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Buying & Restoring DeWalt & Craftsman Radial Arm Saws

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Forum topic by CordWood posted 02-21-2017 07:00 AM 4005 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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CordWood

23 posts in 389 days


02-21-2017 07:00 AM

I want to expand my shop to include a radial arm saw and I am reading “How to Master the Radial Saw!” by Wally Kunkel to learn more about these misunderstood saws. Mr. Kunkel recommends the Model GW to anyone looking for a vintage DeWalt, so I’ve adopted this as my goal. I have the original base, including the height adjustment crank, and the cabinet as well as the lift and arm shown below.

However, I already have a Craftsman radial arm saw Model 11329002 I picked up for $55. I’m in the process of restoring it, but it’s in very good shape considering its age.

I also have the opportunity to buy DeWalt a model MBC, which is lower horsepower than Kunkel’s preferred GW. The GW is 1-1/2HP vs. the MBC at 3/4HP. The specific saw is shown below. It looks to have either been partially restored—the owner not wanting to paint the motor—or it’s had its motor swapped with another saw.

My plan was to use a radial arm not only as a crosscut machine, but also for dado cuts. I am in the process of building several dozen bookshelves for my in-laws’ bookstore and I thought I could combine my love for restoring and using old machines with making the process of building out new simple pine bookshelves a bit easier.

Should I even consider using something like a Freud dado stack in the radial arm until I’m very comfortable working with it?

Will the 3/4HP engine power a 3/4” dado stack through pine without issue?

Should I stick with the Craftsman, buy the DeWalt MBC, or hold out for a DeWalt GW to come up for sale near me?

Any insight into these machines would be helpful.

-- "What man has done, man can do."


26 replies so far

View papadan's profile

papadan

3584 posts in 3205 days


#1 posted 02-21-2017 07:12 AM

Keep the Craftsman and get it fixed up and running. They have no resale value unless someone that knows you and the saw wants it. The small Dewalt isn’t worth the time you would have to put into it. The Craftsman will handle a Dado set or molding cutter. Sometime later if you can pickup a big Dewalt, get it and rebuild it as needed. but until then you have your Cman to learn on and get used to using. They are amazing machines, but require steady nerves and a lot of maintenance.

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CordWood

23 posts in 389 days


#2 posted 02-21-2017 07:17 AM

Thanks, papadan. When you say “they” are amazing machines, do you mean radial arms in general, or the Craftsman saws specifically? I have heard that the DeWalts generally require a lot less babysitting of the adjustments.

As for steady nerves, I’m never more calm than when I’m in the shop. I’m also never so aware, cautious, and considered in what I do.

Isn’t that sort of feeling at least part of why we do this?

-- "What man has done, man can do."

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papadan

3584 posts in 3205 days


#3 posted 02-21-2017 08:04 AM

Yes I meant RAS in general. They can do so many different tasks from cross cut to ripping lumber. Miter, dado, Molding cutting, And even flip the motor and put a router bit in the collet on the back of the motor. Just remember where your hands are at all time and when ripping, don’t stand in the line of fire for kickbacks. I had one for quite a few years, but just wandered away from using it and it finally became a catchall for junk. I sold it for $100, which is what I paid for it.

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greenacres2

310 posts in 2005 days


#4 posted 02-21-2017 12:10 PM

I picked up a 1958 GWI about a year ago—did nothing other than build a new table (Mr. Sawdust version), a little cleanup and motor bearings. Important to have the right blade for the job—i’m using an Amana on mine right now. Nice for dados, but i’m still working on my dust collection so still cutting most dados on table saw or router.

Got my Dad’s 1947 Red Star 40-A last fall—that one may get a full restore, but i’m still undecided on it. Sentiment has me thinking make it run and keep the way it looks…it’s looked that way since I first remember seeing it in the early 1960’s!!

Very good buys can be had on older Dewalts with a bit of patience. And when well tuned with proper blade—they are cutting machines.
earl

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4757 posts in 2330 days


#5 posted 02-21-2017 12:55 PM

The Craftsman saws can have an unsolvable problem with the way they lock they lock the column. There is a small yoke(for lack of a better word) that can get bent with ham handed operators, once bent it introduces lash to the locking mechanism and pretty much makes the saw useless. the Dewalts have a much sumpler and more robust locking arrangement. they have slots milled into the column that a that a finger slips into, making it a very solid lock…hence their superior ability to stay aligned and return to zero. Kunkel’s book was written before some of the other quite good Dewalts were introduced. Other models that have a 1.5 HP motor would be the GWI mentioned above, the 1030 (or 1030K), and some others. The MBC you show was actually manufactured with a .5 HP motor, that one appears to have a motor from an MBF (3/4 HP). You have to remember that when these saws were sold, the blades were mostly HSS and cut a much thinner kerf than today’s carbide tooth models…so the motors were capable for their time. My current RAS (I’ve had 7, 2 Craftsman, and 5 Dewalts) is a 1030K. I use a dado stack on it, but only if I can’t do the cut on my table saw. But to your question on the 3/4HP and a dado stack…I had an MBF and used the dado on it through hardwood. It worked, but you really had to control the feed carefully to avoid stalling the saw.

