LumberJocks

Workshop Development #9: Pondering replacing the 10" CMS with a slider, or a RAS. HELP ME DECIDE PLEASE!!!

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by dbhost posted 12-08-2010 at 08:42 PM 1017 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: The plan moving forward. Part 9 of Workshop Development series Part 10: The new saw decision has been made. The winner is... »

The small capacity of my 10” non sliding compound miter saw has been on my nerves for quite a while now. Especially when doing outdoor projects where I tend to cut a lot of 4×4 lumber, and any idea of crosscutting stock wider than about 4” or maybe 5” if I am lucky, is just shot out the door. Most of the time it’s fine, but there are more than a few occasions where the lack of capacity had me trying to figure out a way to accurately guide a circular saw, in 2 different cuts to get through my cut. I am NOT happy with the results to say the least…

So I have been sitting on a Harbor Freight coupon, $109.00 for the 12” sliding compound miter saw. Not a great saw, but not as awful as the HF haters would have you believe. Reviews are for the most part positive. And I have realistic expectations of the tool.

But I keep coming across Radial Arm Saws on Craigslist that are taunting me to buy them. I have used a sliding CMS before, but never even laid hands on a RAS, and I understand they can be dangerous beasts to the uninitiated. So the questions are…

With my budget, $150.00 max, would I be better off buying a used RAS, and if so, how would I go about learning how to safely use it? Or would I be better off with the HF slider and buying the extended warranty?

My concern with older equipment is poor maintenance by prior owners, and around here, RAS’s seem to get the snot beaten out of them. Nice units are few and far between… Most of what I see on the market appears to be 1970s and 1980s vintage Craftsman models. There have been a few really nice 1960s Craftsman and DeWalt units in the price range in the past. If they are that much better made, easy to fix up I am more than willing to wait a while and keep plugging away with my small CMS…

What say you LJs. Is old equipment really worth fixing up, and is a CMS as dangerous as people say they are?

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com



22 comments so far

View Delta356's profile

Delta356

463 posts in 1491 days


#1 posted 12-08-2010 at 08:53 PM

I would replace it with an old RAS. I really don’t like that the Sliding Compound Miter saws don’t have a big enough cut area to cut wood. The table is to small. If you get a RAS you can have a huge cutting table and the arm pulls further then the new Sliding Miter saws.
My 2 cents…

Thanks, Michael Frey
Portland, OR

FREY WOODWORKING INC.

View Hoakie's profile

Hoakie

306 posts in 2673 days


#2 posted 12-08-2010 at 08:55 PM

I inherited a very nice 60’s model DeWalt from my Grandpa several years ago (see workshop pics). I typically just leave it set up for cross cuts which do not feel unsafe doing. The biggest issue is the blade will want to jump forward, but if you are smart about it, none of your body parts should be in the path anyway. As long as you are anticipating this possibility and control “feed rate” you shouldn’t have a problem. I would not feel comfortable doing a lot of ripping, shaping, etc.., but I have done some.

That said, if the saw didn’t have sentimental value to me, I might look for a SCMS just for the space consideration (which i know you have). But it wouldn’t matter too much if you were planning on building a dedicated station for it

-- John H. [To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~Edison]

View ChrisK's profile

ChrisK

1113 posts in 1719 days


#3 posted 12-08-2010 at 08:55 PM

I understand the frustration, I lived with a 8-1/4 Miter Saw for years. I however also have a 10” Craftsman radial arms saw. The RAS is about 16 years old. My RAS is hard to use for making miter cuts and such. I purchased a Craftsman 12” sliding from a Sears outlet over a year ago and my RAS has not been used since.

My RAS is good for production style cuts for construction type work ,deck rails, 2×4’s,etc. I can cut up to 16’ to the left of the blade. My 10” RAS will not cut a 4×4 in one pass. I use the 12” SCMS for every thing from 4×4 to fine trim and cabinet work. It is easy to set for accurate cuts on numerous parts and it bevels and angles very easily.

I have both saws set to cut long lengths left and right of the blade, mostly because my shop size lets me and I do a variety of wood working.

As far as safety goes both will remove a finger(s) that are in front of the blade. I do feel that the table saw is easier to use without placing fingers in the wrong area, but it is the only saw I needed to get stitches to stop the bleeding. I use stop blocks and clamps with my CSMS on a regular basis, both for safety and repeatability.

Hope this helps, Chris

-- Chris K

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5378 posts in 1869 days


#4 posted 12-08-2010 at 09:23 PM

To be honest, I am leaning a bit toward the SCMS. Space is a concern, and RAS’s are big. But I CAN figure out a way to integrate an RAS in to my wall workbench which over the years really has ended up as more of a junk catcher than anything else. I use the outfeed table / workbench for actual work most of the time…

Unable to cut 4×4 in one pass is a deal breaker for me. And I have been wondering if a RAS would do that… I crosscut a LOT of 4×4 lumber for my yard projects, and I see a LOT of that in the future. The max width of any stock I have come up with has been some rift sawn white oak I resawed on my band saw a while back at 10.5”, which the SCMS would handle…

No matter which way I go, that front bench is getting used for my crosscutting station, either SCMS or RAS. And yes, clamps and stop blocks, like mentioned above, for safety, and repeatability. I am fond of my fingers…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2098 posts in 2365 days


#5 posted 12-08-2010 at 09:25 PM

db,
I am in the process of fixing up a 1957 dewalt RAS. I have one blog post up so far with before pics, but I don’t have much on my current status yet. Obviously, you can see what I’m going to suggest. haha.

Some thoughts that you should probably keep in mind.
1) an old dewalt will last through A LOT of use and even abuse.
2) it can do more than a SCMS
3) it doesn’t have to be any more dangerous than other saws

If you decide to buy an old saw, the main things to look for are that the arm is made of cast iron, the ways are true, the parts all move, and the motor starts/runs smoothly.

The best book (if you buy a dewalt) is available at mrsawdust.com. I doubt you will find it elsewhere for less. It isn’t a book that people part with once they own it. It is self published and the funds supposedly go to the author’s widow.

If you get any old saw, you will almost certainly need to do some work to get it ready to use. This involves building a table, replacing the blade (more in a moment), and going through a complete alignment/tune-up. I’m working on this stuff and if I feel I can do it, I’m pretty sure anyone can.

As for the blade, the reason you will probably want to replace it is you will want a blade with a negative hook angle. I don’t think they had these when RAS’s came out. They help to prevent the “climb” that was talked about in an earlier post that probably scared a lot of people away from these 40+ years ago.

Finally, you should visit the dewalt radial arm saw pages on the delphi forums. just google it for a link. They are a great group that openly shares a ton of knowledge about their dewalt RAS’s. They’ve helped em a bunch already.

I hope all these thoughts are helpful to you, but remember, they are just my opinions. I think most people afraid of the RAS are ignorant on the subject. You do need to know a lot about these saaws to sue them properly and in the safest manner, but it doesn’t sound like rocket science to me. You just need to read up.

View Dan's profile

Dan

3543 posts in 1517 days


#6 posted 12-08-2010 at 09:25 PM

My dads RAS is the first power tool I ever used back when I was like 10 years old. I am now 25 and still use that same saw which is now in my shop. A lot of people fear the RAS but IMO its no more threat then using the table saw. I am much more worried about table saw kickback then I am a RAS hurting me. I mostly use mine for cross cutting. The ability to cross cut wider boards is a huge advantage. I have had the saw grab the wood and jerk towards me many times but if your holding the arm nice and tight its not all that scary, especially once you have had it happen a few times. I think thats what scares people but having the saw grab the wood and jerk a little is not going to hurt you. As long as your fingers are out of the way and you keep a hold of the arm.

My RAS also has a router built into it and I have found many great uses for the RAS when used as an over top router. Having a radial arm router is great for small detail cuts, dados and even planing small stock.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2098 posts in 2365 days


#7 posted 12-08-2010 at 09:26 PM

oh, one big selling point for me is that the RAS can go flush against a wall. The SCMS can’t (unless you are looking at the new bosch with the hinged arms).

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2098 posts in 2365 days


#8 posted 12-08-2010 at 09:28 PM

Dan, what kind of blade are you using on your RAS, do you know?

View Dan's profile

Dan

3543 posts in 1517 days


#9 posted 12-08-2010 at 09:50 PM

Hokie- I actually have the Forrest 8 1/4 Woodworker blade that I believe was designed for the RAS. My dad got the blade a long time ago and it was never serviced. I did get the blade sharpened and once I did that it didn’t grab the wood as often. However it does still do it from time to time. Usually when I am cutting oak or other really hard woods. I think it has to do with the saws power. Its a smaller Ryobi saw and can only take the 8 1/4 blade… When cutting oak or hard maple I just pull the arm slow. I noticed sometimes when I pull it towards me to fast is when it jumps at me. I just have to remember to take it easy as she only has so much power.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2098 posts in 2365 days


#10 posted 12-08-2010 at 09:53 PM

Charlie,
I keep hearing that people can do dado’s on the newer SCMS’s, but I’ve never actually seen it done. If you’ve done it, can you explain it to me?

Is it just accomplished by using a regular blade and making lots of passes, or can you actually put a dado head on there? If it is a regular blade, do the bottoms come out flat like a stacked dado set would produce, or do you need to sand them flat? If it is a dado head, are there any issues with motor being underpowered or are these saws usually up to the task?

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2098 posts in 2365 days


#11 posted 12-08-2010 at 10:10 PM

thanks for the clarification, and good to see you back here.

View knife's profile

knife

47 posts in 2146 days


#12 posted 12-08-2010 at 11:00 PM

I stared working with a RAS when I was in high school. Not all that difficult once you try. Just be a little careful and not in a hurry. That said IMHO if you plan on cutting angles much the RAS can be a bit cumbersome, and probably not as accurate as a miter saw. The RAS is definitely not as portable if you want to take it to the work instead of the work to it.

-- Chad -- Buffalo, NY

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5378 posts in 1869 days


#13 posted 12-09-2010 at 01:30 AM

That is an excellent point. While I don’t plan on doing it often. I do like being able to drag the CMS around to the back yard to crosscut 2×4s and such for the projects out there, especially if I am doing something that will need a lot of “sneak up” cuts…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3645 posts in 1802 days


#14 posted 12-09-2010 at 02:42 AM

I have used a 10 inch RAS for 40 years, the same one, and I have never been injured. But I wouldn’t rip with it again. I keep it set up as a very quick and accurate crosscut specialist with its one year old new MDF table. It is hard to beat for routine crosscut, and the very occasional offbeat use, such as a horizontal drill press, etc. It will do dadoes just fine. Some people do all their dados on it and that’s all they do with it.

I don’t think your needs will be met by a RAS. I mostly keep mine due to habit and nostalgia. If it failed, I would buy a top notch miter saw of some sort. It is not very portable, unless you make it so. It was used in that fashion when I was in Fairbanks in the construction of an addition. Now with a very big table, it is less portable. You might send a PM to patron, he has a RAS, purchased used about a year ago. But he may have very specific uses for it. It sounds to me that you would need a 12 inch RAS, and they are rarer and cost more.

I love my fence setup with the RAS, and I can do crosscuts without measuring if under 30 inches, and the stop block is extremely handy. But you need a more portable miter saw, I suspect.

Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3645 posts in 1802 days


#15 posted 12-09-2010 at 02:49 AM

PS
Not much to learn to use a RAS for crosscut, it is pretty intuitive. The TS is more dangerous in my opinion. But again, if I were you, I wouldn’t go the RAS route, get the miter saw.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

showing 1 through 15 of 22 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

HomeRefurbers.com

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

GardenTenders.com :: gardening showcase