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sacrificial top for radial arm saw

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  • sacrificial top for radial arm saw

    i have a 1965 vintage craftsman 10" radial arm saw that i rehabbed. it works quite well. as the original table is a bit chewed up after 40+ years of use, i am planning on adding a 1/4" sacrificial table of MDF on top of the original table. it will be secured to the original table with brads at the extreme corners and double sided carpet tape. i want to mount this sacrificial table 1/8" away from the fence for dust relief. anyone see any problems with this idea? i never use the RAS for ripping, only crosscutting items too bulky or unwieldy to be crosscut on my table saw.
    there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.

  • #2
    Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

    Have you looked at http://www.radialarmsawrecall.com/ to see if you can get a new guard and table?
    If it is not available for your saw the only issue I can see is that you will likely have a large cavity under the center cut line. With only 1/4" you may blow through the MDF after a few cuts.
    If the table is only bad in the center you could route out that slot and inlay a piece of hardwood.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

      Finer,

      I have a 1974 Craftsman, and until last year, I always used a piece of 1/4 ply (Luan subfloor) for a table surface. Last year, I decided to use a slightly larger piece of MDF for a surface. In all cases, the surface is fastened to the base top with counter-sunk screws, which I think would do a much better job then nails and it's easier to replace. I use the previous top as a pattern for the mounting holes in the replacement top. I mount with one at each corner and one in the center.

      I place my table top surface about a 1/16th in from the fence, but certainly an 1/8th would work, IMO. Actually I used a popsicle stick (real simple) for the spacing and I use them to clean out any buildup that the vac doesn't want to remove.

      A couple of years ago, I finally got myself a table saw, so like you, I now use the RAS exclusively for cross-cuts. For me, I have no need to do beveled cross-cuts either, leaving most of that molding-type work to my more portable miter saw. So, I've made my fence much less "sacrificial and tempory, giving it a sanded finish, and adding a T-track to the right end, with measuring tape and adjustable stop block. Much nicer looking and certainly more efficient, as I no longer have to constantly measure or look for that ever-elusive tape measure.

      CWS

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

        CWS...thanks for the feedback. my saw predates the models covered by the recall, so i qualify for the $100 (oh boy!). what are the overall dimensions of your fence (LengthxHeightxThickness)? i'd like to replace mine and i'm considering 1/2" MDF cut wide enough so that it extends 1" above the sacrificial table. a photo of your set up would be helpful and appreciated. thanks.
        there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

          Finer,

          Unfortunately, I'm not near my RAS at this time. I'm working on two houses, one in Binghamton where the shop is setup and one here in Painted Post where I have the internet connection. They're 75 miles apart and I can't afford to have the internet in both places. Basically we spend a week here and then a week there. So, I'll be there, next week and won't return here until the week after. But will be glad to take some pictures and send directly too you, if not too late for you.

          My current RAS setup (like every other tool) is to meet my immediate time and project demands, so it's NOT as I hope to have it when I finally move the shop to the garage. But, I did use the MDF to make the table a little bit longer than the original. It probably extends about six inches or so on either end, with the fence length extending well pass the right side, in order to accomodate setting my stop out as much as 4 feet or so. I think I used a 1 x 3 or 1 x 4 for the fence and on the right side, I reinforced it with a second piece (like a T) to stiffen it where it stretches out beyond the table.

          The basement has two rooms about 10 x 12 with a wide doorway joining them, so the RAS sits at an angle, positioned to accomodate a 12 ft feed and about 5 ft outboard. My primary task setup is to make a lot of shelving/bookcases for the two libraries. Immediatly opposite the RAS is my 1550 drill press, which bores all the assembly, shelf pin, and dowel holes.

          So in one room I have some folding work tables where I stack, sand, measure, paint and then I have to knock everything down in order to use the router table or roll out the table saw for any ripping. In the adjoining second room I keep the compressor, RAS, drill press, and storage shelves. All the assembly takes place in the second floor rooms we've designated as the library.

          As you may guess, it's a bit of a PIA, but so far, it meets the requirements.