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

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Fred Hargis

4757 posts in 2330 days


#6 posted 02-21-2017 02:07 PM

BTW, I should have mentioned this above, but if you take an interest in Dewalts (or other RAS, the Delta/Rockwell turret arm saws are also fantastic) join the Dewalt RAS forum. Lastly, I have a couple of pdf files that are a cliff notes version of restoring and tuning the Dewalt saws. They are written buy a real Dewalt guru over at the forum I mentioned and use a 925 as the example, but almost all of the info pertains to all Dewalts. I can e mail them to you if you want, just PM me with an e mail address. BTW, I think you have to join that Dewalt forum to read it, their software platform is from before All Gore invented the internet.

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

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dhazelton

2609 posts in 2133 days


#7 posted 02-21-2017 02:14 PM

The Dewalt MBC is the unit that follows most people home. I don’t know why someone would say it isn’t worth the time – they are rock solid.

Did you check the serial number of the Craftsman for the recall?

http://radialarmsawrecall.com/

View CordWood's profile

CordWood

23 posts in 389 days


#8 posted 02-21-2017 03:44 PM

greenacres2, good point on blades. I’m looking at the Woodworker I for regular cross cuts.

Fred Hargis, I think Kunkel wrote after the 1030k was introduced, I think he just has a dislike for the post Black & Decker saws, which he says were less sturdy and introduced unnecessary complexity and lack of reliability through moving control knobs forward on the arm or under the table. Your point is well taken on difference between the Craftsmsn and the DeWalt locking mechanism. This confirm what I’ve read previously about them. I’ll practice my refurb skills on the craftsman for now and join the RAS forum to continue my DeWalt learning.

dhazelton, with yours and other endorsements I may consider the lower-power dewalt. It may be adequate and a good learning tool.

Here’s a “245” also available near me:

The owner doesn’t seem to know what he has. It looks as though it might be in good enough shape to get working again.

-- "What man has done, man can do."

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4757 posts in 2330 days


#9 posted 02-21-2017 04:32 PM

He may have written it after the B&D buyout, the book (at least my copy) isn’t copyright dated. But if that was his opinion, he was flat ass wrong. While B&D did ruin (in the worst possible way) the Dewalt saws, it took them several years to do it. The early production (like my 1030K, 1961 model) was true Dewalt. There are quite a few models that were (and still are) very good saws wearing the B&D name. The easiest way to tell the original design from the crap they ultimately became is the solid cast iron arm; the are generally considered the “good” saws. BTW, that Frame 245 motor is what my 1030K has, and some call it the finest motor ever put on an RAS. That saw in your pic looks like a 1030, an awesome saw.

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

View Ted78's profile

Ted78

323 posts in 1837 days


#10 posted 02-21-2017 04:45 PM

“Misunderstood” is the key word here. They have a LOT of advantages over a table saw. Lumber gets ripped and crosscut in the same orientation so the shop only has to be long in one direction not both as would need to be with a table saw. You can put the table saw up against a wall, it doesn’t have to stuck in a middle of a large room to be useful the way a table saw does. You can SEE the blade and exactly where it is at with all operations. Much easier to set up a stop to make multiple crosscuts of exactly the same length. With small or finicky pieces you can just clamp everything down keep your body parts well away from the blade and just pull the handle and makes cuts that would be extremely dangerous on a table saw. If you clamp your work down they are just as accurate a miter saw for angled cuts. Cutting dadoes is much faster. Long cumbersome or heavy stock is much easier to crosscut as you don’t’ have to move the piece over the blade, just move the blade and the blade is of course fixed to ONLY move in the direction it should go. There is no need for various zero clearance slots for different blades and dado stacks set to different widths. Some might claim there is one more axis of movement on a RAS that needs to be maintained or could go wrong, but this replaces BOTH the fence having to slide back and forth on a table saw AND a miter gauge that has to slide forward and backwards on the table saw. I think they are also misunderstood becasue really high end commercial RAS’s were never built. Only really cheap ones that suffer just like cheap table saws and decent ones aimed squarely at the do it yourself home shop. There is no quality commercial cabinet saw equivalent as an RAS. Moreover while you CAN rip things on a RAS it really is a pain in the butt. Really a two person job in most cases. If one has the shop space a table or cabinet saw, and supplemented with a miter saw for crosscuts, doesn’t leave a lot of advantages for the RAS to check off. But in a small shop or limited budget A RAS can deliver a lot of functionality in small space for a small amount of money.

