On a trip to your local home depot or woodworking supplier you might notice the different wood sizes on display, and be scratching your head wondering what it all means. There are a couple important things to remember when purchasing stock.
2x4 vs 1 ½”x3 ½”
The first is that 1 inch doesn’t always mean “1 inch”, so while the label might read 2x4 it actually translates to 1 ½” x 3 ½”, because of dryness and milling methods. Wood tends to shrink when it’s dried and lumber mills make adjustments accordingly. That said, the length of a piece is generally not affected so a piece “measuring” 8’ is usually very close to 96 inches.
Radial Arm Saws tend to be one of the most under-appreciated of woodworking machines which is disheartening, considering how versatile they are in the range of operations and tasks they are able to perform.
Why opt for a radial arm saw
While they may be on the pricier end of the scale, and they do tend to be both heavy and not typically fit to carry around easily. As a result, they are used mostly in professional shops where portability isn’t a priority.
That said, the variety of operations that a radial arm saw can perform from ripping to cutting bevels or miters, dadoes and rabbets, forming mouldings and in some instances, serving as router guides; is nothing short of amazing. However, like any tool there are trade-offs which come hand in hand with its versatility: difficulty in setting up cuts (as opposed to a compound miter) taking a longer time to rip stock (table saws rip faster). That said, the radial-arm saw is able to perform both these tasks, albeit a little slower than other tools, but again, it is a small price to pay.
Using a Radial-Arm Saw Always, always follow the original manufacturer’s instructional guide before using or setting up your power tool, which applies to the radial-arm saw as well, since using it to the existing specs is usually a step in the right direction.
When using the saw for the first time during cross cutting, you might end up cutting grooves onto the table top. To avoid that, set the blade depth to just below the surface of the table once the saw’s motor is up to speed. Also ensure that the stock is held securely against the fence and remember that when you pull the saw through the stock and towards you, it can cause the saw to lurch forwards damaging either the stock or yourself. As a result, always grasp the handle firmly not allowing it to determine the speed of the cut. While this may take time and consistent practice, you will get it soon enough.
Working on Dadoes & Rabbets Radial-arm saws are made for cross cutting dadoes and rabbets especially for producing slots for shelves. Before starting work, set your stacked dado’s thickness as desired and ensure the blade is raised away from the table. When setting the dado stack, ensure that it is installed in the correct direction with respect to the blades’ rotation. Once it has been installed and the (blade) guard reattached, find the appropriate depth of cut for your dado using a scrap piece of wood as a guide. The same dado set can also be used when cutting tenons. Miters and Bevels While the saw can cut normally up to sixty degrees in either direction in miters and up to 90 degrees in bevels, the trade off is that it is only in one direction. And though the radial-arm saw is able to cut more non traditional angles than compound miter saws, it is a lot more difficult to get the angles of the cut just right. So before commencing, always ensure that clamping levers are locked into place.
Ripping Stock Radial-arm saws can also be used for ripping stock and are often no less harder to use than table saws, provided they have been set up properly. During the setup, ensure you use the anti-kickback assembly making use of riving knives and pawls. Riving knives are used to prevent stock from binding onto the blade although should the blade jam, the pawls will grab the stock protecting it from a possible kickback. One important fact to remember: pawls might not grab the stock during ripping plastic laminated or melamine stock, should there be a kickback. In fact any non-coated stock might face this issue.
Safety Tips When using your radial-arm saw, be aware of the blade guard—never turn on the saw without the guard in place and without ensuring the guard’s lower section has not been tampered with. Also ensure that the guard can be lifted easily during the saw’s operation and that it drops back into position on release.
It is usually safer to set up the unit with a slightly backward slope, preventing it from sliding towards you.
Other important tips to keep in mind:
Don’t begin a cut without waiting for the blade to hit its maximum speed.
Always control the speed of the cut.
Ensure that the hand holding the stock piece is well away from the path of the blade.
Remember to use feather boards and push sticks as and when necessary.
===================================== Of all the woodworking power tools in your shop, the radial arm saw is probably the most important tool to make sure you get the right blade for. It is VERY important to have to correct tooth angle and if possible, has anti-kickback features. These will help make the radial arm saw safer to use, give better cuts and make it easier for the woodworker to use. =====================================
When buying plywood from your local Home Depot, Rona, Lowes or other wood supplier, you might have noticed that all the plywood is "graded". The most common plywood grading scheme is from A to D, with A being the highest quality with zero blemishes and great sanding, and D being the worst with the greatest number of blemishes (allowed).
Grading also typically comes in pairs where each grade addresses a different side or “face” of the stock piece, ie one letter will address the quality issues of the front face and the second, the side opposite to the face. So for instance, an A-C plywood sheet would be highly finished on the front face with a relatively poorer finish on the back. Similarly, construction grade C-D (referred to as CDX) plywood, is great for structural use but not for projects requiring a high quality finish.
