All Replies on Radial Arm Saws, dying breed?

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View Martyroc's profile

Radial Arm Saws, dying breed?

by Martyroc
posted 03-06-2012 01:11 PM

22 replies so far

View Ben's profile


302 posts in 2352 days

#1 posted 03-06-2012 01:25 PM

Radial arm saws definitely have their place, but I think for most of us the amount of space they take up vs how often they get used doesn’t make sense. They are quite versatile machines and can perform loads of different tasks. Honestly if you are looking for one, if you buy an older one in good condition and and refurbish it, you could have a much better and longer lasting machine. Also, I think most people that haven’t had much experience with them are a bit afraid of them. I have two RAS waiting to be restored, but don’t have one in my shop yet. One is an old Mongomery Ward(shopcraft?I’d have to look) And the other is a 1940’s AMF DeWalt that was actually manufactured in Lancaster PA, just a hop and skip from here. It is built like a tank. Smaller than the MG model, but I think That is the one I’ll be keeping.

-- Welcome to downtown Coolsville, Population: US! --Hogarth Hughes

View Jeremiah's profile


82 posts in 2346 days

#2 posted 03-06-2012 01:31 PM

It’s true, they are dying…..

With the proliferation in sliding compound miter saws, RAS’s don’t really stand a chance. They are kind of like Britney Spears; heavier than most of the other options out there and don’t preform as well. And like Britney, they have some nostalgic value and would look good in a shop, covered in saw dust. :)

The main reason was their one fatal flaw, they get out of whack so easy. I have a 10” Kobalt compound miter saw that I’ve been LESS than kind too and it still cuts true. Plus it was only $185 new (got it on sale). The other main flaws with them is wight and cost. Add those 3 together and look at the alternitives and you can understand why they are only slightly more popular than pet rocks.

I think Delta and Woodtek still make 12” versions. i guess for industrial uses they still have some value.

my 2 cents,

View Ben's profile


302 posts in 2352 days

#3 posted 03-06-2012 01:42 PM

Jeremiah is right. I do want to put one in my shop though. I saw someone’s shop on here that they had a spare one dedicated to a thickness sander attachment. That may well be the end use for one of mine.

-- Welcome to downtown Coolsville, Population: US! --Hogarth Hughes

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2697 days

#4 posted 03-06-2012 01:48 PM

I have an old DeWalt RAS, that I need to rehab. Can’t wait to put it back into service. I believe, one can never have tooooo many saws! I plan on dedicating it to Dadoes, much easier to install/set the dadoe blade than on the TS.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Ben's profile


302 posts in 2352 days

#5 posted 03-06-2012 01:57 PM

DIY, that would be a great purpose for a RAS. Set it dead on 90 and it will stay there. You have a good saw there. My DeWalt is one of the old humpback style. It weighs a ton and is built like a tank! It is only an 8” blade with a 14” draw, but I really don’t think I’d need much more for 99% of what I do.

-- Welcome to downtown Coolsville, Population: US! --Hogarth Hughes

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10519 posts in 3450 days

#6 posted 03-06-2012 02:13 PM

I can’t justify the space needed…Justify? Heck there just ISN’T the space!
But, for 90 cross cuts, dadoes and end bevels. they are awesome.
The SCMSs have pretty much taken the market away from the RASs.
Now, if only there was a SCMS that would take a 6” dado set…..

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2715 days

#7 posted 03-06-2012 02:15 PM

Never!!! I have mine set up for dead-on crosscuts and I don’t change it. For long boards, it can’t be beat.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View lumberdog's profile


245 posts in 3289 days

#8 posted 03-06-2012 02:51 PM

I have an old sears r.a.s. from the late sixties, it is dead on and solid as a rock. i bought it used when i saw an add in the local paper for it, this was about 1996, i went to take a look at it and the owner threw in 6 blades 4 of them was new ( still in the packages ) also a sears cabinet with drawers, a set of locking casters, and all the original manuals. He said i was the first one to look at it and he wanted it out of his way so he let me have it for $225.00 . It was in real good shape and i have gotten a lot of use out of it, i used to build picnic tables and it worked great for as cut off saw with extended table and stop blocks. I cut the parts for about 130 tables all together with it. I still use it once in a while to cut down longer stock when i don’t want to take the fence off the table saw.

-- Lumberdog.. Morley, Michigan

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3695 days

#9 posted 03-06-2012 02:53 PM

I have a 9’’ DeWalt MMB RAS its king at crosscutting.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3005 days

#10 posted 03-06-2012 03:45 PM

Yes, its true that the RAS is an endangered species, much like other tools from the past. Being replaced by much lighter and easier to use tools of today. While there are still some diehards like myself and others that will keep them around for as long as we can.

I would also venture to say that in another 20 years the table saw will also be an endangered species being replaced by much newer technology as we are beginning to see. Such as the new track saws and the improvements being made with the band saw.

Much like the woodworker of yesteryear’s being replaced by the woodworker of today. We to will be replaced by the woodworker of the future. So long live the woodworker and the tools of his day.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4947 posts in 3982 days

#11 posted 03-06-2012 03:52 PM

Bought mine in 1978 ($178.00) at Sears. Used it, moved it all over the South East, took good care of it, and finally sold it this year for $150.00. Sure served me well, but I no longer had room for it in the new shop. Didn’t want to sell but, with the TS and the MS, it was redundant.
Goodby old friend.


View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3196 days

#12 posted 03-06-2012 03:53 PM

Bill: I’m sorry for your loss :-)

-- -- Neil

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8082 posts in 2350 days

#13 posted 03-06-2012 04:09 PM

The SCMS can do much of the tasks of the RAS, and is potable…..

IMO, the SCMS (if used correctly) is a safer saw to work with as well.

I still want a RAS for Dados…. but can’t justify the money or space.

Even at work, where we have two 16” Dewalts (older hump back style) in our crating shop, we use them primarily for dado cuts. We use jump saws to cut stock to length.

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4996 posts in 2515 days

#14 posted 03-06-2012 04:21 PM

An RAS gets that knock of not staying in alignment quite often, and it’s a true statement, for some of them! That would be the Craftsman models, and they did as much as anything to give the RAS it’s undeserved (IMHO) reputation. I’ve had 2 C’man saws…both generally considered the “better” models. Couldn’t keep them aligned no matter how many hours I spent tuning them. But switch over to the Dewalts….they have such a simple and precise alignment system (machined notches in the column) that once tuned correctly, they hold and return to the settings (45° and 90°) with dead nuts precision. What ruined the Dewalts was when B&D bought them put and then cheapened them to compete with Sears. So finding an older one (solid cast iron arm, probably pre-1962 or so). can get you a valuable tool that really earns it’s keep. If you have one there is no reason to keep it on 90…swing it back and forth as much as you want…it will return to zero as accurately as any other saw. Don’t forget there are some wonderful industrial models (my dream saw would be a Northfield Unipoint) that also really work well. That said, you are right…they area dying breed.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3670 days

#15 posted 03-06-2012 05:53 PM

They are really big industrial tools in their origin… good at crosscutting
huge, unstraight beams.

An inverted variant from Norway is the Norsaw 2003 which runs
a 21.5” blade.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3502 days

#16 posted 03-06-2012 06:06 PM

I have a RAS, miter saw, and a TS. I like others, have the RAS set up for crosscuts. I suppose it takes a lot of room for just that, but I love it for just that purpose.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2902 days

#17 posted 03-06-2012 06:18 PM

I love my RAS and I use it all the time. It cuts much wider boards then my miter saw and I can raise and lower the blade in the RAS which is a feature I use all the time for cutting dados and grooves.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5908 posts in 3216 days

#18 posted 03-06-2012 06:19 PM

I’ve had my RAS and my old Craftsman tablesaw, and my chop saw since 1985, and all are still going strong..
I have a pretty big shop, so I do have the room for them all, plus 2 tablesaws…..My cabinet I built a while back houses my RAS and my chop saw, and I can handle a board 20’ long, if necessary….Unless my old RAS just dies outright, I will never get rid of it…’s like part of the family, works great for crosscutting, and stays 90 degrees. I’m like SnowyRiver…..I love it just for that purpose…...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View jerkylips's profile


416 posts in 2592 days

#19 posted 03-06-2012 06:28 PM

to ssnvet –
”The SCMS can do much of the tasks of the RAS, and is potable…..”

that’s got to scratch your throat going down… ;)

View surfin2's profile


51276 posts in 3158 days

#20 posted 03-06-2012 06:32 PM

WW that get rid of there RAS for a chop saw or Sliding miter saw to save room just doesn’t make any sense…

Are you getting rid of your TS for a bench top saw to save room ….

Did you buy a cheap TS / RAS [as to the alinement issues] ...

Not knowing how to use it or being scared of it is more like the reason…

It’s more versatile & for the TS to keep up with it you have to build a sh!t load of jigs, more room…

I think you need both, TS / RAS not one over the other…

-- Rick

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3196 days

#21 posted 03-06-2012 06:52 PM

LOL @ jerkylips !

-- -- Neil

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2328 days

#22 posted 03-06-2012 10:49 PM

Thank you all for your input. The RAS that I had was a Delta, very rarely got out of alignment, and used it for the first 3-5 years of my woodworking hobby. I will probably purchase one from CL, mostly they are listed very cheap, and it gives me a project to rehab. Like some of you mentioned it did look good in my shop covered with sawdust and I would like to use it again even if it’s only once or twice a year :-)

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

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