Should I keep my radial arm saw?

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Forum topic by Cruiszr posted 01-27-2014 01:33 AM 2283 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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88 posts in 2151 days

01-27-2014 01:33 AM

Topic tags/keywords: miter saw question

Now that I am finally getting my workshop set up I’m wondering if I really need the RAS especially with the amount of space it takes up in a small shop. I have most of the other tools found in a WS, 10”table saw, 10” sliding miter saw, drill press, ban saw, joiner, planer, scroll saw, router table, along with a variety of power tools.
My shop is only 16×20 minus the width of the steps going upstairs. There is a 6’ door in the front and a 3’ door in the rear so wall space is at a premium.
I bought the RAS at a yard sale 6 or 8 years at a good price and thought it was one of the main tools I would need in my future WS now I not so sure. Would appreciate some input as to weather I should keep it or not.


-- George R. Forest, Virginia

28 replies so far

View MalcolmLaurel's profile


300 posts in 2181 days

#1 posted 01-27-2014 01:36 AM

It’s all a matter of how often you use it. I use mine all the time and wouldn’t want to be without it for the kinds of things i do, but others have no use for them.

-- Malcolm Laurel -

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 3191 days

#2 posted 01-27-2014 01:42 AM

You could always hang on to it for 6-12 months and se how often you use it. Heck, keep it in the shop and TRY to NOT use it. If you find you can live without it…...sell it off. I’ll warn you though, a RAS doesn’t fetch much on the used market.
I had a shaper I wasn’t using, but was reluctant to part with. Like you, I have a small shop. The shaper became a magnet for clutter, was always in my way, and was using valuable floor space. I finally sold it for peanuts and was actually glad to see it go.

View mantwi's profile


312 posts in 2455 days

#3 posted 01-27-2014 01:46 AM

My thinking is when in doubt about the need for a tool you’re probably better off without it. I’ve owned a RAS and found it’s functions could be easily and more safely performed with other equipment. Table saw, planer and jointer are the three primary machines in my shop but then I am able to buy rough sawn, air dried stock locally. If you get lumber that’s already surfaced and squared the jointer and planer may be unnecessary. What you plan to build should be the main factor in determining which machines you have to have. If you’re like me you want them all period but we must be realistic. You’re stable of equipment will grow with your skills, it just works out that way.

View casual1carpenter's profile


354 posts in 3034 days

#4 posted 01-27-2014 01:50 AM

George, I feel your pain with the smaller shop footprint and all the tools needing space. Playing rubic’s cube with power tools can be a pain. I’m sort of with Malcolm in that it is a matter of how often you use it, and what else you have to do the things it that the RAS does

View bigblockyeti's profile


6108 posts in 2279 days

#5 posted 01-27-2014 01:50 AM

My dilemma is similar in that I’m considering getting one, only for free. I know it would be great for doing dados across long pieces much faster than a router, but beyond that I’m having trouble envisioning just how much I would use it. I have several tools that I don’t use that often and they’re just in my shop more because I wanted them rather than needed them. A RAS is sort of along those same lines, but they take up a lot of room compared to the vast majority of other tools in the shop.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Halc's profile


146 posts in 2161 days

#6 posted 01-27-2014 01:57 AM

I just got so tired of all the adjustment issues with my RAS that I dumped it when I got a new table saw. I thought about keeping it just to break down longer boards, but I couldn’t allow it to take up all that space when I had smaller tools to use for that purpose. I don’t miss the RAS and I especially don’t miss the near constant fine tuning required to get it to perform the way I wanted it to. I will say that it scared the heck out of me every time I turned it on, so I was never careless while using it.

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 3234 days

#7 posted 01-27-2014 02:14 AM

biggest waste of space in a small shop.

But, I wouldn’t turn one down if it was free, I was just starting and didn’t have a table saw and a slider yet.

I’ve had one for 20 years and hardly ever use it. I built it in to my miter box bench and turned it sideways behind the slider.

If I need it I still got it but I sure don’t miss those hideous craftsman legs.

View waho6o9's profile


8798 posts in 3135 days

#8 posted 01-27-2014 02:20 AM

Sell it, or horse trade it for something.

You have all that’s needed to make what ever you want.

View keninblaine's profile


130 posts in 2160 days

#9 posted 01-27-2014 02:24 AM

I had a good RAS 40 years ago, and did some good cabinet work (which was pretty challenging at times) and home renovations with it. I sold it years ago and see no need for one anymore, and much prefer a good table saw and compound miter saw. I’d much prefer to cut dados on a table saw than a RAS.

-- Ken, Blaine Washington

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 3005 days

#10 posted 01-27-2014 02:42 AM

If you have not used it for the last few months or have found other tools to do it’s job then that’s your answer,get rid of it and don’t look back,there’s a reason so many of them are available for under $100.

Now if you have one of the old monster size one with 16” blade ,3 phase,5 hp,I would keep it otherwise sell the RAS and use the space for a new tool.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3234 days

#11 posted 01-27-2014 02:51 AM

Ask yourself why you don’t use it. Is it because it is covered up with your clutter or do you not need it. There are things it will do that no other saw can do. Same with all tools. If you truly don’t need it why let it depreciate anymore?

View Nicholas Hall's profile

Nicholas Hall

352 posts in 2665 days

#12 posted 01-27-2014 03:01 AM

+1 for sell it and put the money in your tool fund. The cash takes up less space :)

-- Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -Groucho Marx

View Woodbum's profile


898 posts in 3624 days

#13 posted 01-28-2014 08:55 PM

If you use it and have the room for it, by all means keep it. If you don’t use it anymore and need the space for something else, get rid of it. 16×20 with all the tools you mentioned might be pretty tight with the RAS. With the 10” sliding miter saw, you have a duplication of implements of construction.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 4144 days

#14 posted 01-28-2014 09:49 PM

I just bought a very large industrial r a s which is quite old and I completely done it up that means completely took it to pieces and rebuilt rewired it and repainted it all with a new table and new blade etc it works great now, and finally repainted it . I enjoyed working on it .It takes a sixteen inch blade and is made by wadkin in england they are my favourite industrial machine manufacturer most of my stuff is by wadkin.I will or intend to use mine purely for crosscutting as I have a sliding table saw for the job of doing everything else with both a wadkin and an incra mitre gauge,as far as the r a s is concerned , for me these machines are fun, and fun is a big part of the reason I have a workshop purely a way to find solice and contentment during the remainder of my life.I would say it is great , but do I need it ?The answer is definitely not. I could do well enough without it so I would advise you if it is cramping your workshop badly room wise so much, then I would sell it on,but since for these smaller
r a s saws you won’t get much money for it I would if you can definitely keep it if you can afford it space wise as they apart from ripping wood are great saws. Have fun Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View bondogaposis's profile


5569 posts in 2910 days

#15 posted 01-28-2014 10:11 PM

I have kept mine although sometimes I think I should trade it for a miter saw. I leave it set at 90° and do most of my cross cutting on it. I haven’t convinced myself that a miter saw would take up that much less space.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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