Saturday, February 06, 2010

Fine Tuning your Radial Arm Saw (Part three)

After all the cleaning and adjustments to the column, this next steps are fairly simple.

With the top of the saw is stripped clean, I adjusted the bolts under the table, to level them up. There are three sets of these bolts - front,

middle and rear of the table.

All three sets have to be dead on, in order to have a perfectly flat top. It's very simple to level them up. A straightedge spanning across the top makes this very easy, and the bolts, once adjusted, lock the top in place.

After I cut the new Baltic Birch top, I put it on the top, and marked the mounting holes from underneath.

Once drilled, everything goes together smoothly.
I double checked the top for flatness, after it was screwed down into place.

There are three stiffeners that mount under the table, to ensure the top stays flat.

These were a little more trouble to install, requiring a good deal of drilling and alignment. Putting on the new top took half a day, but considering that the old top had a huge dip in the center, this new top was worth every bit of the effort.

One thing that I read in the book suggested that an additional, sacrificial top be placed on top of this permanent top. That way, the blade could be raised and only would only through the top table. If you never cut into the bottom one, you never have to replace it. That's a great idea!

FInally, it was time to test the table height, to make sure that it was set at the same height from front to back, and side to side. It's not that critical when cutting through a board, but if I was cutting dados, and the table wasn't accurately adjusted, the dado would be inconsistent from one end to the other.

Start by pointing the blade arbor completely perpendicular with the top.

With the Wixey digital cube, it's easy . Zero out the cube,

then attach it to the arbor and set it to 90˚. Nice.

Push the saw all the way back in place, and then lower the saw until the arbor just touches the table. (Of course, I forgot to photograph the last part of this test, but it's simple.)

Then pull the saw forward. If it's the same height off the table, you're good. Swing the saw 45˚ to the left and check it the same way, both in front, and in the back. Then swing it right and check it. The arbor should sit just on top of the table, evenly at all six locations. This means you've got accurate depth adjustment to your saw, and it's important. If you didn't, cuts like dados would be deeper on one side of your but than the other. It's less important with cuts that go all the way through your board.

Luckily, mine was perfect.

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