Bye gone Era #1: The Radial Arm saw, the unsung hero

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Blog entry by kenthemadcarpenter posted 10-12-2015 12:24 PM 1326 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Bye gone Era series no next part

I remember growing up as a kid, walking into my uncle’s wood shop, the fresh smell of sawdust in the air, the beautiful sound of his radial arm saw cutting through a piece of lumber, the versatility of this wonderful machine, there wasn’t a single thing this saw couldn’t do. Every piece of moulding in my Uncle’s house was made on that saw, every door frame he built, he used his radial arm saw, he ripped with it, he cross cutted with it, he did all his dadoes and rabbets with, So when i finally got my own house, just a few years ago, and started collecting my tools, i was dismayed when i couldn’t find a radial arm saw, i was further dismayed when I learned they no longer made them, so my hunt on Ebay and Craigs list began, Alas at local church Bizarre I found my first radial arm saw, a 1959 Dewalt /Black and Decker Power Shop, After much digging and researching I found out my saw was the last year that Dewalt was the manufactur, before the buy out was completed, all other power shops models manufactured after that eventual dropped the Dewalt tag and became Black and Decker Power Shop, (i have seen my exact saw with just the Black and Decker tags) a few months later I saw an ad on Craigslist for and craftsman radial arm saw for $75. I decided I wanted it. So I Grabbed it. I use both these saws quite extensively, I never understood why they got a bad rap, Two of my older brothers hated theirs and refused to ever use them. My self you can’t ask for a better tool to have in your work shop,

4 comments so far

View Ocelot's profile


3826 posts in 4132 days

#1 posted 10-12-2015 12:46 PM

I love my RAS. It was a gift from my Mom to my Dad in 1961 on his birthday.
I use it only for crosscutting and dados. I’ve never had the nerve to try a molding head.

Growing up, for me it was the saw. I remember the sound of the blade singing when Dad spun it up.

This would be the last power tool that I would give up.

Here’s my RAS setup.

The second one you have shown without a guard. Do you use it that way?!

I have from time to time wanted a 12”, but I suspect I’ll not buy one.


-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View kenthemadcarpenter's profile


124 posts in 2562 days

#2 posted 10-12-2015 01:29 PM

No Paul I never use it with out the guard, I actually took the guard off so i could swap the blade, My self I haven’t used moulding heads on mine, because I can’t find the guard for it, but my uncle does it all the time, you have to build a different fence for it. the put the head down, and set the molding heads so they in the middle of the fence, and run it through the same direction if you were ripping a board. It is actually pretty safe. By the way I am in love with your RAS. she is a real beauty.

View htl's profile


5628 posts in 2653 days

#3 posted 10-12-2015 10:45 PM

I built many a cabinet with a saw like yours way back when.
They are a great tool if my two car garage wasn’t so small I’d love another.
O! and I really liked the crank on the top of the Dewalt much better than reaching under the saw.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View kenthemadcarpenter's profile


124 posts in 2562 days

#4 posted 10-13-2015 02:29 PM

Right now I have my dewalt bolted to my work bench, but plan on building a cabinet later for it. I do prefer the crank up front and rob vs reaching under the saw.

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