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Old 13th March 2012, 11:19 PM   #11
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Location: Willamette Valley
Default saws

Routers do not want to cut straight. It can be done but it's not what they're for. A decent circular saw, whether mounted under a table or hand held, is many times more efficient. Pawn shops are packed with quality tools these days.
As for the radial arm, a correct zero or negative hook blade is crucial. Those terrifying runaway moments are due to several factors, including dullness and user inattention, but the proper tooth geometry is not well understood. A freshly sharpened negative hook blade will just sit there in the middle of a cut. Table saw blades, having 10-20 degrees positive hook so they'll perform correctly in their application, will climb right out and try to get you. Just because it says "crosscutting" on the package doesn't mean anything more than how many teeth it has.
Fortunately this information is less obscure than it was 40 years ago. Just keep your fingers, and your hearing, and your lungs as the top priorities, then the projects themselves.
Yeah I'm a tool fool.
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Old 14th March 2012, 01:08 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Dan_E10 View Post
Hi all,


I've also looked into getting a hand held circular saw and using a guide to rip and do cross cuts. That's definitely a tempting option as it would take up less space than a table saw, and would be a lot cheaper than a higher quality table saw. However, can a relatively inexperienced woodworker like myself get the required accuracy going handheld with a guide to build a cabinet that fits together well? I guess I could try it and see how it works out, but if the time and money is better spent starting out with a table saw I'd do that. I haven't cross cut on a table saw yet though, I'm not sure if it would be workable to go without a miter saw for that.


Dan
This is my choice. I use a circular saw and various guides. There are straight edge guides that work very well with just one hand to clamp them.

I think the key to good cuts is to know your saw. How far, exactly, from the fence is the blade? What's the kerf? Which side of the cut do you want the kerf to be on (or, which side of the cut is the waste side)? Also, checking to see if the blade is parallel to the edge of the shoe (or is it foot?) of the saw is important. I took a file to mine to make it as perfect as I could.

Finally, I recommend using a marking knife. These are special knives that have only 1 bevel on them, so that you can put the mark exactly up against the edge of the square or ruler.
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Old 14th March 2012, 01:42 AM   #13
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Default cutting guides

I use them all the time. Make my own since, as admitted already, I'm a tool fool and therefore have all the pneumatic fasteners, like a fine wire stapler that shoots 1/4 to 1 inch narrow crown staples. Festool, the current darling of well heeled woodworkers, has a lovely system of table/guide/saw which makes an old school rig like my Unisaw+sliding table+long fence look bloated. Oh well: I'm old and a long way way chronologically from school. When looking at portable saws be sure the base is flat. The good ones have magnesium base plates. Carpenters tend to drop their saws on the ground which leads to warped bases on used saws. Square cuts are unlikely with a bent tool.
I think it takes $500 minimum for a new table saw to equal what you can do with a portable tool, guide, clamps, and attention, and you'll still need the portable and guide to deal with full sheets. Start there.
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Old 14th March 2012, 01:08 PM   #14
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I use a biscuit joiner and pocket hole screws a lot.

Air tools are essential when working alone. I have 2 staplers, 2 nailers, and a drill, at least.
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Old 14th March 2012, 03:58 PM   #15
Dan_E10 is offline Dan_E10  United States
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Ok, scratch the idea to use the router as a poor man's table saw. I got some feedback on that idea over at router forums and it doesn't sound like the safest thing to do. A circular saw and a guide is starting to sound like the best option for me. Dirkwright, thanks for the suggestion of the marking knife. I hadn't used one of those before and they sound helpful.
Dan
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Old 14th March 2012, 04:45 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Dan_E10 View Post
Ok, scratch the idea to use the router as a poor man's table saw. I got some feedback on that idea over at router forums and it doesn't sound like the safest thing to do. A circular saw and a guide is starting to sound like the best option for me. Dirkwright, thanks for the suggestion of the marking knife. I hadn't used one of those before and they sound helpful.
Dan
You're welcome. You can only cut as accurately as you can measure, mark and layout.
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Old 14th March 2012, 05:19 PM   #17
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I had a nice radial arm saw and got rid of it. The versatility is attractive, but a table saw is vastly more accurate and more suited to cabinet work. I wouldn't use a portable saw and guide unless there was no other choice. If you go that route, be sure to have a good Stanley #5 or larger hand plane and know how to sharpen it. (I wouldn't trade my #5 for anything.) Truth be told, you can do 1st rate cabinet work with nothing more than hand tools! Still, I'd recommend a mid-range or better floor model table saw (Powermatic to Unisaw), a Porter Cable router and lots of clamps. Then you need finishing related stuff like sanders- I'm too lazy to do that by hand! Also, the saw fence is really important- don't skimp there.
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Old 14th March 2012, 06:14 PM   #18
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The router kicks up too much sawdust and makes too much noise to use as an everyday cutter. It makes a great trimmer, however. I second the suggestion to use end-to-end guide clamps and a quality circular saw. The clamps go up to 60 inches, meaning you can rip boards five feet long accurately.

Keep in mind, most of these cutting tools are only useful for straight, unwarped plywood. (Store your wood flat, BTW.) If you are going to get into hardwoods, you need either very well flattened and milled stock or you need a jointers, perhaps even a planer. You may be able to find a custom lumber house near you that can supply matched planed and sanded boards, though.
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Old 14th March 2012, 06:16 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by ChicagoJTW View Post
The router kicks up too much sawdust and makes too much noise to use as an everyday cutter. It makes a great trimmer, however. I second the suggestion to use end-to-end guide clamps and a quality circular saw. The clamps go up to 60 inches, meaning you can rip boards five feet long accurately.

Keep in mind, most of these cutting tools are only useful for straight, unwarped plywood. (Store your wood flat, BTW.) If you are going to get into hardwoods, you need either very well flattened and milled stock or you need a jointers, perhaps even a planer. You may be able to find a custom lumber house near you that can supply matched planed and sanded boards, though.
I have one of these. I need to order a smaller one.
http://www.amazon.com/Clamp-A-50-50-...1748953&sr=8-3
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Old 16th March 2012, 01:30 AM   #20
Simon B is offline Simon B  United Kingdom
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A big sliding table saw is a thing of beauty...but you don't have room for one and neither do I.

Circular saw and guides work well, cost much less and take up much less space. I found it worthwhile making several guides of various lengths to suit my saw, with the offsets of my saw kerf marked on in thick pen to have one less thing to forget. Use good clamps.

I've got a couple of pairs of sash clamp heads, the things you stick on pieces of wood to make sash cramps, prefer them to full sash cramps for some reason.

A biscuit jointer is well worth having, good strong joints, quick and easy to use. Carefully keep the biscuits dry til you're using them though, otherwise they can swell to the point of being unuseable (they're meant to swell in the joint a little, from the water in the glue, making themselves tight I think).

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