My old PowrKraft RAS bit the big one about a month ago, after 32 years.
So, having RAS experience and not buying into the normal RAS trashing,
I went in search of a new RAS I could afford.
One of the defining parameters was wall hung cabinets over the RAS
location against a wall. This led me away from the Delta which has the
heighth adjustment crank on top of the column.
The only others in my price range were the Ridgid and the Craftsman. Upon
close examination of both, they appear to be the same basic saw: the
frames are identical, the column supports are identical, the columns are
identical. The differences appear to be in the sheet metal and plastic
trim, and some differences in the adjustment and locking lever locations
on the motor head as well as different blade guard mechanisms.
On initial inspection in the showrooms, the Ridgid was set up very solidly
and testing of arm and head movement was negligible. OTOH, the Craftsman
had some play in the arm and head, apparently due to poor setup as both
saws appeared to be identical in the parts that determine this. Despite
this, the Craftsman has two features that were very desirable: Lasertrack,
a laser line up outer blade washer thingie, and Control Cut, a variable
speed motor controlled cable at the column head which attaches to the
motor head and will only allow the motor to travel towards the operator
when the motor trigger is engaged and at a controlled speed.
The Craftsman RAS weighs in at 204 lbs in the box. After initial setup
according to the well written Craftsman manual (except for a missing
Control Cut speed table), and a further super tuning using the Jon Eakes
RAS book. The Craftsman is anything but a Crapsman. It is absolutely
repeatable on returns from miter and bevel changes. The control cut
feature isn't really required with the motor head wheels adjusted
properly, but it does absolutely stop any climbing problems that can
happen when crosscutting with a RAS. I set the saw up for 240V
operation. The control Cut motor has a seperate cord and runs at 120V.
The motor does seem to brake when turned off, but is takes 5 seconds or so
I do miss the high speed aux spindle on my old PowrKraft, but
all in all, the Craftsman RAS is an accurate and repeatable saw when set
up and adjusted properly. It's also very quiet compared to my old
PowrKraft. I'm guessing the Ridgid is just as accurate and repeatable
when set up properly. I hope the Craftsman also lasts 32 years; it's
unlikely I will.