New(old) door(42") to shop gives me room to bring in my old radial arm saw. Off the top of my head I can think of a few things it would make easier. Does anyone use them anymore? Or should I sell it and add to my tool budget?
I use mine all the time! Mine's about 35 yrs old (I bought it new - my first stationary power tool.) The bearings howl when it gets cold, but other than that, it's still a workhorse.
IMHO, table saws are for ripping, radial arm saws are for crosscutting. A miter saw can do some of the things the RAS can, but not all. For example, I use mine a lot for cutting tenon shoulders and crosscutting with a dado head, neither of which can be done properly on a miter saw.
If mine ever dies, I'll be looking for a new (old) one ASAP.
Mike HennessyPittsburgh, PA
Mike HennessyPittsburgh, PAEverything fits, until you put glue on it.
Yeah, it's been a couple yrs since I could use mine. Forgot how easy it makes things.
I forget what kind you have but I have an old Sears 10". Bought it in 1962 on sale for $180.00. Like you, it was my first stationary tool. I did get castors with it which mashed down (unworkable) the first time I tried moving it and it became stationary again. I have used it a lot. It makes a lot of noise starting up, (don't think it is the bearings) so will be seeing if I can fix it. If it is unfixable, considering the space it takes, I'm not sure whether I would replace it. Incidentally, the thing cannot be retrofitted satisfactorily with proper safety shields so Sears is offering $100.00 for that model. I've been using it for forty seven years but of a sudden Sears says to not use it any more. It is too dangerous. I don't think it is nearly as dangerous as the table saw.
"IMHO, table saws are for ripping, RAS are for cross cutting." You have that right. Though a table saw can cross cut, I don't think a RAS should be ripping.
"I forget what kind you have but I have an old Sears 10"."
Probably about the same machine. Here's a shot of My Lovely Assistant using it to do some crosscut dados for some railing, each 1-1/4"" wide, 3/4" deep, every 3-1/2" on an 8' board. Could do it on the TS, but SO much easier on the RAS.
Yup, ditto, and more. Some day I'd like to find an industrial grade RAS. philip Marcou has one methinks.
Soooooo many things you can do with one. Nowhere near the cost of a SCMS and in many ways better. But that's just my opinion. Using the right blade, negative hook blade, does make a world of difference though.
Bob @ Kidderville Acres
A Woodworkers mind should be the sharpest tool in the shop!
Edited 2/4/2009 7:39 am ET by KiddervilleAcres
OK Bob and others,
Time for a RAS story!
Several decades ago, my now deceased Father and I were remodeling his bar that aslo had a restaurant seating area with a large fireplace. I was instructed to go see an also now deceased great uncle who had a barn beam that we were to use as a mantle. So off to see my uncle, along with a friend to help with the lifting.
We picked up my uncle and he instructed us to take a bit of a drive to "the farm", which was a no-longer tilled farm, owned by one of my uncles buddies. About a half dozen guys, all around the age of my uncle would gather there every day (all were in their late seventies or early eighties). Upon arrival, we entered the old farm house, where one of his buddies was butchering a pig on the kitchen table. We all chewed the breeze for a bit and passed around the jug of home-made wine. After a while, my uncle said we were there to pick up the barn beam, but first, pointing to me, he said "my nephew there thinks he's a bit of a woodworker, let's show him the shop".
Off to the barn we went (PA bank barn). I was told there was no electricity, but they ran a few machines, including the radial arm saw, off of a line shaft, that was powered by an electric motor on the bottom level, powered by a piece of Romex laying ontop the ground, running to the house. You couldn't hear anything run, and as my uncle's buddy moved a belt, the radial arm saw started spinning. Also, being in a barn, everyone knows that floors slope from the exterior walls to the center of the barn, and a well used carriage on a radial arm saw can drift forward pretty easily! Now the rest of the story!