          CWS

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

            I take it that you have not really used a radial arm saw much. the tables of these saws are meant to be replaceable for this exact reason. I would NOT put a 1/4 anything on it. its really quite easy to make a whole new 3/4 table for this.

            the back fence usually is nothing more than a piece of 3/4 stock standing up on end, sandwiched between 2 3/4 top pieces.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

              Originally posted by Arthur96 View Post
              I take it that you have not really used a radial arm saw much. the tables of these saws are meant to be replaceable for this exact reason.
              On the quantrary... I've owned my RAS for more than thirty-five years and started using the RAS in 1960! If it were a simple piece of wood, I might agree with you, but my particular table matches the steel frame with six mounting holes and two carefully positioned leveling holes, and includes a routed area to accomodate the elevation crank. Even if it was a simple slab of ply that sat on the frame, an easy to replace 1/4-inch cutting surface is much cheaper to replace than the approximately inch and a quarter thick table, not to mention the time it takes to position and drill the necessary mounting holes and rout the clearance pocket.

              With the fence, I do agree as changing cut angles will chop that up pretty quickly under normal use. But in a dedicated cross-cut mode, as I described, it gives the user an opportunity to advance the fence to something a bit more versatile, where it can act as a means of measurement, with an adjustable stop or whatever. (If the table saw can have it, why not the RAS?)

              But regarding the table itself, I take it that you are not acquinted with the suggested recommendations from the manufacturer or the leading writers on the subject, and many of the veteran RAS users of the time. But that's okay, I understand... everytime I see a rutted RAS table top, I just chuckle a bit and then remind myself... "to each, his own!"



              CWS
              Last edited by CWSmith; 06-08-2009, 07:58 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

                CWS...thanks for the reply. whenever you can fit the photos into your schedule and travels will work for me. BTW, what make and model RAS are you using? your set up sounds really interesting and your description of your saw's table, with the area under the table routed out for the elevation crank, sounds exactly like mine. and you are dead right in that the original owner's manual for my saw, which came to me with the saw, does suggest the addition of a sacrificial table.

                your description of the use of a stop on the extended fence is curious to me in that it seems you use the right side of the table for repetitive cuts. which would mean the material to the right of the blade's travel must be held in place with the motor moved through the cut with the left hand. have i got that right?

                lastly, where do you stand on the issue of cutting on the pull or on the push. i notice what appears to be more control when i cut on the push, as the motor and carriage seem to be less inclined to be accellerated towards the operator by the rotation of the blade. coments appreciated.
                there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

                  Finer,

                  My RAS is a model 113-29461 which was made by Emerson Electric. I got turned on to the RAS when a junior in high school, taking advanced wood shop. A couple of years earlier, the summer before I started high school, I was helping my father build kitchen cabinets in a new house that was being built. I witnessed him remove two fingers and mangle a third while using a table saw. Hurt him and scared the h3!! out of me, so much so that I avoiding wood shop until I had to take it in my junior year. The shop teacher noticed I was staying away from the big power tools and wanted to know what my problem was. After telling him, he introduced me to the big DeWalt RAS, telling me it was a "safe saw", because the blade was never hidden, and you, the operator, directly held the feed rate in your hand. After using it for the rest of the semester I was convinced.

                  In the fall of 74, my father-in-law, who was the hardware manager of the Binghamton Sears store, called me up (we had moved to Painted Post the year before) and told me that if I ever wanted a RAS of my own, "now was the time!" He had just returned from Chicago Hq, to see the new tool line-up and they had announced that they were going to the fabricated column design on the RAS. So in his opinion, with only a handfull of "the last of the cast iron column saws" available, it was buy it now or never. I drove to Binghamton that afternoon!

                  As far as my cross-cutting is concerned, it depends on the project, the stock I'm cutting, and the finish piece that I'm looking for. When taking small finish pieces off an 8-ft length, I'd feed from the right where the best support and fence alignment would be and I'd guide the carriage with my left hand (more on that later). The shorter, left side would hopefully still provide support for the finish cut piece.

