Radial Arm Saw Mitering - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 Old 05-07-2012, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
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Radial Arm Saw Mitering

Folks,

I've noticed alot of people on this forum have their Radial Arm Saws dialed in at 90 degrees.

Obviously, this makes crosscutting at 90 degrees a snap. I understand the premise of not moving the saw out of that 90 degree setting, and angling the work to the blade, instead of the blade to the work.

This makes for a really nice/neat looking RAS set up, with a nice clean fence and table (with only one kerf in it.)

So I've used my RAS mostly for cutting long lengths of 6" baseboard trim for my house. I find it ideal for that.

Of course, I have to angle to carriage at 45 degrees every time there's a 90 to go around, and sometimes I cut 22.5 degrees for certain corners in my house.

So here's the question: I'm all for keeping this thing at 90 degrees and building a miter jig for it, but how do I possibly miter a 12 foot long piece of baseboard? As I can see it, if I'm using a miter jig of some kind, the piece of baseboard would extend off the table almost immediately, rendering the table almost useless as a support. If I use roller supports at the proper height, it still sounds incredibly flimsy, and dangerous.

Or I can just angle the arm, kerf the table and fence at the mitered angle and be done with it - essentially taking the arm out of square on purpose.

I'm interested to know what folks out there have done in this situation. Thoughts?

- Thanks,

Todd
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post #2 of 10 Old 05-07-2012, 11:23 PM
where's my table saw?
 
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I use a miter saw, Bosch or Dewalt

But if I didn't have those I would angle over to the left at 45 degrees and make certain it's true then drop it down for a new kerf.....
Or set up another table surface on top of the first one of 3/4" ply with a fence further toward the front so the saw travels less, pulling it out toward you of course and is closer to you. This will make the miters easier to see and cut. I've never done it this way but I can see it in my mind's eye..... You can just remove it when you're finished and go back to the original table with just one clean kerf. I fill my kerf with Bondo, after a while it gets a bit wide, and then sand it smooth and make a new kerf.

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 #3 of 10 Old 05-07-2012, 11:50 PM
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I would adjust the saw for miter cuts.

James
Whittier, CA.

Just because you can, doesn't always mean you should!
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post #4 of 10 Old 05-08-2012, 08:01 AM
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An RAS is a bit more difficult when cutting trim work like baseboard. When you are going around a corner, you are cutting a bevel, not an angle. Using blocks is OK for angles but not so much for bevels. The saw has detents for commonly used angles and bevels but compared to miter saws, it's not a very quick adjustment. If that's all you have, I would bevel the saw when needed. When the table and fence get cut up, just replace them.
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post #5 of 10 Old 05-08-2012, 08:35 AM
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bevels

The problem with a RAS tilted over (left) for a bevel is smaller lengths get harder to hold securely by hand. They are tucked under the blade and guard, if there is one and it doesn't retract easily...it's somewhat of PITA. Less of a problem on wide stock, but still not easy to see your marks and cutlines.

If I have a choice for bevels on smaller pieces, it's the table saw with a sled or extended miter gauge fence. That's just me.... bill

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 #6 of 10 Old 05-08-2012, 09:02 AM
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I think they make radial arm saws too versatile to miter molding. I'm sure there are professional models that could do it but the home model saws are too flimsy. They are made to be a cut off saw, miter saw, table saw, shaper, molder, boring machine etc so to turn all these different angles there is enough slop they can't make accurate cuts. I've worked in several shops where nobody would use a radial arm saw because they couldn't depend on the accuracy. I use one in my own shop mostly to make rough cuts and make the final cut on the table saw. It's never taken off 90 degrees.

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post #7 of 10 Old 05-08-2012, 09:19 AM
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Just to answer the OP's question, use the saw the way it's designed. It will cut miters just fine, if you set it correctly. It's that simple. You can make yourself jigs for setting the arm for 45 and 22. For intermediate settings use an adjustable protractor.

For getting back to 90, just use a framing square (that's square). I used a single RAS for multiple procedures throughout the day, many days a week. It's a very unique machine and worthwhile learning its quirks. Like many tools it's up to the operator for the accuracy.




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post #8 of 10 Old 05-09-2012, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
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Ok.

I was kind of coming to the conclusion that I should just use the saw the way it was intended.

I will say I've always been jealous of those with a RAS table that looks PRISTINE - those with dropped replaceable inserts in the table to take the kerf of the blade at 90 degrees. I always wondered to myself - what happens when I need to MITER? What then? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the insert?

I do like the idea of putting a 'shell' of sorts over the table/fence, that can be mitered/mutilated destroyed - and therefore preventing the actual table from being mutilated - but again - isn't the table _SUPPOSED_ to get destroyed and replaced periodically?

It looks like I'm just gonna continue to use it as designed.

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post #9 of 10 Old 05-21-2012, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
I think they make radial arm saws too versatile to miter molding. I'm sure there are professional models that could do it but the home model saws are too flimsy. They are made to be a cut off saw, miter saw, table saw, shaper, molder, boring machine etc so to turn all these different angles there is enough slop they can't make accurate cuts. I've worked in several shops where nobody would use a radial arm saw because they couldn't depend on the accuracy. I use one in my own shop mostly to make rough cuts and make the final cut on the table saw. It's never taken off 90 degrees.
I agree. RAS are not designed for miters. Thats what sliding compound saws are for. I would switch to a sliding compound before I would attempt a jig for a board more than about 4 feet long.

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post #10 of 10 Old 05-21-2012, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jessrj View Post
I agree. RAS are not designed for miters. Thats what sliding compound saws are for.
That's what was used before CMS's and SCMS's. The operator has something to do with how accurate a RAS cuts. Some are capable, some are not. It's not always the fault of the saw.





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