Anyone have any experience or knowledge of Craftsman Radial Arm saw
regardless of the year, though not extremely ancient? The Craigslist ads in
my area have a good selection of those selling the Craftsman saw. Some are
listed as older but working great, one is a newer digital model, etc. but I
was wondering why so many Craftsman models are being sold or are the sellers
really just not using them anymore. Since I'm in the market for a radial arm
saw, I thought I'd consider one for sale, since I'm not ready for anything
expensive just yet.
Any input greatly appreciated
RAS are notorious for being hard to align, unless you find a 1950 era
Dewalt. However, I have a Ridgid, and use it for all operations 0
cross cut, rip, dados, miters, etc. You should get a copy of Mr.
Sawdust or one of the good RAS books that goes through the right way
to tune a RAS. Make sure the various adjustments are tight, the
bearings are tight, etc.
A radial arm saw is definitely NOT notorious for being hard to align
regardless of the manufacturer. As with any tool proper care must be
taken to insure prolonged alignment. Abuse or neglect will shorten
I would stay away from the newer Craftsman saws, those being less than
20 to 25 yrs old. The one I have is a 12" that's about 35 yrs old. I
use it less than I did before I bought my miter saw. It still works
great and I wouldn't get rid of it for anything. Well almost
There might be some good ones, but the Craftsman RA saws I am aware of have
just stamped sheet metal for the tracks the saw head moves along. Far too
flimsy to stay aligned, you can feel it wiggle side to side badly if you
just push on the handle. And even if you could keep it aligned, and rigged a
long rope so you could only pull it straight without any side force, it
would probably wear rapidly.
I'd stay away from the digital models. I always saw them as a solution
looking for a problem, and although I have zero experience with them,
I do have experience with a 1972 model, and adding digital to that
design is just a misalignment waiting to happen.
Having said all that, like most Craftsman tools, they are generally
underwhelming, although you can get some good work out of them so long
as you understand their limitations (I've had both a 1960's era Model
100 table saw and the aforementioned RAS). In the case of the RAS, as
stated elsewhere, they are some work to keep aligned. Any kickback,
bump on the table, or change in humidity will necessitate realignment
(okay, I made that up about humidity). The process isn't tedious or
difficult, but the tool is not like a good table saw which may *never*
My 1972 was just about the last of the solid cast iron column
supports. Starting very soon after, the column support was split
halves bolted together. With nothing more than a gut feeling, I always
felt that meant a cheaper, perhaps inferior design.
My 1972 also had a lockable On/Off switch right on the motor head
right by the handle. It's very convenient to operate. Others, both
earlier and later, had the switch in other places, notably at the end
of the arm.
My 1972 had the elevation crank under the table. That always seemed
right to me (just like a table saw), but many models before and after
had the crank on top of the column. Since that was probably a direct
drive (as opposed to at least one set of corner gears in mine) it
might have been a better design, less prone to backlash or other
My 1972 had the arm lock as a knob on the end of the arm--several
others had a T-handle lock on top of the arm (but still out toward the
end). I don't think there's anything inherently good or bad about
Here are a couple of Sears RAS pictures which will illustrate some of
This one is virtually identical to mine. It's probably the same model.
Note the switch, the arm lock, the elevation crank handle.
This may be a little later version, but it could be a little earlier
(can't tell without seeing the column). It is representative, however,
of the RASes Sears was selling from the late '60s through the early
'80s--and even perhaps later.
If possible, check model numbers (as with all Sears tools, make sure
the three digit number followed by a period followed by a five or six
digit number is included) to see if the one in question is covered by
the recall. http://radialarmsawrecall.com /
The recall may not be of any significance to you if you are a hobbyist
woodworker, but the Chicken Littles of the world will suggest gloom
and doom of all kinds if you operate a "recalled" tool. If the saw
under consideration is covered, you can get a new blade guard and a
If it isn't, they'll (Emerson) give you $100 if you send them the
motor. Note, that you will then have a virtually useless chunk of cast
iron, sheet metal, and particle board. Moreover, you will probably
spend a good chunk of that $100 in shipping to get the motor to them.
I still have my 1972 saw, but haven't used it in years. I'd like to
sell it, since I find my work style has moved in a different
direction. It's not that the RAS in general, and the Sears in
particular, is an awful tool. I just find the table saw to be a better
fit for me and my shop space. If I had another 200 or 300 ft^2 in my
shop, I'd consider keeping it as I've also found you can never have to
I hope this helps.
I still have the Sears RAS that I purchased in 1975 and use it all the
time. I would like to have a good table saw, but don't have the space
for it and I wouldn't want to give my RAS.
Can't make a statement about the new ones.
I bought a new one in 1979 and built "lots" of furniture with it until 1983.
I added a Craftsman TS in 1983 and the RAS only collected dust from that
IMHO they are marginally better than a skil saw. I would advise getting a
better brand RAS if you are dead set on getting one over a typical TS.
I bought a Craftsman RAS as my first big tool back around 1992. My biggest
complaint was how easy it was to stop the blade and pop a circuit breaker. Once
I bought a Ridgid table saw I seldom used the RAS any more.
