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Forum topic by Howie posted 1040 days ago 962 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Howie

2656 posts in 1521 days


1040 days ago

Okay,finally started looking at ras’s. I have a very well equiped shop but am wondering if I need one. Open to all comments and suggestions as to brand,quality,usefulness,size etc.
Thanks

-- Life is good.


21 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1643 posts in 1091 days


#1 posted 1040 days ago

The RAS isn’t for everybody. I’m in the camp of it being indispensable, IF it’s a good one. A bad one will make you curse the day you heard the acronym. My first stationary tool was am RAS, and early 70’s C’man (those are supposed to be the “good” ones). Mine, however, was not so inclined. No matter how hard I tried tuning it (hours and hours) I couldn’t get it to hold 90°, and most certainly it never returned to 90° after I swung the arm L/R. I let it go to the great workshop in the sky with the Emerson recall. By now I had added the TS to the shop, and was using it for everything, but still missed having an RAS. Some years ago I latched onto an old round-arm Dewalt. Eureka! I’m back in RAS heaven again. OK, that said….the RAS is extremely useful for many things (IMHO). It will do several things the mitersaw or SCMS can’t do. If you have a table saw and the extra space it’s a nice, useful addition to any shop. The bad press it gets (again, my opinion) is from the Sears marketing effort to make it a one-tool-for-everything affair, and to make it affordable they cheapened it to the point of being useless. Staying with the older Dewalts or Delta turret arms gets you a repeatable, very useful tool. Mine will never replace my table saw, but it earns it’s keep in my shop. If you are really into big machines, look at the Northfield Unipoint (only a dream for me). One more time, all this is just my opinion…...

-- I long for the days when Coke was a cola, and a joint was a bad place to be (Merle Haggard)

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

3342 posts in 2558 days


#2 posted 1039 days ago

I’ll be the odd man out. After I FULLY tuned my C’man RAS it has been a beast. 1978 model. Now I find that I no longer have room for it in my new shop. BOO HOO!
Wanna buy mine? Lotsa extras.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View Howie's profile

Howie

2656 posts in 1521 days


#3 posted 1039 days ago

Thanks for offering Bill but too far to drive(I live in Tampa)
I really appreciate the response guys, I’m just starting to do my homework on these.
I’m thinking I need to get rid of my jointer,mitre saw and a couple of other trinkets so I can fit one of these into my shop.
I don’t use the jointer anymore since I bought a Incra LS-25 and the mitre saw is just collecting dust. I just think I would get more use out of the RAS.

-- Life is good.

View Gregn's profile

Gregn

1642 posts in 1581 days


#4 posted 1039 days ago

The RAS is known for its love hate relationship in the shop. Some can tune up without a hitch and others will give you fits trying to tune them. My advice for a RAS would be to look for an older model. Anywhere from the mid 60’s and older will be your best bet.

Think about the milling operations you are currently involved in and the tools your comfortable using to make those cuts. Then try to picture the RAS making those cuts. If your going to use the RAS as a SCMS/miter saw then the RAS won’t be for you.

I have a 1958 model Craftsman RAS I have been happy with once I got to know the machine and how to tune it. Some of the things I use the RAS for are making tenons, I can do them quicker on the RAS than the table saw. I make a lot of dado’s on the RAS. For me this is where the RAS excels particularly when making angled or slanted dado’s. Rabbets are quick and easy as well and can also be done on a slant or angle. I also use it as a SCMS and cutoff saw. Granted it doesn’t replace the table saw or router table, it does allow me to do these procedures quicker on the RAS. I wouldn’t recommend ripping on the RAS although it can be done, here I prefer the table saw.

I haven’t use other attachments other than a dado blade, but I use it a lot when in the shop. I don’t use the SCMS but rarely.

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

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4522 posts in 1672 days


#5 posted 1039 days ago

I had a RAS and I no longer have it. A sliding miter saw is not a complete replacement for a RAS, but it does many of the functions that my RAS did. Between my SCMS, TS and Festool plunge saw I think I have all that basic sawing stuff covered and the RAS takes up a lot of room.

If there is anything I miss about the RAS, it is using it with a dado stack. It seems like I had more dado flexibility with the RAS than I have with a TS, but I see that as a very minor issue.

The RAS did not “earn” its space in my relatively small workshop (‘bout 400 square feet).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

2163 posts in 2145 days


#6 posted 1039 days ago

We have two old dewalt RAS. One is 10” and the other is 12”. The stronger 12” completes dados perfectly. The smaller 10” handles crosscut duties and acts as a back up to our sliding miter saws.

