A radial arm saw was invented in 1922 by Raymond DeWalt. It was designed to make a variety of cuts by a circular saw mounted on the horizontal arm. The saw was installed such that it could cut a large size of work pieces to length by sliding on the horizontal arm. However, with the invention of miter saws, their use has become limited.
Radial arm saw is a highly versatile device. You can swing the arm of the saw toward left or right to make miter or bevel cuts. Consequently, the saw can be utilised to make crosscuts, rip cuts, bevel or miter cuts as well as rabbet or dado joints.
Along with it, some other interesting features are the safety instalments made on this device. The blade guards are featured to avoid direct contact of the operator with blades. The dust collection hose is to rapidly exhaust all the harmful sawdust produced while sawing.
Nevertheless, for this versatility, there are some pre-requisites to follow for the proper functioning of a radial arm saw. An operating table is a foremost requirement for the saw. And if making one is getting troublesome for you, this article is probably all you need to read and follow.
Guide to Construct a Table for Radial Arm Saw
3 Essential Components of a Radial Arm Saw Table
- Rear table: Provides area to place the radial arm saw at rest. It also holds
- the rip fence in the desired location.
- Rip fence: The fence serves as a sacrificial wood. It supports the work piece as well as to guide the saw blade to cut the desired angle.
- Front table: This is where you will place and cut your lumber.
Also, most of the radial arm saws equip clamps that hold the back table and rip fence together against the front table. The front table is fixed on the stand to ensure stability. However, the rear table and fence can be displaced by loosening the clamp.
Generally, the configuration of the table is such that the front table comes first and the rear table at last. The fence is sandwiched in between these two tables. However, for any specialized case, you can alter the position of your fence.
Steps to Make a Radial Arm Saw Table
You will need:
- 2 pieces of 3/4″ plywood or MDF
- 1/4″ sheet of plywood or MDF
- Two wooden pieces for rear table
- 3 stainless-steel flat bars
- Clamping mechanism
- Steel frame (to equip table on it in case your saw is not mounted on a steel stand)
Step 1: Construct the Front Table
The surface of the front table should be completely flat and plain to ensure precision. A slanted or unfinished surface might lead to errors. Also, the material used for the table should be strong and wear-resistant. This will ensure stability and durability.
Therefore, plywood or MDF can be the ideal woods for your front table. They are smooth, exceptionally strong as well as long-lasting.
Take two pieces of 3/4″ of plywood or MDF such that they are both dimensionally equal. Route out three channels in both pieces of wood at same positions. Make sure the channels are wide enough that the steel bars fix in them partially and narrow enough that there is no possibility for them to move.
Now take the first piece and fix the bars in it. Place the second piece over it such that the routed face is toward the bars. Squeeze it in the bars firmly. Consequently, you will get a laminated piece of plywood or MDF.
Step 2: Protect the Front Table
While cutting the wood on the front table, the blade leaves saw kerfs which leads to an unpleasant and rough surface. To prevent this, place 1/4″ of plywood or MDF on the front table. This will serve as a sacrificial top to protect the table.
Step 3: Place the Front Table on the Steel Frame Mounting the Saw
The front table should be mounted such that the blade is at the backside of the table. Fix the table firmly in a balanced position so it does not displace while cutting.
Step 4: Place the Fence behind Front Table
The saw blade is held behind the rip fence. Whenever sawing is being done, the blade rips through the fence and cut the material resting on the front table.
Along with it, you can use speciality fences for complex tasks. For miter cuts, you can use a fence containing guide cuts at various angles. For long pieces of wood, you can use extra-long fences to support the work piece. Similarly, for bevel cuts, you can use dedicated fences designed for molding tasks.
In case of dealing with very large pieces of wood, we suggest you to use the outfeed support to ensure stability. As a long fence won’t be enough to provide a firm support.
Step 5: Mount the Rear Table in Position
Behind the rip fence, place two pieces of wood. Make sure that one wooden piece is wide enough to mount in the saw completely. The other piece can be narrower than it.
Once done, place the rear table right before the fence. The geometry of the table should be such that the fence should be in between the front and rear table. Also, the narrower piece of the rear table should be along the fence and the wider one should be at the end where the saw parks.
Now join the rear table and fence together against the front table by any clamping mechanism. Don’t fix them permanently as this will end up limiting versatility for you. By using clamps, you can increase the in-rip or out-rip capacity of your saw by adjusting fence position.
By following this tutorial, you can enable your radial arm saw to make various types of cuts. Also, there is no limitation on the size of work piece. The only thing you need to do is alter the fence type or position and you are all set to get desired results.
Though infrequently used, a table arm saw can be a resourceful device if smartly utilized. If you want to build a new table for your saw or your old table has become shabbier, this guide will provide you with meaningful information. Besides, the table made will provide you with versatility as well as stability.