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Considering a Radail Arm Saw

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  • Considering a Radail Arm Saw

    OK...I misspelled!! RADIAL Arm Saw. Jeeeeez....when I make a mistake I wish it was something I could fix but you can't fix Titles. Oh well...pardon my faux pas!

    I've been doing some tinkering in the shop lately. Since I'm working and commuting a good distance now (92 miles to work, 92 miles home each day), I don't have near the time I used to have. Which, btw, explains why I've been absent from the forums so much!

    While working on this latest project, I've come across a couple things that have made me think having a RAS would be a good solution to some problems. It's taking time away from actually DOING things to reset the TS3650 from crosscut to rip cuts. I think that having a RAS would save that time at the very least. Plus, since my Delta miter saw is just not cutting angles properly, I'm doing all of that on the TS. I love the accuracy of the TS, but again I'm taking lots of time to set the angle and then reset. I find I'm doing this at least 3 or 4 times each time I'm working on something. Maybe if I did better plans (well ok...any plans), or thought through the process more I'd be more efficient with this, but that's not how I work. I draw up simple plans mainly to check proportions, but I worry about joinery as I work through the project.

    Ok...most of you have figured out by now this is a highly justified way of saying "I gotta get NEW TOOOOOOLS!!!" The question is, Does this really justify getting a RAS? It seems like the Craftsman at $650 or so is the only one in my price range. The Delta RAS looks great but .... wow ... it's pricey! Are there other manufacturers with decent RAS's?

    Thanks for helping me out with this important decision. I appreciate any and all comments...except those of you who will point out that I really don't NEED the tool.
    Last edited by VASandy; 10-25-2009, 10:44 AM. Reason: I messed up!
    I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

  • #2
    Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

    Sandy, have you checked your local craigslist for a used RAS? I don't know your market obviously but around here they are almost a daily thing with prices anywhere from $50 on up with most going for under $200. It isn't just Craftsman models either, all the brand names seem to be selling in that price range.

    Far be it for me to try and talk you out of a tool purchase but if it were me, and I was going to spend that kind of money, my choice would be a sliding miter saw over the RAS.
    Teach your kids about taxes..........eat 30 percent of their ice cream.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

      Originally posted by BadgerDave View Post
      Sandy, have you checked your local craigslist for a used RAS? I don't know your market obviously but around here they are almost a daily thing with prices anywhere from $50 on up with most going for under $200. It isn't just Craftsman models either, all the brand names seem to be selling in that price range.

      Far be it for me to try and talk you out of a tool purchase but if it were me, and I was going to spend that kind of money, my choice would be a sliding miter saw over the RAS.
      Hey BD!

      I appreciate the Craigslist idea. I've been considering that and I'll check it out before I purchase new anything.

      What is the real advantage of SCMS over a RAS? I won't need to take the tool to a work site, which is where (I think) an SCMS would be useful. One thing that a RAS can do that an SCMS can't is stacked dado blades. I don't know I'll ever need that since I have the TS3650, so I'm not sure that's a real concern.
      I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Considering a Radial Arm Saw

        Just an opinion here, I have a nice dewalt arm saw, and it does a lot of things, but I do 98% of my cross cutting and angles with my miter saw, ( you may be better off getting a miter saw that your happy with).

        about the only thing I use the arm saw for any more is to cut a dado cross cut,

        the safety issue is greater with a arm saw in my opinion,

        when I first had it 30 years ago it was great, nearly a total shop in a way, but with the new tools that have come out in the last number of years I feel there are other tools that do the job easer and better, and safer. but there are some cuts that really only an arm saw can do easily. such as cross cut dadoes, but normally there are ways around them.
        Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
        attributed to Samuel Johnson
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

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        • #5
          Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

          Hi BHD!

          Thanks for the input. Now that I've got two of you chiming in saying a SCMS might be a better tool, I'll have to really think about it. I guess that I've gotten disenchanted on miter saws simply because my Delta just doesn't seem able to make really reliable 45's. Maybe it's me being too picky, but when making frames for pictures that miter cut has to be right on. Are newer SCMS's capable of that kind of precision?
          I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

            I had the delta RAS and never used it much. I ended up selling it to make room in the shop. Consider what you are going to use it for and see if it really makes sense to purchase one. Craigslist here always has many on the site.

            Red
            Red

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

              Thanks, Red.

              The number of RAS's on Craigslist makes me wonder about the usefulness of the tool. If there's so many for sale...makes me think they're just not as handy as I'd thought.

