I’ve seen lots of comments about only being good for rough work, but other people sing the praises about it being a great tool you can put against a wall and take up less space than the table saw (which I also already have). Having no power tools outside of a drill and circular saw I figured I use the Craftsman RAS sitting in the garage where I work. DamienF writes: The Festool plunge saw on a MFT table with guiding rail (or any equivalent setup) is functionally close to the RAS, and looks safer. When using the saw for the first time during cross cutting, you might end up cutting grooves onto the table top.
I’ve been using my table saw and radial arm saw for nearly 20 years, and they scare the hell out of me. Even my drill press has the potential to hurt me badly. Bored_Cutter writes: I owned a Craftsman RAS in the 80’s, (back when that brand was worth owning) and it worked just beautifully! The tremendous power of this saw can tend to jerk the blade forward when it encounters variations in the wood.
The book can be found used on Amazon or as a PDF for $14.95 on Jon’s website Jon says that the procedures outlined in his book will set up your radial arm saw to cut to one 128th of an inch. The nature of its design – the sawblade itself moves – makes it trickier than, say, a table or band saw. Five years later, a friend introduced me to the table saw and I saw the light (really…no pun intended). That allows them to be snugged up against the ways in the arm to remove any play.
I could then use the radial saw as a horizontal boring machine, and-also using routing bits in an auxiliary chuch/collet on the output shaft (not the blade-side shaft) to make mortices and tenons faster than you can run to the refrigerator in the middle of the game!!! One point regarding use: the American method is to put the work against the fence and pull the saw through the work, the European method is to draw the saw out, place the work against the fence, and push the saw through the work.
I saw one student feed wood into the side of the blade to put a curve on the ends of a coffee table. For crosscutting I am using a DeWalt ‘Thin Kerf’ Ultimate Crosscut blade, 80T, DWG3218TK. I just finished building a heavy-duty fixed base for the saw (just last night in fact). As for the blade grabing and pulling the saw toward you there are only 2 issues I’ve experienced over many years.
They’re deadly-accurate and just as safe to use as my table saw with no guard, riving knife or ‘saw stop’. Cheyienne writes: Radial Arm Saws are one of the most dangerous tools developed, put in the hands of your average home owner or handyman. I’ve had to replace the carriage bearings and some other wear items which brought it back to life after extensive use.
A router bit or drill press planer can also be inserted in the chuck for a number of other chores. I love machines and I hate to see one fall by the wayside, but I really think the radial arm saw’s time has come and gone. Make sure that the wood you are cutting is well supported by the table to prevent it from flipping up as you finish the cut. At worst they are man-eaters capable of lopping off an arm in an instant if the user’s attention wanders.
You also need to learn to have your forearm straight, level, and parallel to the saw arm with you elbow in front of your body so if the saw starts self feeding that it would have to try to knock you down rather than just move your arm. Here’s one about restoring a DeWalt 925 , and one about restoring a DeWalt 236 I plan to try to follow the instructions on Kenteroo’s blogs for my 1030. Both a table saw and a radial arm saw make accurate cuts as long as they’re aligned properly. With this in mind, keep a firm grip on the handle and don’t let the saw determine the speed of the cut. I find that my miter saw does most of the work that I used to use my radial arm saw for.
Aaronpetersen writes: I vote for extinct, or at least it should be. I’ve become comfortable with all the common power tools in the shop, but I won’t go near a RA saw. Making sure that your saw is set up properly as per the manufacturer’s specs will not only teach you the features of the saw, but how to use it safely. The bible of the DeWalt Radial arm saw cult is Wally Kunkel’s How to Master the Radial Arm Saw!
Oh yeah… I was assuming the saw would be off while setting up for the cut in Michael’s European technique too. Books such as that published by the famous Mr. Saw Dust as well as the factory instruction manual are invaluable resources for radial arm saw users. You guys are scaring me, I might haul it away to the scrappy as I already have a table and miter saw… and 10 fingers. Regardless of whether set at 90 or some other degree marking, the primary use is for crosscutting. I use it far more than my ‘chop’ saw when building furniture-type stuff,” he said. That leaves more space for other things, like a jointer, bench, or assembly table.
