Radial Arm Saws, dying breed?

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Forum topic by Martyroc posted 03-06-2012 01:11 PM 2700 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2712 posts in 2505 days

03-06-2012 01:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hi folks, I was on Craigs list last night, and there are tons of old RAS for sale, all older units. I don’t see any new ones anymore from anyone, except maybe one from Craftsman. I started woodworking using a RAS and would like to get one again,( probably more nostalgic than anything else). Did everyone abandon RAS’s for TS’s now, or am I just not lookng in the correct places/manufacturers?

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

22 replies so far

View Ben's profile


302 posts in 2530 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 2524 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 2530 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


19706 posts in 2874 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 2530 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

11063 posts in 3628 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


13551 posts in 2893 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 3467 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 3872 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 3183 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

5124 posts in 4160 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 3373 days

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

Bill: I’m sorry for your loss :-)

-- -- Neil

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8553 posts in 2528 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.

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5174 posts in 2693 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


10477 posts in 3847 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.

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