I will say that both of our RAS are more accurate then both of our sliding miter saws at full extension.

Old delta and dewalt RAS can be had on CL on a regular basis for around 200.00.

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio, www.topqualitycabinets.net

View Cgwendling's profile

Cgwendling

10 posts in 1039 days


#7 posted 1039 days ago

I have a newer craftsman that was given to me by a customer. I use it for cross cut dados whether 90 deg or angled, cutting pieces to length and mitres on wide stuff.
Do I love it, no. Do I hate it, no. Do I wish I could have the space it takes up back, yes. Am I going to get rid of it, no.
So in short I use it but it’s not indespensible.

View Howie's profile

Howie

2656 posts in 1521 days


#8 posted 1038 days ago

Thanks to everyone for the input.
At this time I think I might look for a used DeWalt or Delta Like Jerry suggested. I don’t think it would merit me putting 1500.00 in a new one(or 750. for the Craftsman. I’m also looking at upgrading my TS(3650 ridgid) to a cabinet saw so I have to look at the $$$.

-- Life is good.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1643 posts in 1091 days


#9 posted 1038 days ago

Just remember that all the used Dewalts are not that good. Staying with the ones that have a solid cast iron arm would be your best bet. After B&D bought the Dewalt line they started down the road of cheapening the design and eventually ruined the saw.

-- I long for the days when Coke was a cola, and a joint was a bad place to be (Merle Haggard)

View Dan's profile

Dan

3543 posts in 1478 days


#10 posted 1038 days ago

The ability to cut Dados, rabbits and half laps is one huge benefit a RAS has over a SCMS. I use my RAS all the time and have never had any issues.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1291 days


#11 posted 1038 days ago

I have a Craftsman RAS that takes up a huge amount of space in my tiny shop. I use it exclusively for crosscuts and it holds 90 quite well. I’m not sure I understand the safety factor people always allude to. The blade comes whirling towards you but unless you have a part of your body in front of it and under the guard, I don’t see the imminent danger. I’m far more worried about getting sucked into my TS blade.

I like mine but I must say, it would be the first big tool to go if I had to make that decision. However for dedicated crosscuts if you’ve got a lot of shop room, it’s a nice tool to have around.

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

View Howie's profile

Howie

2656 posts in 1521 days


#12 posted 1038 days ago

Thanks for that tip Fred. I appreciate it.

-- Life is good.

View Viking's profile

Viking

857 posts in 1793 days


#13 posted 1038 days ago

My first big saw was a Craftsman RAS. It scared the crap out of me every time I used it for about ten years then sold it to my neighbor who still has it 15 years later.

I could never keep it adjustment and spent more time calibrating than sawing.

I agree with Rich Greer and have a cabinet saw and sliding miter saw that work fine for my needs.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View DaddyZ's profile

DaddyZ

2375 posts in 1638 days


#14 posted 1038 days ago

Just bought mine a 10” B&D Dewalt, put on a new table & Tuned, works like a charm so far. Even made some storage under the table. Only 60$ for the Saw with Stand (which I tossed)

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View Michael1's profile

Michael1

403 posts in 1258 days


#15 posted 1038 days ago

I use a RAS frequently in cutting the lids for caskets. Because of the depth of cut I need and the set up I use it strictly for this purpose and with the modifications I have done, it is kind of pointless for other operations. However I am a fan of RAS if they are used for what they were origionally intended for. I can’t believe that Craftsman advertised using a RAS of ripping operations as this is extremly dangerous!!! It is esentially the same as if you ripped on a T/S backwards. That said, I would not recommend buying a new saw as they are over priced and cheaply built. My present saw is a 1970s C’man that I got off of Craigslist for $100.00. Before that I paid 300 dollars for a 1960 Dewalt with a cast Iron Arm. I used that saw for 10 years and then completely reconditioned it and was offered $2500 by a collector. I asked him what was I doing with his saw and helped him load it up, But that old Dewalt was 10 times better than my C’man.
If you cut allot of Tenons or Rabit and Dados, a RAS in my humble opinion is the best tool out there equiped with a stacked Dado. I have tried the wobler dado blades in the past but they give a rough cut and too much vibration on a RAS, however with a Stacked Set Dado, it is more acurate as you can see the cut and sneek up on your line.

-- Michael Mills, North Carolina, http://www.scicaskets.com

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