Radial Saw Blade Guards... do they ever get in your way for some operations? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 16 Old 05-09-2020, 03:46 PM Thread Starter
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Radial Saw Blade Guards... do they ever get in the way for some operations?

I've had a Craftsman Radial Arm saw for almost 40 years without a lower blade guard. It didn't come with one when originally manufactured.

Decades later, a recall was issued, offering to send a retrofit blade guard kit that even came with a new table deck. I sent for and received it.

I never installed it, because my saw was "in tune" and I didn't want to disturb it.

Until this week.

In a fruitless search for the source of two mysterious pins that seemed to drop out of the saw, but have no traceable source within any sub-assembly of the saw, I now have a pile of parts, instead of a saw.

As I enter into the task of reassembling this pile of parts into a saw again, I'm considering whether or not to install this recall kit.

The "safety" arguments in favor of installing the lower blade guard kit are obvious and pedantic.

The arguments against installing, however, are actually articulated in the instruction manual included with the recall blade guard kit, as follows:

1. The clear plastic portion of the new guard can get caught or jam in the fence or table kerfs.


2. During bevel cuts, cut off pieces can be pinched between the new guard and the blade.


3. During bevel cuts, the blade teeth are fully exposed, meaning that the lower blade guard offers no protection for fingers.


4. Cut off pieces trapped between the new guard and the blade can kick back.


5. Cut off pieces can jam between the new guard and the blade, stalling the saw, and then violently and unexpectedly breaking loose.


6. During bevel cuts, the blade teeth are fully exposed, meaning that the lower blade guard offers no protection for fingers.


7. During rip cuts, narrow strips can be trapped between the new lower guard and the blade.


8. Workpiece or cut off piece jammed by the lower guard can be violently thrown by the blade.


9. The clear plastic portion of the new guard will not provide any protection during cross cutting if hand is drawn into the blade path.



So, what exactly, does the lower guard provide protection from? It almost sounds as if it adds more risk of hazards, than more protection.


I've gotten by for nearly 40 years without injury from this RAS in the configuration as originally designed. I am naturally hesitant to add new elements that would complicate operating the saw, without adding any significant safety benefit. I maintain a healthy respect for the instantaneous potential for injury that lurks in the use of any power cutting tool, and especially regard the RAS with circumspection.

I'm seriously wondering if it is a good idea to install this lower blade guard kit, or continue with the prudent manner in which I've used this saw all along.

Part of the decision input will be if I learn from you that you have had to remove the lower blade guard in order to perform certain operations with the saw. It is hard for me to imagine all the circumstances whereby the lower guard might become cumbersome, because I've never had a lower blade guard before, so I have no experience with it.

Thank you in advance for sharing your experience with lower blade guards on radial arm saws, such as the parallelogram action of the clear guards that Sears and Emerson once issued for the Craftsman branded radial arm saw.


.

Last edited by Mad; 05-09-2020 at 04:18 PM.
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post #2 of 16 Old 05-09-2020, 05:46 PM
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imho, they create more hazard than they "prevent"
somebody did a stupid and hired a good lawyer - and that's the result.


btw, the instructions call for removing 'shipping screws' and make mention that 'pliers may be required'
screws . . . pliers . . . come again?

are those pins of a size to fit the 'shipping screw' holes?
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post #3 of 16 Old 05-09-2020, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomCT2 View Post
imho, they create more hazard than they "prevent"
somebody did a stupid and hired a good lawyer - and that's the result.

I kind of wondered if that was the case. Especially when they moved to a cash payout of $100 in lieu of the new blade guard. It made me wonder if someone injured themselves with the new blade guard, and sued Sears or Emerson again.


Then again, I read posts in the archives from members who have gone to a great deal of trouble to make moveable blade guards for radial saws that did not come with them, and for which the recall did not apply. So I was curious, 10 years later, if those home made blade guards were still on the saw, or if they were good in theory, but cumbersome or useless in actual practice.


Then again, I find it curious that some radial saws qualified for the recall, and some did not. For example, the 12" radial saws of the same generation did not. Why not? Especially if the model of non qualifying 12" saw did not originally come with the blade guard either. Exclusions like that sound like legal maneuvering, where the fix has nothing to do with the greater good to resolve an actual problem, and more to do with what models happened to be specifically identified among the class of plaintiffs, and if not mentioned by model, or considered "different" by virtue of blade diameter when all other material aspects and functions of the machine are the same... it still doesn't qualify as it was not identified in the complaint. That kind of typical legalese BS makes me wonder about the merits of the mitigation.



