Are Radial Arm Saws a thing of the past?

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Forum topic by Tooch posted 01-07-2016 10:36 AM 4291 views 0 times favorited 77 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2013 posts in 2675 days

01-07-2016 10:36 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question radial arm saw compound sliding miter saw miter saw

I am currently in the middle of renovating my the production lab at work, which is a high school wood shop. As part of the renovation, I am going to be building a large fixed base Miter Saw station with extensions that will be roughly 13’-14’ long. In order to fit this in the same working space, I may have to get rid of the older Radial Arm Saw that we have.

Now it should be mentioned that the RAS the I have is an older Craftsmen model, and is frequently thrown out of square from students releasing the blade too soon and the yoke crashes back into position. Its main purpose is for rough cutting longer stock, and we never use it for miter cuts. We also have 2 table saws in the shop, so using it to rip is not an issue either.

My thought is just to get rid of it all together. Maybe sell it on craigslist or ebay, and use the funds to purchase materials needed for the renovations like ductwork for the new DC or plywood for the new miter saw station. However, I don’t want to do anything hasty, and find myself regretting it later.

My other though is just to wait until next year and pickup another relatively inexpensive CSMS, which brings me to the main question- Are Radial Arm Saws just a thing of the past?

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

77 replies so far

View Woodmaster1's profile


1499 posts in 3386 days

#1 posted 01-07-2016 10:45 AM

I like my home shop radial arm saw. Since yours is old and hard to keep square l would go with high quality sliding miter saw. I got rid of my school shops rs for the same reasons you are experiencing. I was happy with my choice.

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4444 posts in 3361 days

#2 posted 01-07-2016 11:28 AM

A few months ago I was given a 1956 Dewalt and it is still considered top of the line. I am slowly restoring it and once done I do not thing a Miter saw can touch it.

I am taking some before and during and after picture I will show in the future. I am very glad I have it but the Craftsmen were not to highly rated after they Bought and sold Dewalt they went down hill fast.

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 2030 days

#3 posted 01-07-2016 12:21 PM

A RAS will give you a larger cross cut area than a miter saw. It will also many times cut more true in my opinion than a miter saw. Here is the catch: a Craftsman saw will never give you a good cut. Drop the cash on an old Delta or DeWalt. If you get one of these old beasts they will be miles ahead of a craftsman. We had 2 of these in the shop I used to work in and they were always dead on.

I would not rip on one mainly because I like a TS for this and am much more comfortable on it. You can also spin a molding head on a RAS and do some neat stuff.

Basically get a good, old, heavy RAS. Spend time getting it set up and you will be happy. Also get a negative hook blade for it. That makes a world of difference.

Who threw away a cman RAS because it was more pain than it was worth.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6301 posts in 3293 days

#4 posted 01-07-2016 12:28 PM

What Steve said…I blame the demise of the RAS squarely on Sears and the awful Craftsman saws they tried to market as the only tool needed for a shop. (PS< I fully realize that some folks get good results from their Craftsman saws; I just think they are in the minority…I had 2 and neither was worth a chit.)However, look into the recall when you decide to let it go….you get $100 for the motor (probably).

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

View Robert's profile


3781 posts in 2280 days

#5 posted 01-07-2016 12:32 PM

I think they are becoming obsolete with the advant of the SCMS. There is a reason why Powermatic, Jet and Grizzly don’t make one. (Probably should also ask the legal dept.)

Yes, I think you should get rid of it for several reasons:

1. That C’man is not a quality machine.
2. It is one of the most dangerous/scary power tools in the shop.
3. Most modern versions are underpowered which makes them more dangerous.

In your shop safety has to be the first concern.
A sliding miter saw is also dangerous but having the ability to cut against the rotation of the saw instead of pulling it through the cut makes is much less so. Several models have capability of raising blade. Don’t know about holding dado sets.

