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Radial Arm Saw for Dado1/21/14
I have been contemplating using a radial arm saw with a dado stack (in rip mode) with a stock feeder to run the dado in cabinet sides so that the dado is the exact same every time. Does anyone know why this wouldn't work or if there would be danger involved? Thanks for your input.
Ripping and cutting dadoes with a radial arm saw has always been a hazardous proposition since the wood is always jammed between the blade and the table. Despite this, radial arm saws were designed to be utilized this way and have been for years.
Home builders used to trailer their big Dewalts out to the job-sites where they were used (and misused) in every conceivable way (I still have one).
It's a sad fact however, that carpenters using these saws have also been ripped, dado-ed and skewered along with their boards. "Kickbacks" were common and trips to the emergency hospital with fingers in lunch boxes etc.
So no, I don't consider it safe or sane to use a radial arm saw for anything other than cross-cutting. Even that is now considered obsolete and hazardous. (Perhaps you've noticed the disappearance of these old saws from the big box stores and workshops?)
Countless hobbyists in their home shops have also been injured by these saws and their advertized versatility. "No need to own a table saw when a radial does it all."
Of course you can set it up to be safe but will you? And will you take the time every time you need a cut?
I honestly think you'd be much better off with a dedicated table saw coupled with your power feed unit.
I agree with Jim - far too dangerous, and not as accurate as you may want.
The preferred tool is a shaper, with a power feeder and dedicated rabbeting heads. Fast, super accurate and safe, it is the way to go.
Thanks for your input fellows. We have a shaper setup to run rabbets for the sides and that works great. The problem we are having is that we use a table saw with a stack dado to dado the cabinet sides and alot of our time is spent in setting the depth of the dado so that what is left beneath the dado is always the same (for 3/4" side there would be 5/8" left). This is done so that you have the same distance from the outside edge of the face frame regardless of the material variation in thickness. And finding a method to dado from the top of the side would eliminate this problem. Maybe I'm not looking at this the proper way. Thanks for taking time to respond. I'd much rather do a few more setups than try to work without a few fingers or even hand :(
Panel router is the way to do cross grain dadoes in quantity. You will also eliminate tearout, which would be another drawback for dado set on a radial arm saw.
Or a dedicated jig with a quickset router since you are only 1/8" deep.
Second on the panel router. Best way to accomplish consistent depth without tearout of tablesaw or setting a new land speed record with radial saw.
I also use a panel router,and I suggest if you do,that you put a rabbet on the ends of your shelves.I use 3/4",with s 1/2" dado,then rabbet the shelves so they fit into the dado.By doing this, you are creating a shoulder to limit how far the shelf can go into the dado.It is near impossible to get consistent dado depths with a panel router for various reasons ( material thickness,hold down issues,etc.),that's why you need a shoulder,so all shelves will go in the same depth,regardless of how deep the dado is.Also,use a solid carbide,downward spiral bit.
I understand why you would want the dado head over the top of your work piece. If you are really committed to this it wouldn't be all that hard to buy a shaper mandrel, mount it horizontal with a power feeder and have a dedicated machine for this process. Would this be any different than a radial arm saw, don't know. It would depend on how much you put into the set up. Another way of doing this, you might consider buying a Williams and Hussy and setting that up. The cutter is over the top and has power feed.
Radial arm saws are a necessary evil for crosscutting wood. Ripping wood on a radial is a fool's errand. Might as well ask the devil for a ride on his way back to hell.