Radial Arm Saw Virtues #1: RAS Part 1

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Blog entry by Bob Kollman posted 08-15-2011 03:01 AM 12591 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Radial Arm Saw Virtues series Part 2: RAS gathering ideas »

The Radial Arm Saw, is a great example of a tool that has gone from pearls to swine. As proof I offer the
Craigs list to you….A SCMS ten years old will average $ 200.00 to $ 300.00, with a new list price of
$ 250.00 to $ 600.00. A RAS ten years old will average from $75.00 to $ 150.00, with a new list price of
$ 700.00 to $ 2000.00. Portability, maintenance free, and the user friendly interface wins over practical,
versatile, and power. I love both tools and finally own both of them.

I purchased the above saw on Craigs list for $ 35.00, and with it I will receive a brand new table and blade
guard due to, recalls on craftsman RAS for years before 1993. Radial arm saws are the work horse of the
1950’s 60’s 70’s and 80’s. These machines were fitted with sanding drums, molding cutters, and router bits.
One machine, that had many functions. And yes they can dado grooves and rabbits, as well as make compound
miter cuts, rip, and cross cut.

I have purchased this saw soley as a dado cutter for 3/4” grooves, and maybe on occasion for other reasons.
I have wanted a RAS for several years now. and I think the low cost they sell for is not worthy of their
true value….( No I didn’t ask the seller to charge me more money). These machines add more capability
to any shop, and oppertunity to expand your skills.
This saw I purchased is missing the indicator arrow for the miter cuts, I may or may not replace it. It was
owned by a family that used it in the early years for home renovations, and then for the past 20 years
was moved from storage area to storage area without any use. Had they sold it in the late 80’s or early
90’s they would have got $ 400-350.

For now I am waiting the four to 8 weeks to recive my upgraded table and safety guard. I would welcome any
suggestions for -5 rake cheap dado blades model # and manufacture. Also any comments (positive) about how
you use your radial arm saw, things that work for you.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

12 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4729 days

#1 posted 08-15-2011 03:06 AM

Congrats, on a nice find. Welcome to the Radial Arm Saw club.

View Lenny's profile


1692 posts in 4583 days

#2 posted 08-15-2011 03:35 AM

Hi Bob. First things first: I will be sending a PM to you about that recall thing. I own and use (used it today) a Craftsman RAS. You will note in my profile that my wife bought it for me in 1979.

Now, congrats on such a great purchase. You will not regret having this in your shop. It will do all that a compound miter saw can do and more. From 1979 until I got my table saw in 2009, this was the workhorse of my shop. Some do not like to perform rip cuts on a RAS but I found that with a good sharp ripping blade and a well aligned saw, those cuts can be made worry free. You mention dedicating this to dado cutting. It is great for that function too. Check out my cupola build. I mentioned on that post how I returned to the RAS for the 45 degree slots I had to cut for the louvers. Let me know if I can answer any specific questions you have on the tool. Good luck and best wishes with it.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Don W's profile

Don W

19993 posts in 3624 days

#3 posted 08-15-2011 04:40 AM

There is a very similar topic here. I bought my used craftsman RAS somewhere’s around 20 years ago. I use it all the time. I like to dado with it, but just having a quick straight square crosscut anytime is invaluable to me. I wouldn’t even think of being without it.

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

View David Murray's profile

David Murray

187 posts in 4170 days

#4 posted 08-15-2011 12:33 PM

I bought my Craftsman RAS in 2005 and love it. If you have the room I would consider upgrading the table as I did with mine, it has been a valuable upgrade to my shop. Here’s a photo for you to take a look at.

-- Dave from "The Sawdust Shed"

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4247 days

#5 posted 08-15-2011 04:22 PM

David, I’d love to do that, but I think you have a large square foot advantage on me. My shop has
now become very cramped. As I looked at your shop I’d love to have the space you’ve got. I really
like the clean layout of your shop.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View patron's profile


13717 posts in 4397 days

#6 posted 08-15-2011 04:38 PM

here is my solution to the RAS

if you don’t have the space
and only want to do dadoes
here is a way to do them too

hope some of this will help

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View SST's profile


790 posts in 5251 days

#7 posted 08-15-2011 05:10 PM

Looks like a great score. That’s one shops tool that I never have used or owned, but probably wouldn’t pass up the deal that you got. Have fun. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4247 days

#8 posted 08-15-2011 06:21 PM

Yes David I like the dado jig and that is very doabable.

I would like to build one long table across the wall at the same height to accomidate

my RAS, SCMC, and miter saw. But I don’t have the hours available to do the job right

right now.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4810 days

#9 posted 08-15-2011 08:30 PM

Here is my solution and I still use mine all of the time.

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View Bertha's profile


13615 posts in 3749 days

#10 posted 08-15-2011 08:36 PM

sIKE, I thought about kicking the legs out from under mine & recapturing that space. However, my portable compressor fits under there quite well and he’s protected by the legs. I love my RAS.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View DanW's profile


123 posts in 4098 days

#11 posted 08-15-2011 08:59 PM

I have a duplicate to your’s. Mine (1st pic) has a roller table on it’s left and a miter saw to it’s right. I use mine almost exclusively to cut rough cut lumber (cut out bad knots, crosscut to rough dimensions, etc). I would not live without mine. I worked for an old carpenter (30 + years ago) that had a fancy table that set miters, that went on in place of the fence. We used that saw for everything!
Your’s looks to be in pretty good shape.

BTW, if you write or call Craftsman, they’ll send you a new guard “and” table top. At least they did mine about 7 years ago. Good luck with it.

-- "Let he who does not work in wood, find something else that's half as good." (can't remember who I'm quoting)

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4247 days

#12 posted 08-15-2011 09:19 PM

sIKE, that is a good looking set up. Have to work now will check out your sight later.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

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