I'm certain I know the answer to this question, but let's see what it
I have an opportunity to acquire an old Craftsman radial arm saw. Don't
know any specifics, other than the price (nada), and that the saw works.
You don't hear much about guys using RA saws anymore. Is there a reason?
Have they been replaced by sliding miter saws? Your 0.02?
I'm thinking "free tool...good deal".
People still use RAS, but SMCS are gaining popularity. I'd like to have
both, but since space is at a premium, I have a SCMS. I'd take that
Craftsman RAS if I were you, a lot of the older Craftsman tools are
quite high quality. If you've got the room, and it seems as if the
price is right ;-) it's a good deal. Enjoy your new (to you) tool, but
learn how to use it safely. Mark L.
A good RAS is a good deal. A RAS is capable of many more operations than
a CMS. For starters, the blade (assuming the saw is adjusted properly)
moves at a fixed height above the table and can be used with many
accesories such as a stacked dado. A CMS isn't capable of this. A RAS
can make every cut a CMS can and more - in fact, a RAS can make every cut
a table saw can, only in a different manner.
I used a RAS as my only saw for over 25 years, and it did everything the
combination of tablesaw and CMS could do and more. For many operations,
it is somewhat like a shopsmith - it takes a lot of setup between
operations, but for a home shop user who's not working on the clock, it's
a great tool.
However, you must set it up properly and keep it tuned or
you will hate it and end up using it infrequently if ever. There are
several comprehensive books on RAS tuning/setup/techniques including
Rumpty's favorite by Mr. Sawdust and one available over the internet by
"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples
then you and I will still each have one apple.
I beg to differ with you here. A RAS can only make about 95% of the cuts
that a TS can make. While a TS can make only about 90% of the cuts that a
RAS can make. Try making an angled slot in the round side of a half round
with a TS and then with a RAS, The RAS makes it easy the TS is impossible.
Try compound miter cuts on a TS and then with a RAS and see which one you
is your choice. Now try cutting a slot in the flat side of a half round
with both saws and you will love the TS and curse the RAS. No jigs allowed
on any cuts by the way. If I could have only one saw it would be the RAS
but the TS is much easier in a lot of ways, both have their strengths, and
both deserve room in a wood shop.
a RAS can make every cut
Once you've got it in your possession, go to
<http://www.radialarmsawrecall.com/index2.htm and see if it's one of the
models for which there's a new guard kit available--if so, grab that
too--it's free and gets you a new table in addition to the new guard.
and spend the 15 bucks for "Fine Tuning Your Radial Arm Saw"--it's worth
Very versatile tool.
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
<<I'm thinking "free tool...good deal".>>
Sounds like a good deal to me. And this could make it even better. If the
model number begins with "113" it was made by Emerson and may qualify for
the blade guard recall. If so, Emerson will send you a new, safer guard as
well as a new tabletop to accomodate the changed specs. If it can't be
retrofitted, it may be one of the models that they'll pay you $100 to take
it out of service.
Check here for details: http://www.radialarmsawrecall.com /
To e-mail, replace "bucketofspam" with "dleegordon"
Most of the RAS in use are 10" blades while most SCMS have 12" blades.
It is true that the RAS can make cuts a SCMS cannot (dadoes come to my
mind, but ripping as well). The other posts have pretty much covered
the major points but the blade size is a major factor when selecting the
tool to use. If you are not or do not plan to work with crown moldngs
or need to make through cuts in 4x stock then a RAS is a much more
versatile tool to have. I have a 45-year old Delta-Milwaukee that I use
on a regular basis and would not replace with a SCMS. Someday, when
room and dollars permit I might add one to the shop however. One other
point - the SCMS is far more portable, but not many people who use a
RAS need to make them portable ...
About 20 years ago a neighbor bought a Sears RAS and after cutting a
few 2X4s for fireplace asked me if I'd like to buy it for $150.00USD
and he got "Yes". After a few years and degrading performance I
started the tuneup. It was burning because of a heel problem. Got to
the last step in the tuneup, heel adjustment, and found it left the
factory with one of the two mechanical pair for adjusting missing,
FROM THE FACTORY. Paper had and ad the following day and the 3 wheel
Sears bandsaw was tossed in gratis.
I sold my RAS for a song. Being left-handed, I found it awkward, and
didn't like being awkward when using such a tool. Watching a
neighbour rip some wood, hands on both sides, I gave him an old solid
steel deck table saw + carbide blade + 3/4HP motor + a lot of advice
on safety. He now seldom uses his RAS.
It's good for cutting off equal lengths and compound angles, but
that's also done on the regular table saw. With a decent home-made
guide it was awesome for cutting panel doors, blade almost horizontal,
and a lot of attention to guiding the wood.
Well the price is right...and as someone else mentioned check out the
recall website...and pick up a new table OR if the saw is like my
Older Craftsman RAS and not covered by the recall they still will
give you 100 bucks for the saw...
My saw works fine ...and actually holds its aleignment for an
acceptable amount of time... I have not moved it off a 90 degree cut
in the last 20 years as I use it mostly as a cut off saw...
Never needed a CMS and definately not a sliding CMS ...key work is
need,..(not want)... trimming a 4x4 in one cut just can not be done on
my RAS... not a big deal
If I was just setting up a shop I would buy a 12 in CMS over the RAS
but after 40+ years of woodworking the only reason I would sell my RAS
would be to gain a little more space...
It comes down to condition and price. A few years ago I was faced with a
large basement finish and the decision to buy a radial arm saw or a compound
miter saw (,,,maybe a slider). I opted for the non-slide 12" compound miter
- I didn't have room in my shop for a radial arm saw, including side work
space at the time.
- The miter saw was lighter and more compact for the basement work.
- The 12" blade gave me a little more crosscut capacity.
I did, however have a fourth consideration. When I expand shop size, the
world is literally FULL of good, used Craftsman and Delta radial arm saws
that can be bought in the $125 - $200 range, often with a pile of
accessories. They appear weekly in the local newspaper and Pennypower ads.
My advice is, if the saw looks good, doesn't have play in the arm and is
priced right go for it. If not, start shopping. A friend recently bought a
vintage 970s Craftsman from an estate that included every accessory
imaginable including a half dozen blades for $150. It lookes like new! I
think more of these will hit the market as people buy sliders and get rid of
the RAS without thinking.
The first major power tool I owned was a second-hand B&D/DeWalt RAS,
vintage 1960's. For many years it was the only tool and it's
versatility was a godsend. In recent years, having added a
contractor's saw and a bandsaw, the RAS is used primarily for cut-offs
and some dado assignments. It is especially useful for repetitive
It is a real luxury to have it always set-up and available for the
work it does best; able to go from contractor's saw to RAS and back,
without having to fuss with new setups.
I much prefer having the RAS to a SCMS, but if I were starting from
scratch I'm sure that I'd opt for a SCMS for cost reasons. Since cost
is not an issue for you, I would strongly suggest that you take the
RAS. Use as many of its functions as you feel comfortable with (some
may be safe, properly done, but scary, nevertheless).
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