              I've been checking out the SCMS options. Ridgid seems to have a pretty good offering. Any thoughts on that?
              I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

                Sandy

                A good big tuff RAS like a good old DeWalt (Before B&D took the name) could really saw, but they also made fast work of cutting off arms and hands but they worked and worked hard. The suggestion of a good Bosch or Makita Sliding Compound Miter Saw is a very good one. Now if you are able, maybe sometime when you have a 1/2 day off at work, try to get a good map of Baltimore city and go by SKARIE, Inc. the woodworking place that's into some serious new and used machinery. I bet they have some good used RAS and I know they sell new Bosch and also a really good Delta CSMS as I've seen both there. I like Bosch and Makita for SCMS and feel the Bosch is better built, but the good Makita comes out of the box almost ready to use where a few minor adjustments and you're cutting away happy. I think the Bosch are pretty good right from the box, but it always pays to check and adjust accuracy.

                You might also want to think about a real nice MINT or almost mint condition serious table saw like a good Delta. You already know what a good table saw (the one you own) can do and maybe having another for either cross cutting or ripping, depending on what your current one does best would be the way to go. In one you have a really good cross cut blade and in the other a good rip blade. The selection would depend on the quality of the fence and/or miter guide. I can say that on a real Delta the included (I have an extra in mint cond) miter guide is actually pretty darn good. As long as it has a cast iron (not aluminum) table milled for the standard Delta miter guide you're set. I can help with motor and arbor ball bearing and belt replacement. You might actually love a good older Delta cabinet or serious contractor table saw and parts can be had for them. That's one **** I have with most imports is that parts are a pain and overall quality (unless you go high end) just isn't there. Please post more about what you really like and dislike about your Ridgid table saw. What does it do best and worst. I'll get the old brain into gear.

                Hint: In most cases even older Delta cast iron table - table saws can be outfitted with the commercial (not home user) Biesemeyer T-square rip fences and you'll just go totally wild over it once properly setup and adjusted. Install a serious high quality rip blade and WOW. On the other hand you could use the new one for cross cutting and miter work with a good miter blade. Do think hard about if you want a tilt right or tilt left. I like a tilt left, but Norm A (famous woodworker) loves a tilt right table saw. Delta has made both for years. It depends on which side of the blade you like to work from. For ripping normal is to work right (more table width) of the blade and for cross cutting while I like to stay right of the blade, many people prefer to work on the left of the blade. This is where some thinking and which eye sees best can help you out.

                Here's the deal. For say $700 (maybe less) you can get yourself a really good quality (far beyond the Ridgid) table saw in excellent condition, then over time spend some extra $$$ and say over a year or two have about $1200 invested in what should last you for many, many years. Ever try out a good Delta Unisaw or a Powermatic 66? You'll just melt down!

                To all that own the RIDGID TS3650, I'm sorry but there are far better machines out there and while brand new they are big $$$ I have seen some darn nice used Made in USA table saws that just make minced meat out of anything RIDGID has made and the same for anything in the near price range sold under the Craftsman name. OldSlowChevy and BHD know what I mean. Serious machines for serious users. OSC had an old Oliver factory table saw. Now there was and still is a real machine.

                I wish I had room as I would go totally wild here. I need to move out into the country and find a place with a big climate controlled garage. Fun time day dreams for now, but soon to become reality. YEA --- Until then, I can think and dream.

                BAHA I need more Hush Hound and fast.
                Last edited by Woussko; 10-25-2009, 12:11 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

                  Hey Woussko ya ol' howler! Thanks for the post. First off, I'll say that my main use of woodworking tools is projects such as picture frames. I'm now working on a very intricate table (my first foray into furniture). The TS3650 is the tool that gives me the accurate cuts that are required in these projects.

                  What I like about the 3650:
                  Excellent fence. It's accurate, straight, and will accept just about any jig I can think up.
                  Accuracy of cut.
                  Usefulness of the guard and anti-kickback devices. I like my fingers.
                  Power to go through hardwoods like maple and walnut and old oak.
                  The quality of the top is great. Nice and large and FLAT. I like cast iron since I use mag jigs.
                  Overall, the quality of the tool is amazingly good for the price.
                  The mobile base really works. It's nice to be able to move such a large and heavy tool around so easily.
                  Let's not discount this forum for making the 3650 an even better tool. I've gotten lots and lots of ideas and help from the folks here. That certainly makes the 3650 that much more useful.

                  What I don't like:
                  The time it takes to reset from angle to straight and back again. It's just me, mostly. It's by no means a fault of the tool.
                  Dust collection could be better, but that's something I can remedy.
                  The handy little holder on the side for the Miter gauge doesn't really work with any other aftermarket gauges. I'll have to make something to hold the Incra. That's such a nit-picky complaint it doesn't really deserve to be said.

