Radial Arm Saw...Yay or Nay

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Forum topic by Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop posted 01-21-2013 06:02 PM 2890 views 0 times favorited 106 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop

646 posts in 3658 days

01-21-2013 06:02 PM

Topic tags/keywords: radial arm saw

Been designing my shop layout for cabinets to build in the spring. I have a RAS and Compound Sliding MS. I get great use from the MS but I hardly ever use the RAS. I made a sled for my table saw to do all my wide crosscutting on the Table Saw which in essence replaces the need for a RAS. What is everyone’s take on the question…..?


-- Drew -- "I cut it twice and it's still too short!"- Rock-n H Woodshop - Moore, OK

106 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6720 posts in 3460 days

#1 posted 01-21-2013 06:06 PM

My shop will never be without an RAS again. But then, I’m a little weird and put my miter saw in the shed for home improvement projects. I think you answered your own question: if you hardly ever use it, then why have it taking up room? Mine is one of the most used tools in the shop, but like I said, I’m a little weird. The RAS seems to be a love/hate tool, you’re either on one side or the other.

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

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 3077 days

#2 posted 01-21-2013 06:09 PM

I have both. If my shop was bigger I would have both setups. A radial saw has a longer cross cut capability that a miter saw. But a poor radial can allow the arm to flex. At least mine does. Cut a dado and the depth will be less in the front end of the board. Now that I know of this problem, the solution is simply to cut the dado twice.
If I could only have one it would be the miter saw.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View pintodeluxe's profile


6290 posts in 3780 days

#3 posted 01-21-2013 06:13 PM

If you have the floor space and the tool, why not set it up? Since you have two other ways to crosscut, it may not be used much. You could put a dedicated crosscut blade in it for finish cuts. Some people set them up with a dado set for bookcases and the like.
If floor space is at a premium, it may be overkill.
My miter saw doesn’t even slide, and I don’t have a RAS. They were once commonplace, but have gone by the wayside now.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

7812 posts in 4320 days

#4 posted 01-21-2013 06:20 PM

I had a Craftsman RAS back in the early 90’s. I sold it when I moved out of state due to a job transfer. I miss that saw A LOT!! I had a nice 30’x27’ shop back then and now I don’t have the room for one.
That saw did a number of things I liked. On one side of the motor I had a blade and the other side I had a 1/2” chuch. Whenever I needed to boar a hole in somthing very long it didn’t mater how long my stock was. Also I could swing the balde on the yoke to make shallow bowls or cover cuts. As long as you keep all the adjustments dead on the saw was a grate tool in the shop! I miss my RAS. I also love my CMS…. I just want it all but I need more room first!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View LoydMoore's profile


105 posts in 2923 days

#5 posted 01-21-2013 06:34 PM

I have a high end RAS that is behind a ton of crap and I never have any desire to us it. I would sell it except it is a gift from my brother.

-- Loyd, San Angelo, TX

View Tedstor's profile


1691 posts in 3600 days

#6 posted 01-21-2013 06:51 PM

I wouldn’t devote any of my limited shop space to a large machine that I virtually never used.

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3481 days

#7 posted 01-21-2013 07:00 PM

I bought one in 1976 from the Black and Decker factory in Lancaster, PA. I would have bought a table saw, but they didn’t make them there.
I used it for years because I could not afford a table saw for a long time. In 1999, I bought my first table saw, a Ryobi BT2000 with all the little goodies. Never looked back and the radial saw became basically a chop saw. When I found a 12” sliding cutoff saw from HF for $79 back in 2002, I think I might have turned on the RAS maybe one-two times a year.
I sold it last summer when I rearranged my shop, and realized I had this big crappy bench with a big arm over the top. The guy who bought it was a contractor, so it is on a jobsite somewhere, cutting 2X4’s and bigger, as it should.
OK if you use them right, but for most they just take up a lot room and have too many possible danger areas, IMHO. The only time I ever, in 42 years, put a piece of wood into a wall was a kickback off that RAS, trying to do a slide cut along the fence with the blade 90’ to the arm. Board took off the kickback arm like it wasn’t even there. Luckily, I was out of the line of fire, but that baby was movin’!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Don W's profile

Don W

19838 posts in 3534 days

#8 posted 01-21-2013 07:02 PM

I’ll never be without a RAS as long as I have room. I use mine almost every day I’m in the shop.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View TeamTurpin's profile


85 posts in 3028 days

#9 posted 01-21-2013 07:20 PM

I’m an old fogey who still remembers the old days when RAS were used. I have one and use it daily.

Question for you. Why not install both? A RAS and a miter saw can cohabit a single bench. They can live side-by-side and work in harmony. If I had room, that’s what I’d do.


View a1Jim's profile


118153 posts in 4544 days

#10 posted 01-21-2013 07:25 PM

I got ride of my RAS I’ve never missed it ,it took up to much room and other tools do the job it use to do(table saw and sliding compound chop saw)


View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

7084 posts in 4161 days

#11 posted 01-21-2013 07:29 PM

I say “Yea”.......’nuff said…........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- " There's a better way.....find it"...... Thomas Edison.

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 3155 days

#12 posted 01-21-2013 07:30 PM

Another old fogey who grew up with a RAS and will always have one (actually 2 !). They see pretty infrequent use nowadays, especially after adding a good slider to one of TS’s. Still, when it comes to chopping big, long, heavy timbers to rough length, nothing beats a RAS. If you have a lot of chopping to do, you can just leave it running c/w a MS that is always started and stopped. Also much better than a MS for depth of cut adjustment.

I used to do other stuff with a RAS but they are notoriously hard to keep in square. Rip on them at your own risk !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3642 days

#13 posted 01-21-2013 07:52 PM

Fred Hargis said in the begining that you either loved them or hated them. I think you will see that throughout the responses you have received.hy don’t you use the radial arm saw? If you just don’t need it then sell it. I plan to set one up and use it. I have a sliding compound miter (12”) but still think I would use the radial arm. I have plenty of room for it so why not. If I find I don’t use it then it can find a new home. There are things you can do on it you can’t do on a CMS. There are some things that are easier to do on a RAS than a table saw. They can be difficult to keep tuned up and I really think that is the big complaint and people just don’t use them. It can be easier to walk to a CMS and cut your board from both edges than to tune you RAS.

View runswithscissors's profile


3124 posts in 2992 days

#14 posted 01-21-2013 08:07 PM

I have always been fascinated by the old Delta turret arm RAS. I found one recently on my local CL, and bought it. The seller loves old Delta iron, and refurbishes the tools and resells them. Mine is a 9”, which is a hard size blade to find, but it came with a new Tenryu 40 tooth blade that makes the smoothest crosscuts I have ever seen. Absolute silky smooth. This saw doesn’t try to rush at you the way others tend to do (I know C’man has one with an electronic braking mechanism, and Ryobi had a similar setup at one time). I like the RAS for dadoing, as you can see what’s happening. My cheap PC 6” dado makes lovely clean cuts on the RAS. But it does want to climb cut too fast with the dado. I can control it, but don’t like it. It helps somewhat to tighten the carriage lock part way.

I think one advantage of the RAS for crosscutting is that climb cut, which means you get no splintering on the bottom of the board.

I do also have a TS and a sliding miter saw. I like the miter saw a lot, but it won’t do some things the RAS will do—such as those dadoes.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2974 days

#15 posted 01-21-2013 08:13 PM

I have one. This is my third one over the years. Love it! Never had a tablesaw, so I actually dont know what I’m missing. If I could afford it, I’d get a TS, then maybe I’d decide if I liked one better than the other.

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

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