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Ridgid Radial Saw

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  • Ridgid Radial Saw

    I was over at my buddy’s workshop last night and noticed his radial saw. It was a Ridgid; he took me through the benefits of this thing. When set up correctly (he stressed this was key), this saw did everything. Miter cuts, ripping, crosscutting, dado cuts, etc. I decided to look into this fine piece of equipment and found out that Ridgid doesn't make them anymore. Delta, General International, and Craftsman are it. Does anyone know why Ridgid discontinued it? If we ping the CEO enough, you think we can help bring it back? I really hope so, or off to Sears I go!

  • #2

    I can only speculate of course, but the Radial Arm Saw has received a lot of bad press over the years. IMHO most of that is from people who really don't understand the saw, and view it as rather dangerous. There are a surprising number who insist that the only way to use the saw (contrary to all manufacturer's instructions) is to pull it forward, advance the wood behind the saw and then do the cross-cut by pushing the saw back into the wood! A sure way to invite an accident I'm sure. But their argument is based on the fact that if you aggresively pull the saw into the wood, it will "climb", jamming the blade, marring the wood and stalling the motor. My only answer to that would be "of course!" But isn't that the reason we don't over feed the circular saw or even a band saw? Also, the RAS is viewed to be totally unsafe for any kind of ripping... again, in my experience something that is safe to do, but like with any saw, certain precautions have to be taken.

    My first approach to the RAS was back in the sixties and that was from a view that it was far safer than a table saw (on which I witnessed by Dad remove two of his fingers and mangle a third). With the RAS, the blade is in view for all but a few setups and therefore I always know what the blade is doing. Generally it isn't hidden under the workpiece as is so often the case with a table saw.

    However, to your question: the RAS does have problems in that it takes time to set up properly and because of it's suspended motor/blade design, is more suceptable to being knocked out of alignment. That, the safety issue, and the growing popularity of the miter saw (and especially the sliding miter saw) has left the RAS with an ever decreasing fan club. Hence, the price has continued to climb to a point where they are exceptionally expensive. Ridgid finally dropped their saw over a year ago.

    At one time, the Craftsman RAS was made by Emerson (Ridgid's parent company). I'm not sure who makes them for Craftsman now, but I can say that the current Craftsman is probably the least expensive RAS on the market, even then, it's around $600, as I recall. DeWalt, which was the originator (and inventor) of the RAS, stopped making their RAS line several years ago.

    So, I doubt that Ridgid will return a radial arm saw to the market. There simply isn't that much interest anymore; at least not enough to make it a profitable enterprise. I still have my 1973 Craftsman RAS and it was made by Emerson. It is still my favorite tool and I have yet to buy a table saw. As a matter of fact, I just purchased a used RAS (same model as mine) for $70... I intend to use it just for parts, if and when I ever need them. So far the only thing I've had to replace on my original is blades and the table top. Everything else is in good order. If you are really set on getting your own RAS, check out the local garage and estate sales. They were a very popular tool in the 50's, 60's, and 70's. Take your friend with you and both of you check that parts arn't worn, column and yoke aren't wobbly, etc.

    Hope this helps,



    • #3
      Guns, where are you located? I have a Craftsman/ Emerson that would be the same saw as the Ridgid. If you are anywhere in the KY area I will make you a great deal on it.
      info for all: --- "I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me."


      • #4
        DeWalt was the inventor of the radial arm saw? How long has DeWalt been around?


        • #5
          In the book, "The Newest Ways to Expert Woodworking" by Robert Scharff, at the beginning of Chapter 1, it states that "The first Radial Arm Machine was originated and perfected by Raymond E. DeWalt in 1922 for the purpose of providing more versatility and safety in woodworking." It goes on to say that the following year, Mr. DeWalt and his associates began production of the first machines.

          The book is copyrighted 1962 by DeWalt, when DeWalt was a subsidiary of Black and Decker. It dwells exclusively on the DeWalt RAS, and covers various features, their advantages, setups, and typical saw operations. It also describes some of the options that were available for the saw and provides a few examples and drawings for various jigs as well as a bench plan.

          I picked it up last year at a library book sale for only a few cents. It fits nicely with a couple other books that I have on the Radial Arm Saw. Two are early 70's from Craftsman and one from DeCristofaro, who was one of the most popular woodworking tool writers of the time.


          [ 10-29-2005, 12:40 AM: Message edited by: CWSmith ]


          • #6
            The Craftsman RAS from the seventies made by Emerson was a more solidly built machine and is the most recent CRAS I would consider. I haven't looked at the most recent Craftsman RAS but I know they're priced very high. There are always RAS for sale on E-Bay but they're usually pick up only because of the high cost of shipping. You may be able to find a good one if you live within driving distance. The older DeWalts usually bring a premium price because they're very popular restoration projects. If the current models of Craftsman are from the same company as their hybrid table saws (Orion) they may be worth looking at. Otherwise I'd look for a used one.


            • #7
              I picked up a Red Star Products RAS about a year ago at an estate sale for $50 and have not used it yet as I don't have 220 in my garge. I've heard you can rewire it to use 110. Is this advisable and does anyone have any input on the saw and it's back ground. This thing is heavy and it seems very tight. Also are there any places available to find parts if ever I need any.


              • #8

                I had never heard of "Red Star Products", so I did a quick "Google" search and found this:

                "This business name was registered with the State of Ohio on 10 August 1936 and de-registered on 20 April 1950. The company was acquired by Rockwell in 1948.

                Red Star used the brand name "Multiplex". Delta/Rockwell's radial arm saws were originally Red Star Multiplex designs.

                A Delta-Rockwell radial arm saw has been reported, labeled, "Manufactured for Delta Multiplex by A. O. Smith Corp." We have a report of a similar label on the motor of a Multiplex radial arm saw. Since A. O. Smith was (and is) a motor manufacturer, we assume that only the motor was made by them."

                (here is the link: )

                So, considering it's age, I'm not sure what or where you might find parts.

                Regarding running the motor at 120, I can only presume that it would depend on the motor's design. I have a 1973/4 Craftsman, which was made by Emerson Electric, which will run on either 110 or 220. One simply needs to set the jumpers properly. My unit is equipped with a 2 HP induction motor and to date I've only run it with 110, 20 amp circuit.

                This isn't much of an answer to your question, but I hope it helps somewhat,


                [ 11-08-2005, 07:31 PM: Message edited by: CWSmith ]