R.A.S or Sliding miter saw?

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Forum topic by Tomj posted 09-17-2012 06:07 AM 2264 views 0 times favorited 49 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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204 posts in 2622 days

09-17-2012 06:07 AM

I have a 113 197250 digital Craftsman Radial Arm Saw that was given to me by my father, only problem is it needs a new motor. This motor isn’t a typical induction motor or at least it’s shape isn’t so you have to buy the motor from Sears parts direct. Now when I checked to see how much a new motor would cost I was surprised to see it only cost $59 but I didn’t buy then (I had some other things to take care of first) and now the price has jumped to $159. Okay that’s not big deal but I’m not sure if it’s worth it to buy a new motor or buy a new sliding miter saw. I’m trying to weigh the pros and cons of each but I don’t have enough expertise with either to really know what’s a wiser choice. I do like the fact that the radial arm saw is less noisy having an induction motor and at the same time a miter saw will take up less space. So basically I am asking which would be the better choice all around? What would you do?

49 replies so far

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 2667 days

#1 posted 09-17-2012 06:49 AM

I could go into a long story. but look at the facts, radial arm saws are available for free on CL. Why? because they are almost worthless for many reasons.
A good compound angle sliding miter saw is Never available for free on CL. Why? because they have many advantages over RAS, the main advantage is that they are much safer to use.
And that reason alone is what made my decision easy.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

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204 posts in 2622 days

#2 posted 09-17-2012 06:57 AM

Thanks for the reply. What are the advantages? I thought a Radial Arm Saw could do everything a sliding miter saw can do with even wider stock.

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2339 posts in 2667 days

#3 posted 09-17-2012 07:24 AM

I borrowed a RAS once, it scared the living daylights outta me. So no, I do not have any real experience using them, only what I see in the real world in how unpopular they are.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

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204 posts in 2622 days

#4 posted 09-17-2012 07:38 AM

Yes I have read they could be dangerous, especially when ripping. I appreciate your input thank you exelectrician. It’s late here I’m going to bed. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have more advise. Good night.

View lunn's profile


215 posts in 2549 days

#5 posted 09-17-2012 10:16 AM

A good table saw and a miter saw will serve you better than a ras. I’ve owned a ras since 1978 thought it was great the only saw i’d ever needed, Rip, crosscut, angles, WOW! I’ve been trying to get it to cut square since 1978. Getting under the arm to line up the cut is a pain. I seldom use it maybe 10 min. in 3 years. Just in the way now takeing up space. If a board ever pinches in it have plenty of toilet paper handy.

-- What started as a hobbie is now a full time JOB!

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Fred Hargis

5242 posts in 2733 days

#6 posted 09-17-2012 10:59 AM

I’m on the other end of the opinions, I’ll take a good RAS over a SCMS any day. But the key word is “good”, and that means none with a Craftsman label (one exception, they sold some Dewalts labeled as Craftsman at one time). In your case, I’d pass on fixing te one you have up, and get the SMCS if that’s your druthers. But having a good RAS is a dream in a shop, and one of the early Dewalts, or Delta/Rockwell turret arms will always return to zero and give you accurate angled cuts. More than anything (IMHO) the Craftsman RAS gave the tools a bad name and brought on it’s demise as a woodshop staple.

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

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15822 posts in 2858 days

#7 posted 09-17-2012 12:09 PM

+1 on what Fred said. Love the RAS for cross-cuts, ripping, dado work, etc. It’s a DeWalt MBF.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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Mainiac Matt

8622 posts in 2569 days

#8 posted 09-17-2012 01:23 PM

When cross cutting on a RAS the lumber is supported by a fence, but you pull the head towards you and climb cut. So the cutting force is pushing the board into the fence and the head towards you in the direction of motion, so, if you are taking a deep pass (expecially with a dado blade), it can climb up over the board and come towards you suddenly.

With a SCMS, the lumber is also supported by a fence, but you push the head into the board with a stadard cut. So the cutting force pushes the board into the fence. And if you hit difficult grain and the cutting force increases suddenly, the head will push up and back, thuse disengaging the blade from the lumber and removing the force.

Also, the mechanism on economy RASs is prone to go out of whack, resulting in cuts that aren’t square.