-- Ted

View greenacres2's profile

greenacres2

310 posts in 2005 days


#11 posted 02-22-2017 02:18 AM

Cordwood—that “245” is the motor frame, the data plate is the motor only. The saw’s data plate would be on the column. I’m betting that to be a GWI, based on the table mounting bolts in 3 rows, the MBx saws did not have the center bolts near as I can tell. There is a date table for the motor serial numbers, but i’m not finding it right now. The motor mfg date may differ from the saws date by as much as a few years, as they had a surplus of one or the other. The first 2 digits of the motor serial number may be the year of manufacture—but I don’t recall. Looks to be the original table (possibly) as well.

I was trying to decide between the WW 1 and calling Carbide Processors when I got to looking at my stock of blades. Had a 60 tooth Amana TCG with a 0 or -5 so I gave it a shot—been really happy. Seems like it was made as a laminate blade—don’t have the number in front of me. Flat grind or Triple Chip, preferably with a negative rake—should be good. I do think i’ll call Carbide Processors for a replacement when it’s time to sharpen—Tom and the crew there really know their blades. I think Tenryu also stocks a few Gold Medals that could fit the bill as well. My only beef with the WW 1 is the 40 tooth that Forrest uses—the WW 2 version is sold as a blade that can cross-cut and rip (do it all), but I’ve got two and neither crosscuts or rips as nicely as my dedicated rip blades (24 tooth Freud and 20 tooth Amana) or crosscut blades (60 tooth). My opinion as a hobbyist—i’m sure many would disagree.

A few pics of my GWI below.

Good luck on your hunt!!
earl

View CordWood's profile

CordWood

23 posts in 389 days


#12 posted 02-22-2017 04:34 AM

greenacres, if you think this is the GWI, I’ll make the drive to get it!

I hope it’s in decent condition. Many parts seem to be available through The Original Saw Company. Any other sources for parts I should be considering?

-- "What man has done, man can do."

View Roy Turbett's profile

Roy Turbett

137 posts in 3416 days


#13 posted 02-22-2017 04:58 AM

Based on the motor serial number, I believe the mystery saw is 1960 DeWalt (possibly a model GWI or 1030) and one of the last of the round arm models. Its a 1 1/2 hp saw and one of the best that DeWalt ever made. I agree with most of what Ted says but disagree with the comment, ”... really high end commercial RAS’s were never built.” The original DeWalt RAS was specifically designed for commercial applications and was so well made that many of them survive today. The Original Saw Company purchased the old DeWalt designs and still manufacturers saws that looks like those made from the 40’s to the 60’s.

The MBC was introduced to tap into the homeowner market in the late 40’s and is a miniature version of the highly successful commercial saws. They are every bit the equal of the larger saws when it comes to fit and finish and the ability to hold their alignment. Like most homeowner grade table saws and combination machines of the era, it came with a low amperage motor because most homes only had 40 or 60 amp service for the entire house.

The GW series saws of the same era were intended for the professional contractor and came with a bigger motor and larger blade. The legs on the GW saws are held in place with with wing nuts that can be easily detached and two men can carry the saw using the attached handles.

I also agree with the comments in regard to the Craftsman RAS and would stay away from those that are not based on the original DeWalt design.

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CordWood

23 posts in 389 days


#14 posted 02-22-2017 05:10 AM

Any thoughts on keeping this saw wired for 240v vs running it on 120v? What performance differences would I see?

I am already having a 240v curcuit added to my shop for my last acquisition, a German-made jointer/planer, so I can run the saw in either configuration.

-- "What man has done, man can do."

View Roy Turbett's profile

Roy Turbett

137 posts in 3416 days


#15 posted 02-22-2017 05:16 AM

There isn’t any difference in performance between 120v and 240v. However, if your 120v outlet is on a 15 amp circuit, you should probably stay with the 240v. That motor draws up to 13 amps on a 120v circuit which doesn’t leave you with much room for anything else.

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