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  • Pre-owned saw blades?

    Hi all, I just got a used (new to me though!) radial arm saw, have adjusted, cleaned and tested it until I am pleased, and am now looking to buy a dado set for it. My question is whether it is wise or not to purchase a pre-owned (used) dado stack from ebay, or from anywhere, for that matter.

    Is there any particular condition of the blades, or any of the chippers, that would be a go/no-go, or is it flatly BAD to buy used blades?

    Let me ask this from another perspective: if a person has limited funds for woodworking, would it be better to buy a new budget stack from a place like Harbor Freight, or a used Freud stack from eBay/Craigslist, for around the same price?

    Thanks,

    Shane
    Last edited by sigshane; 07-25-2018, 07:14 AM.

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum Shane,

    I'm sorry that I can't answer your question regarding a "used" dado stack. Personally I don't use a dado on my RAS and I wouldn't recommend to anyone to do so!

    First, l don't have anything against "used" blades, as I prefer not to ever buy "used" anything. I just don't like used equipment if I can possibly avoid it. With me, it's always a matter of, is it just used, or is it also abused? Unless I can see it first hand, like at a garage or other local sale, I just try to avoid it.

    Now, about the RAS: Congratulations on your RAS purchase. What brand and model did you buy? The RAS is one of my favorite tools and I leaned to use one in high school, way back in 1962. I purchased a new Craftsman RAS back in 1973 and I'm still using it today.

    Do you have ANY experience with using the Radial Arm Saw? They can be dangerous, if you have no experience and I'm sure you will find that a majority of people will warn you to avoid them; and, that primary reason for NOT wanting them, is WHY I would not recommend ever using a dado set on the RAS.

    The #1 problem with the RAS is that on a cross-cut the blade will automatically advance and probably "climb" if you don't forcibly control that "pull" cut. The thicker the stock and the broader the blade, the more aggressive will be that blade advance and climb. Cutting something like a 2-inch thick stock can be dramatic, as even a thin kerf blade will want to self-feed and rapidly advance if you don't firmly hold the carriage and control the cut. I've noted a marked difference between a thin-kerf and a full-kerf blade on a 2-inch thick cross cut.

    Of course that's with a full cut, and with a dado stack you're only rabbeting the stock, which is comparatively shallow. But still, I can't imagine how aggressive that advance might be using a dado stack... I simply wouldn't try it. For those few times that I need a rabbet, I make a couple of passes with my normal blade... that quite easy with an RAS.

    The RAS is absolutely my oldest and most favored saw. It gets a key position in my little shop and I wouldn't be without it. But there are just some applications that I wouldn't do with it.

    CWS
    Think it Through Before You Do!

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    • sigshane
      sigshane commented
      Editing a comment
      I appreciate all of your insight. And yeah, I've read and heard horror stories about the RAS, but I've also been watching a lot of 'Norm' lately, and he uses his extensively. I hope that through careful, cautious cutting, multiple shallow passes, positive control of the 'push-pull' handle, and clamping down stock whenever I can, that I will develop a feel for my tool, and become proficient and safe at using it.

      The RAS I bought is the Sears Craftsman 113.197150. I got it for 90 bucks from a dude, and have spent many joyful hours cleaning everything I can, and getting everything moving smoothly. Before I bought it, I did check out radialarmsawrecall.com about the recall on these saws, and either my model was not eligible for the upgraded guard and table, or they have run out of the kits. I figured I'd at least be able to send the thing back and get the 100 dollars, or at best I'd get the upgrade. I've decided I'm keeping it nonetheless, at least for the time being :-)

      I want to use the RAS for dado cutting because the table saw that I currently own does not feature an arbor that is long enough to accept a dado blade set. However, I have given my original question some thought, and I have decided against buying a used blade of any kind, especially if I cannot give it a careful visual inspection first.

      This was my first posting in this forum, and I hope to learn and grow with y'all in the weeks and months to come!

