Agreed. In my case, some experience was had. YMMV, obviously. I apologize
for my prior comment.
I would tend to say that the RAS is one of the more versatile tools you can
have in the shop, provided that you have the necessary attachments and
accessories to make it do other things. I find them to be a mediocre
jack-of-all-trades, master of none, and barely adequate for anything except
rough crosscutting. Some of the older DeWalts, Red Star, Northfield, and
even the Deltas had some stars and some dogs, and the good ones are solid as
a rock. Problem is, there's so many things that can cause errors - bad
bearings, worn rails, slop in the raising mechanism, bed not parallel to the
rails, out of plumb, etc, that to me, it's not worth having one unless you
dedicate it to one specific purpose. At that point, you've got a one-tasker
that takes up a lot of room.
Now that we have the bad stuff taken care of let me share my thoughts on the
I included the above quote from your post to say that for the most part I
agree. Any tool that tries to be too much almost has to fall into the
category of jack of all trades and master of none.
But, lets discount all the little nice things the makers would like us to
think the tool can do and concentrate on what it is really meant to do which
is to cross cut stock.
Why the bad rep for the RAS? Look into the history of the tool and you will
find that the main use of a RAS, almost from it's inception, was as an on
site contractors tool. As such it was not only not meant to be a precision
machine but, for the various reasons you state, all the moving parts, and
the fact that not only was every ham fisted apprentice on the site using one
machine but the machine had to survive being thrown into the back of a truck
along with the contractors saw and bounce around between job sites.
Today you will find adherents of the RAS almost unanimously saying they
don't make them like they used too. The reason is that the only old RAS's
one finds today are like period furniture found in a museum. They weren't
subject to the abuse their cousins were. These old RAS's found today and
coveted were probably tools in someone's shop or maybe stationary in a
cabinet shop. The same for those, like myself, who say they have had their
RAS's for years with no trouble. Of course we haven't nor are we really
likely too. How often and how long, does one person in a small shop
actually have any big power tool running and how frequently are the settings
changed? The answer is, not often or at least not anything like what would
be found in a busy multi person shop or, say, a high school shop class.
Yes, a CMS has fewer moving parts and is less likely to get knocked out of
alignment but the RAS, due to it's wider cut and ability to take dado
blades, remains more versatile and, in a one man shop, is, even new ones, is
quite capable of remaining in tune for many years.
The real irony of the whole thing is that a miter saw, because of it's
portability and simpler construction, is better adapted to the original
intent of the RAS then the RAS ever was.
There is nothing wrong with either tool nor preferring one over the other
but damning one or the other for reasons of accuracy or lack of abilities is
doing both a disservice. A RAS is as accurate as the user makes it and will
stay tuned and true as long as it is treated properly and a miter saw is an
uncomplicated and accurate tool that makes up for it's lack of capacities by
it's portability and taking up little room in a small shop.
As for this "safety" BS that some try to foist off as a reason why there
shouldn't be any RAS's, don't even go there with me. All tools including a
sharp chisel or dull screwdriver are inherently dangerous and have to be
treated with total respect. Only a fool approaches any tool with the idea it
is in some way "safe just as anyone who climbs up on a horse or pets a dog
is in a fools paradise if they think they are "safe". Anyone care to bet on
which ratio is higher, number of RAS owners bit by their RAS every year or
the number of dog owners bit by their dogs every year?
? Did I say a Bad thing?
Jon and I worked things out and this last wasn't meant to knock his second
message. I was just putting my thoughts on the RAS down. I included a quote
only to indicate I, to some measure, agreed with the statement.
Didn't mean the post to be derogatory to anyone.
Radial arm saws are pretty much obsolete these days, and an old unit like
that dewalt is probably downright dangerous since it was manufactured before
the cpsc mandated better guards and warning labels. Yep I really don't think
you should risk putting that in your shop. Just tell your friend to ship the
saw to me. I will know what to do with it. In the interest of safety i'll
even split the cost of shipping.
I would not want to mislead people reading this and imply that the numerous
accounts of getting hurt with a radial arm saw are because the person
getting hurt was dumb or made a glaring mistake. Reading all the accounts
of RAS accidents, one gets the feeling that a RAS:
1) Takes much more experience to use properly than any other saw,
2) Is MUCH less forgiving than any other type of saw. A small error while
cutting on a TS may scare the %^$%^ out of you, but most probably not do
much harm. An error of the same magnitude while using a RAS may injure you
3) Has many more things that could go wrong under regular use. There are
lots of things to adjust and tune. A badly tuned RAS will probably injure
you, whereas a badly runed TS will most probably produce a lousy cut on the
wood. A badly tuned miter saw will probably just produce a bvad cut as
Do you agree or not?
I bring this up because perfectly reasonable and safe people have gotten
badly injured while using RAS saws. The injuries did not occur because they
were drunk, inept, or stupid, the injuries occurred because the RAS was not
forgiving enough of a machine.
Actually, if you look up the statistics related to the Emerson/Sears recall
of a couple of years ago, the only ones that I know for sure exist, you will
find that the ratio of ALL reported injuries to the millions, somewhere
around 3 million if I remember correctly, of units sold it is 00.08% or was
it 00.8%. In either case it is an extremely small almost meaningless number.
Probably well under that of such things as lawn mowers and weed whackers..
Used properly and for it's intended purpose, though this can be said about
any tool, the actual mechanism is far safer then that of a table saw. On a
table saw one has to move their hands and stock past a cutting blade. On the
RAS the blade moves and, unless ones head is firmly placed up one's ass, the
hands and stock are kept firmly in one place well away from the sharp
To adjudge one tool spinning a sharp instrument at 3k + RPM safer then
another is a highly dangerous conclusion to make. Actually it is a horse
pucky assumption. BOTH tools need equal amounts of respect, care, and
attention to detail and even then they are both dangerous.
I've owned one for almost 30 years and have had a far less number of scary
incidents with it then with a table saw.
I'm not a real RAS fancier, but anyone who starts asking a machine to be
"forgiving" is on the way to getting badly hurt, sooner or later, and probably
"Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves."
Fair enough (and I am not one to ask a machine to be forgiving). It's just
that new people don't seem to know that a RAS is more dangerous than first
meets the eye (and it looks pretty menacing as it is).
Absolutely. I will sum it up by using the words someone used in another
forum: "If you need to ask us whether or not you need a RAS, then you
don't." In other words, a RAS is by no means a machine for a beginner.
More like 26" for a real full-sized RAS, say an 18" Delta.
"Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves."
I think the RAS and the bandsaw are the most used powertools in my shop.
Een though the ras is a 60s era craftsman, it is easily adjusted to
square. There is an 10x10 DC box right behind the blade, it makes no
mess. Much easier to check/adjust than my TS. Sure, I can do everything
mentioned on the TS and CMS - but I wouldn't want to. Fire up the DC and
On Mon, 12 Jan 2004 08:32:47 -0800, Basspro* wrote:
I only use mine for cutting long pieces of lumber, as it is easier because I
have a long work bench. Where I work days, there are two, one for cutoff,
and another for 3/4" dados.
Personally, I don't recommend saw to anyone who is not doing production
I also would consider the safety risks involved if you decide to do any
ripping or weird stuff with this machine.
Just my lame opinion
If this helps, my first large saw was a RAS. I built most of the furniture
in my house with it between 1979 and 1983. In 1983 I added a TS to my
collection and cannot remember using the RAS after that point. 2 years
later it was gone and I have not once missed it. The RAS can do more than
the TS in terms of versatility but IMHO most of the operations can be done
better with just about any other tool. If you are in a pinch, it can get
you out of a jam in some instances.
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