Arlin, nice acquisition. I had an older 9” model DW (the ones that said AMF on it). Solid as a rock. The motor finally wore out and I couldn’t justify getting it rewound. If I could ever find one reasonable enough I would grab it in a NY minute.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View TinWhiskers's profile


179 posts in 1752 days

#6 posted 01-07-2016 01:03 PM

My neighbor picked up a 60s Craftsman RAS and reconditioned it. The plan was to put in my shop and he could use it when he wanted. Free is good. Sat mostly unused for a couple years. Right now it is dedicated with a dado set. I agree it is the most dangerous tool in the shop. Only tool I unplug after use.

View Sundowner's profile


42 posts in 2734 days

#7 posted 01-07-2016 02:26 PM

My neighbor picked up a 60s Craftsman RAS and reconditioned it. The plan was to put in my shop and he could use it when he wanted. Free is good. Sat mostly unused for a couple years. Right now it is dedicated with a dado set. I agree it is the most dangerous tool in the shop. Only tool I unplug after use.

- TinWhiskers

an RAS with a dado set in it is the most terrifying woodworking tool I can imagine, and yes, I have one. When my wife and cousin started using the woodshop on a regular basis I unplugged it and moved out of the work flow area for fear that they might sue it. it sits in a quiet corner in the loft where it can’t hurt anyone.

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2806 days

#8 posted 01-07-2016 02:44 PM

”Are Radial Arm Saws just a thing of the past?”

Not in MY shop !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 3096 days

#9 posted 01-07-2016 03:07 PM

If you plan on getting another miter saw anyway just get rid of it. That’s a tool that demands respect and I don’t know how many high school kids get that concept.

View a1Jim's profile


118079 posts in 4376 days

#10 posted 01-07-2016 03:30 PM

Some folks like them but I found it took up too much room in my shop,when I sold mine I only got $20 after dropping the price day after day for a week and then I had to talk the buyer into it.


View ThomasChippendale's profile


244 posts in 1731 days

#11 posted 01-07-2016 03:40 PM

A DeWalt 9 inches has been the centerpiece of our shop when I was a kid, we did everything with it, from ogee to sanding and ripping. Now with a fully equiped workshop, I have a 10 inch DeWalt from the eighties and it was hard to keep square. Since I only use it for mitter and cross-cut on long, heavy lumber. I tightened the collets between the rear post and the arm and base so it basically locked tight at 90 degrees. I gives me perfect 90 degrees cuts everytime and 45 degrees also with a simple triangle that I set between the stock and the fence.

-- PJ

View hoss12992's profile


4172 posts in 2692 days

#12 posted 01-07-2016 03:51 PM

I tend to agree with the majority on the RAS. My father bought one for his shop when I was a kid. Only saw he ever had. I had never used it. Fast forward to 2007. My wife found one cheap at a yard sale. I went and bought the Craftsman. I have used it a few times but consider it pretty much a accident waiting to happen so the days of mine being used as a RAS have long since past. With that being said you are in a perfect position to teach the kids a VERY valuable lesson that will stay with many of your students for a lifetime. The ability to think outside the box and take a old tool that has become obsolete and make it into a useful tool for little or no cost. The old RAS make a wonderful disc sander. Even if you already have one the lesson that can be learned would justify keeping it. There are several advantages to using it as a disc sander over a store bought disc sander. Hope this helps buddy

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View bandit571's profile


26092 posts in 3483 days

#13 posted 01-07-2016 03:57 PM

For all the ones bashing the Craftsman RAS…..remember, Norm used one in the New Yankee Workshop…

For the record….Sears NEVER made a tool. Think about that for a moment…...They would contract out to different suppliers. All the suppliers would then apply a Craftsman name plate.

Worked for a construction company…..back at the “Barn” they did have an older Craftsman RAS. They used the heck out of it. If a Man-lift cage needed a new floor installed, they saw down some 2×10s to length with it, and bolt the planks in place. If they need special wooden concrete forms made up, parts were cut at the RAS. Top was 8’ to either side of the blade, too.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View 716's profile


502 posts in 1716 days

#14 posted 01-07-2016 04:27 PM

I was surprised to see this kind of saw in the local rather higher end lumberyard.

-- It's nice!

View 716's profile


502 posts in 1716 days

#15 posted 01-07-2016 04:34 PM

The old RAS make a wonderful disc sander.
- hoss12992

Doesn’t it trash sand disks due to the very high speed ?

-- It's nice!

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