Thursday, February 04, 2010

Fine tuning your Radial Arm Saw (Part one)

Way back when (1994, to be precise), my 14" radial arm saw was new and clean. It cut straight and square, and the overhead arm didn't wobble. The table was flat as as could be, and life was good.

That was then, this is now.

So I decided to take it apart, and tune it up, using this book by Jon Eakes.

I didn't realize this book had an affiliation with Lee Valley Tools, but once I saw that, I was somewhat relieved. They know their stuff.

The book lays out some basic procedures for getting a radial arm saw back into shape, and if you follow the directions step by step, it's really not too difficult. The biggest problem I ran into is that the book is that he focuses on three specific saws - none of which were my brand. So some of the precise tool adjustments the author discusses don't apply to my machine. Still, I only called Delta's tech support line twice. Anyone with some reasonable mechanical skill can whip their saw into shape.

Start by cleaning the saw. You can see that the column on mine is filthy and somewhat oxidized.

I not only wiped it down with ammonia, but raised and lowered the column several times to get all the grunge off of it. A light spritz with WD-40 (the only place this is recommended) was the final coat on the column.

The first big adjustment is eliminating the column play. On my saw, it's accomplished by loosening several locking nuts and set screws, and then adjusting the two big bolts on the back of the column. It's not easy.

Too much tightening and you can't raise or lower the saw that easily. An adjustment that's too loose will allow sloppiness and side-to-side movement, which is a no-no. It's a fine line on this adjustment, and it took a good hour of screwing around until I got it just right.

Next up... more cleaning and a new table.

No comments: