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Radial Arm Saws

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  • #16
    If it truely "makes sense" how could it be dangerous. If it is truely dangerous then how would it make sense to do it in the first place. I would argue that the danger is in doing things that do NOT make sense. The applicaion of common sense is one of our best defenses against getting hurt. I believe that 100% of accidents can be avoided. The ones that I have seen and know about can all be traced back to not applying common sense. The steps that led up the the accidents were in fact illogical and fraught with a lack of common sense.

    Or is this just a simantics issue???

    If so, well.......just never mind.

    Wood Dog


    • #17
      It's the quotes around "makes sense" that disconnects body parts, Dog.

      Example, rip cuts. Seems like about half the people who ever even consider this think it "make sense" that the downward moving teeth would cut first, so's not to lift the board. As anyone who either tried it or knows the proper way will affirm, that doesn't "make sense", it "makes missiles".

      Many machines are pretty intuitive in their proper operation. A contractor's tablesaw, for example. I've not heard of many people misunderstanding the direction of feed on one. A radial arm saw is quite non-intuitive, you have to "know" the right way to use one. If Ridgid has as good a RAS manual as their tablesaw manual, that would be a good start. The definitive work is by the late Wally "Mr. Sawdust" Kunkel, "How to Master the Radial Arm Saw".

      Be careful. Remember, it's the Lion you don't see, that will kill you.



      • #18

        agreed.....RAS is not the most intuitive piece of equipment out there. For that reason, it "makes sense" to read and ask questions, etc. before risking disaster. Maybe what "makes sence" to me isn't the same for for everyone. (semantics) Fortunately the Ridgid manual is very clear and the position of the hold down pawls and splitter are a give away if someone forgets rip feed direction. It is a fairly common questions with those not familiar with the saws operation. I am allowing that a person has taken time to properly aquaint themselves with a piece or power equipment and has read and understands the basic operation before firing it up. With that knowledge, commomn sense should keep them out of trouble. Otherwise,

        I agree and have always maintained that the RAS is not inherently dangerous but it is more complex than the average shop power tool and must be respected as with any tool. The more complex, the more effort required to learn to master its operation effectively and safely.

        I would add that intuitive or not, if you don't follow common sence and learn proper operation of ANY tool, you are going to get hurt. The debate over which one can hurt you the most is a moot point to the one who was hurt. Hurt is hurt. Following proper procedures and taking time to learn how to do it "right" is common sence in my book.

        Bottom line, I think we all agree that proper understanking and care are the best preventions of disaster and that's what we all want.

        Wood Dog


        • #19
          Back to the original question about using a radial arm saw with a dado blade...

          I have a 25+ year old RAS - as my only precision saw - no table saw, no miter, etc. I still have all my fingers and hands. The thing that makes me wish I had a table saw instead of the RAS (given finite space and money) is doing dado cuts. (I also gave away my moulding cutter for the same reason).

          Sawing pulls the wood towards the blade. Larger cuts (like 3/4 inch dado rather than 1/8 inch regular blades) pull more. With a table saw, that pulls the wood into the table. With a RAS that pulls it into the air. So my biggest "do over" is where I didn't hold the wood down firmly, and the dado dug too deep. Each time I do a dado I wish I had a table saw instead of a RAS.

          When I do a rip, a table saw would be better but I have learned to do fine with the RAS. When I crosscut, the RAS is better, but I could learn to use a table saw for crosscut just as I learned to Rip on the RAS. But DADO CUTS in either direction make me wish I had the table saw.


          • #20
            I've always felt that ripping is why one has assistants. But only If you can teach them not to stand at the end of the alley while the saw is on..Bad joke. But one thing is certain about common sense and accidents: very few accidents happen with a great deal of planning.
            \"The details are where you and your gods smile at each other...\"


            • #21
              I used a third or fourth hand DeWalt 12 inch RAS to rehabilitate a seventy year old farm house and couldn't have done the job without the beast. Safety rules are my only concern.

              1. You just naturally don't work on the outfeed side of a TS but occasionally find yourself tempted to when flip-floping between in-rips and out-rips on a RAS. Don't, unless you want to experience the thrill of a target. If by some chance your saw's blade rotation marking is faded or missing, immediately correct with a Marks-Alot.

              2. If you have kids in the neighbor hood: You can't just drop the blade below the table when not in use so prepare some type of a "positive" power interrupt to use when the saw is around but you aren't.

              3. If you will be doing a lot of different angle, bevel, or dado cuts, you will be needing to replace your fence and possibly table surfaces periodically which is no big deal unless you can't find a large enough piece of scrap.

              4. Hold downs (feather boards) are sometimes/often a must and you are certainly more likely to use them if you are already prepared.

              5. This is not a tool to be loaned to a brother-in-law or neighbor without both the manual and a "more than casual" demo unless you are certain they have good medical insurance, know the way to the emergency room and have someone available to drive them. (It probably won't kill them but you may have to start their lawn mowers for them in the future.)


              • #22
                I had a RAS one time.I did try to rip a 1 x 6 and it was not a good sight as it went through the wall and freezer. Scared the heck out of me. That was the first and last time that I did that. I rip cut ONLY with the TS. RAS only used for CROSS cutting. Like others have said, ALL POWER TOOLS CAN AND WILL MESS UP YOUR DAY IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND THEM. Study the instructions, ask questions and get real answers. If there is any question ask because that question could be the best HURT SAVER.


                • #23


                  • #24
                    Its amazing what you can learn from helping cleaning up a neighbors blood spattered garage and RAS (way back as a 11 yr old), to find the severed finger so the now divided neighbor can be taken to the hospital.
                    (1) Know and understand how to use your tools.

                    (2) Make sure your operating it safely, guards in place, hands out of the path of the blade etc.

                    (3) Have a healthy fear of your tools, it keeps you whole, If you are scared to operate it you probably shouldn't be. Take a minute and look at what you are about to do.

                    (4) Some people have no business with anything sharper than a dull butter knife.

                    I've made and helped make a lot of stuff with only a RAS. We have used dado blades, molding heads,done cross cuts and ripping. If you exercise caution, use the push sticks, finger boards, guards, and common sense a RAS is a great tool to have.