                  But, my present situation is that I'm mostly cutting shelf lengths which are between 25 and 36 inches in length. So, I feed an 8- to 12-ft piece of stock from the left, and the longer fence on the right side provides the length to set a fence stop. Likewise, with the finish piece on the right, it doesn't need any additional help as it's totally supported by the right side of the table; and on a pull-cut, once positioned, all the forces are holding the workpiece down and back against the fence.

                  But, I'm at a disadvantage for those 68-inch vertical sides, as I'm stuck with feeding from the left, using the roller stand for support. I measure and mark my length directly on the stock and use a framing square to scribe a guide mark to ensure my cut is true. I then have to spin the board around, measure and mark, and make my final length cut. The fact is that the left side of the fence isn't long enough to give me confidence that the stock is properly aligned and using the right side of the table for the greater, finish length requires room that I simply don't have for these long pieces.

                  To be honest, I'd love to have the room to have the length of fence and table support on both sides to cut one end and advance these longer pieces across the table to cut the final end.

                  I always try to hold the carriage in my right hand and keep my left hand to hold the left-feed side of the stock down and back against the fence. This is important, because feeding from that side, I may have 5-ft or more out there on the roller stand. But for me, the most important reason to guide the carriage with my right hand is that is the best control arm/hand that I have, and on the 29416 model, it places the on/off switch right at my thumb. Obviously, there are times when feeding from the right is more prudent from a table/fence support view. On the right side, the basic setup provides more table and fence to support the stock. But, in that position, using your left hand on the carriage, the switch isn't quite as handy. On later models they moved to switch out on the end of the arm, where to me, it seems even less ergonomic. If I had designed it, I'd have placed a wider bar above the carriage handle so that it could be easily toggled with either thumb.

                  So, feeding from the left (for my bookcase project), requires additional support of the long piece and for that I use a roller stand. All my work up to the cutting point has been sanding and finishing, which is all in the room to the left, so feeding from that direction is most efficient. My finish cuts come off the right side of the table, get stacked, and then exit the shop at that end for the trip upstairs. (Work flow is important to me. )

                  Now, this "push" vs "pull" thing is one that's been argued by a lot of folks. I've even heard the head sales guy for Forrest blades tout that the RAS should be pushed; and, such proponents most always give the reason to the fact that a "pull" will either cause the blade to climb, or worse that it will self feed right into your misplaced hand!

                  Howevere, almost every book that I've read states that the RAS should be pulled into the cut, with you controlling the feed rate (and that means you holding back if necessary so the blade doesn't over feed). To alleviate the "climb" probabilities, a blade with a negative hook angle is often recommended by veteran RAS users. Freud and other popular brands make a blade with a 5-degree negative hook angle that they recommend for both the radial arm and compound miter saws.

                  I have a 50's era DeWalt manual, as well as my Craftsman and several others that all state that the pull cut is right and proper. Primary reason given is that with the "pull', the forces of the rotating blade are down and back. That is to say that those forces puch the workpiece down against the table and back against the fence. The blade forces while "Pushing" are upward on the leading edge of the workpiece, which could cause the workpiece to flip up and over the fence (which happens a lot with new CMS users) or lift upwards into the blade guard and cause the carriage to jump forward in reaction to the lifted piece.

                  From my point of view, a push cut sets up a dangerous situation, as the blade is closest to you when you start the cut. Contrary to good and safe work practice, many operators have a tendency to position the stock for the next cut without turning off the motor... bad enough with the blade behind the fence, but a sure ambulance ride when reaching back to position your stock with the spinning blade at the front of the table.

                  But as earlier stated, it's an operating opinion which can and has been argued almost to death.

                  Sorry this is long, but hopefully it will give you something to think about.

                  CWS
                  Last edited by CWSmith; 06-09-2009, 02:58 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

                    CWS.. great info. and a refreshing change of pace to read something that is well written. but i've couple more questions.