Quote:
Originally Posted by TomCT2 View Post
btw, the instructions call for removing 'shipping screws' and make mention that 'pliers may be required'
screws . . . pliers . . . come again?

are those pins of a size to fit the 'shipping screw' holes?

The pins fit perfectly in those holes, with just enough interference fit to not only require pliers, but to permanently muck up the threads in the motor housing, which I understand are there for securing other accessories to the radial saw motor, like mounting a router attachment utilizing the threaded accessory shaft on the opposite end of the blade arbor.


Therefore, it doesn't seem likely that Sears would call the shipping screws "screws" if they were press to fit "pins" that would foul up the aluminum threads that Sears sold accessories to attach to. Sears makes plenty of use of the noun "pins" in their parts description, as well as the noun "screws", and in so doing Sears established a pattern of distinguishing non threaded pins from threaded screws, which leads me to believe that they would be consistent in describing the shipping screws (pity I do not remember where I put what ever I removed per the instructions... but that was many years ago).


The final factor in ruling out those perfectly friction fitting pins in the threaded holes under the saw motor is that every time I use the saw, I crouch down low, with my head below the motor, so that I can have line of sight to the blade interface with the material at the cut line. I found some soft wood dowels the same size as these metal pins, and wrapped them in aluminum foil tape to simulate the metal look, and inserted them into the threaded holes to model the presence of these metal pins protruding out from underneath the saw motor, as if I never bothered to remove them. They stuck out like two sore thumbs. There is no way that I would have missed them, for the way that I constantly crouch down and sight my cut lines like a long range marksman.


So I don't think that these pins are the shipping screws, but I do agree that this possibility was worthy of suspicion due to the quantity and diameter of the mystery pins.

Last edited by Mad; 05-09-2020 at 06:18 PM.
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post #4 of 16 Old 05-09-2020, 09:08 PM
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The RAS lower guard .........

I have several 12" RAS and 3 10" RAS all of which came with the upper blade guard. I did the "safety Recall" on all 3 10" saws and received the new safety blade guard with the new handles and the 3 piece tables, which I hate. I also recall making a Masonite lower blade guard at some point, duplicating the shapes and slot from an existing one. I just saw that recently in my drawer of odd RAS parts, but it's not currently in use. I don't really need a double sided lower guard, only the one on the left side. That's because almost all my crosscutting is at 90 degrees and the left side is where I hold the workpiece.


This guard is on my 12" Craftsman, 90 degree only saw:






I think the 12" and 10" guards are interchangable, but I'd have to test that "theory" out. I know the end of the motor housing is the same, but whether the 12" blade will fit insde a 10" guard is the issue. Hey, never mind. I use 10" blades on my 12" saws anyway, so, no problem. The 12" X 5/8" bore blades are not real common and there's rarely a time when a 10" blade doesn't have enough depth of cut.


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post #5 of 16 Old 05-09-2020, 10:01 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
I have 3 10" RAS all of which came with the upper blade guard. I did the "safety Recall" on all 3 10" saws and received the new safety blade guard with the new handles and the 3 piece tables, which I hate.
@woodnthings can you please clarify what you hate?



Your sentence "the new safety blade guards with new handles and the 3 piece tables, which I hate" can be interpreted a number of different ways.


Do you hate the new lower safety blade guards?


Do you hate the new handles with the actuation lever?


Do you hate the three piece table?


Or do you hate the constellation of all three elements?


Or do you hate two out of the three elements?


And the crucial question that is the subject of this thread...


Do you hate, or regret, or find yourself ever wanting to remove, the lower blade guards that you installed on your 10" radial saws?

Last edited by Mad; 05-09-2020 at 11:03 PM.
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post #6 of 16 Old 05-09-2020, 10:42 PM
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Unless I'm mistaken .....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad View Post
@woodnthings can you please clarify what you hate?



Your sentence "the new safety blade guards with new handles and the 3 piece tables, which I hate" can be interpreted a number of different ways.


Do you hate the new lower safety blade guards?


Do you hate the new handles with the actuation lever?


Do you hate the three piece table?


Or do you hate the constellation of all three elements?


Or do you hate two out of the three elements?


And the crucial question that is the subject of this thread...


Do you hate, or regret, or find yourself ever wanting to remove, the lower blade guards that you installed on your 10" radial saws?

If had said "all of which I hate, then it would be much more clear,
but I said "the 3 piece tables, which I hate"

I don't care for the factory double sided lower blade guards because they do get in the way and both sliding pieces must easily travel over the fence and then rest on the top of the workpiece. One side is bad enough, the left side, but I've got it adjusted so it slides over very easily.

