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Armsaw problem

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  • Armsaw problem

    I'm attempting to use my armsaw to rip a small piece of plywood down to 10" with a 30Deg. miter on the rip.

    I cannot for the life of me get the saw to lock into the 30Deg. position.

    What am I missing?

    Thanks for your time.


  • #2
    What is an arm saw? I suspect you mean a radial arm saw. If you want a 30 degree mtire you shoud swing the arm to 30 degrees on the indicator and tighten the lock. There won't be a detent at 30 degrees.
    What is happening in you case?
    Rev Ed


    • #3
      Yes, I do mean a radial arm saw. I referred to it as an arm saw because the only arm saws I know of are radial in nature, so I figured to save the 7 key strokes. Sorry for the confusion.

      In my case the arm is zeroed out, the motor is rotated to the rip position, and I am trying to angle the cut to 30 Deg. such that the rip I make is 30 degrees out of square all along the length of the rip.

      When I say the arm is zeroed out, I mean it is set perpendicular to the fence. When I say the motor is rotated to the rip position, I mean the blade cuts parallel to the fence. By trying to angle the cut, I mean it is 30 degrees out of rotation from straight up and down.

      This is as concise as I can be, I'd have posted a picture but it won't let me upload one to this board, so I'm stuck using words, and I'm a graphic artist, not a technical writer, so if anything is unclear, I'll happily elaborate as best I can.

      Any assistance you can give is greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.


      [ 09-11-2004, 10:00 PM: Message edited by: zclip ]


      • #4
        If you must make the cut a rip cut, I think that your best bet is to use a jig or gadget called something like a "taper jig." It is two kind of slim boards that are joined at one end by a screw, so they can pivot. Kind of like a big wooden bow-pencil, compass, or dividers. You can probably make one easily. The edges of the two slim boards must be as perfectly straight as you can get them.

        You set the angle between the two legs of the jig to the angle that you want to taper-rip (tighten bolt or screw well), then attach the board you want to cut to one arm. With your saw set as you have described it, for a straight rip, that is arm perp. to fence, blade parallel to fence, you slide the unattached arm of the taper-jig along the saw's fence, while the other arm holds the board at the angle you want as the blade cuts the board.

        I'm kind of a newbie at this stuff, but I think I am right about this, and the following warning, too.

        Don't ever try to rip with the saw blade on a radial arm saw in any other position than perfectly perpendicular to the fence. If the blade is at an angle to the fence, the board that you are cutting is going to bind up on the blade and kick back. The result is usually frightening at least and can range all the way up to fatal.

        And do make sure that when rip cutting with a radial arm saw, that you feed the wood in AGAINST the rotation of the blade (also use and properly adjust riving knife/splitter and pawls). That is, feed the wood so that if the wood binds on the blade, it will kick it back to you. If you feed it with the blade rotation it can get pulled in to the blade so fast that it may pull your hands right into the blade.

        If I'm wrong about this, hopefully some of the more experienced members here will correct what I have written.

        [ 09-11-2004, 11:14 PM: Message edited by: Scott C. ]


        • #5

          I understand exactly what you mean, I'm a long-time Radial Arm Saw fan. I don't own a table saw, but do have a 1973 Craftsman RAS, the last of the cast iron column and arm units that held the Craftsman label (actually made by Emerson, Ridgid's parent).

          First, disconnect the power (pull the plug) and then raise the saw so you have about a half-inch clearance between the blade and the table. With the saw rotated into its normal cross-cut position, and the power disconnected (unplugged) loosen the bevel lock knob (on my RAS, that's just below the handle). Holding the handle, pull-up on the bevel release pin and rotate the saw (left or right bevel) to the indicated 30 degrees. You may snug the lock knob a bit to give you a little more control over positioning the bevel. I'd use a draftsman's 30-60 triangle to ensure the angle is proper. Note, the normal locking pins will not engage, as there are no indexes at 30 degrees!

          When you are assured that the angle is correct, securely tighten the bevel lock knob. Check the angle again to make sure it is proper. Release the yoke index pin and rotate the saw so that it is parallel to the fence. Move the saw into position on the arm to allow the proper distance from the fence for your cut. Lower the arm to fix the blade so that it will just groove the table top (I hope you are using a replaceable overlay board.) Ensure the the yoke pin is properly set, and then lock the yoke assembly in place on the arm. Double-check the rip distance, the bevel angle, and ensure that all adjustments are properly secure (including the arm, itself). Above all, remember that you are feeding from the back of the saw, and you MUST have the pawls and splitter proper set for the thickness of the wood you are cutting. REMEMBER, KICKBACKS ARE DANGEROUS!!!

          Final note, I've been using a RAS since the early sixties. I've ripped everything from 2 by's to 1-1/2 inch chipboard and I've never had an accident and I've never had a kickback ,,, because, I've never trusted the saw to do anything but hurt me if I don't think through each operation and take every precaution. Feeding big sheets of plywood can be tough, so use supports for the wood. Having someone help feed or handle the wood is not always a good idea unless you both work exactly the same. It is a good idea to have someone who is competant and careful and properly instructed to kill the switch in case you bind or overfeed the saw. If you are feeding the wood, you are a long way from the switch and if you bind or stall the motor, you probably will NOT be in a position to drop everything and get to the switch in time to prevent an overload or possible burn-out of the motor. Personally, I work alone and in such cases, I use a heavy duty, short extension, with an in-line switch in the cord so I can kill the motor at any moment.

          Hope this helps,



          It just dawned on me that maybe you mean that your RAS will NOT actually lock into the 30 degree position and you already know all of this other stuff! If that is the case, then your saw's bevel lock "brake shoes" (that's what they're called on my saw anyway) may be worn out. On my saw, when you tighten the bevel lock knob, it pushes a wedge-like pin between two expander pins which then push outward, pressing two peg-like brake shoes into the sides of the yoke casting. This causes a friction lock of the bevel assembly in position relative to the yoke. If the brake shoes, which are made of some kind of plastic-like material, are too worn, then they won't hold the bevel in place. To access these on my saw, I have to remove the four socket head capscrews on the index face, and pull the index assembly out of the yoke. On my saw, that is the handle, index, etc. as the bevel clears the yoke, care should be taken to catch the shoes, expander pins so they don't fall out of the bevel assembly. They are located in holes drilled horizontally near the back of the bevel.

          Again, I hope this helps resolve your problem,


          [ 09-12-2004, 02:27 AM: Message edited by: CWSmith ]


          • #6
            WOW! Ok folks, all this is good NFO, mondo thanks extended.

            I think the "most workable" solution presented here is the jig, but the stock I'm working with is 48" long & 23.5" wide (rip is 23.5" distance)
            so I believe I'll have to figure out the "wide surface" after my cut, rip it that size & then run it through again on the jig to get my angle.

            Thanks for the safety cautions, and if anyone else reads this, note them well. There is nothing that will shoot your nads into your throat like having the arm saw take your project away from you.

            It took me one rip cut with this saw to realize that all the factory guide markings weren't really guides so much as loose suggestions as to what the saw was doing. Fortunately, I keep my "feed end" dust guard as close to the stock surface as humanly possible and opposed to how the manual states to feed for a rip cut, I rotate the blade 180 so if I do get a kick back the blade lifts it & stuffs it into the dust guard locking up the motor (feed end cuts from bottom of stock upward & tends to try to lift stock off the table).

            Now I check everything with a small carpenters' square & drafting triangles.

            As for the "Bevel Lock Knob" (and thanks for the correction from miter to bevel) I don't have one, sadly, no they made it with a mechanisim I will refer to as a Thumb Lever. this thumb lever is spring loaded to always try to return to a locked position, pivots 90 degrees and lifts up at the same time to release the saw motor from it's "trued position", so that a bevel can be cut. The saw only rotates to one side for the bevel cut, and only locks in the 0, 45, and 90 (figure a safe useage of that setting, I dare you) degree positions. though all the angles in between are clearly marked (which seems akin to false advertising to me) there is no way I can find to get it to lock into anything but 0,45, & 90. You know, now that I think about it, maybe the 90 degree position is so I can try to shoot stock out at my neighbor's house when the saw is set to the rip cut position... maybe not.

            So I don't have nice knobs to turn and lock into any position listed on the bevel meter. Further, I have a high level of confidence that the bevel isn't a breakshoe type mechanisim, but a "pin and hole" type affair, as when trying to get it to lock into the 30 degree position I tried to force the lever into the locked position & I could feel it when it hit the "holes" at 0,45, & 90.

            Well thanks again for the time & input people. I'll be exploring more of my newly defined love/hate relationship with the ridgid 10" Radial Arm Saw.

            Oh and a last note on ripping plywood, get them to rip it for you at the lumber yard, and don't build anything that uses boards wider than 23.5"

            Oh and don't try to mill a tree limb with it if the limb is thicker than the distance from the bottom of the motor housing to the table surface, get a band saw. THAT was almost a bloody comedy of errors, let me tell you.


            And arm saws rule the universe.

            [ 09-12-2004, 04:00 AM: Message edited by: zclip ]


            • #7
              There is a safe use for the 90* position. You use that position to setup your table. flip the saw so the arbor points toward the table then move the saw through the miter angles and rip distances to ensure that the end of the arbour is the same distance from the table at all points. The only time you really need the table to be at the same height relative to the motor is if you are doing dado's, lap joints or some other jointery that does not cut right through the wood


              • #8
                Ok, I can undestand that, but the setup looks very frightening and dangerous in the illustrations. Like some sort of Mangelorian rail gun that hungers for flesh.

                Now that I've slept on it, the jig seems intuitively obvious, I'm not sure why I didn't think of it myself.

                My thanks again folks.