Tool of the past or is a radial arm saw awesome?

JpHess

Pat
User
So from the new guy perspective this thing looks really awesome. Does cross cuts and can rip as well. What could be better? But could someone with more experience in the shop shed some light on this?
 

zdorsch

Zach
Senior User
I have had one of the ubiquitous craftsman RAS for years, but only recently began using it for trim work since it was cheaper to buy a blade for the radial arm saw than to buy a new miter saw.

I did a lot of internet research on the perils and uses of radial arm saws prior to using it. I made my own from 3/4 ply for the table and 1x4 hardwood for the fence. I am using a Freud 10 degree blade (LU83R010).

I hesitate to use it for ripping, but cross cutting is excellent on it and accuracy has not been an issue.
 

Attachments

Martin Roper

Martin
User
The one thing I think it excels at is cutting dados in long boards like a shelf unit. That's awkward to impossible on a table saw and tedious with a router. If I had room for one I'd get one. You see them cheap on CL all the time.
 

red

Papa Red
Red
Senior User
If you have one or can get one do it! I have an old Delta 12" RAS and love it. I use it all the time. Mine is dialed in so I can cut things like cutting boards to perfect square cuts. It's great at cutting long stock down to size and cutting dado's is a breeze. I would not rip on it but others do.

Red

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danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
I have an old Craftsman RAS. I do not use it for a number of reasons but for someone who might want to put it in their shop its available in Durham. First come first owner.
 

Mike Davis

Mike
Corporate Member
The Craftsman saws were anything but accurate. However, there were several manufacturers who made very accurate and reliable machines. There is a bit if tweaking needed to get one set up properly as with any machine and if not done correctly will lead to nothing but frustration.

Delta, DeWalt, Rockwell and some others made great radial arm saws.

Yes, there are horror stories of people cutting off fingers, hands, and even arms. But when used with care they can be safe and big time savers.

My first stationary tool was a Craftsman RAS. Piece of crap. But i did some amazing work with it. Built our first dining table, even cut the tapered legs out of 4x4 Western spruce and cut tenons on the aprons. Did a lot of ripping, cross cutting and dado work.

Would I get another one?

If I had room and found the right one I would get it in a heart beat.
 

llucas

luke
Senior User
Ok. Glad to see this discussion.
I am giving away free a Craftsman RAS.
It works fine...just replaced it with a miter saw.
PM me and come get it.
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
Well I agree with most, they can do certain things amazingly, but too many I have seen have been injured with them. To me they can be scary, any mental lapse is tragedy.

But, they do make dado'ing nice and clean. If set up right are very accurate

....... and this is coming from a guy who climbed up in trees and cut tops off with a chain saw.
 

jlwest

Jeff
Corporate Member
I have a very good friend who cut his hand off with one. Only takes second. Ripping can be dangerous. Good for cross cut but so is a sliding miter saw.
 

Hjanes

Harlan
User
My Crafstman RAS is 1974 vintage. I made a heavy, stable and flat table for it which improved accuracy over the original flakeboard surface. Following owners' manual procedure for alignments, they can be pretty accurate for crosscutting. Safety issues can be moderated quite a bit by using a chop saw blade which is less aggressive than a combo blade. I tried ripping once, scared me, never did that again. With a good chop saw now I don't use the RAS.
 

JpHess

Pat
User
Ok. Glad to see this discussion.
I am giving away free a Craftsman RAS.
It works fine...just replaced it with a miter saw.
PM me and come get it.
Hey, working right now to get my inability to PM issue fixed. But I can receive them and message back. I just can’t start them.
 

blackhawk

Brad
Corporate Member
I have an electronic Craftsman RAS that I got for my college graduation present in 1992. I use it almost on a daily basis, 27 years and counting. I solely use it for 90 degree crosscutting, which is 90% of most people's cuts. I've never had any accuracy problems even in the days when I mitered and beveled with it. I have a Bosch miter saw that I keep folded up in the corner that I use for miter and bevel cuts when the need arises. When this one dies, I'll get another.

I absolutely would not rip with a RAS. I did it back in 1992 and 1993, when I didn't have a table saw and was also much dumber.
 

Pop Golden

Pop
Corporate Member
Mike is right about 2 things for sure. 1: RAS are a wonderful machine. 2: My 1st RAS was a 1960 era Craftsman. It was the most inaccurate saw I have ever owned. A sliding miter saw tends to be inaccurate due to ware on sliding bearings & support from sliding rails. I have both a Delta RAS & a Bosch miter saw. (no slider). I use the RAS for 90° only and the miter saw for accurate cuts. They are mounted side by side on a 8 ft. table. The blade for RAS use is a -5° hook angle blade. This keeps the blade from walking out. Lastly to rip on a RAS is to have a death wish. I did it with my 1st saw the end result being wood taken away from me spun around under the blade leaving me with some parts of my project gone.

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Pop 012.JPG:cool:
 
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Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
BITD I did a lot of paneling in the homes we built. It was priceless for ripping if you didn't have a table saw, like me at the time. I've also used on to trim floor joists and studs for framing. Once set up, it's much faster than measure and cut, just keep the saw running and pull it through. And yes, a zero or negative rake blade tooth does help avoid blade climb. It is also helpful when cutting dadoes into an irregular thickness board since you are registering the cut off the flat side.
You learn to adapt to what you have until you can do better, but I still have one set up in my shop and about 3 lying around as spares......
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
RAS users fall into two groups, lovers or haters. I've owned several Craftsman RAS's and a couple of Delta center pivot RAS's.
 

Jim Harrison

Jim
User
My first RAS (Craftsman) was purchased around 1970, used one ever since, I suppose I’m odd as I feel safer with it than the table saw for ripping, of course got to remember to rip from correct side. I have a long table with saw in center for ripping
 

LocoWoodWork

Steve
Corporate Member
RAS's can be dangerous but so can many other high rpm blade/bits/machines. I know, can't play a guitar anymore due to getting too chummy with a jointer/small piece and no push stick a few years back... I have two RAS's and use them all the time to cross cut and dados, never have ripped. One is set to 45 and the other to 90. I recently used one to dado the maloof rocker legs. I'm a southpaw and stand facing the saw, left hand on the handle, right hand on work piece and everything connected to the hands to the right of the cut line. I'm not scared of the saws but REALLY respect them as I do all other machines in the shop. Bottom line is that I love them for rips and dados.
 

Roy G

Roy
Senior User
I have a DeWalt GA which is a 14" RAS. I got it when I was doing a lot of fencing and had to cut the 4x4 posts. Not so easy to do on a table saw and my miter saw is only 8 1/2" so no solution there. With the RAS I can cut through the 4x4 in one pass and don't have to stop and reposition the work piece to finish a cut. Another use for the RAS is that it has a very large table which is handy to put things on. One day when I really do move, I will put the saw up for sale and let somebody else have the pleasure of owning it. I think it is over 60 years old and still cuts fine.

Roy G
 

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