                  Overall, I am immensely happy with the TS3650. Quality and accuracy at a good price. I demand a high level of accuracy from my tools. I've been so happy with the 3650 that I've bought a lot of other Ridgid tools. Some are better than others, but overall I find the brand to be reliable. I'll always research major purchases carefully, but I've found more often than not that the Ridgid brand tools have what I'm looking for at a price that's reasonable.
                  I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

                    Sandy,

                    I'm a big fan of the RAS and have posted a few other times about the subject. Pesonally, there is no better crosscut tool in my experience! I have a CMS, but it's limited and certainly a SCMS would alleviate those limitations. But I believe an RAS usually goes beyond the capacity of a SCMS by an inch or two (some models, of course). While I have no experience with a SCMS, other than some examination at the local Home Depot, I don't see the adjustments necessary to do the things that I can do with my RAS.

                    While I don't have the woodworking experience that many of the other members have, I can admit to owning my 10-inch Craftsman since 1974 and it has been the key tool for my use here, building a rather large deck, bookcases, work tables, remodeling the garage change to family room, trim work, pantry build etc. Mostly carpentry jobs for sure, but the RAS has been the central tool.

                    I purchased my first table saw about three years ago. Though mine has a sliding miter table, which is a big help, it frustrates me how anyone could cross-cut anything over just a couple feet long. Too me, that's about as cumbersom as it gets. My RAS is still my principle crosscut and trim tool. I wouldn't think of cutting small 1 or 2 inch pieces on either my table saw or my CMS. With the RAS, I have no problem cutting small blocks, wedges, and various trim items. For me, it's just the tool to use and in my opinion, it is a very worthy addition to any shop.

                    I'll post some pictures later this afternoon. The setup is temporary at this point and hopefully the project list and the finances will allow for a garage shop late next year. But I do have a few pictures of my 1974 Craftsman and some current applications. Hopefully it will help.

                    CWS

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

                      Hi CWSmith! Thanks for chiming in. You definitely hit on many of the topics I was thinking of in regards to the RAS. Crosscutting long pieces of hardwood boards is just not something I like to do on the TS. I'm not comfortable with these cuts at all. That's one place where I was hoping the RAS would be useful. The RAS should be able to do that crosscut with a very high level of accuracy. It could even bevel cut if needed.

                      An SCMS could do all this, but I'm of the opinion that the RAS would do everything with better accuracy. Since a lot of my work is picture frames, I really need a very accurate miter cut. The picture frame pieces aren't as long, but the accuracy and repeatability I can get from the RAS would be a welcome addition.

                      *sigh* decisions, decisions!! It's never an easy thing to part with this kind of money!!
                      I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

                        Originally posted by VASandy View Post
                        ..............
                        I've been checking out the SCMS options. Ridgid seems to have a pretty good offering. Any thoughts on that?
                        That may well be the case however I'd choose either the Makita LS1013FL or the Makita LS1214FL over the Ridgid. The fairly new Makita LS1016 reportedly has a few kinks in it but the one I looked at and played with at HD seemed rock solid to me. The jury is still out on that one but with Makita's track record with SCMS's I think if there is a problem they will or have already corrected any issues.
                        Teach your kids about taxes..........eat 30 percent of their ice cream.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

                          Here's a thought, following up on some ideas here.

                          The used value of the TS3650/60 cannot be more than $300, that being the cheapest they were sold for ($399 clearance, Ultimate Power Deal on at the same time). I think it unlikely in the extreme you would find a new one now, but a used one can't be more than say $300. So just buy another (used), set one up as crosscut, the other as rip. You could even set them up to be complementary outfeed tables for each other.

                          You'd save enough money to get a new miter saw too.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

                            Sandy (and anyone else who's interested),

                            With my temporary setup, I can crosscut up to about a 14-inch wide board of any length up to about 16 ft. 14 ft is more comfortable though as there's only so much room in my basement shop. On the outfeed side of my RAS, I can do about 48" (guessing, as I'm not at the saw now) with the stop I have configured. For the current bookcase projects for the library, that is more than enough. Without the stop in place, I can crosscut with a finished piece out to about eight foot.

                            At present, my RAS is set to just do 90 degree crosscuts. I use a couple of jigs to do specific angles, without having to change my fence or reset the arm. While that ignores some of the RAS's versatility, my current setup allows of a worn indexing pin which needs to be replaced. For the moment, my setup is dead-on accurate and I can cut shelves all day long that are perfectly 90-degrees and exactly the same length on each and every cut. There is no way that I could possibly use a table saw to handle that length or accuracy. A SCMS would handle it I'm sure, but I'm not sure how well, if at all, you can adjust the depth of cut for a rabbet or anything less than a through cut.

