Radial Arm Saw
   Tune -Up

 

The most popular saw in America for many generations was the Sears 10” Radial Arm Saw.  You will find them in garages, workshops, barns and construction sites.   Today, with the introduction of the portable chop saw, the radial arm saw has been relegated to the corner of the shop.  Here at AFD we still use ours daily for cutting material to length.   We no longer cut angles or bevels as that is done on the DeWalt chop saw.

The following suggestions will work for Sears, Delta, DeWalt and other saws to adjust them so that they perform properly.
There are 6 basic rules for adjusting the saw…..

     1.     Adjusting cross cut travel.
2.     The blade should be square to the table for crosscutting.
3.     The blade should be square to the fence.
4.     The blade should be square to the table for ripping.
5.     Align the splitter with the saw blade.
6.     Lubrication

 

#1. Adjusting cross cut travel.

The blade must travel perpendicular to the fence along the arm of the saw in order for your cross cuts to be accurate.  Remove the blade guard and the blade and rotate the motor.  Lower the motor until the arbor is just about 1/16” above the table.  Lay a framing square against the fence and move the arbor along the square edge.  If the arbor touches the square along its travel length your motor is square.  If not, the column alignment needs to be adjusted.  Almost all saws are the same for this.  They have four bolts or screws to hold the column.  Tighten or loosen the top only bolts to bring the arbor in line with the framing square. 

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#2. The blade should be square to the table for crosscutting.

This will assure that your blade will be perpendicular to the table and your cuts will be accurate.  Place the long edge of a framing square on the table and then turn the blade by hand and check to see if the square is flush with the blade. If the blade is not square loosen the yoke screws on the bottom of the yoke, and move the motor until the square is flush with the blade.   Tighten the yoke screws or bolts and double check to be sure that it is square.

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#3. The blade should be square to the fence.

This adjustment is done so that the blade will be perpendicular to the fence.  This will reduce the risk of kickback when ripping which is one of the major problems with radial arm saws.   It will also stop the splintering of the piece and kerf burning which is also called heeling when ripping or cross cutting. Place the framing square against both the fence and the table with the short end of the square just above the arbor shaft.  Make sure that the fence is on the blade and not the teeth.

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If the blade is out of square the bolts or screws that are located under the yoke must be loosened.  Hold the square in place and turn the motor until the square is flush with the blade.

#4.   The blade should be square to the table for ripping.

We no longer rip on our saw because of problems with kick back when it is not properly adjusted, but for those of you that do so, start with unlocking the swivel lock and then turn the motor to the rip out position. Place the framing square on the table and against the blade and not on any teeth.  If the blade is not square the rear bearing of the saw needs adjustment.  Loosen the bearing and move the saw until the fence is flush with the square and then tighten the bearing.

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#5.   Align the splitter with the saw blade.

Today Freud, Oldham, Amana, Forrest and all of the major saw blade manufacturers make saw blades for radial arm saws.  They also make thin kerf blades that assist with increasing the power of your saw by not having to work so hard to cut. Most saws have a splitter and anti kick back pawls and the adjustments are different for most.  We suggest that the splitter be aligned with the blade and you need to follow your manufacturers suggestions for adjustment.

 

#6.   Lubrication

Most saws require that the swivel and bevel index pins should be lubricated with 10/30 oil.  The upright column of most saws after a few years will rust and WD-40 and steel wool will remove it.  When you clean the column the hand wheel should extend the arm completely.  If the arm is tough to move it will be necessary to adjust the rear support cap.  Clean the entire column and you can either apply a clear hard floor wax or use WD-40 or oil which both will require an application every month or so.  The wax should last for at least 6 months. In the past couple of years Sears has had a major recall on certain 10” saws.  They have replaced the entire saw blade guard and the entire tabletop.  You may wish to contact Sears for more information if you own one of their saws.  Be sure to have the model number and serial number of your saw.  We hope that theses instructions will assist in making your saw perform accurately and safely.

Brian Murphy
American Furniture Design Co

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