Woodworking Speed Secrets
from the woodworking professionals at Zirgo Corp.
When selecting boards from your pile of lumber, keep in mind where the piece of wood will be in the finished product. Cut out the finest sections to use for table tops, box lids, cabinet doors, bench backs, or the most visible part of the item you are making. Use the next best for box fronts, table legs cabinet sides, or areas that are lower or further from the viewer. Your worst lumber is for the inside bottom or back of boxes.
Planing ahead for some shaped pieces, you can select wood with a bad part that will be cut out later.
Once in a while you may find a bullet imbedded in the wood, and sheared in half at the lumber mill. They are a collector's item, so cut a rectangle of wood out around it, to frame.
Making your Radial Arm Saw workstation.
Build a long extension to the left of the radial arm saw table, as long as your longest lumber. And to the right build an extension at least half as long. This will allow one person to cut off any length of board required. A few vertical boards attached by metal L shaped shelf brackets is the easiest way to support the far ends of the extensions. You can figure out how to attach them to the sides of the table.
Attach several hinges along the back edge of the right extension to flip up to use as stops.
It is also nice to have a dust collector behind the saw.
Quick setup for a stop.
If one of the hinge stops at the radial arm saw is at just the right length, you are all set to start, otherwise try this nifty trick; This is for when you need many boards the same length.
Flip up a hinge stop that is several inches too far. Get a sample piece the same length as you need to cut. Push the sample right up to the hinge stop. Push a scrap piece of wood up to the other end of the sample. Cut the scrap piece there. You have just cut a spacer the exact length required. Remove the sample, and push the spacer up to the hinge stop. The spacer is now ready to use as a stop. With this setup all your cut boards will match the sample length. After you try this method a couple of times it will only take a few seconds for each new setup.
The accuracy of a stop can be thrown off due to sawdust bunching up beside the stop. To reduce that problem, cut a notch along the bottom edge of your stop, about a quarter inch. That will let some sawdust go under the stop, rather than in front of it. You will still need to clear sawdust away sometimes, but not after every cut.
Using a Radial Arm Saw.
When you cut across the grain with any saw, one side of the board will have a smooth edge and the other side will have a rough edge at the cut. The saw teeth come out the bottom of the board on a radial arm saw, so place the lumber with
the better side up. First trim off
the end of the board. (that way you know
it is square, and it gets rid of the rough end, and any sawmill ink
markings, or wax sealer) Then cut the length with the same side up.
The next part of the same lumber may look nicer on the other side. Check
it and if it is nicer on the bottom, flip it over, and trim off the
rough edge so your smooth edge is on the nice side. Then you cut that
The point of all this is to think where the part will end up on the finished work: which sides will show, which will be covered. And to be aware of the imperfections in the material, and the imperfections created by the nature of the tool.
With the saw off, place a sample the same width as you need to cut beside the blade. and move the rip fence over to the other edge of the sample. That's the quick way. Adjust the blade height so that half of the highest saw tooth is above the top surface of the wood.
If the width is less than 4" use a push stick (rounded at the handle and notched at the other end)
When you push the wood through the blade, do not lift the wood as soon as the cut is done. Continue to push the wood all the way past the blade, and then lift it off the table. Or better yet just push the wood right off the back of the table, into a box or bin.