                            Also, I recall reading somewhere that a SCMS or a RAS is the only way to get a perfectly accurate bevel crosscut. A "chop" style CMS alledgedly won't be perfect and certainly that is the case with my Ridgid 10" CMS.

                            Also, and I think this is highly important, it is difficult and dangerous to attempt small parts on either a table saw or even a CMS. With the RAS, you can make the fence (and replace the fence) so it is most always "zero clearance". I've sliced pieces that are almost paper thin. Cutting things like corner blocks and stair wedges is literally "easy" and "safe".

                            Dangers? Well, it is a circular saw and by nature such cutting mechanics is wrought with danger. The so-called "climb" danger is real on a RAS. But properly handled, one pulls the cut and controls the pull, limiting it's advance through the wood. On a "pull-cut" the forces of the blade against the wood is down against the table and back against the fence. I've even made cuts with no support or hold on the stock and with a properly controlled "pull" the stock just sits there, as it has no path to go anywhere else.

                            I've ripped, cross-cut, bevel cut, complex angle cut, and just about any kind of cut one might imagine. I've never had a kickback since I first used this saw in 1974, and that counts with ripping treated wood too, in spite of its moisture content. But, I have locked up the saw, which obviously would have been a kickback, it I hadn't taken the steps to always ajust the splitter and anti-kickback pawls. But, I would never argue in favor of ripping on the RAS... IMHO, ripping definitely belongs to the table saw!

                            For me, the RAS represents a key tool and one which I'll never be without. But, you really need to take the steps to learn RAS behaviour. Biggest problem with an RAS is alignment. Between the movement of the arm, the carriage along the arm, and the bevel and rotation capabilities of the carriage yoke, I'm sure you can see that with all that positioning capability, alignment can be concern.

                            So with regard to the attached pictures, the first picture is the RAS and my home-made, knock-down for portability, support base. On the right side view you can see the measured fence area that works with an adjustable stop and in left view you can see my idea of duct collection, using my 12 gal Ridgid shop vac. Only thing that is doesn't show is the hose that goes to the forward, upper part of the blade housing.

                            The remaining pictures are the feed supports.

                            Hope this works,

                            CWS
                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by CWSmith; 10-25-2009, 07:57 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Considering a Radail Arm Saw

                              Continueing,

                              Here my fence setup and the "measureable" stop. I got tired of looking for my tape measure, so decided to just make a fence that had a bit more permanency to it. Normally just any piece of straight 1 x 3 with do. But since my immediate needs are to cut shelves and components for the upstairs library, I wanted to just make a single setting and then cut away.

                              The components (the t-channel, screw and knob and the measuring tape are all from Rockler). The little marker window is simply a scribed piece of clear plastic from a CD case.

                              The reason for the long, stop arm can be seen in one of the pictures. You can only get so close to the blade (from the right side anyway) because the motor is in the way; hence the long arm. How do I make adjustments for "zeroing" my stop? Easy, I just put on a new stop bar (3/4 x 3/4), place the marker window on "zero" and then cut off the blade-side end of the stock. With my head, I have to keep things simple.

                              I should point out that it doesn't matter from which side you feed the stock, just make the stop for whatever side you prefer to use... or make two stops, one for each side. For me, keeping my right hand on the carriage is best (keeps my thumb right near the power switch). Unfortunately this is one, if not the only model, that features the switch in this location. I have no idea what prompted them to redesign the tool to put the switch anywhere else.

                              Also of note, from the picture of the stop, itself... I can swap out the arm and simply add 10" to my scale reading.

                              In picture "08" you can see that my fence extends beyond the table. In a permanent setup, I'd have a long table above a full-length bench. But as it is now, I've added a T-like support to the fence in order to keep it from flexing.

                              Obviously, this setup is great for 90-degree crosscuts, which represents most of my needs at the moment. Part of that setup is the fact that I have a worn indexing pin and there's a slight bit of play before I lock the arm in position. For changing the arm angle, I can either pull the fence and install a new one (you can hack through a fence rather quickly if you do a lot of varied angle and bevel crosscuts... good thing 1 x 3's are cheap.) For now, if I need to cut at an angle, I take a very simple approach as the next batch will illustrate.

                              As far as the worn pin is concerned, there probably was some cumbersome handling when I moved the saw a few times. But for a 35 year old saw, this is still in nice shape. Some parts are still available and a year ago, I purchased another of the same modle, just for parts. Unfortunately it was sight-unseen and is quite unuseable. But for $70 delivered, theres enough parts including the motor that it was worth the price.

                              CWS
                              Attached Files
                              Last edited by CWSmith; 10-25-2009, 07:57 PM.

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