I hate the 3 piece tables because they don't stay put with the factory thumbscrew threaded clamps. I just don't need all that 3 piece flexibility, but rather I use an extra wide, and extra long 3/4" piece of plywood as my table. I have "evolved" to this arrangement over years of fumbling with the thumbscrews. I cut out the rear for the column post and extend the table to the left about 40" or so. It rests on 1/4" X 1 1/2" angles bolted to the front and rear faces of the support base. I then square a long 1 X 2 to the blade and screw it down with a single countersunk screw, checking again for square, I add additional screws away from the blade kerf area.

The first kerf is made by slowly lowering the blade into the table about 1/8", and then making the kerf through the fence. This ends up as a great indication of where the saw will cut and where to align the cut line.

As you may know, I'm not one to accept all the factory engineered solutions on my shop tools. I make "modifications" to suit my work style and efficiencies. I'm the only one here who has made a radial arm router that fits the yoke of my radial arm saw. I also made a 2 axis panel saw from the radial arm saw carriage. The carriage has positive stops at all four 90 degree positions, so it makes a great
panel saw that can travel both horizontally and vertically for ripping or crosscutting. That project took about 2 months of deliberation and redesigning and includes making a substantial table support.
You can the photos in MY PHOTOS.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #7 of 16 Old 05-09-2020, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
I don't care for the factory double sided lower blade guards because they do get in the way and both sliding pieces must easily travel over the fence and then rest on the top of the workpiece.

So have you ever removed, or thought about removing, the double sided lower blade guards?


The clear plastic lower blade guard is a monolithic piece that wraps all the way around the blade, so there isn't a left side only option with the recall blade guards. Since you installed three of these recall versions of blade guards, you likely have the most experience with them of anyone I am likely to find online.


I know that you prototyped a single sided blade guard for your 12" saw, and then later made a clear plexiglass (heat fused during cutting), and finally a clear Lexan version of that single sided blade guard, but I'm not asking about that clever creation of yours.


I'm just trying to decide whether or not it is worth it to fuss around with the recall version of blade guards, like you installed 3 copies of, on your 10" saws.


With all the experience that you now have with those double sided recall lower blade guards, would you bother to install them today?
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post #8 of 16 Old 05-10-2020, 12:05 AM
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I haven't any of them instaled1

Apparently I just collected them. I didn't want to go to all the trouble replacing the handles for one reason. The other reason is I only have one 10" saw in operation. I use multiple carriages on that one saw, the PC router, a dado set and a single blade if needed. I don't have room to have 3 saws set up separately and find using multiple carriages a much better solution.... there I go again modifying the dang thing. Another carriage ended up on the panel saw. If as you say, the new safety guard has a lower blade housing that's one piece, I haven't really looked at them for a long time, then that would be a deterrent for me.

Truth be told, I was intending to use two radial arm saws butted together to form a beam saw. The issue I ran into is the blade height controls must turn simultaneously, but are facing in opposing directions, for them to syncronize. I haven't figure out how to do that using just a single control .... yet. I'm sure there's a simple chain drive configuration to do this ...?

I find them to be very versatile as far as interchangeability of carriages and if I didn't have 3 table saws all attached together, which is my primary ripping and rabbeting method. I do have several really great mitergauges for crosscutting and I can choose either the 12" RAS or one of those, even an extra large sled for crosscutting. There's only one machine I will rip with these days and that's the table saw. The RAS is great for crosscutting longer planks or even small workpieces because you can actually see the blade and then setting a stop on the long fence makes multiple exact length pieces a snap.

I'm getting ready to make a shelving unit about 42" wide and about 84" tall for a predetermined space in a short hallway. I'm still debating on how to make the dados for the shelves. I probably will use a router and an edge guide clamp since I don't yet have a dedicated exact width dado router jig. Keeping the router registered against the clamp is always a tedious challenge for me. Some where I have one of those router bases that turns into it a track type guide so no deviation from the straight edge. It's probably time to find that and the mating clamp for it ......? I also have a small diameter dado set that can be used on a Skil saw, from years past HSS blades. I saw them on Ebay and thought they would come in handy some day.
I don't know how wide of a dado they will make, however. I'll hafta dig them out also. The RAS would also work since the sides are only 15" wide and that may be on the carriage travel limit......hmmm?


The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #9 of 16 Old 05-10-2020, 12:47 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Apparently I just collected them. I didn't want to go to all the trouble replacing the handles for one reason. The other reason is I only have one 10" saw in operation.

