Radial Arm Saw (Is it worth the size?)

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Forum topic by gadawg31 posted 02-13-2015 06:00 PM 2013 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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23 posts in 1720 days

02-13-2015 06:00 PM

Ok, I want to get some opinions about the radial arm saw. I am inheriting some of my dad’s tools and even thought I have used the saw many times, I just find myself questioning whether or not it is worth taking up space in my shop. I currently have a 20×30’ shop, w/a 4×8 work table in the middle of the room, surrounded by my table saw, band saw and other tools. If I add this, I will be giving up a lot of space and I just don’t know if it is worth it. I wanted to see what everyone uses their radial arm saw for. I only consider myself an apprentice, when it comes to woodworking, learning as I go. So there maybe uses for it, that I have not come across. Please let me know your thoughts, as I would hate to trade this tool out, just because of my ignorance. Thanks.

NOTE: I attached a crude layout of my shop, just for help with ideas.


19 replies so far

View RogerM's profile


800 posts in 2850 days

#1 posted 02-13-2015 06:17 PM

Depends on you and what you will be using it for. The old Craftsman RAS are not very accurate and can be a bit dangerous. Delta made some nice ones and tended to be more accurate and a little more versatile. Most people go with a sliding miter saw now days.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2897 days

#2 posted 02-13-2015 06:25 PM

Are you planning to buy a sliding miter saw?
If I were you I would keep it ,set it up and use it for a few projects,you’ll soon find out if you are better off using the space it takes ,for another tool that you need such as a drill press or drum sander,bandsaw,etc.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View gadawg31's profile


23 posts in 1720 days

#3 posted 02-13-2015 06:33 PM

distrbd, I already have a sliding miter saw and kind of plays into my hesitation of setting this up. I will probably set it up temporarily and see what kind of responses I get from here, to help with my decision making. Thanks.


View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5640 posts in 2944 days

#4 posted 02-13-2015 06:40 PM

I will not be without one ever again, but that’s me. I think you will get by without it just fine. I use mine (a Dewalt) for mitering, dadoes, bevels (on longer boards), and just crosscutting to length. I don’t have a miter saw in the shop…mine sits in the shed for home improvement projects.

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

View ToddJB's profile


8515 posts in 2581 days

#5 posted 02-13-2015 08:37 PM

I built mine into a bench/miter station, so it really doesn’t take up any extra room. I, as well, would not be without one ever again. I set it to dead nuts 90 and leave it there. So I can do quick and accurate cross cuts and dadoes that I can see. And I use the miter saw for all the angled cuts.

Here is a build pic:

And here you can see the set up against the back wall with the miter beside it:

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View Sawdustonmyshoulder's profile


487 posts in 4079 days

#6 posted 02-13-2015 08:58 PM

I do like mine. The first big power tool I bought back in ‘83. Had it ever since. My shop is a bit larger than yours though. If you can build it in to a series of cabinets, it won’t take up too much room. I put mine in the middle of the largest wall. Now I can cross cut 16 foot material on either side of the saw. Great for roughing out large boards. You can get by with a sliding miter saw but the RAS has dado uses. I have even done some raised panels on it as well as ripping with it pre-tablesaw days. I like to refer to them as the Dark Ages but it did a great job.

-- The more skilled you are at something, the worse you are at it when someone is watching.

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 3556 days

#7 posted 02-13-2015 09:18 PM

Ditto the dado use. I couldn’t decide whether to keep the almost new radial arm saw I had whenI got a slider, but then I did some dado work and I am glad to have it.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View MinnesotaMarty's profile


129 posts in 1668 days

#8 posted 02-14-2015 02:55 AM

Today I was looking at the New Bosch “Sliding” Compound Miter saw. I love it. But, $599.00 it better be nice. This conversation reminded me of some of the benefits of a RAS is the ability to put on dado blade to do dadoes. Youtube woodworker Frank Howarth uses a RAS with a dado blade as a “permanent” setup in his shop just for cutting dadoes.
I have got a job coming up where I am going to need to cut dadoes quickly and at a pretty regular pace. Or drawer building with a dado is a good strength compromise to a dovetail but, a lot easier to attain with minimal setup.

-- I can see the cheese heads from here and it is great.

View Patch2020's profile


97 posts in 1692 days

#9 posted 02-14-2015 03:48 AM

I have always had one and probably always will. As a matter of fact I have two in my shop now and one in my stepdad’s shop. One is set up sharing tables with my miter saw and the other I use the other as a spare and special cuts. My stepdad has a metal shop and I keep a miter saw, radial arm saw and table saw there where I don’t have to run to my shop when I’m working on things at their house.

-- Patch2020, Tennessee

View a1Jim's profile


117689 posts in 4028 days

#10 posted 02-14-2015 03:53 AM

I blew mine out years ago,it took up to much room and I did not use it that much. I know there are others that have gotten use to using their’s and they have room for a radial arm saw.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5825 posts in 2171 days

#11 posted 02-14-2015 04:05 AM

I think I’d have to agree with several previous posts, if your going to perform many dado cuts across the grain then it could be useful. That’s really the only area in which they excel until you start talking about much larger blades and more powerful motors. If not doing much dado work I’d skip it and use a router for what work you do have to deal with. I’ve personally turned down three free radial arm saws for this very reason.

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

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 2878 days

#12 posted 02-14-2015 06:12 AM

I have seen more than one RAS looking forlorn at my local transfer station (city dump). Why would people take them to the dump you might ask? Well for one, sliding chop saws are so much safer! and I could go on and on about how much better they are.
However there are die hards out there that simply will not recognize that truth, so they will write thousands of words supporting thier reasons for getting a RAS.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View woodenwarrior's profile


247 posts in 2645 days

#13 posted 02-14-2015 06:36 AM

The Craftsman RAS I inherited from my Dad was the same saw I learned on when I was just a boy. As I got older and my woodworking skills have become more advanced, the less I found myself using it. I eventually sold it. I have found my slider miter is far more accurate and easier to keep that way. I do miss some of the functionality of the RAS but all things being equal, the space is being much better utilized now.

-- Do or do not...there is no try - Master Yoda

View MrUnix's profile


7446 posts in 2650 days

#14 posted 02-14-2015 07:29 AM

I have seen more than one RAS looking forlorn at my local transfer station (city dump). Why would people take them to the dump you might ask?

Don’t have to ask.. around here, you can’t give them away so you have no choice but to haul it to the dump :)

I have one, and use it occasionally for cross cuts as it’s there already setup and ready to go at a moments notice. Yeah, it takes up a bit of room, but it makes a darn good table since most of my work bench is already covered with other crap!


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View ohtimberwolf's profile


934 posts in 2803 days

#15 posted 02-15-2015 12:42 AM

I bought a new one in ‘88’ and still have it. I use it a lot! However, I do not have a sliding miter saw just a 12” delta miter saw bought at the same time.

I almost got rid of it when we moved to the city but kept it and have never regretted that. It all matters to the person themselves as to what to do. If it is free, try it out, you can always get rid of it even if you rob the motor and junk it or offer it back to the original giver. larry

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

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