This has been a fantastic wealth of knowledge and tips for me. So, thank you!
I was gifted a Craftsman 10" RAS in late summer from my Father-In-Law (FIL)! I'm pretty sure it is the exact model as was the start of this thread. So I naturally started Googling it to find out more about it. It turns out I have the 3rd owner I think and my FIL kept all the documentation so I have the original owners manual, wrenches, parts, etc. Sick!
When I read on here and other places online about the safety recall and the free blade guard kit I was stoked. I immediately ordered it. I just didn't realize that it came with the blade guard AND a totally new table top and fence!? WHAT!? Awesome ... too bad I had JUST finished building my own brand new table top & fence out of 3/4" MDF. Mine is better : )
The previous table top my FIL had on there was a 1" particle board base with 1/4" plywood "scrap" top. The problem there was that where he had cut into and through the 1/4" top it had warped, bowed, and popped up making it really hard, annoying, and potentially dangerous to try and rip anything on that surface, or to keep any workpiece flat while cutting.
I built my RAS table top out of 3/4" MDF for the base. Then I put another layer of 3/4" MDF on top of that (totaling 1.5") for a "scrap" layer to cut into. This top layer gets bolted on at the four corners and two in the middle (I countersunk the bolts obviously). This allows me to have a perfectly smooth top layer that will never warp, bend, pop up, or splinter (much) even if I cut deep into it since MDF is super stable. The added thickness is also nice for a heavy, sturdy, stable table top.
The old blade guard didn't have all the new safety features (obviously), but it did work pretty well as long as you respected the saw, its capabilities, and practiced common sense safety per the operators manual. I did several crosscuts with it to build my MDF tabletop as well as used it to rip MDF. The ripping can be safe as long as you use the anti-kickback pawls as instructed and lower the front of the blade guard down to almost touching the workpiece's top surface (keeping it from lifting up and from kicking back, this also keeps some sawdust out of your face).
I know what Reckless was talking about with the old blade guard shooting right in your face. The dust shoot used to have a 90˚ elbow on it but that was long gone on mine and his it seems. But having the dust shoot out the front makes zero sense anyway. Glad they fixed that with the new blade guard (has it coming out the back/top with a 90˚ elbow included).
The new blade guard works great. It includes the new handle operated lift guard as well as a riving knife! Ripping is really nice on this RAS with this new setup.
THE RIVING KNIFE
QUESTION: Has anyone had trouble with their new blade guard riving knife/anti-kickback pawls coming loose from the blade guard housing? There are 2 connection points for the riving knife/anti-kickback pawls to the larger blade guard housing. Recently I had the nut come off the bolt on the lower connection point WHILE I WAS USING THE SAW for crosscutting. YIKES! POW! It flew (thankfully) out the BACK of the saw hitting the wall. I immediately powered down and replaced the nut and cranked it down!
BUT the other connection point (where the red tension knob secures the riving knife/anti-kickback pawls after adjusting their height) can only be adjusted (it seems) from the underside of the blade guard (aka you have to take it off the saw to see it) is also loose ... BUT I don't think there is a nut on that side. Is there at nut on anyone elses? It seems that there are just a couple of lock washers on mine?! Anyone able to shed some light on this for me? Is there anyway to tighten it down? I tighten the red tension knob (depth setting knob) down as hard as I dare and the whole thing is still loose.
The problem with all of this is relatively minor (I think), but annoying, and slightly dangerous (so maybe NOT so minor?). The anti-kickback pawls work great regardless, but it is the riving knife that won't operate properly.
I followed the instructions for aligning and setting up the riving knife properly with the fence. But every time that I put a workpiece through it while ripping, it gets to the riving knife but stops because the riving knife isn't in line with the blade. So I have to reach around (I know this is a safety no no) to the other side of the enclosed blade guard and bump the riving knife into the kerf slot so that it will work properly. Then it is fine for the rest of that cut (obviously). But this is obviously a MAJOR annoyance and not very safe. That is why I bring up the looseness as an issue. I have tried to realign the riving knife with the fence, but with the same result. I'm convinced the looseness is the issue.
Other than THAT, the new blade guard kit is sweet!
QUESTIONS: Blade choice for the RAS
1. What is a negative hook blade?
1B. Do I HAVE to use a negative hook blade in my RAS? Or can I get away with using one that isn't?
2. What is the BEST ALL AROUND blade for crosscutting AND ripping in my RAS? 28T? 30T? 40T? Think, "1 blade does it all".
2A. Any brands you would recommend? (keep in mind I'm poor/cheap)
2B. Or do I need more than 1 blade to REALLY do it right?
2C. Do I need a special blade for hardwoods?
3. Can I get carbide blades resharpened?
3A. If so, how much would it cost to resharpen a standard carbide blade?
3B. AKA, is it worth it? Or should I just buy a new blade (depending on the quality I purchase)?
4. What could be causing wavy lines in my crosscuts? (see photo)
4A. Pulling the saw through too slow? Too fast?
4B. Warped blade? (the blade isn't missing any teeth, and it is tight on the spindle)
4C. Old blade? Just needs to be replaced? (I am using the old 28T standard carbide blade that it came with from my FIL, no telling how OLD it is ...)
DUST COLLECTION: QUESTION:
Any recommendations for a good (read affordable and reliable) system to hook up to the RAS for dust collection? (i.e. shop vac?)
WEIGHING IN ON THE DEBATES
Per Ripping with the RAS:
I don't have a problem with it. It works great. You just have to ALWAYS use the blade guard as it is intended, use the riving knife, anti-kickback pawls, and lower the front of the guard to almost the top of the workpiece. Follow the users manual instructions on that and you shouldn't have trouble ripping with it!
I don't have a table saw :( So ... I have to rip with my RAS. IF I DID have a TS I would naturally just dedicate my RAS to crosscuts.
Pushing vs. Pulling Crosscuts:
I'm a newbie, but the instruction manual says pull. So I only pull, and it feels very safe and comfortable. I only get in trouble when I impatiently want to pull the saw TOO quickly through the workpiece and it runs toward me real fast as it eats through the wood (and usually stalls or bogs down the motor). As long as I have a firm, concentrated, and patient grip then I can cut straight and steadily through any work piece up to 4" thick (tall). The key is to go SLOWER as the piece gets thicker or more dense. Just do it by feel erring on SLOW.
The blade force at work when you pull, since the blade is rotating clockwise (from the guard side), is down into the work piece and thus down into the table and against the fence. As you pull further through the piece and the backside of the blade is engaged with the workpiece it begins to switch and the force of the blade is up off the table. All that to say you should always keep a firm hold on your workpiece for the ENTIRE duration of the crosscut.
I love my RAS and I can't wait to build more stuff with it!