Ah, wow, just when I was starting to feel dense for asking so many seemingly repetitive questions... persistence pays off with a revelation. No wonder I was getting confused, and I apologize, because all this time it sounded as if you had installed three of these recall kits, which would mean a lot of experience with them, but "apparently you only collected them", and never actually installed or used them.



So all this time I was barking up the wrong tree for first hand impressions, but the following posts of yours led me to believe you had the most experience with these things...



Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
I have several 12" RAS and 3 10" RAS all of which came with the upper blade guard. I did the "safety Recall" on all 3 10" saws.

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
The RAS recall by Emerson includes a really great blade guide which should all but totally eliminate injuries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Your RAS may qualify for the Emerson/Craftsman Safety Recall. I don't know if that program has ended, but I a few new blade guards and new table material for my RAS rather than turn the motor in and throw the rest in the scrap yard.

The Safety Blade Guard installed:





If anyone has installed or used these newer recall blade guards, please post your first hand impressions and experience with them.
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post #10 of 16 Old 05-10-2020, 11:12 AM
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Sorry if I mislead you!

I do think the 4 bar linkage on the new safety recall lowers will be a better answer than the curved slot method of sliding them over the fence and workpiece although I've never had a problem after I adjusted it properly.


A typically go to You Tube to see if there's any info there ....


Here's what i don't get about the new guards. At this point in this video, he's shown crosscutting a 1X where the guard has a square end that's being PULLED across the workpiece.


https://youtu.be/tJfLgincIGc?t=888


The rounded end is at the opposite end of the guard. This would leave you to conclude that it's better to PUSH the saw into the workpiece because the rounded end will glide over it easier.....NOPE that ain't the correct procedure.

That's just bewildering to me and a possible reason not to like the new guards ....I donno?

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 05-10-2020 at 02:11 PM.
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post #11 of 16 Old 05-10-2020, 12:19 PM
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I have a 12" craftsman Radial Arm Saw that used the guard shown in post 4. I don't use the saw anymore, in fact I used it very little. What I didn't like about the guard was when the guard was passing over what I was sawing, the guard would always snag the fence where the sheet metal meets the plastic on the guard. I ended up gluing a sort of ramp to the back of the fence. Because the fence is above the table about 1" it only helped when cutting lumber thickness less than the height of the fence. When cutting 2x4's it would still snag... and at times would push what I was cutting away from the fence... causing a dangerous kickback situation. If your fence is not as pictured as in post 4 Than ignore all of this, it won't apply.

I do recall that I would use a wedge placed into the guard to hold it up on occasion.

If you need another 12" radial arm saw... I no longer use it.

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post #12 of 16 Old 05-10-2020, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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Note to all future readers:


The 55 minute long video by Frank Hamilton that @woodnthings linked in post #10, on the subject of installing the Sear Craftsman Radial Saw Recall Retrofit blade guard, should not be watched before reading the Sears instruction manual for the retrofit kit and for the saw itself FIRST.


Watching the video alone will send you down the wrong path, as the creator of the video is given to action before thought, and launches on his hunches before reading and understanding ALL of the instructions that Sears provides.


Why Hamilton's video is so awful is because there are some things that he says which are correct, and that correctness can easily mislead one to thing that everything he says is correct, which is not the case. He further fails to grasp some basic principles which would not need a manual to explain, and yet he continues to "instruct" in ignorance.


If in need to see pictures of the parts, and get a visual on some of the tasks involved with installing the retrofit kit, then I would recommend turning the volume all the way off (to avoid listening to his erroneous talk), and setting the play back speed to the fastest setting youtube allows, and then just glance at the video once in a while while doing something else more productive on the computer. It is really that bad.


Highly recommend that original saw set up instructions be read instead, as well as the supplemental instructions shipped with the retrofit kit. It is amazing how right that movie was about baseball stadiums... "if you build it, they will come." I guess it applies to youtube videos... if you film it, title it, and thumbnail it, people will watch it. Regardless of the quality of the content.


I wonder if Hamilton ever "straightened" his saw's frame, or if he ever figured out that an arm attached to a cylinder that has 3 set screws to adjust it's "yaw" is infinitely easier, and actually written in the instructions.


