Radial arm saw vs. table saw. Tools for cabinetry?

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Wanted to thank everyone for great replys. Looks like the recommendation is to keep the RAS. In a way, I prefer the RAS (once I learn how to use it to it's full potential, other than cutting 2x4's) as it was my fathers and he has had it for all my life. My father was one who would teach me how to use tools and let me at it. Still remember working on making a box when I was 8 yrs old using the RAS...unsupervised.
I am still looking at what tools I need (or would be very helpful) to start making furniture. Jointer or Planer might be something else I might want to get. But as Al Holstein put it, woodworking is going to be a hobby. I want to get the best quaity for the price, but don't want to spend the money for high end, all the features, tools as it IS A HOBBY.
I have inherited alot of my father's tools. Unfotunately, they were never keep in top condition (RAS for instance was coated with grime and years of not being used... but still great condition). Many hand tools though have seen better days...rust.
My initial inclination for $200 for a table saw was I had seen them cheaper (Sears) and figured this would be a good mid range. Guess not.
I looked at the book that Rumpty recommended and I might go that route as it look like a very detailed book.
- Clayton

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Mid range for a table saw is up about $1000 from there. Your RAS will do just fine for some time. You may never decide that you need to spend the bigger money.

Rumpty knows RAS as well as anyone who hangs out here, and far better than most. It's not the tool I'd recommend starting with, if it meant digging into the wallet, but you have one, it was your Dad's, and that's a far different story.
Go slowly on the new tool purchases, until you sort out what you already have. Cleaning up Dad's old tools is a healthy endeavor in any case.
Patriarch
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Patriarch wrote:

...
...
Well, upper mid-range for the casual basement/garage shop. Pretty good contractor saws are available for less than that. FWW had a review not too many issues ago...
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don't be afraid of a little rust. do a google search for electrolysis rust removal. lots of tool refurb howto's out there on the web.
old tools (especially hand tools) are often better than what you can get today for less than large amounts of cash.

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Potential: Repeat cuts, compound cuts, panel doors, .....tons more.
Lack of potential: I saw my neighbour using his to rip long pieces, with one arm in front of the saw, and one that had to slip behind to finish the cut. I gave him a table saw I had lying around [I had three more, one of which went to my son-in-law] , plus an old carbon tipped blade, plus a 3/4 HP motor from a nearby yard sale for $14. He's now making money, and still has both hands, and hasn't looked back.
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Guess who wrote: ...

Now that <is> scary... :(
But, not the saw's fault the user wasn't set up right. I've seen a lot of dumb things on TS setups, too...
Now, I'll not say it's the first choice to rip w/ the RAS if one has an alternative, but as I noted in previous post, I've done it a lot when I didn't have an alternative and if set up properly I think it's no more dangerous than many other operations...
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Am in lockstep with suggestions to keep the RAS and will add find the alignment instructions and go through them and understand what each one does so when it comes time for troubleshooting you'll be ahead of the problem. I got one from a neighbor that was newer than yours that couldn't be aligned as one of two pieces for correcting a heel problem was missing from the factory. It resides in someone elses garage now.

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Since noone else has mentioned it, let me suggest that you go to www.radialarmsawrecall.com to see if your model qualifies for the free blade guard retrofit kit (new table top included).
Lee
--
To e-mail, replace "bucketofspam" with "dleegordon"



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And of course it does. Thanks. Didn't know there was a guard that could be installed. Since I am my father's son, any protection I can get from losing a finger would be helpful (my father never lost a finger, but always getting cut...IE: sliding knife towards fingers when sharpening).
Thanks again. - Clayton
On Mon, 27 Dec 2004 01:27:59 -0500, "Lee Gordon"

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sandman wrote:

...
Gee, why don't you tell us what you <really> think???? :)
Different strokes...
They have their uses although I'll grant that most inexpensive ones are not very good (but, then again, a lot of inexpensive things aren't all that good, come to think of it).
On major function has been absorbed by the advent of the larger capacity chop saws although there's still nothing better for roughing out larger dimension rough stock assuming you've got the saw that will handle it, of course...I was lucky that the one I happened to find cheap when I got my first woodworking tool was, in fact, such a beast.
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I speak my mind, 'cuz I have nothing to lose ;)
r
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wrote:

Yes you do, PLONK!
Rich
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On Mon, 27 Dec 2004 13:48:49 -0600, Duane Bozarth

Yeah, but they can be useful. I had a Sears RAS that I used to replicate window and door moldings in the Victorian we owned (some of the original stuff was pretty well shot), make some furniture, use for a lot of carpentry stuff, etc. And a Sears circular saw and drill were good enough to build a deck, several arbors, fences, etc. These tools took a heck of a beating, were drowned once in a flooded basement, and have kept working. All of this put down of cheap gear seems to have more to do with something other than utility.
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GregP wrote: ...

