I've also made thousands of cuts with one, all with trepidation.
Irrational it is ... nonetheless, I have an uncanny sense of impending
danger - I learned not to argue with it.
It's why I'm still here. :)
I've only made a few dozen cuts with one, but it seems to me that the
one place the RAS would be better than any other tool is crosscut dados.
Crosscutting on the table saw tends to be a bit of an adventure,
especially if table width is limited. (Things may be different if I had
a sled. Just haven't needed one bad enough to make one.)
I haven't touched a RAS since high school.
Well you may have answered your own question there Doug. While most
every one will agree that the RAS is not comforting to use in the rip
application, it is indeed built and intended to be used to rip material.
So that is probably why most every one would prefer to never use one.
FWIW I owned one for about 5 years and build a lot of furniture that I
still own today and did quite a bit of ripping with it. For me I had
more problems with it while crosscutting, probably because I did mostly
cross cutting but I never got used to cutting into a narley SYP knot and
the blade and motor trying to climb up over the board rather than cut
through the knot, for what ever reason. ;~)
Three years after buying it I added a contractors saw to my shop and
literally never used the RAS again.
I've never had a problem with a RAS (I've never tried ripping) but my son
cross cut a piece of Oak and it climbed on him, broke a tooth off the blade,
misaligned the saw and he hasn't used it since.
Contrariwise, I've had a couple pieces of wood slung at me from a table saw.
Go figger. <G>
I think the biggest problem with a RAS is that they can get knocked out
of alignment pretty easily and there are numerous adjustments to zero in
on. The table has to be parallel to the same plane that the carriage
rides on, the blade has to lock in parallel or 90 degrees to the path of
the carriage. The arm has to lock in at 90 degrees to the fence to make
a 90 degree cut and the fence is not always straight, once cut it can
warp or twist. It is imperative that you have flat straight stock when
cross cutting or you are going to have at least a little problem.
If you ever do rip with your RAS "remember" that you feed against the
rotation of the blade. While this sounds like common sense you can rip
from either side of the table. Typically for narrow stock you are on
the right side of the table with the motor pointing away from the arm
column. For wider rip capacity you can rip from the left side of the
table but be sure to rotate the motor so that it points towards the
column arm. Keep in mind that in this situation the stock needs to be
wide so that you can have room to push the stock through with out having
the motor interfere. Get any of those positions or steps backwards and
you end up with a board launcher.
Typically every new RAS right out of the box has the alignment issue.
You have to assemble at least the table and that has to be done
perfectly. So at least once the RAS has all those extra alignment
settinsg. Then add in humidity, temperature changes and the table/fence
needs to be readjusted. If you really use the RAS a lot the table has
to be replaced and you start the alignment process again.
Now, if you have an industrial sized saw in good condition the
adjustments are probably greatly reduced as would be expected but
because of the inherent characteristics of the RAS the more commonly
found ones are more trouble.
I believe that the biggest issue with all RAS's regardless of size is
the wood table which moves and changes shape.
Consider also that if you most often cut a like sized material on the
16" RAS's as you do with a 10" RAS. If you mostly cut 3/4" material
with a 10" RAS the equivalent on a 16" RAS would probably be 1-1/4"",
assuming the capacity on a 10" saw is 3" and the capacity on a 16" is
5". When always using equivalent thickness materials I am sure the
alignment and operation issues become more equal. The typical 10 RAS
would probably perform much better and more smoothly if it normally cut
material less the 1/2" thick.
Now I am not saying that I would never use a RAS again but I would
absolutely trust the results from my cabinet saw over any RAS whether it
be cross cutting or ripping with few exceptions such as squaring the end
of a long board or cutting dados across long boards.
This is my view after having both machines and build lots of furniture
with both. I still view the TS a more safe to operate machine over the
RAS even though I have never been injured with a RAS but have been with
Well that is certainly true but once you start to expect more precision
from your equipment your projects reflect that. Keep in mind that I
have seriousely been building furniture since the late 70's, have owned
both the RAS and TS and find that set up and accuracy to be simpler and
better on a cabinet saw. If your are satisfied with the results you get
from your RAS that is great. I eventually out grew the limitations of
my RAS, both in ripping and in cross cutting and added a TS for the
first time in 1983. I never used my RAS again and sold it a few years
When I first owned a RAS there was no such thing as a SCMS. I used the
RAS to build 3 recording studios. The last studio I built in the early
nineties, the RAS, although setup onsite as usual, hardly got used as I
had a miter saw by then, and the RAS had become what I considered a
liability issue ... had a couple of guys helping me that I was sure
would eventually kill themselves with the damn thing.
I certainly haven't missed owning one. That's not to say that if I had
beaucoup room and an unlimited tool budget I wouldn't have another one,
along with a couple of more table saws, for dedicated use. First things,
In my dreams .... :)
Well, I have a PM66 TS as well, but I'd not (willingly) give up the RAS,
I've been building since in the mid-60s; a significant period of custom
work both furniture and architectural...nobody yet complained about a
lack of results... :)
While I don't have your amount of experience, my own is pretty much the
While an RAS, perfectly aligned, is a wonderful tool, bump it in the
wrong place and you have to go through the whole process again. I just
don't get the same repeatability out of the RAS that I do out of a
crosscut sled on the table saw.
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