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Considering a Radail Arm Saw

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  • #31
    Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

    Sandy - looks like I'm joining the conversation late, so by ow you may have already made your decision. I"m new to wood working and just inherited my dad's tools which includes a 1966 B&D Dwelt R1350-A RAS. I'm in the process of setting it up and getting it aligned, new table, blah, blah.

    I think that loss of popularity is the scare (real or enhanced) about the safety of a RAS. Treat it with respect and always but the blade back behind the fence after you've made your cut.

    You can definitely do more with a RAS then a miter or slide.

    Here's a link for you, - everything RAS

    Also, the book by Mr Sawdust - How to Master the Radial Arm Saw

    Last edited by haroldt101; 11-04-2009, 05:15 PM.


    • #32
      Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

      My RAS is an older emerson craftsman, and it is as much a workhorse as my TS in the shop. I use it almost exclusively for crosscutting. They do take up a lot of space, but what a wonderful work surface to have with that large table!!
      Whenever possible I stand and cut on the right side of the machine where the saw motor is mounted and it naturally keeps your hand holding the wood well away from the blade area.
      On the rare occasion that I have had to cut on the left side, I made a hold down out of some scrap plywood with a handle that keeps the hands well away and guarded.


      • #33
        Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw


        I find it interesting, the manner in which us RAS fans develope our "comfort level" with the RAS. I too have an Emerson-made Craftsman and, very much like you, it is the centerpiece of my little shop. (Perhaps because I've had the RAS since 1974 and never had a table saw until just two or three years ago.) The RAS is still used more than the table saw. Probably because with my project I do a lot more cross-cutting, small piece work than I do ripping. Ripping for me is preferred on the table saw, simply because of it's location in my shop. (But as you can see by the dates of purchase, my RAS has had more than it's share of ripping too.)

        But, as far as my position during use, I much prefer to have my right hand on the carriage, as that places the switch directly at my right thumb. That of course is my specific model, and I've seen other Craftsman RAS's with the power switch in various other locations (see the first strip of pictures on page 2 of this thread).

        I have of course, used the RAS as you prefer and that's one of versatilities of the design, you can can stand in either position and position the stock from either right or left side of the table. And, with the rotating yoke you can even feed from either the right or left side for rips. Overall, it's a really valuable tool for any shop as you state.

        As far as taking up "a lot of space", I guess I never really gave that a lot of thought. It's just there! I guess I'd have to take some comparison measurements. Nice think with an RAS is that you can position it against a wall, where as a table saw has to be positioned with a lot of room all around it. Fortunately, I have a Herc-U-Lift on my Ryobi BT3100 table saw and I can just get it out of the way, when not in use. But when I need it, I've got to clear the room!

        Happy to see another RAS fan,

        Last edited by CWSmith; 11-05-2009, 11:44 AM.


        • #34
          Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

          I am sure you have made your decision by now, but for others that may be contemplating the same question, allow me to add my experiences. I was raised around RASs and for years, I would not even consider a TS! However, with the advent of SCMSs, I gradually drifted to the 'other' side. While there is no denying the versitility of a RAS (try cutting a lap joint in a 12 ft 4x4 with a CMS ), I have found that keeping a RAS square is time consuming - especially as it gets older, the point where it has to be done every time the angle is changed (I have owned a DeWalt and a Craftsman) - something you may want to check before buying a used RAS! My present environment is a large cabinet TS (Jet) and a SCMS (Bosch). That pretty much covers most of my needs (except that darn lap joint!). It also allows me some portability - I can easily take the SCMS to the job site - can't do that with a RAS. That being said, I may give a RAS more consideration if my TS was a table top, contractor, or hybrid. Of couse, once I win the lottery, I will have a TS, SCMS, AND a RAS !