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Anyone used a radial arm saw for ripping lengths of timber

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Alasdair

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I have a Dewalt radial arm saw which according to the manual can be used for ripping lengths of timber. Is this safe as theres no riving knife. There is what looks like an anti kickback piece of metaI that can be lowered to the surface of the timber but I have tried it and the first piece went ok to begin with then shot accross the shed and nearly went through the wall. I may be doing something wrong. Only reason I am using it is my bench saw is too big for smaller work. Would it be safer to invest in a small bench saw?
Any tips or advice welcome
Alasdair
 

recipio

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I tried this when I got my first RAS and quickly gave up. You really need a dedicated table with a fence for stability and even then I found the boards difficult to feed through the saw with a lot of burning. The worst problem is that the cut is upwards, throwing sawdust straight into your face ! I put the saw into storage and bought a small table saw - the proper tool for the job.
 

Woody2Shoes

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Sounds as difficult as it does potentially dangerous. I wouldn't risk it for a biscuit...
 

Alasdair

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Thanks for the replies. Tried again and I reckon it is too dangerous. Probably ok for longer lengths but for short lengths you can't really hold them and judging by the speed the first one shot off you wouldn't want to be in the road. I may be doing something wrong or perhaps the blade is the wrong type but decided to look for a small bench saw, perhaps something fairly portable. Will keep it for cross cut work.
Alasdair
 

clogs

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Vamos, Crete, GREECE.......
I cleared out a workshop that had 2 big DeWalt radial arm saw's.....
all cast iron, with built in factory tables....
tried them just cutting across the grain........AWFUL, comp to my DeWalt slider miter/chop saw....
awful adjustment procedures......
found they were selling well in France so went home and sold em there....€400 each......
The idea is right if u were living in the 1930's.....
get rid and buy a miter chop saw.....
 

Alasdair

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Bought the saw new about 25 years ago and havent used it much. Used it for extending my house for studwork etc. Its good once its set up but your right its a pain to do. The local machinery company I bought it from had just gone bust and had a mad sale to clear their warehouse by the end of the month. I only paid £100-00 cash for it. I reckon the guy who sold it was just keeping the money as he was out of a job. Got an elu bandsaw for £50-00 as well. Will look into chop saws and small table saws instead. Just need something smaller for lighter work and fairly portable. My bench saw has a 400mm blade and is set up with feed rollers so can't really move it.
Alasdair
 

recipio

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I traded in my first RAS ( a DeWalt ) for the 24" crosscut model. It was OK but difficult to get square cuts consistently. It helps to have an adjustable table rather than trying to adjust the saw but there is no easy adjustment for the vertical cut. I also found that it would not take a dado blade unlike the smaller model due I presume to EU regulations. With the advent of mitre saws they are now a bit obsolete but when space allows I'll try to set it up again. It is useful for making wide cuts in sheet goods.
 

guineafowl21

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I occasionally use my long arm Wadkin BRA for 8” rips, in two passes. It makes a terrible mess, but does the job well enough. I made a riving knife for it, and would encourage you to do the same. The kickback pawls are not up to the job.

Nice long push sticks essential, too, and make sure the blade is spinning against the cut, and the infeed guard is lowered to just above the timber thickness.
 

Alasdair

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Thanks for the advice re riving knife. I agree the kickback system is pretty useless. I think I will only be using it for ripping as a last resort.
Alasdair
 

eribaMotters

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I had to resort to ripping with a RAS when I built my first workshop. I has used a Eumenia saw to crosscut my 4x2 and featheredge and then rip down the featheredge, battens and odd 1" stuff. As long as I was cutting long lengths I had no problems.

Colin
 

Doug71

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Where I first worked they had a Wadkin BRA which apparently they used to use for ripping, luckily by the time I started they had a table saw which they used instead.

I had a DeWalt RAS which came with a moulding head and cutters, I never even took them out of the box.

Back in the day a RAS was used for lots of things but these days there are generally better and safer ways to do them.

I would buy a small site type saw and just use the RAS for cross cuts.

Examples of how people used a RAS in days gone by, scary stuff, obviously not recommending any of these methods 😬


 

Alasdair

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Thanks for the utube link. Never new radial saws could be so versatile. Pretty scary though. Distinct lack of safety glasses to.
Will keep it for cross cut I reckon.
 

deema

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I have to say the Wadkin BRA is in a different league to the Dewalt. I have a BRA and one if the rare riving knifes for mine. I have moulded as well as ripped with it. It’s a highly accurate and importantly very stiff machine.
 

powertools

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I love my radial arm saw but I don't and never have used it for rip cuts,
As all ready said they are a pain to set up but once done they are a very sturdy and accurate cross cut saw.
 

Sideways

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The Wadkin BRA is a revelation but I've had the same experiences as Alasdair and Recipio with a DeWalt RAS.
Tedious to keep adjusted.
Ripping is truly awful. Hard to feed, burns and wants to kick.
Mine is long gone and I much prefer the sliding mitre saw that replaced it.
 

Alasdair

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Once I get the workshop fitted out I will be thinking of a mitre saw as well as perhaps a small bench saw for finer work. Going to keep the dewalt as I have loads of space and its handy to have set up for repetitive cuts. Might even treat it to some new blades. The one thats on it is a plate steel one and getting pretty worn.
 

JobandKnock

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"Anyone used a radial arm saw for ripping lengths of timber?", yes, me, once, and that was enough!
 

WoodchipWilbur

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As others have said. Don't!
For a while, a radial arm saw was all I had - but it only took one near-miss when ripping. Never again!

(Sold it on to someone - warned about the rip cutting and deliberately hid the equally scary dado cutting attachment)
 

bobcat

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well i use a r.a.s for virtuatly all the work i do, never suffer with kick back when ripping, or poor alinment after saw has been set into rip or miter cuts, initial set up is a pain but once done no problem at all , but then again mie is a solid castiron 1030 square arm from the late 1950's
 

guineafowl21

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well i use a r.a.s for virtuatly all the work i do, never suffer with kick back when ripping, or poor alinment after saw has been set into rip or miter cuts, initial set up is a pain but once done no problem at all , but then again mie is a solid castiron 1030 square arm from the late 1950's
Yes, like any other machine, a RAS can bite if not set up and used properly. With a proper riving knife and front guard, and the blade set slightly into the table, I’d say kickback is nigh on impossible.
 
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