Along with the plywood grading system, plywood comes in different bonding where each type is differentiated by the glue used to bind the layers (aka plies) of plywood. We’ll cover each in turn.
Interior Plywood This type is made for interior use only, from hardwood and softwood species and is generally used in places where exposure to moisture is minimal, e.g. furniture, wall sheathing, cabinetry, etc. Interior plywood is available in most grades and comes in a variety of hardwood species like birch, oak and cherry.
Exterior Plywood By far, much more sturdier and moisture-resistant than interior plywood, this type can be used outdoors and is easily available from local suppliers. Like its interior counterpart, it also comes in various grades—A-C, B-C and CDX are widely available—and hardwood species.
Marine Plywood If you’re really looking for highly moisture-resistant plywood, look no further than Marine Plywood, which is both manufactured in top quality and uses the highest adhesives. And though commonly graded A-A for two highly placed faces, hardwood choices for exterior use (where the type would be most useful) are limited.
Structural Plywood If you’re looking for beauty over brawn, this type is ideal although it is rarely found in a grade higher than C-D and is atypically used in construction sites (as concrete forms). Special resins are used to adhere the layers together and they are designed in such a way that the plies are less likely to separate.
Plywood Sizing Just like hardwood and softwood sizes, plywood sizes can be just as confusing if not more. Although sheets are usually sold as 4’ wide, they may sometimes be found in 2’ and 5’ widths. Similarly, just as a typical plywood sheet’s length is 8’ they can also be found in 4’ and 12’ sizes as well as metric sizes. The variety can easily confuse the best of us.
And that’s just the beginning; the variation of sizes above will be a walk in the park compared to the thickness dimensions. Common sizes on the US market are ¼”, ½” and ¾”. That said, a ¼” plywood sheet is really 7/32”; ½” a 15/32” and ¾”, a 23/32”.
And though the 1/32” doesn’t seem like much, it can make all the difference when working with plywood. Consider this: a wood craftsman is constructing a bookshelf where a ¾” shelf is inserted into a dado cut into the shelf standards; the 1/32” gap will not only be noticeable, the dado will feel sloppy and unprofessionally handled. To counteract such a situation, the dado will need to be cut at 23/32”, ensuring a snug fit.
The Marketing & PR department over at Oneida has to be pretty good one, claiming as they have that it successfully retains 99% dust, using a mini cyclone attaching onto a 5 gallon bucket lid which in turn, acts as a particle separator for a shop vac.
That’s a pretty tall order, so we investigated. The “secret” to a clean work space is keeping dust to a minimum and if you value your sanity, you’ll agree. But there doesn’t seem to be an adequate dust collector on the market emptying out the shop vac and maintaining a high suction level. But, as you may have noticed, shop vacs are noisy.
We came into the review with high hopes and expectations, judging by the stellar reviews given by other woodworking communities and haven’t been disappointed so far putting it into operation the moment we got our hands on it. After ensuring our shop vac tub and filter were as clean as possible, we took a look at the filter after use and were amazed to see only a light coat of dust inside. This came after using Dust Deputy for a week AND emptying out the 5 gallon bucket five times, making this appliance a godsend.
We individually bought the cyclone from Rockler for $60 plus shipping, and because we had the extra hoses and shop vac attachments, didn’t require the full kit. However, if you don’t have the hoses and attachments we would recommend purchasing the full kit at $100.
Having attached the cyclone the bucket’s lit, we cut a ½” plywood piece to the inside of the lid to serve as reinforcement. Filling the 5 gallon bucket to about 1/3 of its volume with 16 penny framing nails, and inserting the Dust Deputy bucket inside the bucket of nails ensures that it won’t fall over. However, we would recommend constructing a cart to hold the two as a long term measure.
Though the price of the Dust Deputy is a bit on the higher side, it will also save you time and money spent cleaning out your shop vac filter. Furthermore, there is no drop in suction power with a hose’s extended length. We give it a 4 out of 5 stars for its perfect performance and highly recommend that you add it to your shop environment.
You might not think you need the Makita 5094DWD 14.4v Cordless Circular Trim Saw Kit , until you own one and then life is not the same without it.
The first thing you notice about the saw is how small it is; not so much as a unit, but in terms of its blade size which clocks in at 3 3/8”. And while it isn’t going to be cutting through large stocks any time soon, this is a great little tool for cutting thinner pieces of stock. Clocking in at 4.6lbs and total length 12 5/8”, both including battery dimensions, the saw can be used for long periods of time without user fatigue setting in. The overall feel from front to back, is also incredibly well balanced for a saw of this size.
Powered by a 14.4v 2.6A NiMH single battery, the kit includes a multi-voltage charger kit and one 1.2A battery. The charger itself can handle both Makita pod-style NiCad and NiMh batteries ranging from 7.2v to 14.4v; the charging times themselves can vary based on voltage and capacity but on average, it takes an empty battery roughly 90 minutes to recharge.