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Radial Arm Saw


Vinny
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Hi Gang, Im a self-admitted tool junkie and have just about all I need to make bodies and necks in the garage. There happens to be a Radial Arm Saw for sale locally and I trying to decide if I really need one or is it that little inside gremlin saying get it, hee he get it. The Model is a Sears 10'' and very good shape, the price is $75 USD.

I have the Stew Mac fret slotting blade for the table saw and I made a sled to cut boards with it. I recall some builders instaling the same blade in their Radial Saw too. Im building solid body electrics and arhtops, and plan to make acoustics, the tools on hand are a table saw, 9'' band saw, router table, jointer, planer, drill press and varoius power hand tools.

What can I use this saw for in guitar making? -Thanks, Vinny

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I don't have a table or radial arm saw, and won't be getting one soon. I do have a Grizzly ultimate 14" bandsaw though, and it gets used constantly. I did professional cabinet making in NYC for years and used a table saw all the time, but can't for the life of me see a use for it in instrument building. Ok, so I often choose hand tools for their greater accuracy and lower noise. When I need to cross cut a piece of wood that won't fit the bandsaw (or it's too early for me to hear loud stuff), I grab a hand saw. Part of my reason for not having a table saw is space, but the other part is safety measured against usefulness. Not many lutherie uses for a wickedly dangerous and large tool.

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Best use for a radial arm saw is a door stop.

It pulls wood/fingers into the blade.

There is a reason they don't make them much anymore (You can still get them, but not very popular).

If your name is Stubby.. A Radial Arm Saw might be for you!

Of course people still use them, and safely... But you have to really know and understand this tool.

-John

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Best use for a radial arm saw is a door stop.

It pulls wood/fingers into the blade.

There is a reason they don't make them much anymore (You can still get them, but not very popular).

If your name is Stubby.. A Radial Arm Saw might be for you!

Of course people still use them, and safely... But you have to really know and understand this tool.

-John

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$75 ?!?!?! Why aren't you there with cash in hand right now?!?!

In all seriousness, it does most everything a good table saw will do - it will cut slots in the fretboard (albiet easier without having to make a jig), it will cross-cut with a perfect 90° angle, and it makes a nice workspace with the arm swung out of the way. Those are my 3 main uses, and if you are already used to doing all that with a table saw, then there's probably no need for the radial arm saw.

The main reason I like it better than a table saw for slotting is because #1 I can see what the blade is doing, and #2 you can slot fretboards with a radius, they don't have to be flat like they must be for a table saw. With deep slots in very hard woods, the blade will have a tendency to grab and run the saw toward you (in the same direction you're pulling), but with the newer saws this is countered with a cable that is supposed to let out slowly and prevent the saw from running away (the handle has a trigger that has to be held down otherwise the cable won't feed out). Mine is a bit older and doesn't have this feature - just a jury-rigged spring.

Since getting one, I find that I now use a table saw only for ripping long boards. Yes you have to be careful that you don't cut your fingers off, but what else is new?

neck9.jpg

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I can see where it might be good for a dedicated fret slot cutter. It wouldn't pull much with such a thin Kerf, and you are not asking it to do much. If you were doing fingerboards regularly, you could building in some safety features.

Pay attention or you could have a real "Fingerboard" fingers included.

I wouldn't advise it for general woodworking. See my post above.

I used one for a year or so, to cross cut rough lumber. If it binds it does scary things. Get a chop saw for that.

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