If it was easy to stop the blade and pop a circuit breaker then odds
are that it was on an inadequately sized circuit. Mine used to do
that. I put in a 220 outlet and rewired it for 220 and the problem
went away. If it popped the breaker on the line instead of the
overload breaker on the saw then the circuit was almost certainly
undersized for the load that was on it.
I have one of these in my garage/woodbutcher shop. Works like a charm and does pop the occasional breaker. These things draw about 16 - 18 amps in startup and run on 12 amps. All it takes to get around this problem is a T15 fuse or #12 wire in a 20 amp circuit.
P.S.: SBS, if you are dead sure you want one of these (complete with a 6 bay base cabinet), and you live near London Ont. CA, let me know.
P D Q
"Mortimer Schnerd, RN" <mschnerdatcarolina.rr.com> wrote in message
I have a ca. 1980 Craftsman 2.5 hp, 10" RAS that was my first major
tool purchase. It saw a lot of use in the early days, but has been
since mostly replaced with a decent table saw and power miter saw.
About the only thing I use if for now is cross-cutting long, wide
boards and cross-dadoing long boards.
Itseems to be as tight as the day I bought it, and I've never had a
problem with it slowing down in any type of lumber.
Thank you all for the helpful advice. Please, keep them coming if there is
more to learn.
Some of you have indicated once you've bought a table saw you no longer use
your RAS. Though, I do have a table saw, but only a portable one, which
does well. I am looking for the RAS for easier options such as dadoing and
to eliminate changing blades whenever a differnet cut is needed. Also, I
don't have a large shop area. Specifically, it's about 22 ft x 9 ft. It's a
fraction of my garage. My garage is deep and wide enough to keep two cars
and two motorcycles in there and also have my little shop, which is
sectioned off. This is why I have a portable table saw since it's easier to
move around. But regardless, I like the idea of having other options and
quick changes for other cuts.
If anyone is willing to provide advice on saw blades, I'd like to learn a
bit about them to provide a multifunctional shop. Or, perhaps it would be
better for me to start another post.
Some newcomers to the RAS world will likely come on and tell you that
a "RAS blade" is necessary. There is no such animal. Shoot, back in
the day when I got mine ('72, as noted above), there was no such thing
as a "RAS blade." You got your RAS and your table saw blades out of
the same bin.
What happened was, in the '90s, blades with negative hook angles
became available (Forrest was one of the first with a negative hook
blade which was marketed as a "RAS blade"), just about the time that a
lot of people inexperienced with RASes started posting their ignorance
on the internet. Consequently, horror stories abound concerning
ripping on a RAS (a very benign procedure, if you follow directions),
and the "bite" of a RAS in a climb cut (which is its normal crosscut
procedure). Negative hook angle blades (and blades marketed as "RAS
blades") are often touted as "necessary" for successful and safe RAS
However, the key to successful RAS use (especially so when dadoing) is
to learn the technique of reading the feedback your arm is getting as
you pull the carriage back for a cut and compensate for the "bite" by
reducing the pulling pressure. In some cases, you may actually
introduce some pushing pressure to compensate. In any event, it's
easily learned and is a normal part of RAS use.
That is not to say that the negative hook angle doesn't have its
place. It may very well be somewhat safer than a conventional grind
with the RAS. You will, however, give up some cutting ease
(aggression) with one, a benefit which is readily enjoyed with a
conventional blade and proper technique (as above).
When sliding compound miter saws (SCMS) came on the market, people
(likely those with no RAS experience, but plenty of miter saw
experience) started pushing the saw through the work instead of
pulling, as you would do with a RAS, which the slider emulates in many
respects. Some, new to woodworking, most likely, reverse apply the
"technique" when learning how to use a RAS after having used a slider.
There is one huge difference between a slider and a RAS, and that is
that the slider head (with blade) is/can be lifted above the work
table for repositioning--the RAS cannot. Therefore, to emulate a
slider, one would have to have the RAS carriage out, the work in place
behind it, then the saw fired up and the carriage pushed through the
work. I'm still not convinced that's the proper technique for a slider
(and I don't think there has been any evidence to indicate there is a
"proper technique"), but it absolutely is NOT EVER the proper
technique with a RAS.
Check with anyone who used a RAS before, say, 1980. See if anyone ever
bought a "RAS blade." See if anyone ever had trouble with or
trepidations about ripping. See if anyone ever pushed a carriage
through the work. I'm confident such a person does not exist for any
of those categories.
By the way, the acquisition of the RAS for the use you describe, is to
my way of thinking, a perfectly acceptable, even desirable, purpose.
It's one of the reasons I dislike multi use machines (ShopSmiths or
European combos). No matter what setup you have on your principal saw,
sooner or later you need to make a cutoff or rip for an extra piece of
stock or a jig. With a RAS around (and to a lesser extent, bandsaw,
miter saw, slider, etc.), there is no need to disturb a fussy set up.
Just go to the other machine and zip, zip--Bob's your uncle.
if saving space is an issue for you don't get a radial arm saw.
instead get a quality handheld circular saw and router and make
yourself a folding cutting table and some cutting jigs. that will be a
much more versatile setup and will take up a lot less space.
saw blades: they are specific to material. go to a professional tool
store or a sharpening shop and talk to the nice salespeople there.
tell them what material you're working with and what quality of cut
you need and they'll have something for you.
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