I'll stand up and say I like Radial Arm Saws. I don't have room for a
RAS, nor do I really have need for one (my cuts are usually well within
the range of other saws) but I still like them.
I wonder if the compound miter saw marked the downfall of the RAS. Think
about the time you needed to cross cut a board (not plywood) bigger than
6 inches or so. That may have been a while ago, right?
Old computers are getting to be a lost art. Here at Uncreative Labs, we
If the board has been ripped to two parallel edges, twice the normal can be
done pretty easily by flipping it. Imagine the laser types would be even
better at the job, allowing a clamped, rather than fenced second cut in line
with the first..
On Sun, 13 Nov 2005 05:43:46 -0500, "Lee Michaels"
Or maybe it was around the time that it became popular to describe
anyone who did not agree with you in every particular as a "wimp or
If you have the room for two tools, go for it. If you have room for
only one, my preference is a well tuned table saw. My sled(s) will
handle material 34" wide, obviating, for me at least, the need for a
specialized crosscut saw. If I was going to buy such, it would more
likely be a chop saw in order to do reasonably accurate compound cuts
and cuts to arbitrary angles.
cutting depth capacity I often need, which is why I use my CMS. The cut
isn't as nice, but at least I get a cut! Morale of this short story: it
takes more than one kinda tool to do everything that you face in the
normal course of woodworking.
I've had a RAS for about 3 years. I, too, bought a 2-year-old
Craftsman that had hardly been used. I tuned it up and put a new table
on it, and it works quite well. I have found, however, that its
biggest weakness is the repeatability of the 90 degree stop. If you
leave it locked at 90 degrees, it stays there, but if you move it, it
comes back to some random angle between 89 and 91 degrees. What I tend
to do for mitered cuts is leave it at 90 degrees, and devise an angled
guide block to present the work to the blade at the appropriate angle.
A RAS has it's uses, and in it's time, solved a good many problems, however
a good miter saw is cheaper and reduces RAS as the saw-of-choice by a
significant amount. That, and learning to use routers to create dados in
I have a good (meaning old) Craftsman RAS and I haven't used it in months.
Once, I made cutoff boards to use with my circular saws, (7.5"and 5" trim),
the use of the RAS dropped to zero. Without any real in-depth thought,
about the only thing that comes to mind where I'd revert to the RAS, is if I
had the need to cut big, deep notches or cross dado's in some long deep
I've been fussin' around now for two years over a dedicated mortiser. If I
ever do get one, I'd guess that the RAS would be headed for the garage sale.
Even rough-in carpenters will tend to bring their 12 miter saws to the job
site, rather than RAS's. The 12" will handle the big stuff, (2x8's ????
2x10's???) and it's lighter, easier to move around and the set up tables
designed for the big miters can have them up and running in a matter of
I have had a RAS since the early 70's and consider it an essential part of
my shop. It is set up along a wall where it is more or less built into a
long work bench. It is used mostly for rough cross cutting but I do use it
for dados and mouldings from time to time. If your cut needs to be perfect
then you must check the saw for square before using it. When it is not in
use I just push the arm out of the way and I have more work bench to use.
Like any other tool they can be dangerous if your not careful. Get the right
blade for this saw. A zero or negative hook angle blade will work best. A
positive hook angle blade will try to climb up and across your board. Pretty
scary the first time it happens.
Has a couple extra gotchas up its sleeve as well. In shops which do not
practice proper cleaning - other people's - sawdust or the odd chip can
accumulate, kicking one end out from the fence, resulting in a less-than
perfect cut. Gotta keep the table and fence swept, because they don't show
the dust like iron tops on tablesaws.
The other thing is the self-feeding feature you can get with some blades,
which makes it sooo important to have good hand control and positioning. My
Monkey Wards saw has a trigger switch, so both hands are where they will be
for the cut when the power comes on. Reaching up with one hand to turn the
tool on makes me nervous about the other....
I have a Delta 10" in the corner of my shop and I can't remember the last
time I used it.
There really is not anything it can do that can't be done on either my
Unisaw or 12" compound miter saw. It is very dangerous to rip wood with it.
Get a good table saw and a compound miter saw first, then you can get a
Radial Arm Saw to set in the corner and take up room.
Anyone want to buy a Delta 10" Radial Arm Saw used very little?
I worked for Sears during the 50's - 70's. While I didn't keep any exact it
records it seemed to me that the radial arm saws showed up in shop for
repair 20 or more times to maybe 1 for table saws. The table saws hardly
ever came in for repair. It seemed to me as the brush/commuter type motors
just didn't hack it compared to the induction type as most repairs seemed to
be burned out armatures and field coils which are very expensive repairs.
Think I'll stick with my TS, RM~
I had a RAS for about 18 years. It served me well. I only did cross cuts
on it never ripping. It wore out and I replaced it with a sliding mitre
saw. A RAS is a bit fussy and needs to be tuned like any tool, but can be
made to work. One note, they need a lot of space. I had one wall in the
garage set up with side tables to support stock. The slider I use now is
on a rolling table with removable side support. It takes up a lot less
A RAS will make that 90 degree cut without a problem, assuming it's not a
worn out piece of junk. There are three areas you need to check out.
First, is the arm physically damaged? If damaged, the saw head probably
will not roll smoothly or straight. This sort of damage would be difficult
Second, worn bearings. This will show up as slop in the motor head in -any-
dimension. For a two year old saw, this definitely should not be an issue,
unless the bearings were never adjusted properly in the first place.
Third, slop in the positive stops. Some designs are better than others, and
sometimes the slop can be worked around. Again, for a two year old saw,
this -really- should never be a problem. If there's slop in the stops,
avoid that saw, and probably all saws of that model.
You may have to build your own table, which is not a major undertaking, as
the ones shipped with most saws are garbage.
A RAS, once set up, won't need much more maintenance than any other saw.
Maybe just an annual check to make sure everything is still square. I
personally prefer them, because I can see where the cut is going better
than a table saw. It also makes a half-decent jointer of large pieces of
wood, and I've never had a problem ripping on one.
As you can tell from the other responses in this thread, it's more of a
preference than anything else. I do nearly all of my saw work on a RAS.
Michael White "To protect people from the effects of folly is to
fill the world with fools." -Herbert Spencer
Re: the subject question, I never knew they were _so_ unpopular until
reading the wreck...seems to me there's a much higher perception of the
users here of the opinion than I observe in the "real" world...
That they're not as popular as a TS or the CMS or chopsaw has more to do
w/ cost, size and general purpose of the tool for the type of user who
typically is seen here rather than anything else...
imo, ymmv, $0.02, etc., ...
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