Instructables
Picture of Curved Molding on a Radial Arm Saw
I made two six-sided enclosed end tables for our home and wanted a decorative feature on each table's two doors.  I wanted to use molding to make a raised design.  The photo shows the top portion of the design.  The smaller radius molding was done on a lathe.  But, the larger piece of molding has a radius of 8 inches, and my lathe cannot handle a faceplate almost 17 inches in diameter.  Bending straight molding after steaming it was a possibility, but with complications I wanted to avoid.   I found a way to make the larger radius curved molding I needed on my radial arm saw.
 
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Step 1: A few accessories

Picture of A few accessories
One of the handiest things I have for my radial arm saw is an auxiliary table to raise work about 4 inches above the regular table surface.  I use this auxiliary table to hold things I want to drill with the spindle on the rear end of the motor.  

Also shown in the photo is a set of molding head cutters.  You can see the knife I used for the curved molding on my end tables.  It is called a clover leaf and screen mold pattern. 

Step 2: Begin the setup

Picture of Begin the setup
I installed all three knives in the molding head, secured the Allen screws that lock them in place, and fixed the molding head on the saw shaft.  I turned the radial arm saw's motor to the inrip position.  The saw's fence has been removed and the back table piece has been secured to the saw's frame with "C" clamps.  The motor is locked down on the saw arm so the center of the molding knives is 8 inches from the center of the saw's column.
sparus20 hours ago

I could never imagine to do it with a radial arm saw! Thx for sharing.

MerylL11 month ago

I had no idea a RAS could be used thusly! Wow! Ingenious.

Phil B (author)  MerylL11 month ago
Trank you. For things like this I try to think about all of the things that could go wrong so nothing moves or pulls my hand into a moving cutter or blade, and I try to make a safety back-up for myself.
shinju2 years ago
hello phil,nice to see a fan of ras out here.is use mine for molding also, i have a large selection of blades for my dewalt ras.also i use the molding head with cutters,peole should now there is more to the ras than meets the eye, it can do alot more than people may think. the trick is know you saw can do and do it the right way and the safe way.thanks, shinju
rimar20004 years ago
Phil, you are great!!   ...I envy your skills.
Phil B (author)  rimar20004 years ago
You are very kind, Osvaldo.  Thank you.  (You need a radial arm saw.  You need a radio arm saw.  You need a radial arm saw.)
I WILL MAKE ONE OF THEM!! Maybe 2010, maybe 2011...

Of course, the "poor man's" version.
Phil B (author)  rimar20004 years ago
Here is an advertisment from 1968 for a radial arm saw made by AMT (no longer in business).  It used two pieces of square tubing for the arm, a bearing mandrel with shaft for the saw shaft, and a mount for almost any standard electric motor to power it.  I think there was one main casting where the arm met the vertical column.   I tried to find an exploded diagram, but could find only this advertisement.   It might give you some ideas for making your own.
 Thanks, Phil. 
My  "mental design" has square 2 inches iron tube arm and tower, ended in a round washer (one end). Obviously, details will come later. The washer is graduate and has screws to hold it in position.
frollard4 years ago
Very good instructable with great pictures!  One thing I'd like expanded (for my understanding) is how the elevated table mounts to pivot around the spinning cutter.  Very neat - I always thought it started as straight and was steamed/bent to shape.
Phil B (author)  frollard4 years ago
The elevated table does not move.  It is clamped solidly in place.  It simply gives some clearance for the saw motor.  A radial arm saw allows the user to swing the arm to one side or the other.  I made use of that to swing the arm while the saw motor is running and the cutters are spinning.  I hope this helps.  Do not hesitate to pose your question again if I did not adequately explain.  Thank you for looking and commenting.
frollard Phil B4 years ago
I think I understand; Does the arm itself move sideways, or does the motor twist upon another axis?  It would seem using the radial arm as an axis would make most sense so you can make multiple different radius curves with different motor mount distances...

sneaky sneaky!
Phil B (author)  frollard4 years ago
The arm can be moved sideways both left and right.  Normal use of a radial arm saw moves the arm and locks it down in a chosen position, as for cutting a board at an angle.  The motor can also be swiveled about an axis directly above it and then locked in a chosen position at 90 degree intervals.  These are useful for crosscut,  inrip, and outrip.   The  fourth position is not really useful, although I did make use of it in an Instructable on sharpening your lawnmower blade with a special jig and a grinding wheel on the motor shaft.  To add to the fun, the motor can move about another axis, allowing the shaft to be tilted for bevel cuts.  The bevel angle is selected and the motor is locked in position.  I did an Instructable that sets the motor shaft to a vertical position and attaches a sanding drum to the spindle on the rear end of the motor.  Then I used the sanding drum to put a straight smooth edge on a board for gluing it to another board so you can scarcely see the glue line.  I am feeling lazy and have not added links, but do a search for "radial arm saw," or check the Related Instructables listed at the bottom of this page and some of the related pages.
Jayefuu4 years ago
Excellent ible! I'd always wondered how those were made, and I find woodwork really interesting. Well worthy of being featured :)
Jayefuu Jayefuu4 years ago
PS I'm jealous... I want a tool shop. Maybe when I buy my first house I'll put a room aside for it.
Phil B (author)  Jayefuu4 years ago
When I was in high school and college I wanted a bench or table saw so much, but could not afford it.  I saved money and bought a lathe while in junior high.  See another of my Instructables on making a Bench Saw Table for a Lathe.  I used it for a while.  One Christmas I received some money and bought a good circular saw, for which I made a table to make it an accurate table saw, and with it I made some furniture we still use.  (I have an Instructable on that ready to publish in a few days.  Please watch for it.)  The point is that you can get some decent tools for little money, even adapt tools to get more out of them.  A radial arm saw is a very versatile tool.  Many people do not know what they are because miter saws have pushed them aside in people's minds.  Often you can find a good radial arm saw for very little cost.  Check things like Craig's List.  Also, remember that once all of the things done with power tools were done with only hand tools.  Just learn the right skills.
Jayefuu Phil B4 years ago
Thanks. :D

My problem's not money, but space. I live in student accomodation so I have very little room to keep anything more than a draw full of hand tools. Good enough for a lot of things, but sadly lacking in a lot of ways. I really want a table saw at the moment. Or a bandsaw. Next year, when my degrees done and I have more money for rent or a house, I'll have room for the tools I want hopefully.

Will subscribe to get news of that ible :)
Phil B (author)  Jayefuu4 years ago
I remember student days and apartment living.  I was so jealous of people who had houses with basements or garages.  The possibilities for a workshop were so great.  Then I learned people who have houses spend a lot of time maintaining and repairing many things in the houses that do not require a workshop.  It is actually not quite that bad.  If you have a workshop, you will have opportunity to use it well.  I wish you well with your studies.
Phil B (author)  Jayefuu4 years ago
Thank you for both of your comments.  All I can say for certain is this 'ible describes a home solution for making curved molding.  Woodworking is a very healthy hobby which you will never regret.  (I will make some further comments in connection with your other comment.)