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Dead Radial Arm Saw - Repair, Scrap, or Replace?

13918 Views 26 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  MrRon
I've used a radial arm saw all my life, and find it indispensable for making crosscuts when cutting stock to length. I don't really use it for anything else. My current saw, an older Craftsman, has a motor problem. When the switch is turned on, the motor hums but doesn't spin. Usually if I spin the shaft by hand (with blade off of course) I can get it to start, but it is slow to get up to speed. I've taken the cover off, blown out the dust, and cleaned the contacts on what looks to be a relay switch of some sort. Sometimes it starts, sometimes not, but it is always slow to get going when it does start. I think the problem is in a capacitor, relay, or switch somewhere in the motor, but I don't know how to fix it myself.

So I'm considering my options. Option 1: Take the motor out and take it to a motor shop. My guess is they won't be able to fix it due to unavailability of parts for this older saw. Option 2: Look for another used RAS. Option 3: Scrap the RAS and buy a sliding miter saw for making crosscuts.

I've never used a sliding miter saw and I'm not sure how I would like it. I do like a RAS and hate to give it up. So I have two questions. 1. Does anyone have any tips for fixing this motor? 2. If the motor can't be fixed, would you go with another RAS or a miter saw, and why?
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I won't be much help with the motor, but would never be without my RAS. If all you really do is cross cut a sliding miter may be ok for you. I do a lot a dado work with the RAS. Yes I know there are other ways, but not for me.

Plus its possible to rip with a RAS should the need arise. try that trick with a sliding miter.

I used have some accessories for my RAS. I had a drum sander off the back side. I don't use it any more, but again, its possible should the need ever arise again.
Sounds like a failing capacitor. It's in there somewhere where you
should be able to get at it. Simple repair. A motor shop will
do it for you of course, but at more expense and hassle than
doing it yourself since you'll have to take the saw apart.

If you can get the capacitor out, a motor shop can test it
for you and sell you a similar one if it's bad. They certainly
can last a long time but they all give out eventually.
Motor shop.
I had the same problem with a Craftsman RAS--
Gave up on it.
The sliding miter is a lot more portable and will do most of what the RAS did.-- except of the ripping; the table saw dose that well.

Get one with a laser on it though. Some even have digital angle gauges.

Test drive a few if possible to see which you like!

Or If you decide to do a RAS-C'ist and buy a used "Better quality one" and if it smells funny when you start it--
That is not the one you want! In our area they even give working ones away sometimes on C'list! So do searches!
I'd send it in for the $100 recall money (if it's eligible), and then shop for either a Dewalt RAS, or one of the Delta turret arm saws. I won't be without an RAS in my shop, and right now those are Dewalts.
I have and use both. I personally don't think you will be happy with the sliding miter saw but that is just me. I own a Bosch 12" sliding miter saw. It doesn't have the cut capacity of the RAS. Some people talk bad about the radial arm saws but they must have some qualities or the public would have stopped buying them and with the decline in the market the manufacturers would have stopped making them. There has been a big decline due to the sliders but the demand is still there. I think using a sliding saw in place of the RAS is like using false teeth. They are a good substitute but they are still a substitute and nothing is like the real thing.
1 then 2. I personally don't like sliding mitre saws. Love my ras.
If you can find the model number you might have some luck finding someone online that has repaired a similar one. Or take pictures when you get the motor cover off and I bet the guys here can help you fix it.
Thanks for the replies guys. Fred, thanks for the recall info. I wasn't aware of that.

For what it's worth, the model number of my saw is 113.198211. It is the same as model 113.198251 except with a more deluxe stand.

I believe the problem with my saw is the centrifugal switch on the end of the motor shaft opposite of the blade. I've read several other accounts of people with a similar problem. I just took the motor cover off and cleaned that switch as best I could. It did have a little pitchy sawdust in it that may have prevented it from closing or opening completely. The saw seems to be working for now, but I'll have to monitor it to see if it continues to work.
Just to be a little contrary - I went for years with a RAS as my primary saw. Used it for cross cuts, miters, dados, and yes, ripping. When I acquired a TS and some other machines the RAS became mostly redundant. I finally gave it to my son-in-law and went with a SCMS. I really don't miss the RAS.
If mine broke I would fix it, or get another one. I use it alot.
I own both a Craftsman & a DeWalt RAS…wouldn't work without them. They are the primary cutting tools in my shop; much more accurate than a table saw when correctly adjusted and really don't take up too much room. Love those guys who hate them…keeps the prices down on Craigslist!
I believe there is still a recall on these older Craftman RAS. It was through Emmerson and they were giving $100 in exchange for sending the old motor back to them. They send a pre-paid shipping box for the motor. I did this many years ago with an old one I had.

Here is a link to the recall:

Might be the better way to go.
Just like alot of others, I wouldn't give up my RAS for anything. When my first RAS went down, I searched until I found one in real decent shape since I didn't want to buy a project. I tried to get used to not having it but I use it all the time. I usually use it for mostly cross cutting & dados. My 12" Dewalt Miter Saw just recently took a dump and I thought I would feel the same about it. Well, it's been at least 4 Months and I really don't miss it at all. To tell you the truth, the main reason why people complain about them is they lose their accuracy but I found that most Miter Saws do the same, sliding or not. When I need Dead Nut Miters, I use the Table Saw. Everyone is going to have their opinion but it boils down to what's more convenient for you.
It's either the centrifigal switch or capacitor (or both). Switch is an easy fix.. cleaning like you have already done and maybe giving it a bit of a lube at the piviot/slide points. Capacitor is an $8 part and from the parts diagram, it looks like just one screw to remove the cover to get to it. Also easy to test with a multimeter to see if it is bad or not.

Take it to Hellgate Tool Repair. I like my RAS too.
Brad - Thanks for that info. I suspect it is not the capacitor because at the moment (after cleaning the centrifugal switch) the saw is running fine again. However, for future reference, would you explain how to test the capacitor with a multimeter. Thanks!
Look up your model on They will have the parts and they get them out quick. I think it is the capacitor and those are nothing to replace. Wire it one wire at a time as you take off the old one. And if it is not the capacitor, you can return the part for a full refund except for a restocking fee of $2. Really great people to know in the part business. Several times they have spent several days looking around for a part they didn't have and they usually find what you need.
I would just get a sliding miter saw. Much more accurate than a RAS, takes less room and cheaper if new. I see a lot of RAS on creigs list for $100-$200. I wonder why?
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