,... The Brian Weekly videos...
    Last edited by Charlie Velasquez; 04-23-2021 at 10:36 AM.
    Comments made here are my own and, according to my children, do not reflect the opinions of any other person... anywhere, anytime.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    McKean, PA
    Posts
    13,675
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Mrsa View Post
    This is an update narrative in my goal to update the vintage RAS:
    1. no one has responded to my question regarding the cutting table: why do cuts have to be made into the table at 90 degrees and 45 degrees left and right? Is it necessary?

    Yes it is necessary to make cuts into the sacrificial table. Just as you wouldn't make a cross cut or rip on a table saw with the blade teeth barely breaking the wood surface you shouldn't do that on a radial arm saw either.

    2. is there another fence design to allow attaching a measuring tape guide on the left and right sides of the blade for more accurate cross cutting measurements?

    YOu can put a tape on top of the fence as long as you don't make any angled or tilt cuts

    3. lastly, any ideas for upgrading the on/off switch on the arm.

    Yes, purchase one of theseswitch.JPG and attach the switch under the front edge of your sacrificial table. Leave the old switch in place as an added safety, which allows your to lock the saw.
    Thanks for all of your responses so far!
    Mark Mrsa
    Hopefully this helps.
    Lee Schierer
    Captain USNR(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Please Contribute

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Northwest Indiana
    Posts
    715
    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Schierer View Post
    Hopefully this helps.
    Great switch Lee, do you recall where you found that? Simple emergency stop without having to rewire.
    earl

  11. #26
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    McKean, PA
    Posts
    13,675
    Quote Originally Posted by Earl McLain View Post
    Great switch Lee, do you recall where you found that? Simple emergency stop without having to rewire.
    earl
    It was on Amazon
    Lee Schierer
    Captain USNR(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Please Contribute

  12. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Zellers View Post
    http://radialarmsawrecall.com

    You apply, get approved, they send you a box, you put the carriage into the box and take it to FedEx. Done. But Emerson made those saws for Sears and they are the ones handling the recall (not rebate). .
    And Fed Ex (used to be UPS Store) takes box out back and throws it into dumpster. Then they get paid a handling fee. Emerson neither wants, nor wants to pay freight on old head. Friend's husband owned a UPS store, that's how I know.

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