A RAS can be set up to do a lot of different things, however, and they were marketed as “do it all” tools, somewhat like the Shop Smith.

After seeing my dad do it several times when I was a kid, I personally would never rip on a RAS.

You can set them up as spindle sanders.

You can also use them as a drill press.

But like most “multi-function tools”, a RAS doesn’t do any of these functions especially well.

Where a RAS does shine, is in an industrial setting…. we have the big DeWalt RASs with 10 HP motors and 16” blades at work. So you can process big timbers. I’ve seen them set up for this in production timber frame shops.

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

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6351 posts in 3434 days

#9 posted 09-17-2012 03:37 PM

Radial Arm Saw…’nuff said…....!!

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....!!

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3224 days

#10 posted 09-17-2012 05:43 PM

I love my RAS, but they can be temperamental creatures. If you go with the RAS you may have to do a lot of tweaking and still have problems. My opinion for someone who hasn’t any experience with either, I would suggest going with a SCMS because they are more than sufficient and easy enough for the hobbyist work with.

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

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3261 posts in 2916 days

#11 posted 09-17-2012 06:02 PM

The radial arm saw is a good tool when properly tuned and adjusted. I can do things the scms cannot do and it will do things the table saw does poorly. The dado cut is a prime example. the table saw comes closer if a sliding table or super sled is used but it is still difficult to align your dado head when looking at the back side of the board. They are different tools and each has its place. BTW the only way to get experience on the rAS is to use it. I have never figured out why it is only for the experienced. How did they get there. Caution is to be used with all tools. No I don’t like to rip on the RAS but it can be done.
Ever run a rotary planer on a table saw or SCMS? No you haven’t because it can’t be done but it can be done on a RAS. The list can go on and on but the only way you will know if you want one is to try it. We can’t answer that for you. Borrow one from some of these guys that haven’t used theirs since 1978 and try it for a year. Then you will know what YOU think of the RAS.

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Bill White

5149 posts in 4201 days

#12 posted 09-17-2012 07:30 PM

New motor? Why? Have ya taken it to a motor shop for testing?
There are some things the RAS will do well. I bought mine in 1978. Used it for every cut for years. Finally bought other saws and sold the RAS because I lacked the shop space.
Don’t know about the digital stuff ‘cause I have a slim view of tooling with all the laser/digital stuff. I’m a ruler guy. I’m old. Duhhhh!


View MrRon's profile


5277 posts in 3484 days

#13 posted 09-17-2012 10:08 PM

I picked up a Rockwell/B&D RAS a few years ago and refeburished it. It, along with a miter saw and a cabinet saw handles any type of cutting operation I could ever require, but fixing a Crapsman tool; never. It’s never worth it. Sears has gone steadily downhill in the past 50 years. They are now at the bottom of the consumer grade of tools along with Harbor Freight and Northern Tools. The only difference is they look nicer. They introduce “industrial grade” tools , but that’s just a marketing ploy. I’ve fallen into their trap too many times. I should be smarter than to believe them, but the time has come. No more Sears for me. Sorry for the rant. Those who stick up for Sears either don’t use tools much, or are relating their experiences when Sears was a good name. My first bad experience with Sears tools was about 60 years ago and has never been good since. I consider it a public service if I can discourage anyone from shopping at Sears.

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Arlin Eastman

4258 posts in 2801 days

#14 posted 09-17-2012 10:24 PM

I would also have to say Keep it and fix it up.

I used my brother in laws several years ago and Loved it. I would love to have one for myself and the Club I want to start.


-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View a1Jim's profile


117417 posts in 3817 days

#15 posted 09-17-2012 11:50 PM

I had a radial arm for sale(same brand as yours) for $75 and keep dropping the price all the way down to $10 and know one wanted it,The reason for this IMO is that their to big and bulky and take up to much space in your shop. The only thing a ROS can do that a Sliding chop saw can’t is rip(that’s something not very convenient or safe) and the other thing is you can mount a dado blade on a RAS. I think people who are so fond of Their RAS saws like them just because they have used them so long or don’t want to buy a sliding compound chop saw. I would not waste my money on repairing the saw you have,if you decide you must have a RAS buy a old Delta or something similar.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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