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By Phil B in WorkshopTools

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Introduction: Setting Up a Radial Arm Saw

By Phil B
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About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ... Woodsmith Store Planshow to Woodsmith Store Plans for More About Phil B »

Several people have asked for various kinds of help with their radial arm saws. Many of these requests would be solved with a manual, but that has often been lost by a previous owner. This Instructable will take the reader through the steps involved in setting up a radial arm saw. Tools needed are: a couple of Allen wrenches, a couple of good squares, a screwdriver or two, a 7/16 inch, a 1/2 inch and a 9/16 inch wrench and a block. A hammer is also handy, but not absolutely necessary.

Power saws go out of alignment through the vibration that accompanies use. Also, radial arm saws do not like to be moved, and settings will probably drift for 1 last update 2020/05/25 when one is moved. But, a lot depends on how much precision the user is looking to have from his saw. If you plan to use the saw only to cut 2 x 4s to length, the accuracy you need is not the same as if you were doing fine cabinetmaking with the saw.Several people have asked for various kinds of help with their radial arm saws. Many of these requests would be solved with a manual, but that has often been lost by a previous owner. This Instructable will take the reader through the steps involved in setting up a radial arm saw. Tools needed are: a couple of Allen wrenches, a couple of good squares, a screwdriver or two, a 7/16 inch, a 1/2 inch and a 9/16 inch wrench and a block. A hammer is also handy, but not absolutely necessary.

Power saws go out of alignment through the vibration that accompanies use. Also, radial arm saws do not like to be moved, and settings will probably drift when one is moved. But, a lot depends on how much precision the user is looking to have from his saw. If you plan to use the saw only to cut 2 x 4s to length, the accuracy you need is not the same as if you were doing fine cabinetmaking with the saw.

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Step 1: Assemble the Stand

This is my homemade stand constructed of 2 x 4 pieces and plywood cleats. I made it to take down easily, so the brace pieces attach with corner brackets and wood screws. I made two tool trays that rest on cleats inside the frame assemblies of the stand. You want a stand that makes the table on your saw a comfortable height for working. Commercially made stands are also available. 

I like to have my saw away from the wall. For one thing, this allows me to hang blades and other fixtures on the back of the saw stand. It also allows me to walk around to the back of the saw rather than reach over the table for some set up and service procedures. And, I want to be able to put pieces of lumber eight feet long onto the table and take them off of the table from both sides of the saw. Workshop space is somewhat limited. Moving the saw out from the wall allows me to pass lumber in front of my workbench when things like my vise would otherwise obstruct.

Step 2: Set the Saw Base on the Stand

The saw base rests on the stand and adds stability to it by forming the side of a triangle. The base bolts to the stand. (See the second photo.) I used 1/4 inch carriage bolts. Tighten them firmly.

This radial arm saw breaks down into three major pieces for moving. Each weighs about 60 pounds (27 kg.), which makes each fairly easy to pick up and pack for moving. (We recently moved to a different house, which makes it convenient to do this Instructable now, since I did not need to take down my saw just to make photos, but could wait until I needed to take it down for moving, anyway.)

Each corner of the saw base has a mounting hole to be bolted down. 

Step 3: Install the Saw Arm

Rub some motor oil on the column surface on the saw arm. Lift the saw arm and let the column slide into its receiver. It also weighs about 60 pounds. Use the crank on the front of the saw base to bring the saw arm down a bit. At this point nothing holds the arm from rotating left or right.

See the second and third photos. Oil the shaft for the crank at both ends. The threaded shaft that raises and lowers the column needs some oil periodically, too. There is a hole on the arm above the column. Drip some oil into it now and then.

Step 4: Install the Key for the Column

In my hand I am holding the key for the column. This key keeps the column from turning left or right. The key is shaped like an hour glass. It fits inside the orange circle. A set screw on each side of the column casting (rear of the saw base) holds the key with just the right tension on it. See the yellow arrows. The left side set screw pulls the key toward the column. The right set screw keeps the key from being pulled too far into the column. You want the key to be tight in the column''m missing the knob underneath the pull handle to tilt the saw head. So I need that knob for the saw head to tilt? And if so can I just put a bolt in the hole or do I need the actual knob?

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Phil B

Reply 3 years ago

There is some play without the knob. I would not want to use the saw if the knob were missing. But, I am quite certain it is a standard bolt and thread size (assuming you live where English sizes rather than metric are the norm). I am away from my workshop for a few weeks and cannot check for you, but I am guessing it is 5/15"".

You should be able to find that knob on eBay. Or, a member of Instructsbles has quite a few parts for these saws. I could ask him if I might give you his name for contact.

Another option is to put a knob end on a short bolt with wood or something else, or bend a bolt so it has an "" shape for a handle.

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JohntheDad

3 years ago

I agree the recall is kinda dumb.

I worked on it some more last night and concluded a rewind is necessary. I think I''ll let you know how it turns out.

Woodsmith Store Planshow to Woodsmith Store Plans for Thanks for 1 last update 25 May 2020 for the advice - I''s the beast. Note the light switch bodged in for the power switch!Thanks for the advice - I''s the beast. Note the light switch bodged in for the power switch!

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Phil B

Woodsmith Store Planshow to Woodsmith Store Plans for Reply 3 years the 1 last update 2020/05/25 ago Reply 3 years ago

If the cost of a rewind is prohibitive, you might find a motor ready to go at eBay. Or, one Instructsbles member contacted me to say he has been collecting Craftsman radial arm saw parts. I could ask him if he would mind if you contact him.

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JohntheDad

Reply 3 years ago

Hey Phil,

I really appreciate all the advice. I will probably keep asking!

Something extraordinary happened yesterday - a guy in my city put a Craftsman RAS up for sale on Craigslist, and it happens to be the exact model I have. It has a motor that runs great, but some other parts that are missing. Best of all, he''m picking it up this afternoon. So now I''t they?

Also, I''s or Home Depot might have something similar enough.

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JohntheDad

3 years ago

Phil,

Thanks so much for your postings related to RAS machines. I recently bought a 1967 vintage that stood in a barn for about 20 years. I hope to restore it (being an optimist!) and use it in my woodshop. Question: I am trying to remove the motor from the yoke. I can get the handle-side disengaged easily, but I can''t want to break it. I''s motor the saw was new. Do you really need to remove the motor? Does the bevel adjustment work now? If it does, I would not remove the motor.

If you do not have one, find and look at a manual on-line. Be careful about taking things apart only to look inside and clean them or paint them. One commenter took the brake assembly inside the arm apart and had a lot of difficulty getting it back together in working order. ""

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JohntheDad

Reply 3 years ago

Thanks for the reply, Phil. I''m thinking about giving it a coat of paint, and the yoke as well. I can skip it if it''m more concerned about is whether I need to take it to a motor shop. At the moment I''ve replaced the capacitor but it still turns slowly. Problem is, the previous owner removed the thermal protection switch and just twisted the remaining wires together. It''m trying to sort out which wires go to the main winding, which to the aux winding, etc. Even it I get it sorted out, I may find it necessary to re-wind the motor (there is an armature shop nearby I trust). At that point I''d appreciate it.

Alternately, I may just apply for the $100 rebate it this is too much trouble.

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Phil B

Reply 3 years ago

I would talk to an electric motor shop and ask if the motor could be serviced while it is still in the yoke. I do not have any information on the wiring of the motor coils, other than what is on the lid to the connections box on top of the motor. As regards the $100 rebate, my 1972 saw is too old for the rebate, based on the serial number. Even if it were eligible, I would be responsible for shipping a 60 pound motor at my expense for $100 and for that I would have a good saw turned into a non-functioning saw. The safety video for that recall is silly. No one plants his hand on the line of the saw''ve run into a problem and I was wondering if you knew what was wrong. I felt some wiggle when the saw was all locked down and I found that one of the track bearings was loose. The problem is that when I try to tighten it, the bolt just turns without getting tighter. Thinking something might be wrong with the bolt, I tried to remove it, but it just turns without loosening. I can see the end of the bolt below and can see it turn while I''t understand what could be happening. Is there something special about these bolts that I''m actually on the left side (same as the picture above), but I went and tried to adjust the ones on the right side, just to see if someone had switched them in the past. Both sides just turn and turn without any change. It's really weird.

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Phil B

Reply 5 years ago

I would look closely to see if you there are two blogs with cams. Maybe someone broke an adjusting bolt and replaced it with a straight bolt. I did an Instructable on making a similar cam bolt for a Montgomery Ward saw and can provide a link.