Radial Saw Solution

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Project by DustyNewt posted 01-07-2011 12:16 AM 4563 views 2 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My dad’s 1966 radial arm saw had to go. Its footprint, with its stand, was too demanding for my meager shed. But, garage sale offers of $30 – 50, ticked me off. This is a great saw!

Since I am a maker of smallish items, I figure I can sacrifice some of my assembly/outfeed table. So this is my solution. I can still rip a 10 foot board with 11 inches to each side of my table saw blade, with a 3” height clearance (underneath the RAS). This is sufficient for me anyway.

I completely readjusted the saw so everything is square with no slop. I hope it stays that way. The working height of the RAS table is perfect for my aging eyes. I plan on devising jigs that can be clamped in the fence clamping mechanism for miters and hold-downs for the smaller chunks I work with. Any suggestions of other jigs or fixture you might have for a RAS, would be greatly appreciated.

-- Peace in Wood ~

20 comments so far

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4571 days

#1 posted 01-07-2011 12:33 AM

Nice set up.

I have the same saw, & bought it new for about $155.

I burned out the motor on it because of a low voltage problem, but I recently bought one on Craigs to replace it, was I ever happy. I had to pay $200 this time.

I made a lot of things over the years with that saw.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View parkerdude's profile


182 posts in 3723 days

#2 posted 01-07-2011 12:39 AM

Hi dustynewt,

Glad to see you keeping an old tool that works. I have a RAS too. I’m happiest cross cutting with my miter fence. I’d rather hold the work in such a way that allows me to keep the carriage at 90°.

Good luck, be safe.


-- dust control

View Routerisstillmyname's profile


763 posts in 3781 days

#3 posted 01-07-2011 01:48 AM

Sure wish I had a RS. looks awesome.

-- Router è ancora il mio nome.

View patron's profile


13643 posts in 3613 days

#4 posted 01-07-2011 02:09 AM

great solution to a space problem
glad you kept it

here’s how i do miters

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

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 3152 days

#5 posted 01-07-2011 02:50 AM

Nice save on the saw!

I have a table saw. Can anyone espouse the benefits of owning a radial arm saw?

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3944 days

#6 posted 01-07-2011 03:35 AM

Thats a great idea!

View tt1106's profile


138 posts in 3340 days

#7 posted 01-07-2011 03:50 AM

I just freecycled a shopsmith RAS. My uncle passed it on to me when he died. I have used the saw for some time and made lots of wonderful things with it. I was very glad to pass it on to someone who would use it and it free’d up some much needed floor space. Because my lovely bride bought me a Hitachi 12 in. sliding miter to replace my aging Delta cheapy, I needed the space more than I needed the saw. I will miss the table, it doubled as an assembly table and a router table on many occassions.

Ps.Radial arm saws are great for cross cutting and if the arbor is big enough it makes a great dado station. It happens that I love my table saw and don’t mind the set up time.

-- -Todd

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 3040 days

#8 posted 01-07-2011 04:25 AM

Great use of space, very ingenious.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View DustyNewt's profile


690 posts in 4134 days

#9 posted 01-07-2011 04:54 AM

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Great mitering method, Patron. I’ll have a go at that. The clamp and the pin are sufficient at holding the miter fence?

Ron ~ The RAS is great as a dadoing station and for cutting short rabbets. You can also rip, groove, raise panels, cut flush handholds. If you can find the accessories, you can even overhead shape and rout. It is a very versatile (if somewhat fussy) tool. I will dedicate this one to a few tasks that might save me some time changing my little, underpowered table saw.

-- Peace in Wood ~

View patron's profile


13643 posts in 3613 days

#10 posted 01-07-2011 05:34 AM

so long as the pin
(3/4” dowel for me)
is tight to the hole in the table
it works just fine

here is a table for dados
i made to

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

View Ted Pagels's profile

Ted Pagels

63 posts in 3334 days

#11 posted 01-07-2011 05:49 AM

The number of different operations that can be performed with a radial-arm saw are amazing. While it is mainly a crosscut saw, it can be used to rip, cut bevels or miters, dadoes and rabbets, form moldings, and in some cases, even serve as a guide for a router.

Of course, there are trade-offs to all of this versatility. For one, many radial arm saws are more difficult to set up cuts than some other tools. For instance, if you were cutting compound miters, you’d be able to set up a compound miter saw much more quickly and consistently than a radial arm saw. If you were ripping stock, a table saw is a much faster setup. However, a radial-arm saw can handle both tasks with ease, which gives considerable value.

-- Ted Pagels, Green Bay, WI

View optimusprime's profile


35 posts in 3035 days

#12 posted 01-07-2011 06:00 AM

rescued the exact same ras from craig’s for little or nothing (the guy just wanted it out of his new home:))it’s a fantastic saw, now if i could only figure out a way to transport it safely from job to job. JK!

-- Just hammering through life!!!

View ken_c's profile


327 posts in 3434 days

#13 posted 01-07-2011 02:21 PM

ahhh, the good old Wards power kraft – I have the same saw but banished it to my brother-in-laws place due to space as well.

View SPHinTampa's profile


567 posts in 3957 days

#14 posted 01-07-2011 04:21 PM

Nice set up.

Most of my project were built using my RAS. There are a couple of good books for the RAS:

- Fine Tuning your Radial Arm Saw by John Eakes. The RAS bible. Can be found on Amazon.
- How to Master the Radial Arm Saw by Wally Kunkle (Mr SawDust). Can be found using an internet search for the Mr. Saw Dust site. Wally is the father of the RAS.

They have all the jigs and tips you will ever need. The ones that I use the most often are:
- Mitre jig using a break fence
- Fence stop blocks
- Small piece hold downs (To get very square cuts, being able to clamp pieces to table and fence is helpful)

From the photos, it does not appear that you have channel on your fence or table for dust (sorry if it is there and I missed it). I found it helpful to have 1/8” channel in front of the fence to avoid having sawdust pushing the piece out of square.

RonPeters: I find the RAS to be extremely flexible in terms of the cuts that can be made and I feel safer making cuts on the RAS compared to the TS because I can see the blade and control it’s path. This is particularly helpful for cutting with a dado set.

People have a phobia about rip cuts on the RAS that I do not share and have not experienced as being worse than the TS (ripping is easier on the TS though).

I find the RAS with the proper jigs to be a lot more accurate than a compound miter saw (IMHO) for complex cuts. Also I find the big work surface, longer cross cut length and greater flexibility in blade position to be advantageous for both cross cuts and specialty cuts.

When I started, I only had two power tools – a router and a RAS. Unless you can afford a real TS, I think the RAS is a better starting point. In my opinion you can get a used RAS for $100-200, tune it up and do a lot more than you will be able to on a 10” benchtop or contractor saw that costs $500-700. It takes a little longer to set up custs accurately and safely but these are good habit to learn when you are starting.

-- Shawn, I ask in order to learn

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3994 days

#15 posted 01-07-2011 09:00 PM

Nice set up. I am a fan of RAS’s and really like to see when people keep them around.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

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