Rockwell RAS #1: Giving new life to an old tool

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Blog entry by Nicky posted 08-05-2012 09:22 PM 5387 reads 1 time favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
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I saw an add for a RAS on CL. Rockwell/Delta Deluxe 105 model # 33-310 sn C7551. Owner said it belong to his grandfather who passed a few years back, but had not used the saw for over 20 years. I’ve tried dating the saw with no luck. Owner’s asking price was $375. I posted in the forum seeking advice and got a better idea as to the worth of the saw. Did a bit of searching and had enough information on price. I went over to take a look at the saw, the owner spoke of his fear of the saw and that was enough for me to walk away. I had 2 close calls with my Craftsmen POS. About two weeks later he called and asked if I had any interest and said he’d let it go for $250, I said $150 he said come pick it up…ok ok…I waffled. I miss having a RAS, for certain operations. I used my Craftsman RAS for rough cutting stock because that’s all it was good for. The POS would come out of adjustment so often, it was not worth the effort.

Before we loaded the saw, I did a cursory check of the machine. I was able to download the user manual and read through the adjustment procedure before I picked up the RAS. I brought a square and dial indicator with me. The saw was clearly out of alignment but all the locks, knobs, and overall mechanical operation was solid. The owner fired up the RAS and it sounded smooth and quiet. Motor bearing seemed to be in good shape, arbor run out less then .001.The RAS was much heavier then I anticipated. Its cast iron. Loaded it up and here it is in my shop.

First order of business, make a new table. Had some 5/4 oak (10+ years old). Jointed 1 face flat, planed it down to ~1 3/16”. I wanted a table that would flex less then a simple 3/4” ply table. Used biscuits to edge join, and with a little scraping and sanding had a nice flat surface. While the glue was drying I did a bit of cleaning and lubricating.

I did not take pictures of every step but here is the order of the adjustments I used. I did deviate from the owners manual. The last steps in the manual listed the procedure for adjusting the column arm. I thought this was integral to every other adjustment on the RAS. The column arm was also binding a bit throughout its travel. I took it apart and cleaned the gunk off, gave it a lite coat of 3 in 1 oil, reassembled, performed the adjustments per user manual and the arm travels freely and accurately.

Now it was time to get the table support rail aligned with the saw’s arbor. With the motor turned 90deg (arbor pointing down) I used a feeler gauge to adjust the rails at 4 points on the rails (front and back of each rail.) This was easy and took just a few minutes to complete.

I then double checked my new table to insure it was square and installed it. I made a new fence as well using the 5/4 oak. I double checked the table height adjustment at multiple points on the table; so far, so good.

Time to adjust the blade square to the table. This was way out. The adjustment requires loosening 4 bolts that are attached to the motor mount. I had enough play to get the blade square to the table, but every time I tighten the bolts, it would move the adjustment slightly out of square. After multiple passed of this adjustments, I found that If just over-compensated a bit, I could get it square.

Now I need to square the travel of the arm to the fence. It was square. That can’t be right. So just for my own edification I performed the adjustment. This also included setting the stops for 90deg and left and right 45deg. Rechecked and right on. I did push the arm out of square to to insure it was adjustable both left and right.Getting close now.

Time to check for heel. This was out slightly. The adjustment was easy. The RAS uses a simple cam-adjustment to turn the yoke. I checked this at along the length of the arm’s travel. This looks really good. Turn the saw head 90 deg and checked if the blade was parallel to the table and its looks good.
I rechecked all of the adjustments. Blade is square to table, arm square to fence, blade square to fence. I Used the 5 cut method first to check if the arm is really square to the fence. Using calipers the 5th cut difference was .0017 from top to bottom using an 8” square of 3/4” mdf. I did it again, and the results were the same. Next, I jointed 2 sides of a 4×4 and planed the other two sides. I made a few test cuts and its square top/bottom and front/back and a very clean cut.

I don’t ever plan on using the saw for ripping, or to cut anything thicker then 4/4 stock. The motor is ~1hp. If I do miter work, it will most likely be a jig so that I don’t need to move the arm. I want to get a nice dado head because I wanted the saw for joinery work. Mostly tenons, and lap joints. I would like to create a saw station that includes the RAS and my SCMS. I’ve already looked at some of the projects here and look forward to include some of the ideas in my station. I will pay special attention to dust collection. I have a few ideas, and will start sketching a design.

I understand the safety issues with a RAS. I’ve caused a few incidents through my lack of attention. You bet I’ll be scrutinizing every operation as I get familiar with my new/old saw.

-- Nicky

1 comment so far

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 2489 days

#1 posted 08-06-2012 12:55 AM

Just got me a RAS, nice score on CL. I have a SCMS, but the total depth is 48”, and that is toooooo much for my little 1 car garage shop. The RAS is only 32” deep, much better fit. Now I can use the RAS driven drum sander I got a few months back! Now on to re-arranging the shop to make room for new bench/RAS table along the back wall. Spend several hours in the heat today cleaning up the area, more work to be done, then I can move on to building the RAS table.

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

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