On a radial arm saw part of the table is bolted to the mounting rails under the table. But, the fence and the back portion of the table are loose until clamped against the edge of the main portion of the table. Since posting my guide to the radial arm saw
, several have mentioned they recently acquired a Sears Craftsman radial arm saw vintage 1970s. The table clamp for holding the fence and the back table in place was pathetic on some of these saw. This Instructable will show how to make a very good table clamp very simply and very inexpensively. The photo gives you a good clue as to what I have in mind. This Instructable will be useful to anyone who needs a good replacement for missing, or poorly designed table clamps.
Step 1: The Way It Should Be
Shown are two table clamps traditionally used on radial arm saws of all makes. I ordered these through a Sears parts depot less than a year after buying my saw. Parts for Sears Craftsman radial arm saws are often available on eBay. You may be able to find some there. You could always try to get them through a Sears parts depot.
Step 2: What Came on My Saw
In some sort of economy move, my saw came with a square steel washer on each side instead of machined screw clamps of the type seen in the previous step's photo. It was practically worthless and did not hold the back table or the fence securely.
Step 3: First Step
The table clamps push against the back table in such a way that the back table tends to lift off of the table mounting rails. See labels in the previous step for understanding the names of the parts. I embedded Tee-nuts in the back table. 1/4 x 20 round head screws fit through the back table into the Tee-nuts, but are a bit loose so they can fit into the keyhole slots in the table mounting rail. The holes for these screws need to be placed so that they align with the keyholes when the fence is in place. See the second photo for the screw head. The third photo shows the keyholes in the table mounting rail.
Step 4: Making Homemade Table Clamps
My homemade table clamps involve two wedges. Make them about 8 inches long. I cut these from a piece of 1 x 2 inch pine.
Step 5: Smooth the Wedges After Sawing
After sawing the 1 x 2 smooth the incline edge with a plane or a sander.
Step 6: Make a Square Block and Dry Fit the Parts
I used a piece of 2 x 4 to make a square block. A piece of 1 x 4 would have worked, too. With the saw's fence in place, move the back table against it. Place one of the wedges against the back table so the block will be near the pointed edge of the wedge. Place the square block against the wedge. Hold the block and scribe the outline of one of the keyholes in the table mounting rail onto the bottom of the square block.
Step 7: Add a Big Wood Screw
Use a #10 or #12 woodscrew. Drill a hole in the narrow part of the keyhole. Insert the screw as far as the shoulder where the head begins. The head will drop down into the broad portion of the keyhole and slide back to the narrow portion.
You will actually need two of these blocks. Fit each to its respective side of the saw and mark them, just in case there is a difference in the position of the table mount rails.
Step 8: Tap the Wedge Into Place
Tap the wedge into place between the back table and the square block until the fence and back table are held firmly in place. Do this for both sides of your saw table.
I thought about making table clamps from steel, but not everyone might have access to the needed metalworking tools.
To remove the wedges, just tap upward from below them with a hammer.