1969 Craftsman Radial Arm Saw Project #1: The Acquisition

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by AngieO posted 07-09-2013 03:28 PM 8552 reads 0 times favorited 30 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of 1969 Craftsman Radial Arm Saw Project series Part 2: Decisions, decision.... what do I do? »

So as many of you know, I have this new found (well… it’s going on over a year now so its not so new) love and passion for woodworking and I am a self proclaimed wood addict. My kids would say wood hoarder…. but addict sounds better to me. LOL.

I may not have every mentioned what I do for a living. I’m an office manager for a small business. I’ve had different jobs throughout my life (even been a correctional officer at a prison). But most of my life I’ve done some type of office work. Recently, my dear sweet mom, was talking about me to some of her friends. Not sure how computer skills came up but she mentioned to a guy that I could maybe help him with some labels. He’s a bee keeper and it’s about time to harvest the honey and he wanted some new labels for his jars. She introduced us along the way and I was happy to help. So we got together and talked about what he wanted. Along the way I mentioned woodworking and such. I ended up designing his label for him and getting them printed for him. He was very grateful and loved the finished product.

As I said… I had mentioned that I was a woodworker. Early on when I met him he mentioned that he had a radial arm saw he was trying to get rid of. Asked if I had any use for it. I’ve never really messed with one and I don’t really know what it can do that my table saw or miter saw or circular saw can’t do… so I wasn’t really interested. Plus… I’d rather put my money into a drill press. Anyhow… when it came time to pay me I told him that it was really no work and no trouble and that I’d be fine with a trade. Of course… I was talking about honey. He insisted that I take the radial arm saw and some honey. And also asked if I would be interested in helping him build some new hives (not sure if that’s what they are called)

So….. you guessed it. I am now an owner of a radial arm saw. Here he is.

I don’t know anything about this thing. I’ve never used one. I’ve never understood why you’d want one if you had the other tools I mentioned above. But now I have it and I thought I’d do a series about it. I know that it has been sitting in a barn for a while. I know it needs a new table and fence. The guy I got it from used it a couple of times so it does work. He was in the navy and while out to sea apparently did lots of woodworking on the ship in the shop. So he knows a bit about woodworking. He said it needed some cleaning up and adjusting. My plan is to take you guys along for the ride.

Cool thing…. he had the manuals.

I thought that was great. It appears to be a 1969 Sears Craftsman 10-Inch Accra-Arm Radial Saw. So if you have any insight on one of these bad boys… I’m open to listen.

Here’s a few more pics of it. Gonna start by getting it all cleaned up.

So… this guy is huge. Takes up lots of room. And needs some work on it. I think it could be a good learning experience. I’m out no money for it right now. But I do have a small space. Do I really have room for it? Is it worth having? I’d love to hear any suggestions from you guys about how to clean & adjust it. And also I’d like to hear any reasons FOR or AGAINST keeping it. It’s very possible that I could clean it up, adjust it, put a new table and fence on it…. and sell it. Or trade it for something. I don’t know yet. We’ll have to see where it goes from here. For now… I’ll stick with cleaning it up and getting it adjusted right so I can see what this bad boy does.

Thanks in advance for taking your time to read this and for your comments.

30 comments so far

View rustfever's profile


752 posts in 3336 days

#1 posted 07-09-2013 03:37 PM

RAS can be a very dangerous tool if used without knowledge and care. I spent 15 years with only a RAS and a 4” joiner. I never hurt myself, so it can be done. Please take a night school class or get a little tutoring in woodworking and wood working tool safety.

-- Rustfever, Central California

View Alongiron's profile


647 posts in 2719 days

#2 posted 07-09-2013 03:55 PM

Hi Angie

I have a RAS and have used one for years for only one purpose. That is to cross cut long pieces of wood into shorter ones. I made a larger table with storage under mine. Like Rust said it can be a danerous tool. The blade spins away from you so it wants to grab the wood and push the arm towards you. So you have to go nice and slow…..!!

The other thing that you need on that is a blade guard. With that big blade spinning, you need to be really really careful. Please do not operate it without a blade guard!!