                    I always try to hold the carriage in my right hand and keep my left hand to hold the left-feed side of the stock down and back against the fence.
                    in the example you sited above, are you holding onto the waste end of the cut or the finished material? if using a stop block on the RAS fence for repetitive cuts, would you hold the piece that is between the blade and the stop block or between the blade and the "other" (waste) end of the same workpiece?

                    this is the saw that i have:

                    http://www.owwm.com/photoindex/detail.aspx?id=8339

                    i am having a little trouble getting the blade to remain 90* to the table. when the four hex head bolts which control this adjustment (and outline the area where the handle is attached to the carriage) are tightened, the blade is almost always knocked out of alignment. any tips on addressing this are appreciated.

                    and thanks for sharing your experience with the RAS with me. i've only had this one 4 years so you are helping me ramp up the learning curve quickly and safely.
                    there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

                      That's four years newer than mine! (But still made by Emerson [designation of 113.xxxxx]). Looks like it still has the cast iron column though, which is interesting given what my FIL was told in Chicago. You know, I was so darn happy to get my first big power tool, that I never went back to look at any of the models that followed, until many years later. My RAS went together fairly smoothly. The only problem I had was that the arm wouldn't line up with the table properly, and I had to adjust the index head at the back of the arm. Once done all stayed together pretty well over the years.

                      I ended up tearing the saw down and "moth balling" it in the mid 80's, after I used it to build my deck here... just too much work at the office and with no room for a shop, I was afraid the saw would just rust away on me, as the basement is is shallow and too damp. When I retired in 2003, I pulled the motor carriage out of it's box and bag and tore it right down to the armature, cleaning out the old dust, spiders, etc. Re-lubed everything and put it away again. It was just last year that I took it down to Binghamton and sat it up in my temporary basement shop there. I had to buy a new table top in 2003, as humidity had swelled the old one. But other than that, it's in excellent shape. I'll take some pictures and send them to you.

                      This past summer I bought the same model from a friend who had inherited one from an uncle. He said it was in good shape and sight unseen I paid $70 for it. He delivered it this past fall and what a mess. But still, I think I can get more than enough spare parts off it, including the motor.

                      Now, to your questions:

                      As I'm currently setup, where my primary cuts are for shelves, I'm feeding 8-ft or longer stock from the left w/ a stop setup on the right-side fence. So, with the board in final position, it has anywhere from 25- to 36-inches resting on the table, against the fence on the right side of the blade, with the remaining 5- to 7- feet to the left of the blade (the latter will get fed and cut in turn.

                      In that position, I use my right hand on the carriage and hold the left side with my left hand. No need to hold the finish cut side, as it's fully supported by the table and the fence. With a pull cut, it's certainly not going to go anywhere and I'm more concerned with the left side which has a good length sitting out there on the roller stand.

                      Once the cut is made, and by that I mean both the advance and return behind the fence, I shut the saw off and then slide the remaining portion of the board to the right, positioning it against the stop on the right fence. Once I ensure that the board is properly positioned against the stop (no dust in between the board and the stop, which would shorten the board) and that its all properly sitting against the fence (ensuring a square cut), I again hold the left side, firmly grip the motor carriage and toggle the motor on and make the next cut. Again, I always return the motor behind the fence and shut it off and wait to the blade brake halts the blade.

                      Another "safe" practice that I do is make sure the key is removed and the motor carriage lock knob is tightened before I leave the tool. That prevents any accidental starting and prevents the carriage from being pulled forward by anyone who might be curious. It also reminds me to go through a begin work process of loosening the carriage lock, pulling the carriage forward and back (motor off), checking both the front and back blade path to make sure nothing is in the way when I start the saw. (One time, early on, I toggled the saw only to be scared sh**less when the blade caught a yardstick that I had placed behind the fence.) I don't like surprises when I'm running any saw!

                      At this point, I should point out that you really need to have your RAS table quite level. You really don't want to have that carriage roll anywhere along that arm on it's own.

                      Regarding the bevel adjustment (those four socket head capscrews behind the carriage handle), that can be challenging. But, before you even start that procedure you should probably start by checking that the carriage yoke is solid, especially if you're the second owner.

