Cutting Dados with a Radial Arm Saw?
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    Default Cutting Dados with a Radial Arm Saw?

    My apology's for the stupid entry level question. I just bought an older Dewalt 10" Radial Arm saw for cheap. I've already got a 12" chop saw so cut to length type of work is already handled. Mostly the Radial was bought for rarely done work the chop saw can't do and at a harry home shop level . Cutting dados as one example since I don't own a decent and large enough table saw to run a standard dado set on it. If the blade diameters and arbor holes fit the radial arm saw will those standard table saw dado sets work on these types of saws? One would think they obviously would, but I've learned there's a lot of what seems obvious isn't always so. And yes I already know kickback with any RA saw can be an issue if your not careful so a proper table saw would be the far better tool for work like this. There's simply not enough need to justify having one.

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    I seem to remember stark warnings from 30-40 years ago about how dadoes on a radial arm saw was a fool's game, but I never had a RA saw rigid enough to even consider that task.

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    I do remember watching my BIL cutting dados on his RA but he's since passed on so I can't ask him if it was a RA saw dado set made specifically for these saws or not. The saw I bought is old enough to still have both the Dewalt and Black & Decker names on it but it's pretty lightly built and not one of the much more industrial and heavy versions Dewalt once produced.

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    I watched a guy doing dados on a RA. Big Dewalt too. Right hand on motor handle. Left had to the right of the blade holding stock and left elbow holding stock to the left of the blade. He never got to pull the handle. Foreman saw this and was quick to react. Same guy later drilled the back of his hand on a gang drill. But he still had that hand to drill.

    Yes, you can dado with a RA saw and I have done it many times. But the dado stack MUST fit inside the blade enclosure. But I do know somebody that was young and daring (foolish) that put a huge stack on an RA saw with the blade horizontal and no blade guard because it would not fit. He still has all fingers and arms. Yes, still attached and usable.

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    Easy to get variable depth dados, but yes I do it. Normally use dado blades with depth limiters. Have also used molding cutters, but my saw really isn’t rigid enough.

    Once got told by a friend, who’s ex special forces that using a radial arm saw is too dangerous. Asked how many different firearms he’s used and in what circumstances. Got a reluctant grin. Risk is how you manage it and what level you can tolerate.

    Keep your fingers please.

    L7

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    People,take and old cheap RAS and mount a router to cut dadoes etc. You can buy a sears RAs cheap and turn in the motor for a 75$ reward and mount a router on the saw frame instead.
    Bil lD

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    Many thanks for the replies and advise. I'm old enough now I try to be a little less stupid and brave than I used to be. I may have to give this some more thought or just pass on the whole idea as not worth the risk. Machining an adapter to overhead mount a router to this RA saw or even to my milling machine just might be a far better method. I did learn a bit though so again thanks for the help.

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    Years ago I got a larger RAS and found these books to have good info:
    This is the guy who "wrote the book" on setting up and using RAS:
    Mr. Sawdust Presents "How To Master The Radial Arm Saw"
    This is also good:
    Radial Arm Saws

    https://www.woodcentral.com/bparticl...altrebuild.pdf

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    I cut dados on a radial arm saw all the time

    Being left handed I feed the stock right to left hold the stock with right hand pull the carriage with the left

    never had an inkling of a problem

    stay away from sears saws, they are just not anywhere near as good as the Delta and others

    I don't see that being any more dangerous than many other saws

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    Work piece clamping and stock stops can produce a lot of useful dados on a RAS. Skip the dado head, just step over to the stop.

    A gauge block makes the production of matching width dados simple.

    Set the saw table so the slide arm goes uphill just to keep the tendency to self feed in check.

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    If you can tolerate the rounded bottom, a wobble dado blade is much less likely to get out of control.

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    Count your fingers,ah hands first, to see if you lose any...Phil

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    Great links Rob tyvm. Some good points already in the first 4 pages of the one that's online.
    I'm left handed as well or can use either hand for many things so I'll keep that thought in mind for sure.