Lastly on your saw, you will need to incorporate a fence in the table to hold the board as you make your cut.!

It will be a great addition to your shop once you get it all setup. I love mine and would not give it up for anything! BUT BE CAREFUL!!!! OK???

-- Measure twice and cut once.....sneak up on it! Steve Lien

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2173 days

#3 posted 07-09-2013 04:06 PM

There are no classes anywhere close to me on something like this. I have already started looking at some YouTube videos instead.

Interesting that you mention the blade guard. I’ve done a little bit of research and found that there was a recall on it because of the lack of a guard. On some models they will send you a kit. Of course… mine cannot be retrofitted. So the other option is to return the carriage and motor assembly and they will give you $100. Haven’t really done much more checking to see if this is legit.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29395 posts in 2364 days

#4 posted 07-09-2013 04:10 PM

Total envy. Wish I had one.

Give it some TLC and use cation as with any other tool. You will be fine.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View steliart's profile


2700 posts in 2714 days

#5 posted 07-09-2013 04:18 PM

If I had one I would put a dado blade on it and use it on cutting dado joints for tables or workbenches frames. It’s the perfect tool for this job.

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of all inventions

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4036 posts in 2260 days

#6 posted 07-09-2013 04:29 PM

Angie, a Craftsman RAS was the cat’s meow when I started my shop in 1967. My prize didn’t have a blade guard either, and I still have all my body parts, but a RAS can remove them quicker than almost any other machine, and is more likely to do so. So, plus several +++++ on the safety comments above. There are two operations that can get you into trouble really fast…ripping a crosscutting! (What else can it do?). When cross cutting, the blade can bind suddenly and toss the motor at you causing all kinds of havoc and ruining any setup you might have done. The cure for this is to be sure the board is supported solidly against the fence and the table AT THE KERF LINE! This means that you must be extra careful cutting bowed and warped lumber (as in used stuff). A piece of embedded metal can do the same thing.
Ripping is where you turn the motor 90 degrees and push the board through parallel to the fence. With the profound wisdom of hindsight I would discourage anyone from doing this. I would just a soon push board though my 24” 36 hp cordwood saw without a table or fence. It is absurdly dangerous because there is nothing to hold the board down unless you rig a really awkward jig of some sort. The blade rips upward through the board. Goiing the other way is a guaranteed disaster.
If you were my daughter, I would recommend trading this tool for a good, late model miter (chop) saw that cannot rip and has all the guards. At the earliest convenience. They are usually supplied with a carbide blade that doesn’t balk or hang up on embedded metal. Granted this RAS has larger crosscut capacity than most chop saws, but not more than the expensive Dewalt compound sliding unit. I would rather you go out on a limb to get a good chop saw than become a statistic trying to “save money”. It’s just too much risk, my friend.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View dschlic1's profile


433 posts in 1995 days

#7 posted 07-09-2013 04:58 PM

I built a 23’ wooden trimarran sailboat using one of these saws. As others have commented, with a table saw and a miter saw, you really do not need a RAS.

View DocSavage45's profile


8599 posts in 2868 days

#8 posted 07-09-2013 05:09 PM

A lot to think about here.

For the question on learning, I believe Mark Daginski (sp?) did a shop tools video for Tauton Press that has some great advice on aligning and maintaining this type of saw.

As with any power tool my dad said to me when I wanted to use his” Lean how to use the hand tools I gave you, power tools make bigger mistakes.” Take it slow, take small cuts, they are easier to control, and always watch where your hands are. Oh yeah, don’t use power tools when you are tired? Charles Neil tells us how he lost a finger that way.

Good Luck!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

320 posts in 2276 days

#9 posted 07-09-2013 05:17 PM

”So the other option is to return the carriage and motor assembly and they will give you $100. Haven’t really done much more checking to see if this is legit.”

The recall is legit (see here). Search around here on LJ’s and you will find many others who have gotten the retrofit kit from Craftsman or have gotten the $100. It’s too bad yours isn’t covered by the retrofit kit, but if you decide to get rid of the saw getting $100 for it is always a good option.

