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Forum topic by giser3546 posted 09-17-2014 04:01 PM 1015 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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giser3546

179 posts in 939 days


09-17-2014 04:01 PM

First some background… Currently I do not have a table saw. I have a Laguna 14 12 I do all my rip cuts on before smoothing with a hand plane and all my cross cuts are done on my 10” skil miter saw. My mother currently has a nice Jet sliding table cabinet saw that will probably be mine one day so I’m hesitant to invest in a table saw for the time being. I am starting to outgrow my miter saw considering how often I use the thing. I have looked into getting a nice sliding miter saw to replace it but am wondering if a radial arm saw could work, and also fulfill some of the functionality of a table saw until the time comes that I have one. I almost never work with large sheet goods so I’m not too worried about that. What is a good radial arm saw to look for? What’s best to avoid?

-- "If you wait for it to rain, It will"


19 replies so far

View toolie's profile

toolie

2025 posts in 2095 days


#1 posted 09-17-2014 04:51 PM

Avoid newer vintage c- man saws. Usually, in terms if good CL buys, the older and more CI the better. My mid 60s vintage c-man is great at cross cutting, but doesn’t like to be moved around. And almost all RASs are not portable.

-- there's a solution to every problem.......you just have to be willing to find it.

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giser3546

179 posts in 939 days


#2 posted 09-17-2014 05:12 PM

CI = Cast Iron?

-- "If you wait for it to rain, It will"

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Smitty_Cabinetshop

13738 posts in 2085 days


#3 posted 09-17-2014 05:15 PM

A 50s era DeWalt can typically be found in the $100 range and has all the stabilizing cast iron needed to make it a fine, long-lasting saw. And there’s documentation available (Mr. Sawdust) to calibrate it.

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

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Troy Cleckler

384 posts in 838 days


#4 posted 09-17-2014 05:27 PM

Agree with older cast iron models are better. They can be a hassel to adjust once off 90 degree. I just used mine to cut off. i’ve sence have sold it and replaced it with a sliding miter saw, which I fill is much safer to use and the fact that I got a really good deal on it. If you do decide to get one be careful as it will take getting used to because of the blade cutting towards you and you are pulling it towards you. If that makes sence? Just my opinion.

-- Troy. - Measure twice, cut once and fill the gaps....

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MrUnix

4244 posts in 1666 days


#5 posted 09-17-2014 05:52 PM

The RAS has, for the most part, been replaced by the sliding miter saw.. it is smaller, more portable and can do pretty much everything a RAS can do with just a few exceptions (like ripping stock, which IMHO, is pretty dangerous on a RAS and best left to other, safer machines). However, because of this, you can usually find a nice RAS pretty cheap. Around here, $100 is about the upper limit, with around $50 being the average asking price. If it were me, I’d save some shop space and spend my money on a larger SCM, but if you can find a nice older RAS for cheap, at least you won’t be out much cash if you decide it’s not as useful as you would like.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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distrbd

2228 posts in 1913 days


#6 posted 09-17-2014 06:13 PM


If it were me, I d save some shop space and spend my money on a larger SCM, but if you can find a nice older RAS for cheap, at least you won’t be out much cash if you decide it s not as useful as you would like.

Cheers,
Brad

- MrUnix


Well said Mr Unix.
If I may add,a 12” non slider miter saw will be more accurate than a 10” slider and just as versatile,the only reason I would buy a RAS now a days would be the price,with $50 to $100 you can have an older version of a good ($400 +) sliding miter saw .
If I has a RAS I would use it for dado /cross cuts only.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

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Minorhero

372 posts in 2072 days


#7 posted 09-17-2014 07:14 PM

A RAS properly setup and maintained is dead on accurate. Much more so then any sliding miter saw. The best have solid cast iron arms. I prefer the old dewalts but some folks like the older deltas with the spinning turret arm. Either way the key is the table. You can’t simply throw down a piece of plywood and call it a day. A proper table will use a replaceable sacrificial sheet of ply or mdf, and have a sandwich of materials underneath including steel support bars. You can find a great book called Mr Sawdust on the making of such a table.

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MrUnix

4244 posts in 1666 days


#8 posted 09-17-2014 07:44 PM

You can t simply throw down a piece of plywood and call it a day.

Well, you can if you really want to :)

I bought an older used Craftsman RAS back in the early 90’s that had gone through hurricane Andrew. Machine made it through just fine, but the particle board table was toast. I threw a scrap piece of 3/4 ply on as a table top, and screwed a 2×4 to it for a fence. After tweaking the adjustments, it was spot on. Used and abused it like that for a couple decades until Sears (Emerson) did their recall thing and I got a nice new MDF table top for free.. which was good timing as the plywood was, after all those years, on it’s last legs and needing to be replaced bad! Still have that saw out in the shop, although it’s not used as much as it was back before I got my CMS.

Not recommended and not pretty, but it can be done in some situations.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View Loren's profile

Loren

8314 posts in 3115 days


#9 posted 09-17-2014 08:04 PM

Radial arm saws can do some cool things most people
who use them never attempt. The carriage can
be turned for example, to cut tenon cheeks at any
angle with the work flat on the table.

If your needs run strictly to crosscutting and
occasional trenching cuts, then a slide compound
miter saw is quicker to use and set up. It’s
like, bam, the cut is done.

I’m not saying one is better than another. But
for carpentry work like hanging mouldings the
miter saw is a quicker tool to use. In a shop,
making furniture, a radial arm saw can serve
many roles.

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Don Niermann

214 posts in 3439 days


#10 posted 09-17-2014 08:05 PM

If you get a RAS Get some instructions n how to use it. It can be rugh to use wiith hold downs

-- WOOD/DON (...one has the right to ones opinion but not the right to ones own facts...)

View giser3546's profile

giser3546

179 posts in 939 days


#11 posted 09-17-2014 09:18 PM

Much appreciated guys, I’m so unfamiliar with RASs I’m not even sure if the depth is usually adjustable or if its all the way through or nothing like a miter saw. I hadn’t considered its usefulness with cutting tenons, although I hate to antiquate my much loved Veritas dovetail saw.

-- "If you wait for it to rain, It will"

View Loren's profile

Loren

8314 posts in 3115 days


#12 posted 09-17-2014 09:39 PM

Usually there’s a a crank either on top of the column
or at the front, under the table, that raises and lowers
the arm to adjust depth of cut. They do a more
consistent dado cut than a table saw can be relied
on to do.

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Grandpa

3256 posts in 2142 days


#13 posted 09-17-2014 09:52 PM

Dado’s are great on a radial arm. Miter saws can’t do these. They can be used to cut moldings. You can rip on them. Watch your safety practices if you do this. I have one and I have a SCMS. The miter saw is a top dollar unit and it isn’t accurate. I can be adjusted but it has to be don’t with about every use.

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Woodmaster1

738 posts in 2054 days


#14 posted 09-17-2014 10:11 PM

I have a 3hp 10” dewalt that is 40 years old. It is accurate and safe to use just follow the safety rules. When I taught woodworking I had the students use the RAS to make a variety of cuts except ripping.

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runswithscissors

2192 posts in 1492 days


#15 posted 09-18-2014 07:34 AM

A RAS isn’t the best for ripping, but it can be done. Be sure to feed the stock into the carbide—i.e. against the rotation, not with it. My uncle fed a piece in the wrong way and it shot clear across his garage and made a hole in the wall.

I always hoped to see MacGyver get locked inside a shop, and blast his way out by shooting a board through the RAS. Would also be a good way to scare the bad guys.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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