All Replies on Radial Arm Saw Return Devices - what's your opinion?

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View Underdog's profile

Radial Arm Saw Return Devices - what's your opinion?

by Underdog
posted 08-11-2017 02:46 PM

13 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6421 posts in 3343 days

#1 posted 08-11-2017 03:40 PM

I’ve used an RAS regularly since the very early 80s, and have never had such a device. I just don’t see them as being of use. Since I’ve never had one I have no idea of how that might affect safety. I can’t imagine it making the saw safer, but I could see it being unsafe (just a swag). I do know a fellow that made his own by putting a weight on the end of a rope (maybe it was a steel cable) that went around some pulleys and would return the carriage to the stopped position. Everytime I asked why that was so important to him, I wouldn’t get a real concise answer.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View TungOil's profile


1382 posts in 1345 days

#2 posted 08-11-2017 07:07 PM

I agree with Fred. the RAS has been in my workflow since the ‘70’s and I see no need for such a device. I’d rather NOT have the saw move on it’s own actually.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16904 posts in 3468 days

#3 posted 08-11-2017 07:20 PM

I have a RAS without a return device. My thought is, anything that would lull me into thinking I could safely let go of the RAS handle while the saw is still running is a very bad thing. As it is, I very deliberately return the saw to the backmost position before releasing it and reaching straight for the power switch. Maybe a return spring would keep it from moving at that point? But I have the detent turn screw ‘friction fit’ alongside the MBF’s carriage head to keep it stable.

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

View MrUnix's profile


8212 posts in 3049 days

#4 posted 08-11-2017 07:28 PM

Obviously not dangerous, or Delta would not be selling them… but they aren’t for safety either. According to Delta, it helps “speed up production”, although how it helps speed things up or by how much is not really qualified. I would not want one, as I don’t really see a need for it – And at almost $200, I am not going to get one just to try it out :)


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 1749 days

#5 posted 08-11-2017 09:03 PM

I had one on my 16” RAS. I used the return spring and cable until it broke.
I thought it was nice not having to push the heavy cartridge back to it’s starting position.
The spring cable nicely balanced the weight. It never did pull the saw back by itself.
I would put one back on if I ever take the time to order another one.

View eflanders's profile


326 posts in 2700 days

#6 posted 08-12-2017 04:54 PM

I added one to my saw by adding a pull and a counter weight. The trick is in getting the right weight. I like it and wouldn’t think of removing it.

View ohtimberwolf's profile


1009 posts in 3202 days

#7 posted 08-13-2017 01:25 PM

I’m with smitty on this. I NEVER let go of my saw and always have a firm grip on it while expecting that anything could happen at any moment. I believe that has helped me have zero problems ever since I first bought the saw save one instance early on when I made the mistake of being too lax at thinking of what could or might happen.

I use my radial arm saw a lot.

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1731 posts in 2580 days

#8 posted 08-13-2017 02:34 PM

I worked in a shop in the 70’s that had 8 RAS’s set up for different cuts. Each one had a 5 lb piece of lead attached to a line that went through a pulley, and then to the motor. It kept the saw back up against it’s stop, and when making a cut, it kept the saw from over cutting or climbing if that’s the proper term. It worked great for those applications.

When I started my own cabinet/furniture shop in ‘78, I never had the desire to make a RAS part of my equipment because slide boards were more accurate using a table saw. I’ve been given several RAS’s, and as soon as I get one, I give it to someone else. Don’t like them…......... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View JackDuren's profile


1324 posts in 1810 days

#9 posted 08-13-2017 02:43 PM

I see nothing wrong with it for production use…A plus…

View Underdog's profile


1524 posts in 2886 days

#10 posted 08-15-2017 12:48 PM

Assessments of this accessory are mixed. Not surprising given the diversity here.

I’m wondering though, if there are any objective criteria either way to support these conclusions?

I was instructed to install them on our Radial Arm Saws by the insurance company. I’m sure it’s a safety driven thing, but I wonder if they have any objective criteria for insisting we have them?

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Dwain's profile


618 posts in 4709 days

#11 posted 07-13-2018 09:01 PM

Late to the party, sorry. My concern is that a user would get lazy knowing the pull back feature is there and simply let go of the carriage handle. I think it would lead to bad habits.

My two cents.

-- 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 John Smith's profile (online now)

John Smith

2674 posts in 1013 days

#12 posted 07-13-2018 10:20 PM

even though this is an old thread, I think the information is still current.

when I worked for Lockheed-Martin, the return spring was mandatory
for the reason: “if for any reason, you bend down to pick something up
off the floor, there is no possibility that you can contact the blade when
you stand up.” that was the only reason that was given to me.
this was on a 14” RAS which could inflict considerable damage or death
if a person should stand up and come in contact with a spinning blade.



-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View MrRon's profile


5934 posts in 4093 days

#13 posted 07-14-2018 08:08 PM

I never realized there was such a device available and even if I did, I really don’t see any good reason to have one. I have had 3 RAS’s and still use one in my shop along with other sawing machines. My only safety device is my own common sense around power tools. I am 83 and still have all my limbs. I have worked around dangerous power tools all my adult life.

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