Raidal arm saw?

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Forum topic by WoodworkingGeek posted 08-11-2011 03:41 AM 2481 views 0 times favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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181 posts in 2689 days

08-11-2011 03:41 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hey LJ’s
I keep an eye on cregslist for tools and I have this nice radial arm saw on there!! I did some research and some people say it’s obsolete and dangerous, And some people say the opposite. What do you all have to say?
Thanks for the help!!

35 replies so far

View Loren's profile (online now)


10382 posts in 3644 days

#1 posted 08-11-2011 03:56 AM

Depends on your tool budget and the kind of work you do. Radial saws
can be picked up for bargain prices often enough and some are robust
machines with both power and finesse. They predate the wide availability
of sheet goods and are most useful for processing solid woods. Put a long
fence on the back and long tables and you can use a RAS for straight line
ripping, to rip a parallel edge, then to crosscut to whatever tolerances
the saw will hold. Some of the Dewalts and other older machines are
really well made. The Craftsman and other home-shop brands, not so much.

View cabmaker's profile


1730 posts in 2805 days

#2 posted 08-11-2011 04:13 AM

The two least used tools I have are a radial arm saw and a stanley 5 1/4. But I do like the saw when I do use it. I have a sixteen ft. fence there when I need it.

View johnnie52's profile


27 posts in 3363 days

#3 posted 08-11-2011 04:33 AM

I have an older Dewalt RAS and absolutely love the thing. I mostly use it for cross cuts but I have safely resawn 2×6 boards into 1×6’s. They do require that the operator keep his mind on what he is doing, but tell me what piece of power equipment in the shop doesn’t?

-- John - Tampa, FL - American components, Russian components..... ALL MADE IN TIAWAN!

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2387 posts in 3543 days

#4 posted 08-11-2011 04:45 AM

We use our dw 790 and dw 7730 ras quite often and love them. The 7730 is tye one machine that scares me the most in my shop. We dado with the 790 and cross cut with the 7730.

-- .

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Fred Hargis

4984 posts in 2489 days

#5 posted 08-11-2011 01:18 PM

I’m an RAS junkie, my first stationary tool was an early 70’s C’man RAS. I loved the concept, but hated the execution of the tool. Wouldn’t hold/return to zero no matter how many hours I spent tuning it. It went to the great to the great beyond with the Emerson recall. But after I gave it up, I really missed having an RAS. I finally came across an old Dewalt and rebuilt it. Talk aout accurate….I can miter, return to a perfect 90° every time! In my shop the RAS sees a lot of use, and on every project, it replaced the miter aw I used to have in there. I don’t rip on mine, and it is no more dangerous than any other tool in the shop (IMHO). If you can get an older Dewalt (solid cast iron arm) or one of the Delta Turret arm saws they are truly useful tools to have. You do need the proper blade to keep it under control (negative hook angle). Just my opinion….

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

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Jim Finn

2656 posts in 2918 days

#6 posted 08-12-2011 02:46 AM

I no longer have a Radial Arm Saw. Not accurate enough in My experiance. When I took a wood working class the very good instructor said to use his only for rough cut cross cutting. In other words, to be used only like a chop saw. I like my DeWalt 12” sliding compound miter saw though.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

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Don W

18711 posts in 2564 days

#7 posted 08-12-2011 03:29 AM

I have an older craftsman. I wouldn’t be without it. I use it to cut, dado, tenon, you name it.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3282 days

#8 posted 08-12-2011 05:33 PM

I spent about 40 years using a radial arm saw for a big part of everyday. Never had an injury. In fact, in my production shop no one else has either. Having been around professionals all my life, I would say that table saws are more dangerous. I know a bunch of guys missing fingers from that—and shapers, and jointers!

A little over a month ago, I severed a tendon with a Japanese hand saw! So tell me, what is dangerous?
My point is, you can get hurt with anything. Respect the tool and don’t be careless.


View Bertha's profile


13525 posts in 2689 days

#9 posted 08-12-2011 05:37 PM

I bought one because of Neil’s excitement over his. It sat around taking up space until I spent the time to tune it. Once tuned, I love it. I can’t quite understand the safety critique, but having a spinning blade coming toward you is initially un-nerving. Mine has a shield that drops behind the fence, keeping the saw back at the end of a cut. It feels safer than my table saw, so maybe I’m missing a hidden danger. It’s my go-to for crosscutting long boards and I got mine for a song on CL.

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

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3301 posts in 2558 days

#10 posted 08-12-2011 05:40 PM

i have a circa 1976 C’man RAS. While many have complained about RAS accuracy I have not had such an issue though I tend to us mine for rough crosscutting as I like the reach it has over my miter saw

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Bertha's profile


13525 posts in 2689 days

#11 posted 08-12-2011 05:48 PM

Hey Rob, I’ve got a C’man, too, just a little newer (translated not as nice). Mine’s dedicated to cross-cutting only, so I line up the mark with the score in the table and it’s dead-on every time. I don’t have much expeience using mine for anything other than cross-cuts but for those, it can’t be beat. I think the biggest argument against it is the footprint. Mine is a BIG machine and takes up a lot of acreage. The older saws tend to be smaller but better in quality. Of course, even the modern compound sliders are either 1) big or 2) very expensive. Some are even both!

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

View oblowme's profile


91 posts in 2560 days

#12 posted 08-13-2011 02:00 PM

I bought an RAS many moons ago because they were supposed to do everything in one machine. Later on in life I found that machines making that claim can actually do that, but rarely does one do anything very well.
RAS have numerous adjustments and when tuned into a particular operation they tend to compromise all of the others.
If you want a machine of many different colors buy a tablesaw. RAs can be bought for a song, even ‘good’ ones, the better tablesaws depreciate at a far lower rate and the better ones can be hard to find at a ‘bargin’ price. There is a reason for that.

-- A TOOL JUNKIE- There, I just admited it to myself...

View Bertha's profile


13525 posts in 2689 days

#13 posted 08-13-2011 02:09 PM

^I wood agree with WoodRMe for the most part. I use my RAS for crosscuts on long boards only. When I wrestle a 16 foot board into my tiny shop, it goes straight up onto the RAS deck.

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

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Don W

18711 posts in 2564 days

#14 posted 08-13-2011 02:51 PM

I’d agree if it was a decision of a table saw or a RAS, the table saw would win. That said, I’m glad I have both. If I have one or two dado to cut, its raise the RAS blade, make a few cuts, grab the stanley 71 (now that I have one) and on to the next task.

I’ve had a radial arm saw for a long time. Dangerous, of course. More dangerous than any other sharp spinning tool? I doubt it.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4002 days

#15 posted 08-13-2011 03:04 PM

Having a radial arm saw is like having a pool table. Nice for a while until you figure out how much bulk you have for so little bang.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

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