Craftsman Radial Arm Saw

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Anyone have any experience or knowledge of Craftsman Radial Arm saw regardless of the year, though not extremely ancient? The Craigslist ads in my area have a good selection of those selling the Craftsman saw. Some are listed as older but working great, one is a newer digital model, etc. but I was wondering why so many Craftsman models are being sold or are the sellers really just not using them anymore. Since I'm in the market for a radial arm saw, I thought I'd consider one for sale, since I'm not ready for anything expensive just yet.
Any input greatly appreciated
Thank you
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RAS are notorious for being hard to align, unless you find a 1950 era Dewalt. However, I have a Ridgid, and use it for all operations 0 cross cut, rip, dados, miters, etc. You should get a copy of Mr. Sawdust or one of the good RAS books that goes through the right way to tune a RAS. Make sure the various adjustments are tight, the bearings are tight, etc.
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wrote:

A radial arm saw is definitely NOT notorious for being hard to align regardless of the manufacturer. As with any tool proper care must be taken to insure prolonged alignment. Abuse or neglect will shorten the alignment.

I would stay away from the newer Craftsman saws, those being less than 20 to 25 yrs old. The one I have is a 12" that's about 35 yrs old. I use it less than I did before I bought my miter saw. It still works great and I wouldn't get rid of it for anything. Well almost anything...
G.S.
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Gordon Shumway wrote:

Leaning most other tools doesn't destroy the alignment. On most RAS it can shift the table.

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--John
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There might be some good ones, but the Craftsman RA saws I am aware of have just stamped sheet metal for the tracks the saw head moves along. Far too flimsy to stay aligned, you can feel it wiggle side to side badly if you just push on the handle. And even if you could keep it aligned, and rigged a long rope so you could only pull it straight without any side force, it would probably wear rapidly. Bob Wilson

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Robert L Wilson wrote:

The head moves on two steel rods on every Craftsman RAS I have ever seen including the ones that are in the stores now.

Which generally has more to do with improperly adjusted bearings than with "stamped sheet metal".

If you're talking about the carriage it moves on ball bearings which will last about as long as any other ball bearings.

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wrote:

I'd stay away from the digital models. I always saw them as a solution looking for a problem, and although I have zero experience with them, I do have experience with a 1972 model, and adding digital to that design is just a misalignment waiting to happen.
Having said all that, like most Craftsman tools, they are generally underwhelming, although you can get some good work out of them so long as you understand their limitations (I've had both a 1960's era Model 100 table saw and the aforementioned RAS). In the case of the RAS, as stated elsewhere, they are some work to keep aligned. Any kickback, bump on the table, or change in humidity will necessitate realignment (okay, I made that up about humidity). The process isn't tedious or difficult, but the tool is not like a good table saw which may *never* need realignment.
My 1972 was just about the last of the solid cast iron column supports. Starting very soon after, the column support was split halves bolted together. With nothing more than a gut feeling, I always felt that meant a cheaper, perhaps inferior design.
My 1972 also had a lockable On/Off switch right on the motor head right by the handle. It's very convenient to operate. Others, both earlier and later, had the switch in other places, notably at the end of the arm.
My 1972 had the elevation crank under the table. That always seemed right to me (just like a table saw), but many models before and after had the crank on top of the column. Since that was probably a direct drive (as opposed to at least one set of corner gears in mine) it might have been a better design, less prone to backlash or other error-introducing effects.
My 1972 had the arm lock as a knob on the end of the arm--several others had a T-handle lock on top of the arm (but still out toward the end). I don't think there's anything inherently good or bad about either.
Here are a couple of Sears RAS pictures which will illustrate some of the foregoing::
http://www.woodbutcher.net/images/tools/sears-ras-2.jpg
This one is virtually identical to mine. It's probably the same model. Note the switch, the arm lock, the elevation crank handle.
http://www.woodbutcher.net/images/tools/sears-ras.jpg
This may be a little later version, but it could be a little earlier (can't tell without seeing the column). It is representative, however, of the RASes Sears was selling from the late '60s through the early '80s--and even perhaps later.
If possible, check model numbers (as with all Sears tools, make sure the three digit number followed by a period followed by a five or six digit number is included) to see if the one in question is covered by the recall. http://radialarmsawrecall.com /
The recall may not be of any significance to you if you are a hobbyist woodworker, but the Chicken Littles of the world will suggest gloom and doom of all kinds if you operate a "recalled" tool. If the saw under consideration is covered, you can get a new blade guard and a new table.
If it isn't, they'll (Emerson) give you $100 if you send them the motor. Note, that you will then have a virtually useless chunk of cast iron, sheet metal, and particle board. Moreover, you will probably spend a good chunk of that $100 in shipping to get the motor to them.
I still have my 1972 saw, but haven't used it in years. I'd like to sell it, since I find my work style has moved in a different direction. It's not that the RAS in general, and the Sears in particular, is an awful tool. I just find the table saw to be a better fit for me and my shop space. If I had another 200 or 300 ft^2 in my shop, I'd consider keeping it as I've also found you can never have to many saws.
I hope this helps.
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LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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I still have the Sears RAS that I purchased in 1975 and use it all the time. I would like to have a good table saw, but don't have the space for it and I wouldn't want to give my RAS.
Can't make a statement about the new ones.
Al
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Nope. They send you a box and then have you call UPS to pick it up at your house, all paid for by them.
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wrote:

That's good to know, in case I ever decide to send them my motor. Which I won't.
Thanks for the info.
--
LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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I bought a new one in 1979 and built "lots" of furniture with it until 1983. I added a Craftsman TS in 1983 and the RAS only collected dust from that point on.
IMHO they are marginally better than a skil saw. I would advise getting a better brand RAS if you are dead set on getting one over a typical TS.
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Leon wrote:

I bought a Craftsman RAS as my first big tool back around 1992. My biggest complaint was how easy it was to stop the blade and pop a circuit breaker. Once I bought a Ridgid table saw I seldom used the RAS any more.
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Mortimer Schnerd, RN
mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com
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Mortimer Schnerd, RN wrote:

If it was easy to stop the blade and pop a circuit breaker then odds are that it was on an inadequately sized circuit. Mine used to do that. I put in a 220 outlet and rewired it for 220 and the problem went away. If it popped the breaker on the line instead of the overload breaker on the saw then the circuit was almost certainly undersized for the load that was on it.
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Yeah, "6" hp probably runs better on 220. LOL
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I have one of these in my garage/woodbutcher shop. Works like a charm and does pop the occasional breaker. These things draw about 16 - 18 amps in startup and run on 12 amps. All it takes to get around this problem is a T15 fuse or #12 wire in a 20 amp circuit.
P.S.: SBS, if you are dead sure you want one of these (complete with a 6 bay base cabinet), and you live near London Ont. CA, let me know.
P D Q
"Mortimer Schnerd, RN" <mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com> wrote in message

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wrote:

I have a ca. 1980 Craftsman 2.5 hp, 10" RAS that was my first major tool purchase. It saw a lot of use in the early days, but has been since mostly replaced with a decent table saw and power miter saw. About the only thing I use if for now is cross-cutting long, wide boards and cross-dadoing long boards.
Itseems to be as tight as the day I bought it, and I've never had a problem with it slowing down in any type of lumber.
Bill
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Thank you all for the helpful advice. Please, keep them coming if there is more to learn.
Some of you have indicated once you've bought a table saw you no longer use your RAS. Though, I do have a table saw, but only a portable one, which does well. I am looking for the RAS for easier options such as dadoing and to eliminate changing blades whenever a differnet cut is needed. Also, I don't have a large shop area. Specifically, it's about 22 ft x 9 ft. It's a fraction of my garage. My garage is deep and wide enough to keep two cars and two motorcycles in there and also have my little shop, which is sectioned off. This is why I have a portable table saw since it's easier to move around. But regardless, I like the idea of having other options and quick changes for other cuts.
If anyone is willing to provide advice on saw blades, I'd like to learn a bit about them to provide a multifunctional shop. Or, perhaps it would be better for me to start another post.
Thanks again.
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With a good TS and a Forrest WWII blade you will rarely have to change blades except to cut dados. I have a WWII blades that I use for 99% of all cuts I have a crap blade for crap wood and a dado set.
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wrote:

Some newcomers to the RAS world will likely come on and tell you that a "RAS blade" is necessary. There is no such animal. Shoot, back in the day when I got mine ('72, as noted above), there was no such thing as a "RAS blade." You got your RAS and your table saw blades out of the same bin.
What happened was, in the '90s, blades with negative hook angles became available (Forrest was one of the first with a negative hook blade which was marketed as a "RAS blade"), just about the time that a lot of people inexperienced with RASes started posting their ignorance on the internet. Consequently, horror stories abound concerning ripping on a RAS (a very benign procedure, if you follow directions), and the "bite" of a RAS in a climb cut (which is its normal crosscut procedure). Negative hook angle blades (and blades marketed as "RAS blades") are often touted as "necessary" for successful and safe RAS use.
However, the key to successful RAS use (especially so when dadoing) is to learn the technique of reading the feedback your arm is getting as you pull the carriage back for a cut and compensate for the "bite" by reducing the pulling pressure. In some cases, you may actually introduce some pushing pressure to compensate. In any event, it's easily learned and is a normal part of RAS use.
That is not to say that the negative hook angle doesn't have its place. It may very well be somewhat safer than a conventional grind with the RAS. You will, however, give up some cutting ease (aggression) with one, a benefit which is readily enjoyed with a conventional blade and proper technique (as above).
When sliding compound miter saws (SCMS) came on the market, people (likely those with no RAS experience, but plenty of miter saw experience) started pushing the saw through the work instead of pulling, as you would do with a RAS, which the slider emulates in many respects. Some, new to woodworking, most likely, reverse apply the "technique" when learning how to use a RAS after having used a slider. DON'T!
There is one huge difference between a slider and a RAS, and that is that the slider head (with blade) is/can be lifted above the work table for repositioning--the RAS cannot. Therefore, to emulate a slider, one would have to have the RAS carriage out, the work in place behind it, then the saw fired up and the carriage pushed through the work. I'm still not convinced that's the proper technique for a slider (and I don't think there has been any evidence to indicate there is a "proper technique"), but it absolutely is NOT EVER the proper technique with a RAS.
Check with anyone who used a RAS before, say, 1980. See if anyone ever bought a "RAS blade." See if anyone ever had trouble with or trepidations about ripping. See if anyone ever pushed a carriage through the work. I'm confident such a person does not exist for any of those categories.
By the way, the acquisition of the RAS for the use you describe, is to my way of thinking, a perfectly acceptable, even desirable, purpose. It's one of the reasons I dislike multi use machines (ShopSmiths or European combos). No matter what setup you have on your principal saw, sooner or later you need to make a cutoff or rip for an extra piece of stock or a jig. With a RAS around (and to a lesser extent, bandsaw, miter saw, slider, etc.), there is no need to disturb a fussy set up. Just go to the other machine and zip, zip--Bob's your uncle.
--
LRod

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if saving space is an issue for you don't get a radial arm saw. instead get a quality handheld circular saw and router and make yourself a folding cutting table and some cutting jigs. that will be a much more versatile setup and will take up a lot less space.
saw blades: they are specific to material. go to a professional tool store or a sharpening shop and talk to the nice salespeople there. tell them what material you're working with and what quality of cut you need and they'll have something for you.
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