    That's a pretty handy tip, or after more thought I think you probably mean a pre cut wooden gauge block for the initial dado width set up and not my actual steel gauge blocks CalG?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil in Montana View Post
    Count your fingers,ah hands first, to see if you lose any...Phil
    Why would you put your hands and fingers near to or in front of a spinning saw blade?

    Is the use of a RAS an IQ test? Darwinian sort of thing?

    I was in the shop when a fellow ran his right hand through the exposed table saw blade. Not pretty ...
    We ALL used the machine every day, and continued to use it after. I guess he didn't count his fingers carefully enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neanderthal mach View Post
    Great links Rob tyvm. Some good points already in the first 4 pages of the one that's online.
    I'm left handed as well or can use either hand for many things so I'll keep that thought in mind for sure.

    That's a pretty handy tip, or after more thought I think you probably mean a pre cut wooden gauge block for the initial dado width set up and not my actual steel gauge blocks CalG?

    Well, if you require accuracy...... ;-)

    Since it's a dado, use a piece of the matching board. A chicken and egg sort of thing.

    These new "poly urethane Gorrilla glues" make fit up a breeze.

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    I know the dewalt 10 ras very well, a light duty machine, (I have one ) I can not think of a more dangers opp than tring to run a dado head on it (ripping might be a tie ). Your hand will be holding the work and the other controlling the slide. The overhead slide is not ridged, it will move and the dado will bite into the work. now you have to decide what hand is going to hit the off switch...at light speed or the smoke will leak out of the motor...Phil

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil in Montana View Post
    I know the dewalt 10 ras very well, a light duty machine, (I have one ) I can not think of a more dangers opp than tring to run a dado head on it (ripping might be a tie ). Your hand will be holding the work and the other controlling the slide. The overhead slide is not ridged, it will move and the dado will bite into the work. now you have to decide what hand is going to hit the off switch...at light speed or the smoke will leak out of the motor...Phil
    Why would any sane person use their hand to hold the work when running a cross grain dado.

    DOODO would be the better word for the operator.

    No different than running a dado on a table saw, Use the sled, Clamp the work to the sled.

    A RAS makes it easy. A cross cut into a fence. You don't need to be an idiot if you don't want to be.

    Ripping a dado? The RAS is NOT the right tool. Neither is a chain saw.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sfriedberg View Post
    I seem to remember stark warnings from 30-40 years ago about how dadoes on a radial arm saw was a fool's game, but I never had a RA saw rigid enough to even consider that task.
    Me late Dad was near-as-dammit "queer for" his beloved 1950's DeWalt. Had all sorts of factory kit, reverse running drills, dado heads, plural. They made it, he had it. They did NOT make it, he had "third party". Tried to prove a DeWalt radial saw was the only tool mankind would ever need, bookcases to brain surgery.

    Yah can certainly DO it. Even in tough as nails hardwoods.

    He went over the top dadoing and rabetting the living s**t out of anything as gave him the least excuse to show-off!



    I just shook my head and harboured the best damned wood chisels I could find. Or make. Easier to carry to the work than lifting that "sacred royalty" saw out of 20-foot of custom-built Oak workbench, bolting the legs back on, loading it on and off the trailer.

    And then I bought a coupla routers...

    No Klew what modern kit will FIT, let alone what is or is not SAFE.

    But the saw is surely "up for it"!

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    I wouldn't do it with a standard dado set but have had no issue doing it with dedicated tooling- as in a Wadkin dado set on a Wadkin BRA saw.
    The 10" Dewalt is too lightly built- even the Dewalt GP was marginal with the same dado head.

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    I've cut quite a few dados on 12" and 18" Delta RAS's making shelving.
    Never tried on lighter Sears or DeWalt machines but note dado accessories were always offered in their catalogs.
    Approach all machine-work with caution, acute focus and SHARP cutting tools.
    Cordially,
    "Lefty"


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