Woodworking Tips: Cutting a Small Piece on a Radial Arm Saw

After doing woodworking for 40 years, I have benefitted from the tips and tricks thought up by many people. I like reading magazines like Handyman, Popular Science, and other such sources that cater to do-it-yourselfers. Since I have such a great venue (this website) for passing along my own ideas, I decided to begin posting a few of them here.

Woodworking Tips - Cutting a Small Piece on a Radial Arm Saw - Airplanes and Rockets

I prefer a radial arm saw over a table saw for most cutting because I like having the work piece remain stationary while the saw blade moves. As long as the saw is ruggedly built, the precision is as good as or better than that of a table saw, at least for my skill level. Often I find it necessary to cut small pieces of wood that would place my hand way too close to the blade, and there is not easy way to hold the piece in place securely so that it will not shift during the cutting process. For those times, I have found that taping the piece in place, soundly grounded against the work stop, serves the purpose perfectly. Be sure to wipe the table top clean so that the tape sticks well, and use more than just enough tape - tape is cheap compared to messing up the cut.

In the picture below, I was trimming a short section of oak floor molding. The cut came out very nicely. You can see that I did not put the tape as far to the left as I should have in order to protect the cut edge, but it was nice and clean anyway, with no splintering. Maybe that was because 1) the blade was sharp, and 2) the oak piece had recently been finished with a couple coats of polyurethane, so the wood grain was thoroughly filled and the finish was had not turned brittle.

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Posted October 3, 2011