      Shane

  • #3
    Personally, I wouldn't buy used saw blades sight-unseen. Actually, I can't imagine ever buying saw blades used... the price difference just isn't worth it to me.
    But... if your situation demands it...
    Call or shop around local woodworking and tool stores, or scan the Yellow Pages (yes, I'm that old), for places that do blade sharpening to get an idea how much it would cost to have a dado set resharpened. Most sharpening services will replace chipped teeth as well for a small extra charge. Assume 2 teeth need to be replaced and figure the cost... now add that to any used blade price you find and compare to new prices. Not all used blades will need to be resharpened right away obviously but, in your case, i would advise it: if you've never used a dado set, it's better to start with a sharp blade set so you know how it should feel... and a sharper blade set is safer on a radial arm saw.

    Blades that have multiple chipped teeth are a no-go... signs of abuse. One or two chipped isn't a big deal.
    Any warping in the blade or chipper bodies is a no-go.
    Why is the blade being sold? Getting out of the woodworking hobby? Estate sale? Or is it being sold because it's a poor blade set?

    Do you have a router or do you plan to get one? A small wood jig plus a plain bit will make good grooves/dados. Such bits are cheaper than dado sets. The size of the dado you can make is limited only by the size of the jig you make too. Radial arm saws typically have pretty good travel so they can made dados in pretty wide pieces but routers can exceed even that. It's also easier to gang two workpieces together and thus make exactly-matching dados for shelving cabinets with the router and jig; in the radial arm saw you have to be very careful to make sure the dados line up consistently.

    Things to watch for in dado sets:
    Some don't make very flat bottomed cuts so you'll have to do some hand cleanup. Using hand planes or sandpaper around a thin block of wood typically. Annoying after a while. Routers make really nice flat bottom dados/grooves.
    Dado blades often have crosscut teeth on the outer blades; the teeth will not be "flat topped" like the chippers. The outer edge of the teeth is pointed (as you view the tooth face-on like the wood sees it) and this point leaves "bat ears" at the corners of your dado/groove. It's a slightly deeper cut. For shop projects it isn't a big deal but for furniture it stands out unless you plan to always use face frames or other schemes to hide the dados/grooves. The set used on the WoodsmithShop TV show makes bat-eared cuts that are visible even on TV resolution. Yuck. Routers don't do this either.
    Some of the "adjustable" dado sets (those with two blades on a common hub, the blades are angled relative to each other in a shallow "V" shape) don't leave very flat bottoms either... they cut a curved bottom. Routers don't do this either... unless you use the wrong bit.

    So there is a lot of homework research to do to figure out what dado sets are really good and which ones require extra hand work. The Harbor Freight set makes okay dados/grooves - at least the set I've seen in use. I'm pretty happy with my Freud set; it's the older SD208 version.

    mpc

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    • #4
      I've had great results buying used high-end machinery. I kind of kick myself for having bought so much new machinery also, when a little patience would have let me buy much more machine with the same money. But it has worked out since machine prices are going up and I can sell with little loss as I upgrade to higher-end used machines now. I'm waiting for a buyer to come get my drum sander for almost what I paid, because I purchased a much better used one for even less than that.

      That said, I've never purchased a blade used. I think I'd be inclined to go with used high end on something like a dado set, because the junk ones are SOOO bad. I also think a dado on a RAS sounds horrible, but I don't know for sure. I'd really research that carefully. I did get a used blade that just happened to be on a tool I bought used, and it resharpened just fine. But that's just one blade and I maybe was just lucky.

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      • #5
        I’ve had good luck with pre-owned saw blades. There is a saw sharpening service nearby that I dropped off a couple of my Freud 10” blades ( I sharpen my own blades but didn’t want to chance messing up my good blades) I discovered that the saw sharpener service sells “abandoned” blades for the sharpen price, so I purchased 5-6 blades that looked like they had plenty of life left for the cost of one box store blade. I figured these were probably high dollar blades or the owner wouldn’t bother have them resharpened. There was a couple of dato blades in the abandoned blades but I didn’t have any need for another dado. All the blades cut like new, I wouldn’t hesitate buying a used blade online if it had a decent photo that I could make out the condition of the carbide tips.

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