                      To do that, you need to make sure everything is tightened down properly, arm locked in place, bevel knob tightened, and the carriage lock knob tightened. Once done, grab the carriage and see if there is any side to side movement. Then loosen the carriage lock knob and check for side to side movement again. If movement is found, there may be a good chance that the carriage bearings are out of alignment. If that is the case, the bevel adjustment will be just about impossible to achieve, as the movement is really up on those bearings that hold the yoke to the arm tracks. On my RAS, the two bearings on the left side of carriage are mounted with eccentric bolts, that will adjust the tightness of the carriage to the arm tracks. You don't want those too tight, as it will prevent the carriage from smoothly moving on the arm, but if they're too loose, the carriage will wobble and actually move up and down in a manner that looks like the bevel adjustment is slipping. Your manual should fully explain the carriage bolt adjustment.

                      To do the bevel adjustment, I loosen the four bolts in the front and then use a triangle (speed square works well) against the blade, checking it both fore and aft. I find it helpful to elevate the arm so the carriage can be easily beveled and then once you have the blade at 90-degrees from the table, use a block under the motor housing to hold it in position while you tighten the four bolts. I snug the bolts first, starting at the 2:00 o'clock position, then 8:00, then 10:00, and finally 4:00. Then I check the alignment again. If okay, I then tighten the bolts in the same sequence, starting at the 2:00 position. Once done, I recheck the alignment.

                      Actually, the biggest challenge to me is getting the blade heal properly aligned. I've gotten the arm perfectly aligned 90-degrees with the fence, the blade 90-degrees with the table, and still found the blade burning the wood because the back left of the blade isn't healing with the front edge of the blade. It's a tough adjustment IMO, and I've gone through it two or three times before I've gotten it right.

                      Best thing all around, is to step through the procedures outlined in the manual and it's important to do them in the sequence given.

                      I hope this helps,

                      CWS
                      Last edited by CWSmith; 06-10-2009, 02:15 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

                        CWS... BTW, the photo i sent you was not my actual saw. it is just a photo of the exact same RAS i happen to have. it does have a cast iron column and dates to 1968, so it would, if i read your post correctly, be 6 years older than yours. still has the original motor, which is a 120/240 motor, just like the ridgid 3650/60. like you, i remove the key, lock the carriage and unplug the saw from a retractable extension cord to guard against unwanted activation. there is one thing in your last post....

                        In that position, I use my right hand on the carriage and hold the left side with my left hand. No need to hold the finish cut side, as it's fully supported by the table and the fence. With a pull cut, it's certainly not going to go anywhere and I'm more concerned with the left side which has a good length sitting out there on the roller stand.
                        aren't you concerned that the finished piece, sitting between the blade and the stop block, could move slightly as it is unsupported by either of your hands? could that not initiate a "kickback" type of situation where the end of the finish piece might bind on the blade, be moved off kilter towards the stop block, causing the blade to grab the finish end and possibly through it up at the operator? i'm not challenging anything here, just trying to refine my technique by learning from more experienced users.

                        and like you, i value safety. two stitches in the point of my left index finger, compliments of my table saw, sent a very clear message to me 5 years ago that while power tools must be respected, large stationary power tools can do very serious damage very quickly.
                        there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

                          Originally posted by FINER9998 View Post
                          aren't you concerned that the finished piece, sitting between the blade and the stop block, could move slightly as it is unsupported by either of your hands? could that not initiate a "kickback" type of situation where the end of the finish piece might bind on the blade, be moved off kilter towards the stop block, causing the blade to grab the finish end and possibly through it up at the operator?

                          Finer,

                          I understand your concern... but, let's look at it again: Take any board, say just four foot or so, lay it on the table, in position against the fence. At this point, you're ready to make your cut.

                          Now, you have a choice; you can hold the left side and use your right hand to operate the carriage; or, you can hold the right side and use your left hand to operate the carriage. You can't hold both and given the possibility that one or the other could cause a kickback, you'd be sort of stuck, I think.

                          But, on a pull-cut the forces are down and back against the fence. The saw itself (table and frame) are so heavy that there's no vibration whatsoever, so nothing is moving in even the slightest way.

                          Whe you hold either side of the workpiece, you're actually holding the whole piece at least while the saw is being pulled through and the cut is complete.

