Dead Radial Arm Saw - Repair, Scrap, or Replace?

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Forum topic by summerfi posted 05-18-2014 05:46 PM 8007 views 1 time favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3912 posts in 1680 days

05-18-2014 05:46 PM

I’ve used a radial arm saw all my life, and find it indispensable for making crosscuts when cutting stock to length. I don’t really use it for anything else. My current saw, an older Craftsman, has a motor problem. When the switch is turned on, the motor hums but doesn’t spin. Usually if I spin the shaft by hand (with blade off of course) I can get it to start, but it is slow to get up to speed. I’ve taken the cover off, blown out the dust, and cleaned the contacts on what looks to be a relay switch of some sort. Sometimes it starts, sometimes not, but it is always slow to get going when it does start. I think the problem is in a capacitor, relay, or switch somewhere in the motor, but I don’t know how to fix it myself.

So I’m considering my options. Option 1: Take the motor out and take it to a motor shop. My guess is they won’t be able to fix it due to unavailability of parts for this older saw. Option 2: Look for another used RAS. Option 3: Scrap the RAS and buy a sliding miter saw for making crosscuts.

I’ve never used a sliding miter saw and I’m not sure how I would like it. I do like a RAS and hate to give it up. So I have two questions. 1. Does anyone have any tips for fixing this motor? 2. If the motor can’t be fixed, would you go with another RAS or a miter saw, and why?

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works

26 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

18707 posts in 2561 days

#1 posted 05-18-2014 05:56 PM

I won’t be much help with the motor, but would never be without my RAS. If all you really do is cross cut a sliding miter may be ok for you. I do a lot a dado work with the RAS. Yes I know there are other ways, but not for me.

Plus its possible to rip with a RAS should the need arise. try that trick with a sliding miter.

I used have some accessories for my RAS. I had a drum sander off the back side. I don’t use it any more, but again, its possible should the need ever arise again.

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

View Loren's profile


10371 posts in 3641 days

#2 posted 05-18-2014 06:34 PM

Sounds like a failing capacitor. It’s in there somewhere where you
should be able to get at it. Simple repair. A motor shop will
do it for you of course, but at more expense and hassle than
doing it yourself since you’ll have to take the saw apart.

If you can get the capacitor out, a motor shop can test it
for you and sell you a similar one if it’s bad. They certainly
can last a long time but they all give out eventually.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15341 posts in 2611 days

#3 posted 05-18-2014 06:41 PM

Motor shop.

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

View ralbuck's profile


4463 posts in 2259 days

#4 posted 05-18-2014 06:45 PM

I had the same problem with a Craftsman RAS—-
Gave up on it. The sliding miter is a lot more portable and will do most of what the RAS did.—- except of the ripping; the table saw dose that well.

Get one with a laser on it though. Some even have digital angle gauges.

Test drive a few if possible to see which you like!

Or If you decide to do a RAS—C’ist and buy a used “Better quality one” and if it smells funny when you start it—-
That is not the one you want! In our area they even give working ones away sometimes on C’list! So do searches!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4980 posts in 2486 days

#5 posted 05-18-2014 06:50 PM

I’d send it in for the $100 recall money (if it’s eligible), and then shop for either a Dewalt RAS, or one of the Delta turret arm saws. I won’t be without an RAS in my shop, and right now those are Dewalts.

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

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2668 days

#6 posted 05-18-2014 06:55 PM

I have and use both. I personally don’t think you will be happy with the sliding miter saw but that is just me. I own a Bosch 12” sliding miter saw. It doesn’t have the cut capacity of the RAS. Some people talk bad about the radial arm saws but they must have some qualities or the public would have stopped buying them and with the decline in the market the manufacturers would have stopped making them. There has been a big decline due to the sliders but the demand is still there. I think using a sliding saw in place of the RAS is like using false teeth. They are a good substitute but they are still a substitute and nothing is like the real thing.

View AnonymousRequest's profile


861 posts in 1542 days

#7 posted 05-18-2014 07:09 PM

1 then 2. I personally don’t like sliding mitre saws. Love my ras.

View Tim's profile


3802 posts in 1954 days

#8 posted 05-18-2014 07:28 PM

If you can find the model number you might have some luck finding someone online that has repaired a similar one. Or take pictures when you get the motor cover off and I bet the guys here can help you fix it.

View summerfi's profile


3912 posts in 1680 days

#9 posted 05-18-2014 07:56 PM

Thanks for the replies guys. Fred, thanks for the recall info. I wasn’t aware of that.

For what it’s worth, the model number of my saw is 113.198211. It is the same as model 113.198251 except with a more deluxe stand.

I believe the problem with my saw is the centrifugal switch on the end of the motor shaft opposite of the blade. I’ve read several other accounts of people with a similar problem. I just took the motor cover off and cleaned that switch as best I could. It did have a little pitchy sawdust in it that may have prevented it from closing or opening completely. The saw seems to be working for now, but I’ll have to monitor it to see if it continues to work.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- Rocky Mountain Saw Works

View muleskinner's profile


896 posts in 2430 days

#10 posted 05-18-2014 11:29 PM

Just to be a little contrary – I went for years with a RAS as my primary saw. Used it for cross cuts, miters, dados, and yes, ripping. When I acquired a TS and some other machines the RAS became mostly redundant. I finally gave it to my son-in-law and went with a SCMS. I really don’t miss the RAS.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View hoosier0311's profile


706 posts in 2018 days

#11 posted 05-19-2014 01:07 AM

If mine broke I would fix it, or get another one. I use it alot.

-- atta boy Clarence!

View mountainaxe's profile


141 posts in 2498 days

#12 posted 05-19-2014 01:40 AM

I own both a Craftsman & a DeWalt RAS…wouldn’t work without them. They are the primary cutting tools in my shop; much more accurate than a table saw when correctly adjusted and really don’t take up too much room. Love those guys who hate them…keeps the prices down on Craigslist!

-- Jeff, "The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me."

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1285 posts in 3730 days

#13 posted 05-19-2014 02:06 AM

I believe there is still a recall on these older Craftman RAS. It was through Emmerson and they were giving $100 in exchange for sending the old motor back to them. They send a pre-paid shipping box for the motor. I did this many years ago with an old one I had.

Here is a link to the recall:

Might be the better way to go.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View John 's profile


253 posts in 3395 days

#14 posted 05-19-2014 02:37 AM

Just like alot of others, I wouldn’t give up my RAS for anything. When my first RAS went down, I searched until I found one in real decent shape since I didn’t want to buy a project. I tried to get used to not having it but I use it all the time. I usually use it for mostly cross cutting & dados. My 12” Dewalt Miter Saw just recently took a dump and I thought I would feel the same about it. Well, it’s been at least 4 Months and I really don’t miss it at all. To tell you the truth, the main reason why people complain about them is they lose their accuracy but I found that most Miter Saws do the same, sliding or not. When I need Dead Nut Miters, I use the Table Saw. Everyone is going to have their opinion but it boils down to what’s more convenient for you.

-- John

View MrUnix's profile


6695 posts in 2192 days

#15 posted 05-19-2014 03:15 AM

It’s either the centrifigal switch or capacitor (or both). Switch is an easy fix.. cleaning like you have already done and maybe giving it a bit of a lube at the piviot/slide points. Capacitor is an $8 part and from the parts diagram, it looks like just one screw to remove the cover to get to it. Also easy to test with a multimeter to see if it is bad or not.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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