radial arm saw

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Review by runngt posted 03-05-2008 08:08 PM 33821 views 1 time favorited 44 comments Add to Favorites Watch
radial arm saw No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I have read a few reviews and topics about how dangerous radial arm saws are and that now days they have out lived their purpose in wood working. This is something I just don’t get as this was the second tool I purchased for my shop (like new, second hand for $250) and has been one of the best tools and one of my favorites since I brought it home. They are like any tool in your shop dangerous and reading the owners manual twice on this tool is a must. They have a tendency to produce kick back when certain cuts are not performed correctly.

The craftsman professional does have a recall out so please see their web site if you own this tool already to see if you are affected. I think they will send replacement parts and a new top even if you are not the original owner to the saw.

This model uses a 10” blade with lazer guide and a 3hp max motor which has shown no trouble slicing through any material I have run it through. The lazer guide works great and very bright although I have noticed it to be about 1/16” off.

The saw travel on the arm is motorized with an easy to use “a b c” speed selector thumb wheel switch right on the saw handle, slight pulling pressure and away you go. My experience with the saw has led me to keep this in the slowest setting as it feels too fast otherwise. The travel length is around 12” – 14”

The blade height is easy to adjust with a spin of the crank wheel located right under the table surface. I am not sure of the max height (will have to measure) as it has been beyond any of my needs. This is a very useful feature when cutting half laps in 4×4 post which I have done with great results.

One of my favorite features is that the arm can swing left or right for miter cuts up to about 50 degrees. This is done by pulling back on the quick release lever located on top of the arm, swing the way you want and release the lever. There are built in lock stops at most typical angles and a degree gauge for referance right on top of the saw.

On top of left and right arm swing you can also tilt the saw on the arm left or right about 50 degrees as well. The scale goes beyond that but the tilt is limited by the cord length and guards hitting. This is useful in making beveled miter cuts.

The saw can also be pulled out tp any position on the arm locked in place and spun left or right depending on the cut you are making and the blade in referance to the distance from the fence (please read owners manual on this one as this is the dangerous cuts) this has shown to handy when cutting up large stock to smaller widths and very accurate I might add as i have done this a few times. The table saw would be a better and safer option than the radial arm saw here but the saw is capable of making these cuts.

The fence that comes with the saw is MDF with the main table bolted down and an adjustable back fence for various depths depending on the width of the MDF and the order you place them in. The saw blade does travel through the fence so this material will be cut up pretty good and need replacement after a while as well as the table top. (see photo of mine after a year or so of use)

One item I would like to try on this saw is a stacked dado blade. I think this would be the perfect tool on this as the blade and your cut will be on top for a clear view for us beginners in lieu of blind cutting on the table saw.

All and all I love this tool and it’s many uses. It fills a voild between my miter saw and table saw and I have yet to use it to it’s full capabilities. For a list price of $699 it is a little pricey, but I think it is worth the money in the end and a great multifunctional tool.

-- It seem's I just make scrap wood and saw dust most of the time !

View runngt's profile


120 posts in 4627 days

44 comments so far

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4632 days

#1 posted 03-05-2008 09:14 PM

I have used the ras for dado cuts and it does work well. The main thing to be concerned about on radials is the grind of the blade you’re using. It needs to have a very low rake angle (ie 5 degrees or less) to prevent the blade from grabbing the work.

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4642 days

#2 posted 03-05-2008 09:16 PM

I a glad to see a review from someone who uses one and likes it. I have recently bought one and plan to use it primarily to cut half laps with a dado blade. On occasion when the miter will not make the cut I will switch over to a good quality cross cutting blade.

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

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4632 days

#3 posted 03-05-2008 09:22 PM

I should have mentioned, Forrest Manufacturing makes or will grind saw blades especially for the RAS. They have a stacked dado set that has a negative hook or rake on all the blades, including the chippers. Their blades are expensive, but I think worth it. I’ve been using them for about 10 years. They will also use their special sharpening process on any blade and it will cut better than when you bought it.

View RickH's profile


18 posts in 4636 days

#4 posted 03-05-2008 09:25 PM

I agree – that a RAS is extremely useful. I would never do without mine. I have a Sears classic – bought new ~1971. I used it for many table saw functions until I finally got a table saw awhile back. Sears tried to recall this saw but they offered no replacement – just a check for $100 if I sent in the motor. What was I supposed to do then? They were apparently concerned about lawsuits and the fact that this earlier model now comes with a better safety guard. For the work I do with it the existing guard works fine – after seeing the newer saws with their elaborate guards I think they could be less safe because all the new guards make it hard to see your workpiece.

One thing I did that helped was install a blade with a negative 5 degree pitch. This really helped reduce the tendency for the saw to want to pull itself into the work. If you want to use a dado in your RAS this is something you have to be careful of – all those extra teeth want to pull the saw ahead if you are using it in the cross-cut mode (not in ripping mode).

I made a much larger – and better table – for this saw than the original. It is more solid and supports work better. The next thing I want to add is the new Incra ruler / stop for compound miter saws and RAS’s. It allows you to set up their ruler to a precise distance from the blade so you can quickly determine cut lengths.