                          I hold the left side, for two reason: First, the longest side is usually still out there on the roller stand and when the cut is complete, that's the side that is most likely going to move, it's where the weight is at and it's also the least stable on my setup. Second, my carriage control is best done with my right hand and it's most ergonomic, placing the power switch right at my right thumb.

                          I've never had a kickback while doing a crosscut. I won't say it can't happen though! But once again, given that chance, you can't hold both sided and if that were an inherent problem with the RAS, then you'd always be concerned that the side you weren't holding is going to fly!

                          Now, on a "push-cut" the problem is immediately there... as the blade being pushed back into the stock, is going to want to lift it off the table. You'd darn well want to be holding it in place.

                          CWS

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

                            i'm really intrigued by the configuration of your saw, with the power switch by yout thumb. love to see a photo of that as i can't find a picture of your model anywhere online. mine has it atop the radial arm itself. it's out of the way but not terribly convenient.

                            in terms of supporting workpieces, given your set up with the finished cut to the right of the blade, resting on the table to the right of the blade, wouldn't it be safer to use a clamp and roller support to hold the longer, left side piece of stock in place while holding the right side (finished piece) with the right hand and moving the saw through the cut with the left hand? again, not challenging anything here, just reviewing possibilities with an eye towards safety. thanks.

                            p.s....did your saw qualify for the recall retro fit kit? mine wasn't covered.
                            there's a solution to every problem.....you just have to be willing to find it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: sacrificial top for radial arm saw

                              Simple answer to as to "clamping" left side and using left hand on carriage is, "NO".

                              That said, one does what they feel is most prudent and comfortable with.

                              But, in my two Craftsman manuals, and a couple of other referances that I have, there are many examples (photos and drawings) that clearly shows the RAS operated with the right hand on the carriage and the left used to hold the stock to the left of the blade. If you were normally feeding from the right, it is that stance that you would use to hold the finish piece, which would be on the left. About the only time I've seen that stance switched (left hand on the carriage and longer finish piece to the right of the blade where it is being held with the right hand) is when you're cutting off a shorter scrap from your stock. (That's about the only time I use my left hand on the carriage too!)

                              The only argument that I recall hearig against using your right hand on the carriage, is that it places your body directly in line with the blade. This of course is a common, and well taken argument with the table saw, as it would put you in harms way with a kickback. But on the RAS, like with the CMS, the rotational forces of the blade will kick the stock back, not toward you. (Of course if the blade should ever come off the arbor and through the guard guard your left and right may well be separated from one another! That's not a likely scenario though, unless you're one of those gutsy guys who doesn't use the upper guard! )

                              I guess as a final statement on using the RAS with my right hand, would be to take a look at how a CMS is operated. I suppose there are those who will stand to the side and use the CMS with their left hand, but I believe the common practice (and certainly the safety lock lever on my Ridgid is designed for use with the right hand.

                              There is certainly a level of comfort to using a tool in whatever manner a person has become accustomed too... but as my old english teacher used to point out, "If the correct pronunciation sounds strange to you, it's only because you've been brought up to speak poorly." (Please don't take that as an offense, it certainly isn't meant to be .)

                              I think in the 50's and 60's the RAS was promoted to be the almost "everything tool". A lot of the books of the period show the RAS with options to do a number of tasks... many of which seemed quite unsafe. One of the things that I have leaned, is that if it looks and/or sounds uncomfortable, DON'T DO IT! One of those "don't do's" for me is using a shaper head, those things are really scary, IMO.

                              Regarding your question about the recall: No, mine did not qualify for it. With the newer models, they make a safety guard that is easily retrofitted. I have a friend who picked up an early 80's model at a garage sale for $50, he ran home called the 800 number and got a new guard and table for it. Nice move. But for mine, all they would offer is a $100, if I would remove the entire motor/carriage assembly and ship it too them. The saw is much more valuable to me.

                              (Actually, on my upper blade guard housing, there's cast-in bosses for fitting a lower guard. A simple, lower blade, "ring guard" was available as an option when I bought the saw, but I didn't see the need. Perhaps after things with the houses settle down, I give some consideration to tapping those bosses and designing a lower guard, should any of my descendants inherit my favorite tool.)

                              CWS

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