Craftsman RAS question; tightening the carriage lock tilts it...


I just bought a Craftsman RAS. It is the current model and has never been used. I know it is "crap", but for 1/4 of the retail price it has got to be a good value.
I expect I will have a number of questions in the future, but for now...
1) Tightening the carriage lock tilts the saw a couple degrees perpendicular to the arm. As I understand it, the carriage is only locked when ripping, and then tilting a couple degrees won't matter. Is that right, or are there other times when the carriage is locked? Or should it not tilt at all? It seems pretty stable without the lock on. 2) The guy didn't give me the riving knife or hold down. (actually my son picked it up and he didn't know they existed) They are only used when ripping, right? I don't expect to ever rip on it, so I really don't need them, right? I expect he has them squirreled away somewhere in his workshop, but he feels bad enough about losing 75% of his money without my hassling him for something I will never use. 3) The laser comes on for about 10 seconds and then goes off. It that the way it is supposed to work. I guess it is long enough to line the cut up, but my (now broken) CMS stays on the whole time; so I am not sure and the manual doesn't really say. It looks to be pretty much the same as the one on my CMS, so I guess I could swap them, but maybe it is a battery saving feature?
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I have had a Craftsman RAS for over 20 years. It helped me to construct various additions to the house.
These days I am doing furniture and craft projects which require precision. The RAS is now a dedicated 90 deg cross cut machine - and only if I cannot do the cut on either my table saw (due to obstructions when needing to cross cutting long pieces) or my SCMS.
As most RAS owners find out, these machines are famous for going out of tune whenever the arm or carriage is rotated. For example tuning the RAS to be 90 deg to the fence, then switching from cross cutting to ripping and back to cross cutting will likely cause the RAS to no longer be 90 deg to the fence. The results are not noticable for the average 2x4 cuts to frame a room, but when trying to cut pieces for a chessboard, the deviation will matter.
The carriage lock is only used when in the ripping position. Even if the carriage did not tilt when locked, they are famous for deflecting if ripping hard to cut wood.
The riving knife is technically for preventing kickback on any cut, even a deep cross cut (piece being cut is wider than the blade). Most of the time you will likely cross cut pieces less than the blade width and so the riving knife will not be engaged.
For ripping the riving knife is more useful. Every now and again a board will need to be cut which appears straight and true, but during cutting will you find that the board has "inner" tension and the cut tries to close back on itself. This is what can cause kickback. The riving knife is designed to prevent the cut from closing back on itself. It will still take more effort to push the wood through the saw, but you should not get kickback.
I cannot comment on the laser, since the technology did not exist when I bought my saw. I have been tempted to purchase a retrofit, but I am not sure if they work as well as the ones designed into the machines.
If you are happy to accept the constraints of an RAS, it should prove useful, but it will never match a decent table saw for consistency of staying "in tune".
Dave Paine.

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Toller wrote:

You don't tighten it other than when ripping else you couldn't move it to cut. It shouldn't deflect when tightening. A couple of degrees only matters if you want your work to be square.
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well I have one and have used it practically daily for the last 30+ years, still does the job it was designed for . I do not use the ripping feature ......so why does everybody "know" sears stuff as crap.................
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mike hide wrote:

I've got a Craftsman RAS I bought in 1991 or 1992; it was my first big tool. My complaint has always been that it's very easy to bind the blade up. This is something that I've never done with my table saw (which is a Ridgid TS2424). All I can figure is that it's underpowered.
I've got it set up now as a dedicated crosscut saw. I don't use it nearly as much as my other saws (table, miter, band).
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Mortimer Schnerd, RN

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Toller wrote:

Carriage is only locked for ripping cuts. Tilts a couple degrees? Adjust the saw. I have a 35 year old Craftsman 10" RAS and an occasional tune up will keep it dead on. Read the directions, theyt SHOULD tell you to give the release a bit of a "nudge" before tightening back down. Mine did and I find that repetition of exact angles is easy once you set the angle in the same manner each and every time.
, or are there

Should not be any tilt to a properly calibrated RAS unless, that is, you want a specific angle for a beveled cut.

Correct. If you don't use it to rip, you won't need them.

Hey, unless you took the saw from him at gunpoint, he set the price and/or agreed to it. If I were you, I'd get all the parts to the saw if possible. I've used mine for years and years and ripped a lot of 2" stock with it. Never had a problem so long as the saw was properly adjusted and the riving knife and anti-kickback pawls properly set.

Can't speak to the laser. Don't have one, don't want one. That's why I have a measuring tape, pencil, stop blocks, etc<g>
Oh, BTW, you SUCK! Nice catch even if the anti-RAS crowd will mock you!
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