-- Rick - OC, CA

View dvdove's profile


1 post in 4622 days

#5 posted 03-05-2008 09:38 PM

OLDEST tool in my shop but still holds PERFECT ALLIGNMENT Demands constant safety But I still have all my fingers and never had a kick-back


View Yettiman's profile


163 posts in 4626 days

#6 posted 03-06-2008 12:03 AM

Hi Guys,

I am just finishing my first workshop, I have been offered a RAS and want to build it into my bench. Does anyone have any plans, ideas thoughts on the matter.

Thanks chaps, really appreciate it

-- Keep your tools sharp, your mind sharper and the coffee hot

View Bob42's profile


457 posts in 4678 days

#7 posted 03-06-2008 03:04 AM

I have an older model 113.1992 10”. I run mine on 220v and it cuts like butter. I have used it many times with a stacked dado and have had very good results on oak. I take smaller cuts so it doesn’t grab the wood and it seems to work fine.
You will go through fences and tops if you use it a lot but I think it’s a small price to pay, I love my RAS, but haven’t used it in a while, need to re-arrange my shop and build a new bench for it so I can get to work.

-- Bob K. East Northport, NY

View Don Niermann  's profile

Don Niermann

219 posts in 4860 days

#8 posted 03-06-2008 03:51 AM

I got the upgrade on the saw guard a few years ago and would not part with the RAS for anything.

-- WOOD/DON ( has the right to ones opinion but not the right to ones own facts...)

View Pretzel's profile


93 posts in 4633 days

#9 posted 03-06-2008 08:12 AM

My father gave & taught me to use one @13yrs old, still have it and use it. 33yrs, still have 10 fingers, safety is important with any machine. The RAS is the go-to saw in my shop.

-- Pretzel L8agn

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

412 posts in 4720 days

#10 posted 03-06-2008 01:56 PM

I recently picked one of these up at a Sears store when they were selling off their floor samples—same price $250. I couldn’t pass it up. Mine needs a few replacement parts and I still need to get it properly installed into the workbench, but I plan to install a stacked dado blade in it and keep it primarily for half-laps and dados. Thanks for the review!

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View runngt's profile


120 posts in 4627 days

#11 posted 03-06-2008 03:44 PM

Norn did a RAS built up bench a few weeks ago. might keep an eye out as it was pretty darn nice from what I recall. I also want to put in a full lenght bench for this and my miter saw, have plan ideas in my head but not on paper yet. Maybe a “custom tool bench” review (on any tool) would be useful for us “green” guys. I know I could look at something you guys came up with and maybe tweek it to fit my needs a little, or it could give me some ideas I had not thought about already. I have been thumbing through the “my shops” area for ideas already and plan to add mine once I can get some good pics to along with it!

Thanks for the comments guys. I am tring to put up some reviews on tools that are not already up. Kinda feels like I am tryiing to sell them sometimes when writing the review or that I am putting up info you guys already know about the tools, but I want to be as indepth as possible for the ones that don’t or have not seen them already. Also I am only a saw dust make not an English major so please excuse any mis-spelled words or poor sentance grammer ! : )

-- It seem's I just make scrap wood and saw dust most of the time !

View grovemadman's profile


737 posts in 4660 days

#12 posted 03-06-2008 07:53 PM

The first thing my Dad told me about the RAS is “now this thing is gonna want to grab some” We never had an accident in the shop related to any power tools that I recall. My Dad made us clamp all our work in place even if it meant a little extra time. We also were instructed to go slowly through the cut, never take your eye off of the blade and let the saw do the work! He also told us not to be afraid of the tool and remember to always be ready for the unexpected.

Most power tool accidents, regardless of the tool happen for one of two reasons – the first being improper knowledge of how to use the tool and second is being in a rush!!

I was 14 when my Dad first turned me lose on one of these saws and I am still here to tell about it. The reason people give them a bad name is because they didn’t know how to use the saw to begin with and had too much pride to admit it in the firstplace.

Great review BTW!!

-- "It is the job of the woodworker to hide his mistakes and keep a tight set of lips about them!"--Chuck

View Sawdustmaker's profile


295 posts in 4685 days

#13 posted 03-06-2008 11:31 PM

Thanks for the recall info link. I have this saw and I’ve never been sent anything by Sears.

-- Brian, Virginia Beach

View Pretzel's profile


93 posts in 4633 days

#14 posted 03-07-2008 01:16 AM

I agree with grovemadman, stay alert.

-- Pretzel L8agn

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

500 posts in 4670 days

#15 posted 03-07-2008 02:04 AM

I’ve use the same Sears RAS for the last 30+ years & never been even slightly hurt using it. I used to rip 45’s on long rough sawn cedar to make fake beams to hang on the ceiling & it was under powered and not the right tool for the job, but it was all I had so…

I’ve tried dados, but I REALLY REALLY do not like the saw for that use. Dado sets do not have the low rake needed to minimise the blade pulling into the work too fast to control.

Blade selection is all important for easy cutting on a RAS. I found out about 12 years ago that I never had the right blade. I got a Freud with a NEG 5 & it made me like the saw all over again. I set the saw up to only cut 90 deg. If I need any angles cut I use an add on wedge against the fence, or use the table saw.

If you keep your fingers out of the cut line I can’t see how you can get hurt making crosscuts with a RAS. Worst case is the motor stalls & you have to quick hit the off switch before the breaker blows. Moulding heads & dados could be dicey. I had a planer blade for the RAS but never used it—-too chicken!


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