-- Rex

View patron's profile


13607 posts in 3367 days

#10 posted 07-09-2013 05:19 PM

this was a gift to me too
and here is what i did with it

here is how i cut dado’s for shelves on longer boards
with the RAS

one important thing to know
RAS’s and chop saws cut down into the work
and like to pull themselves forwards when not controled
(i strong arm mine and will be pushed back too
if they try to do this)

get a reverse angle blade for them
as they don’t ‘grab’ as much
as ‘positive hooked’ ones do

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 3763 days

#11 posted 07-09-2013 05:39 PM

There was a major recall on most Craftsman radial arm saws of that era. I believe one can still get about $100 for them through the recall. Just go to the craftsman radial arm recall page and type in the model and serial # to see if yours is on the list. I did this with 2 of them some years back.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 2890 days

#12 posted 07-09-2013 05:39 PM

Not sure if you feel obligated to keep it. But I would suggest selling it or trading it.

This is a tough call . There are lots of woodworkers who have used these for years
and they are a versatile tool.

Without sounding like an alarmist, as others have said,best to read up on it and go slow if you plan to keep it.

If you don’t mind the room it takes up, and the work involved to get it into decent working order.
It would be convenient to have it set-up to do dados. Otherwise, I would sell it. It was recalled for
a safety reason. That would be my final suggestion.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29395 posts in 2364 days

#13 posted 07-09-2013 06:00 PM

I assume this was call for a happy dance again?

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2173 days

#14 posted 07-09-2013 06:34 PM

LOL Monte… yes it was. I was grinning from ear to ear and controlled myself and did my happy dance after he left. LOL

I have a miter saw. Love it and use it quite a bit. I didn’t realize how much I used it till it shorted out on me last week. Guess the brushes needed cleaned out. But… having said that I love it… it is limited. I have quite a bit of 1×8, 1×10s and 1×12’s now and I can’t use my miter saw on it. Of course… I do have a brand new circular saw that is awesome. And I bought a little Kreg jig for it and I’m pretty excited about how easy it is to use. So this tool is not something that would need because it does something my other tools won’t (like I NEED a drill press).

However… I like the idea of setting it up for dado’s That’s an option. I have NO intention whatsoever of using it to rip anything. I have a nice tablesaw and can do any ripping I need on it.

The $100 from the recall seems to be looking pretty good right now. But… I’m still considering keeping it. It does take up a lot of room. I watched a few YT videos on RAS’s and saw a couple of neat setups where they kind of built it into a workbench. That could be helpful. I am planning on ripping out the workbench that is built in out in my shop. It’s a janky old bench that has worked for its purpose but it’s too tall, doesn’t have a flat surface (it’s surface is glued on vinyl tiles) and it creates a lot of wasted space.

Lots to think about.

If I was to clean it up…. what kind of products would you recommend for that?

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20599 posts in 3131 days

#15 posted 07-09-2013 07:31 PM

Hi Angie. I have almost that same Craftsman saw and I used the heck out of it. It is very versatile but with my miter saw and table saw, I strictly use it for dadoing and that is how it set up all the time. I use a Craftsman wobble dado on it that is easily adjusted to a given width without taking off chippers and shims and all that stuff with a standard dado set. A lot of woodworkers look down on the wobble dado, but I use it and I love it!!
That one needs a lot of cleaning an lubricating, but if the motor runs, I’d spend the time getting all the rust off the column and blade and give it a go. Crank it all the way up and start sanding the column with 400 grit sandpaper and a lubricant like oil to clean it up. Then lube it well with a dry Teflon lube and oil the crank mechanism below the table so it is working freely. By the looks of the lock handle for the slide, I’ll bet the ways for slide need rust cleaning too.

After is it all cleaned up, make some test cuts to see how square it is with the fence. I always check mine and have to tap the arm to get to cut perfectly square. It seem that the detentes are not perfectly solid for repeatability especially after it has set and maybe got bumped . Also check to see that it cuts parallel to the table front to back. You may need to make a new table and it can be shimmed to get it right on parallel.

Good luck, Angie…................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

showing 1 through 15 of 30 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics