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Nothing beats a good ole fashioned radial arm saw

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Forum topic by kenthemadcarpenter posted 07-07-2015 05:54 PM 2122 views 0 times favorited 40 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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kenthemadcarpenter

122 posts in 534 days


07-07-2015 05:54 PM

Topic tags/keywords: drill press miter saw tablesaw blade router

It’s funny one of the most versatile wood workers tools have gone to the winds of time. The radial arm saw has to be the most versatile and most indispensable tools ever created. I have two in my shop, One is my dedicating framing and Plexiglas/ poly carbonate cutter. The other is dedicated for my other wood projects needs. Yes the Original saw company still makes them, but none of the major stores carry them any more. One of the reasons most people i have spoken to claim they don’t like them because they think they are too dangerous. Poor babies just don’t know how to properly use them. The older models had so much versatility built into them. Cross cutting applications, turn the saw now you can rip any length of board as would on a table saw. Remove the blade flip the motor, add the chuck now you have a drill press. or if you needed to put in a router bit. Ah the days when a tool was truly a multi versatile tool. When you went to job site this was a contractors best friend.


40 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3949 posts in 1960 days


#1 posted 07-07-2015 06:23 PM

It’s my opinion that Sears, Roebuck single handedly killed the RAS. When they introduced their version It was vastly inferior to the solid Dewalt design. The ones I had (3 of them, all older models) couldn’t hold zero if you welded it in place (yes, I know, some of will…but none I owned). Then they introduced all manner of attachemnts to make the RAS into a Shop Smith, most of them worked poorly, some not at all, and the result was that a lot of folks soured on the RAS. Then B&D bought the Dewalt line and screwed them up, so their sales plummeted as well. The perceived safety issues with the design didn’t help any at all, so the tool has mostly dies a painful death. For the Record, i have 2 in my shop right now…both Dewalts, and both laser accurate.

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

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SirIrb

1239 posts in 697 days


#2 posted 07-07-2015 06:40 PM

Used Rockwells for years. They were very good. We got rid of one and semi-retired the other and replaced them with Whirlwind up cuts. You want fear in your life? You want to grow closer to God in a micro second? Get a Whirlwind. Man, that took some getting used to.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

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RobinDobbie

133 posts in 1202 days


#3 posted 07-07-2015 06:57 PM

If I had the room I’d consider one. Did they have attachments for changing the RPMs when using them as a drill press or router?

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dhazelton

2326 posts in 1763 days


#4 posted 07-07-2015 07:05 PM

I have a Dewalt MBC that I have never set up. Someday….

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Rick M

7934 posts in 1847 days


#5 posted 07-07-2015 07:21 PM

You want to grow closer to God in a micro second? Get a Whirlwind. Man, that took some getting used to.
- SirIrb

I looked at videos of these and I don’t see anything scary about them. The blade is covered by a guard and you would have to stick your hand under the guard to get cut.

https://youtu.be/CYj8xddWEb8?t=2m11s

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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Fred Hargis

3949 posts in 1960 days


#6 posted 07-07-2015 07:27 PM



If I had the room I d consider one. Did they have attachments for changing the RPMs when using them as a drill press or router?

- RobinDobbie

All the ones I’ve seen did not. They were also induction motors ( there were some made with universal motors) so they don’t deal with speed controls very easily.

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

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Woodmaster1

738 posts in 2054 days


#7 posted 07-07-2015 07:43 PM

I have had a dewalt 3hp for thirty years. I use it on almost every project. I will take it over the miter saw any day.

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Rick M

7934 posts in 1847 days


#8 posted 07-07-2015 07:48 PM

I wish I had room for one. We used them in shop class, that was some years back, and I always thought the Delta RAS we had was very handy. My shop teacher sawed one of his fingers off with it though, lol, dummy.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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SirIrb

1239 posts in 697 days


#9 posted 07-07-2015 07:54 PM

yes, the guard is made of 1/8th plate and it comes down with a clamping vengeance. Bad, broken fingers; worse, broken fingers just before they get taken off. Good machine but it is a bit scary the first day.

You want to grow closer to God in a micro second? Get a Whirlwind. Man, that took some getting used to.
- SirIrb

I looked at videos of these and I don t see anything scary about them. The blade is covered by a guard and you would have to stick your hand under the guard to get cut.

https://youtu.be/CYj8xddWEb8?t=2m11s

- Rick M.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 948 days


#10 posted 07-07-2015 09:59 PM

I don’t know it the OP is still around but I think there are good reasons why RAS’s are mostly collecting dust. If he loves his, great, but there are reasons why you see less and less of them in ww’ing shops.

Reason 1: Crummy machines don’t hold their settings and RAS’s lead the pack.
Yeah, the old iron ones will but I guarantee not the Crapsman and not a Ridgid. That old Delta he’s got is probably not in that group.

I have had both and I could only wish I could push the release lever and make a non-90 degree cut without spend the next 20 minutes resetting it to 90.

Reason 2: They are woefully underpowered unless you go to a mega$$ industrial model.

Reason 3: They ARE unsafe machines. I would never, ever (again) attempt to a ripping operation with an RAS.

All of the above reasons are why the sliding miter saw is rendering them obsolete.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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Woodmaster1

738 posts in 2054 days


#11 posted 07-07-2015 10:53 PM

They are not unsafe unless you use them wrong. I taught shop for 40 years and not one radial arm saw accident. A line on the table to indicate a danger zone was a great safety measure. I did not use them to rip. I used them to crosscut, cut dado’s and angles.

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rwe2156

2198 posts in 948 days


#12 posted 07-08-2015 01:09 AM



They are not unsafe unless you use them wrong. I taught shop for 40 years and not one radial arm saw accident. A line on the table to indicate a danger zone was a great safety measure. I did not use them to rip. I used them to crosscut, cut dado s and angles.

- Woodmaster1

I agree what makes any tool unsafe is the operator not following correct procedure, but there are some tools that require you to have your brain engaged much more and the RAS is a big one in this regard.

There is nothing scarier than a blade climbing over a 1/4” thick piece of stock. I submit anyone who has used a RAS has had this experience as well as the saw binding and you trying to push the blade forward out of the bind or trying to shut it off while having one hand on the stock and the other on the saw handle because your afraid to turn either one loose. This can happen even with negative hook angle blades.

Just the fact that you have to stiff arm your cuts to avoid self feeding is proof enough for me.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Tugboater78's profile

Tugboater78

2450 posts in 1659 days


#13 posted 07-08-2015 01:42 AM

Have one that works well, but due to size it sits in an inconvenient place in my basement instead of shop, collecting junk and dust. If i ever get a shop wider than 12 feet built i hope to put it back in service. I got lucky that this one holds to the angles i set it and go back with little trouble. Safety issues are always on my mind while using though.

If it ever gets put back into regular service and no longer keeps its accuracy i may discard it. Purchased it as a combo with tablesaw, 20+ bar clamps, and about 50 bd ft of 3/4 inch walnut for $125 from my older neighbor who had health issues and couldnt get in his shop anymore.

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View AHuxley's profile

AHuxley

493 posts in 2788 days


#14 posted 07-08-2015 01:54 AM

I finally retired my last RAS (an OMGA 900/7). They are a very versatile machine but over the years I have found better easier ways to do all the functions. Some of the “functions” are just silly if you have anything resembling a real wood shop. Using one as a drill press, planer, moulder or some of the other functions Sears made popular just makes no sense to me, as a one off in a shop with only one machine I get it but outside that it is just making a simple job hard. I never was one to rip on a RAS as I found the table saw much easier. The last holdouts for me were wide crosscuts and dadoes. After building a bench with a drop down track the tracksaw makes quick work of crosscuts too wide for the CSMS and put a router on the track and it deals very well with the dados that are cumbersome on the tablesaw because of having to move the wood instead of the blade. The tracksaw setup does up to 36” cuts/dados which is almost exactly the amount of crosscut my OMGA had. In the end the only place I would rather have the OMGA to my alternative are those dados I cut on it, the router/track combo isn’t quite as quick especially when doing lots of repeated dados. I have noting against the RAS but for me they seem to have been surpassed in almost every area.

As far as dangerous goes, every machine in our shops is dangerous, so it become a matter of relativity. I don’t find a RAS more dangerous than a 16” jointer or a shaper with a 9” cutter head but in the wider picture I do find them more dangerous than most machines I have owned and the 18” blade on mine certainly demands huge amounts of respect. While safety was not the reason I moved on from a RAS I think the, CSMS, tracksaw and track mounted routers I used to replace mine are objectively safer, but are still dangerous machines.

A well bought medium duty RAS (Dewalt, Original Saw, Delta etc) or a heavy duty one (Northfield, OMGA, etc) can do a lot of things well for possibly a little money but for me over time I just found better ways to skin those cats. While not a big issue for me the alternatives I use to duplicate the uses I had for the RAS also take up less real estate. Nothing wrong with an RAS for many people, just a machine that is being passed over and no longer being developed. Frankly, the cabinet saw is on the cusp of going that way as well. Industry no longer needs either and hobbyists and small cabinet shops keep the cabinet saws moving but cabinet shops are better served with a slider anyway.

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Stewbot

195 posts in 551 days


#15 posted 07-08-2015 05:44 AM

This thread made me curious about RAS. only through shop classes do i have a limited amount of time spent on a RAS and only with doing cross cuts. Anyway, while looking into them a bit I had noticed that the direction in which you feed your stock through the blade while ripping seemed to possibly be a debatable topic (unless the video I watched showed a guy who is alone in his methods). This video I watched was an individual feeding the board from the back of the saw. So basically the board met the teeth of the blade while the teeth were on the way up. He then demonstrated his idea of the “wrong” way and while feeding the stock from the front, The board being fed with the teeth meeting the board on the way down, it seemed as if the blade was binding up a bit. Is the technique of ripping boards on a RAS indeed a subject thats often debated?

-- Hoopty scoop?

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