A Tale of Two Saws #1: Goodbye SCMS, Hello RAS

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Blog entry by Mikhail posted 10-14-2013 03:18 PM 1934 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of A Tale of Two Saws series Part 2: Along came a Dewalt...and a friend. »

I have 2 sliding compound miter saws. And I REALLY want to get rid of one, but WHICH one?

And I have been stuck on this for the last 6 years. 6 years of storing one and using the other. Or leaving them at different build sites on the property to save walking. Or having one outside and one in a shop.

I am sick of it. I do not need 2, that just earns me suspicious looks from the wife. (having them at 2 far points on the property helped having them not be noticed as much)

Now that I am living in small accommodations even storing one is much pain, much akin to attempting to sort stuff around a giant metallic statue of a tarantula. Each has value, but neither really fulfill all my needs.

The why of having 2 is just happenstance from replacing one that took a dive off a deck I was working on (snapped chassis holding the motor in place.) In midst of a busy build replacements were acquired and what should have been just one became two.

One is a 10” which has a 12” cut ability…the other is a 12” with a 9” cut. The 12” sits much higher and has a motor orientation angled to the blade…the 10” is set at 90 degrees…which is better? Hmmm.

Both have geeky laser indicators that I do not really use as I prefer to reference blade to wood.

Both suck up great amount of space in front and in back of the blade, and out both sides. What really bugs me is the amount of rear bench space I have to leave for the sliding function to work. See annoying spider reference above.

This really came to the forefront when attempting to plan out a better cabinet mount for one of them, and I decided to explain to the wife all this. Do I put them flush to a existing high bench, or use a pull out cabinet with temporary outriggers that sit in front of the bench. One option use up a BIG chuck of bench space, and the other uses up the space in FRONT of the bench, making access to the WHOLE bench harder. Hmmm.

I remember VERY distinctly saying “I am NOT trying to justify buying a new tool, I have 2! I am just trying to figure this out.”

Famous last words.

The next thoughts were….the closest equivalent would be a Radial Arm Saw, and everyone knows THOSE take up even more space in a small shop!

Then I got quiet. Or do they?

Hmmm. Longer cut capacity. Almost zero work top occupied. Blade returns almost flush to rear wall.Capable of dadoing, which the sliding compound miter saw is not.

I remember Norm using one.

A lot.


After researching this lead I am now in the market for a RAS to trade or replace the 12” SCMS. Some machine inspection before buying is needed and then some cleaning, refurb, and setup after SHOULD produce a functional and iconic piece of woodworking history.

Looks like I have to buy used as RAS just doesn’t seem to exist in woodworking stores anymore. Huh. Oh well, all the better for me.

So shortly I expect a new (to me) toy which should earn me x2 brownie points for low cash outlay, and FINALLY getting rid of an unneeded extra tool.

I now have another reason to watch early New Yankee workshop episodes. Ya!

11 comments so far

View Loren's profile


11549 posts in 5138 days

#1 posted 10-14-2013 04:06 PM

Look for an old DeWalt.

The Craftsman and similar saws are not built as tight.

Delta turret saws are decent but a used DeWalt will probably
be easier to find.

There are other good, lesser known brands, some old American
industrial ones and European ones too.

View Mikhail's profile


48 posts in 3181 days

#2 posted 10-14-2013 04:20 PM

Ah good to know. Thank you.

Does the old DeWalts have the same cut capacity? Or are they just better in all regards? I have been researching older models and havent been able to figure this out.

View Loren's profile


11549 posts in 5138 days

#3 posted 10-14-2013 08:40 PM

They were available in a range of sizes. I’d look for a 12” or
larger one if I were you. They can get worn though and
restoring them can get pricey.

I see a lot of old Dewalt radial saws on my local Craigslist
for cheap prices. I don’t have room for one but there
are times when such a saw would be handy to me.

The Original Saw Co. started out restoring old industrial
Dewalt saws and then started manufacturing them. I think
they may have acquired the tooling and patterns.

View Dwain's profile


623 posts in 5349 days

#4 posted 10-14-2013 09:07 PM

I think Loren is underselling the Delta turret model saws. They are far better than decent. The turrent model has been around for a long time and is a tried and true configuration that is just a bullet-proof as the DeWalt models. I have a Delta and am very, very happy with it. 2HP motor and runs on 220v. It’s second only to the tablesaw in my shop for most mass cutting tasks. That being said, the DeWalt saws look really cool. That is a big deal to me. You will be happy with either, so long as it cuts square at 90 degrees when you buy it, and it slides somewhat smoothly. I don’t use my saw for a lot of angle cuts, mostly cross cutting, so it rarely has a chance to get out of square. Either of these will be a great addition to your shop, just follow Loren’s advice, try to find a 12” model, be patient, and get the right blade. You can’t slap a table saw blade on one of these and expect quality results. Knotscott can send you down the right path. Good Luck!

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View kaetamer135's profile


17 posts in 3724 days

#5 posted 10-14-2013 10:18 PM

What part of the country are you in. I can make you a great deal on a Delta 16” if you’re anywhere near Denver. Scott

View Mikhail's profile


48 posts in 3181 days

#6 posted 10-14-2013 10:27 PM

I am in Nova Scotia, Canada but I really appreciate the offer. Denver I think is a bit out of shipping range (smile)

Here is my current selection:

There is a 10” Rockwell:

and a 12” Craftsman:

and a variety of 10” Craftsman saws.

Have sent out notes to them all to check for availability. The 2 above are 2 hours away, which is doable…the rest are closer.

Any of these look worth while?

View Bigrock's profile


292 posts in 4452 days

#7 posted 10-14-2013 10:44 PM

Fine Woodworking just wrote about CMS and it was written by Marc Adams. (Dec. 2013) Please read that article about the saws.
I was thinking about getting a slider until I read the Article.
Have Fun

View Dwain's profile


623 posts in 5349 days

#8 posted 10-14-2013 11:06 PM


I would stay away from the Craftsman saws as a rule of thumb. They are plentiful, and cheap, however they don’t meet the standards of the saws mentioned in the earlier posts. Of the three I would probably take the Rockwell, however I would be more patient. The right saw is out there and I don’t think any of the ones you listed are it. Be patient.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View Mikhail's profile


48 posts in 3181 days

#9 posted 10-15-2013 12:34 AM

Ok, Dwain. I appreciate the direction.

I will run with ‘good saws come to those that wait’ and keep my eyes open.

View Mikhail's profile


48 posts in 3181 days

#10 posted 10-18-2013 09:44 PM

Having just stayed up late to finish reading the amazing story of the DeWalt RAS in the book by Wally Kunkel (Mr Sawdust), I then dragged my sleep deprived carcass off to work….completely oblivious to an email that showed up in my inbox just before I left.

I did see the message when I came home though: There is a DeWalt Model MB available 2 hours from here if I want it. I will be driving out to have a look at it in the morning.

Mr Sawdust said there is probably one around, and he wasn’t kidding!

View dclark1943's profile


270 posts in 3678 days

#11 posted 02-20-2014 02:36 PM

Having spent 13 years in the classroom and 7 years in a cabinet shop – - I can tell you the downside of these saws- – They are always out of alignment. on the one pictured above, there are 3 pivot points that can “creep” or get jammed out of alignment. You’re right, they are an iconic part of our history, but I certainly got tired of the alignment issue – - some even had another pivot midway on the gantry. arrrrgh !

-- Dave, Kansas City

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