Bowis writes: Considering that you can get a very high quality miter gauge for a table saw for a few hundred dollars, and the sliding compound miter saws are smaller, safer, and more accurate for half the price of a RAS, I can’t see a single reason to own one. Kingmanson writes: I have been tempted to replace my RAS with a sliding miter saw but I just can’t do it. It is so handy for cross cutting. I feel the radial arm saw is safer than the miter saw since it stabilizes shorter workpieces much better. A small metal lathe will allow you to make all sorts of custom guide bushings for routers and shapers, as well as allow you to repair tools that would otherwise be junked.
If you are a DIY weekend warrior that plans to build decks and fences and put in crown molding, you will probably not find the benefit in a radial arm saw, especially if you have a small garage that has bikes and SUVs and sports gear in it already. Make sure to double check your measurements before cutting as incorrect cuts will lead to wasted time and material.
FTS writes: I don’t consider the radial arm saw to be any more dangerous than most shop machines. Lower the saw with the motor off until the teeth on the blade just begin to bind on the saw table. At the end of his eleven-week stay, two days before he left, the traveling carpenter from Berlin fried the saw. Once you get that saw adjusted and set up it will make good trading material for a band saw, table saw, or drill press.
On the forum, Paul recommended using a biodegradable cleaner called CMT Formula 2050 Blade and Bit Cleaner It’s not available in New Zealand, but Simple Green cleaner is, and it too has a good reputation. From reading all these posts the consensus is that RAS is dangerous because of the risk of the blade climbing the workpiece in crosscuts. I never had even a near accident with the RAS but I have had some close calls with my table saw and router table.
I would consider using it as a cutoff saw, and I like Michael’s suggestion of pushing the blade rather than pulling it (although it will still come back at you if it kicks). Now after measuring the width of lumber to be cut you simply lock the saw, lower the blade into the grove (with saw turned off) till the blade touches the bottom of the groove and then raise the saw blade slightly. Return the cutting head completely to the back of the saw table after each cut.
If your wish is to build cabinetry with doors and drawers or furniture with mortise and tenon construction, then I highly recommend purchasing and learning to use a radial arm saw. That is why I have more then one router and router table, and more then one table saw. I never understood why anyone ever recommended ripping with a radial arm saw.I have used them for dados some in the past, and was comfortable doing that. This particular radial saw has a tension pull which prevents it from moving towards and individual when cutting wood ect. Finally, given the occasional cleaning and fine-tuning (I use Jon Eakes, Fine Tuning Your Radial Arm Saw) I find that it keeps its accuracy very well.
I’ve heard that the old Montgomery Wards RAS had a tendency to climb over the board, but with the Craftsman & the Delta, the motor will stall because the strength of the columns holds them in place with no problem at all. If some person knows how to set up one of these other saws to perform like a radial arm saw, kindly let the rest of us know how to do that as well! Now you can use the featherboards , hold downs , and any other useful T-Track accessories with your RAS.
Jimeditor writes: I’ve lost track of how many Radial Arm saws I’ve owned over the years. The book does not insist on rebuilding a table (like Mr. Sawdust) or on ultra-fine alignment, so I am deciding that it is a good primer, and to use Mr. Sawdust and John Eakes for more accurate, expert advice. The radial arm saw can be a lot more flexible if you add sanding accessories or chucks for shaping. When you have your table saw set up for some specific cut, it’s great to have another tool so that you don’t need to break your table saw set up. The Radial Arm Saw is a most versatile tool and a great component in any wood shop.
Place one arm of the square against the fence and the other gently against the blade. Much of the radial arm saw’s bad reputation results from trying to run an aggressive saw blade. But with the RAS back, I feel whole again, and the best part is that this holds it’s settings, and even returns to them when I move…and I can get fairly good DC on it as well, something I could never do with the miter saw I have. It is also very useful when cutting dados expecially when the depth of the dado cut is important as it doesn’t allow the wood to rise up from the table which of course would cause excess wood to be removed in the process.