Wow. Just wow.
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post #13 of 16 Old 05-10-2020, 07:17 PM
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A different video here .......FYI

About half way through this video at 3:40 in, the operator demonstrates that the new safety recall replacement handle has a lower guard elevating feature which I was not aware of that solves the issue I mentioned above. This permits the operator to raise the lower portion of the guard at will when ever he deems necessary to slide over the fence or a thicker workpiece:



The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #14 of 16 Old 05-10-2020, 08:14 PM
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I have three radial arm saws
DeWalt bought new 1981 with the old style lower guards which are metal have rings with hook on the top , don't use them.
Sears Radial Arm Saw bought new 1995, guard looks like your picture I like it it and use it all the time.
Ridgid Radial Arm Saw, bought used 2019, without table, was never used, Guard looks identical to picture and my Sears RAS

1 DeWalt in the garage on a table with 8' to the left and 2' to the right, rarely used anymore. Was used extensively when bought, up until about 1990 was mounted onto a portable table 10' long, with brackets for a four foot light above saw and a 2 gang recp with 25' cord mounted. Had a set of custom made collapsible saw horses to set on. Traveled from job to job with me, I was a lot stronger then. I do not feel as safe using this saw and will not let anyone else use it, due to lack of lower guard.
2 Sears RAS was bought by working OT for 4 Sundays in a row after I changed career fields. It is in the basement with a 8' table on the left and a 3' table on the right. 90 degree cuts only. Have a 12" miter box and a SawBuck for angle cuts as needed. Really like the lower guard on this one.Shop is built around this saw and a SS ICS with mobile base.
3 Rigid was bought to use at present job on occasion, rip cut 4 cuts in 5'x5' 3/4" Baltic Birch(80 sheets? m/l don't remember now) really like the guard, worked real well for ripping, good for crosscutting, 3 piece table was used in all the different positions. Went thru blades, using a 24 or 28 tooth DeWalt blade it would dull and start burning after 12-16 sheets. Also cross cut over 3/4 of all pieces ripped down.
Got long winded hope it helps you make a decision.
Ron

adding:
I have found the Dewalt method of adjusting the arm to the column way more secure than the method used by Sears and Rigid(both same design).
New negative hook blades are much nicer/safer to use on Radial arm saws
I do have a Safety Speed Cut H60 panel saw in garage, bought new in 1989 and a Milwaukee 4' panel saw bought used 2019 (maybe one cut) with all options in the basement shop. Both do over 90% of sheet goods cut. Also crosscuts on glued up solid wood panels.

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post #15 of 16 Old 05-18-2020, 11:56 AM
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I havenít tried this, but through my experience with my curved Delta guards (tedious PIA to work with), which I removed very shortly after installing them, it seems there might be a warning system that can be implemented by using a saw kerf laser on each side of the blade.

Obviously, this is not a physical guard, so one can still easily contact the blade, but I believe the best performing safety features are the ones that get used each and every time. The lasers will only light up oneís digits if they are in the danger zone, but they wonít interfere with any cuts or need special adjustments to work. That said, the added thickness will limit how much dado width can be stacked up.

In a similar vein, I approach the issue by trying to avoid getting my digits near trouble in the first place. One of the inherent challenges of the RAS is its lack of work-holding, and that leads us to use our hands to hold the workpieces in place, which can get our bodies into harmís way. I minimize this hazard by using various work holds (mostly clamps) and guides and push sticks/plates.

To be fully honest, I admit that years ago I had a very close call with my 14Ē Delta 40C, and that served as a wake up call of the highest order: I was cutting some 1.25Ē dados in some fence posts, as I finished and shut down the saw, I was rushing and removing stock from the tabletop before the blades had fully spooled down (that is a massive dado stack). The problem was that I was moving the workpieces from the left side of the table to a cart on the right side, across the line of the blades, and I brushed the side of one of my fingers across the side of the dado stack. Fortunately, the extremely sharp carbide teeth merely shaved off a sliver of skin down the side of my finger tip ó no blood, but a shiny, exposed patch of skin was a once-in-a-lifetime warning shot across my bow.

Now, work-holds are an every day part of RAS work. Just like the annoyance of the carriage guards, work-holds will be abandoned if they are too tedious to use, so it is critical for each of us to devise a simple and easy system that works for our work styles, and then stick with it so it becomes habitual.
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post #16 of 16 Old 05-18-2020, 12:27 PM
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The use of work holddowns ....

There are no work hold downs on the table saw nor on the RAS that are factory supplied. All my push blocks and push sticks that I use exclusively on the table saw were shop made are not used on the RAS I've used for the last 40+ years. I have used feather boards on the table saw when the operation required it, but again, not factory supplied, rather aftermarket.

When the workpiece is to short or too small to safely cut with my RAS, I then use a crosscut sled or the extended fence on my miter gauge on the table saw. You have to know the limitations of the machine and your own skill level. I have ripped short narrow strips on the radial arm saw, but the workpiece was wide enough to safely hold and support it.
My RAS does have a factory supplied curved safety guard on the left side of the blade and it rarely if ever gets in the way.







The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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