From rLab

Some of the tools at the Hackspace are potentially hazardous to use, for these tools members are required to have an induction before they can use them. Inductions provide the most basic information on how to safely and effectively use the simpler functions of the tools, we appreciate that some members may have professional experience on some of these tools and in this case please tell your induction provider and the induction may be very reduced and just cover any risks or procedures specific to rLab. Some tools have multiple levels of induction in order to cover more advanced uses of that tool without making the basic induction take too long, higher induction levels will introduce some of the more advanced features of the tools but as with all inductions are only intended to provide basic information on the capabilities of the tools and how to use them safely. Some members of rLab may be willing to offer more detailed tuition beyond basic induction level or offer guided practice sessions in exchange for beer money or assistance on their own projects.

For all tools you are only required to take level-1 induction before use, after that you may perform any task that you feel confident you can do safely, higher levels of induction may be useful to you in performing more advanced operations but are not required before doing tasks covered in them so long as you're confident of your ability to handle those tasks without risk to yourself, others, or the tool.

PLEASE NOTE : All induction providers are volunteers who are providing inductions to the best of their ability but are NOT qualified instructors. Inductions are provided on a best-effort basis but you and you alone are responsible for your safety while using the tools and for satisfying yourself that you can operate the tools safely. There are professional training courses available from various providers in Reading and the surrounding area if you feel they are appropriate for the level of work you intend to undertake. Reading these notes is NOT a substitute for an in-person induction.

Note for wiki editors : Please do not edit induction pages unless you are one of of the people that gives that induction


The metal-cutting chop saw is able to cut all standard structural metals and quite a few others as well, up to some quite large sizes and at bevel angles.

Topic Detailed contents Rationale
Capabilities and limitations

The chop saw can cut all standard metals for workshop use, including most steels, aluminium, brass and bronze. It is not suitable for use with hardened steels or hardenable steels, and must not be used with magnesium or titanium alloys. It has a maximum capacity of 125mm when running round tube at 90 degrees, and this capacity is reduced when cutting more complex shapes or when cutting at an angle. The minimum material thickness is 1.2mm, anything thinner than this is likely to tear and either get caught up in the saw or fired across the room. If you need to cut objects outside this size range it may be possible to do so on the bandsaw if you've had level-2 induction and can change it to a suitable blade. It can cut at angles up to 45 degrees in one direction but the blade cannot be canted over to cut a double bevel, if you need to do that it may be better to use an angle-grinder instead.

Description of what the tool can and cannot safely do.
Proper clothing & PPE
  • Long hair including facial hair must be tied back.
  • No jewelry, especially no watches, rings or necklaces/pendants
  • Either tight sleeves shirt or overalls, this machine throws sparks! No loose sleeves
  • The guard and the blade are possible catch points
  • Goggles and ear protection is essential as this is one of the loudest tools we have
  • Dust masks are typically not required, but be aware of the possibility of lead or copper based paints or metals with hazardous dusts
  • Use the air-filter above the bench should NOT turned on while using the chop-saw
Any loose hanging clothing or hair can get tangled, either pulling someone in or immobilizing the user, PPE is needed for safety.
  • Fence
  • Bed
  • Safety catch
  • Guard
  • Handle
  • Bevel protractor
Allows for easy communication
Adjustment the saw for your cut
  • Inspect the blade, it doesn't need to be perfect but if you more than 2 or 3 chipped/missing teeth are visible then the blade needs to be replaced, contact the mailing list to arrange for this. If the blade has any sort of crack or warp to it at all, then it MUST NOT BE USED.
  • Ensure the machine is switched off prior to all adjustments, and ensure that all locks are in place prior to switching on, power is supplied from the yellow site transformer next to the bench.
  • To adjust the mitre, release the locking cam using the lever on the left, being sure to lock it again before cutting. These angles are fairly inaccurate, so if you need an accurate angle then use a protractor or make test cuts.
Getting the saw properly set up at the start is essential for safety and will make later adjustment easier
  • Consider your work area, make sure you can move your work into and out of the saw without getting caught up on anything or putting others in danger of getting hit.
  • Ensure all adjustments are complete and locked BEFORE startup.
  • Do not use dust extraction with this tool
  • Consider where the sparks from cutting will go and ensure that you're not aiming them towards anyone else or anything flammable
  • If necessary then place a board behind the saw as a a spark-catcher.
  • Make sure the saw is plugged in, it uses a 110 V power source, which is why it's connected to a small yellow box (the transformer). It must not be used with extension leads.
  • Position the metal in such a way that it is easily accessible and in the correct position without needing to reach in front of, under, or behind the saw.
  • Clamp the material tightly in the vice, freehand cutting of any sort is NOT ALLOWED.
  • If you cannot hold the material securely in the vice, you cannot cut it with this tool. Perhaps consider the an angle grinder or bandsaw instead.
  • Only cut one piece at a time, never stack material as the thinnest section (even if only thinner by a tiny fraction of a millimetre... no material is THAT consistent) will not be held securely
  • The work should ideally be positioned so that only 1-3 teeth engage with the work at any time, if you have to position the work so that more teeth than that are engaged then it will make the cut much harder work and increase blade wear dramatically.
These considerations can significantly improve pleasantness for user, and those around them
Startup / cutting / shutdown
  • Cutting fluids or lubricants should not be used when cutting with this tool.
  • Start the saw by pulling in on the trigger, if you have small hands then using both of them at once may be wise.
    • Wait till the blade reaches maximum speed (indicated by wizzing sound becoming constant)
    • Push the safety catch over to release the blade
    • Gradually lower the blade onto your work,
    • Watch out for the "stiff spot" in the travel, don't bounce the blade
    • Once your cut is complete then release the trigger and allow the blade to come to a complete stop before removing the blade from your work.
    • Wait for the blade to return to the top before switching back on.
  • Do not push the blade into your work too fast, it should never "bounce" off the work as that is likely to rip teeth off the blade
  • Cutting will require no more than firm hand pressure, you should never lean onto the handle
  • Watch the cut as you make it, if the tool seems to be struggling to make the cut and isn't removing clean shavings of material then the material may be work-hardening and isn't suitable for use with this tool
  • If the blade is appearing to wobble sideways then something is wrong, likely the material is unsuitable, but DO NOT CONTINUE if this happens.
  • You should never need to get your hand within 150mm of the blade while the saw is in operation, if you think you do then you're doing something wrong, stop and seek advice.
  • Brush down the bed between cuts as a buildup of swarf will make it harder to hold the work securely against the fence.
  • If the cut seems to take unusual force or if the blade begins to wobble or make louder than usual noise then it may be blunt. Do not continue cutting, post to the mailing list and someone will arrange to inspect and/or replace the blade
  • [Demonstrate straight and mitre cuts]
  • [Inductee makes at least one cut]
This ensures the correct use of the tool.
Cleaning up
  • Switch the machine off at the socket.
  • Use the dustpan for large accumulations of swarf.
  • Run the shopvac on and around the saw, and lift the guard and clean underneath it as well.
  • If your material has oily/greasy/paint-y residues on the bed the acetone can be used to clean the metal parts of the saw.
Clean up ensures pleasant use and reduced fire risk.