There's a difference between "cheap" and "inexpensive" and there's also a difference in objectives of the owner/user, plus the personal preference of some for things that work well as opposed to "get by"...if you're satisfied w/ what you got, fine...I've found that every time I've tried to cut corners on a tool I end up being so dissatisfied that it costs me more in the long run because I'm out the initial expense <plus> the expense of getting the better tool anyway.
On a RAS in particular, and what I was thinking of when writing the previous post, was that on many of the less expensive I've seen the repeatability of the arm position is poor at best and the arm is not rigid enough to stand up to heavy use. I just detest having to fiddle around to get the precise angle I want every time...w/ the Original Saw Company radial, the blocks are set and reproducible <every> time...
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I spoke from experience. I had one of those cheap Craftsman saws the OP suggested buying. Yes, it has something more to do that utility. It has to do with ease of use. It has a lot to do with making cross cuts on wide boards. Has a lot to do with making fixtures, jigs, and sleds that fit standard miter slots. Has a lot to do with accuracy of the fence.
If you like cheap tools, you are free to use them. I tried them and decided to take a different course in my tool buying. Ed
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wrote:

I'm not sure that many people "like" cheap tools, so you're addressing the exception rather than the rule. My point is that if you're financially constrained, you will get by and get decent work done with whatever you can afford. That will most likely take you more effort, but unless you're a professional who must make a living off this work, or you're simply in a hurry, that shouldn't keep you from going ahead anyway.
[I also wonder about the "cheap" aspect when looking back. For instance, I bought a "cheap" Sears router 25 years ago: it was somewhere near the middle of the Craftsman line, somewhere in the $45 - $50 range. It didn't do badly but I did have to constantly readjust cutter depth and those adjustments were a designed- in pita. About a month ago I bought one of those new PC 2.25 hp units. It cost me $190. My guess is that with inflation, the two are pretty comparable in cost. And while the PC is somewhat more powerful and reasonably smooth, the Sears always had enough power to do what I wanted and it actually vibrates less and has similar heft to it. There's no doubt that the PC will be easier to use and make my time more efficient, but I don't see sufficient difference to call one a Yugo and the other a BMW.
bought
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GregP wrote: ...

That's probably not too bad a comparison as it was about 25 years ago is about the time Sears really started the trend to "cheapening up" the Craftsman line...I, too, have a Craftsman router of slightly earlier vintage and still use it/like it for smaller work as it is lighter than the others. But, I don't think there's a single one bearing the Craftsman brand today that's built as well as it was...
This is, of course, a never-ending debate... :)
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I have a Craftsman Router I bought new about 35 years ago. I like it so well I bought a used one like it and wish I had gotten a 3rd one at a garage sale. ( I don't like to change bits) The old Craftsman has a work light that I really like that the great PC I would like to have, doesn't have. I have 4 routers but reach for one of the old Craftsmans for critical work.
Walt Conner

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Forget the cheap table saw, your better off with handheld circular saw than that junk. I do not care for a radial arm saw myself, but I have suggestions that may help.Set the saw up so it is slightly out of level from front to back. This will make the saw carriage slide away from you, this is a safety matter. Remove fence, add 3/8"x 3/4"x2" spacer blocks to the table. Put the blocks about 6" on center and replace fence. Now you created a space for sawdust to go, you won't get build up of dust along fence. Use saw for crosscuts only.I know you have ability to rip but it is dangerous.Rip with a skilsaw until you have the money to buy a real saw.If you need to make miters or angled cuts, make jigs for these angles and leave the saw set up at 90.Check often that your blade is square to the fence, make any necessary adjustments if needed.Use a blade that is correct for a radial arm saw.
mike
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On Tue, 28 Dec 2004 07:57:25 -0800, kwoodhands wrote:

First of all, if the saw motor will move on the arm by itself with a slight tilt, it isn't adjusted properly. It should be adjusted so that it moves with some resistance, but smoothly. In moving the motor, you shouldn't be able to make the bearings slide on the arm with firm finger pressure on the bearings.
Secondly, you should need no spacers between the main table and the fence, rather a 1/4" sacrificial top with 1/8" space between it and the fence. If you were to place spacers on the rear of the main table, you would need to trim the 3/8" off of the rear of the main table to keep the fence in the proper alignment. This could allow the fence to bow slightly away from the rear table causing precision problems.
The RAS needs to be tuned in a strict sequence as most adjustments depend on previous adjstments.
The best advice as stated here many times is to get either or both of the books written by Mr Sawdust and Jon Eakes and follow the alignment/tuneup instructions exactly. When set up and used properly, the RAS is not a dangerous tool for cross cutting or ripping.
- Doug
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To escape criticism--do nothing, say nothing, be nothing." (Elbert Hubbard)


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