My uncle's buddy said he was doing a project a bit too late a few years back, meaning there was no electricity to power lights. He was dependent upon light from the opened barn doors to see what he was doing. Anyhow, after making a cut, my uncle's buddy said he felt a pinch on a finger, said "Ah sh_t", after seeing the saw carriage had drifted forward and nipped his finger. He went outside to see how bad it was cut and after seeing it was cut off at the knuckle, he figgured he would go back inside, pick up the finger and see if he could get it re-attached.
So he had to push back the carriage and then reached to pick up the finger and felt a second pinch. He forgot to disengage the belt and the carriage with a spinning blade drifted forward and nipped off a second finger.
As a post script, my uncle died about ten years ago. He had a pretty well equipped wood shop that sat unused until my aunt died about five years ago. I visited the shop with another uncle to see if there was anything we wanted or could use. I remember seeing but not using a Lion Miter Trimmer in my uncle's shop (he told me it was dangerous and I would cut off a finger). Anyhow, all the hand tools were long gone as were most of the power tools. All that remained was basically mold covered bits and pieces of off cuts, some odd nuts and bolts and a few broken tools.
Great story! I was in an old barn-like shop recently and the vintage Dewalt RAS had an aircraft cable/pulley/counterweight device to keep the carriage retracted. Maybe someone had already heard your story.... <Gr>
Nice to hear from ya, haven't seen you around for a while.
A RAS can be dangerous but no more so than any other powered woodworking tool I think. It's a healthy respect for 'em that keeps all yur digits attached - any of them can gitcha.
As Jerry said, great story.
I used to sit in awe as gramps used to tell tales about his woodworking experiences. Your story had me hearing those words as he might have told them. That might not have come out right but I hope you get my drift.
Thanks for sharing the story,
The only difference I can tell right off is that mine has shiny chromed knobs. I bet yours is on recall too. You shouldn't use it. It has suddenly become too dangerous.
Edited 2/5/2009 11:19 pm ET by Tinkerer3
"You shouldn't use it. It has suddenly become too dangerous."
You think I'm NUTS? I don't use it.
I let My Lovely Assistant do all the RAS work. ;-)
I still use mine alot..it was the best $125 I've spent... an old Model 10 Delta. I only Crosscut with it,but even the table comes in handy every now and again!
I also have an old Sears/Craftsman and it still runs. I bought it in 1976, without blade guard, and I'm also aware of the hazard. As you did, I've been precautious for all those years while using it and I shouldn't have any issue if I still use it precautiously. No way I would send it back for $100. Now it sits on a mobile base. As with any tools, hazards are from the user, not the tools. To be remembered: "Do not work went tired or distracted".
- Learn from yesterday, work today, and enjoy success tomorrow -
That saw looks a lot like the one my dad had (His was 1977 I think) and they had a retro kit to put a guard on it. It worked pretty well, you had to pull a lever that was part of the handle of the saw to pull up the guard and that allowed it to get over the fence. The guard worked ok, and did not seam to be to much of a pain to use, and it was free. Heck it came with a new table top all drilled nice and everything.
I do miss the RAS, but the cost and the space needed meant it did not make it in the new shop, after the fire. I do miss it for cross cutting large boards.
I do understand you miss your RAS Doug. I don't use mine every day but when I need it, its great to have it close. When I bought mine, it was the main saw in my little shed shop. I did everything on it; ripping, crosscutting, panel raising with a cutter head and profile cutters. I even bought a planer adaptor that did a pretty good job. I still use it once in a while for planing wide thick boards. The down side is the speed; I have to make several 3'' passes to get the job done. And of course, the surface still need to be sanded.
Thanks for the info about the retro kit, but for the model number I own Sears told me there were none available. They offered me to send back the motor head to get the $100 but I decided to keep it and keep my hands away from the blade.
Mine sat unused for a long while. I set it up for 90~ crosscut only and connected it to the DC. Now I use it all the time.
I have two, a minirad and an old medium size. They do work well when crosscutting, and I hate balancing stuff on the T/S on my own.
Older machines of most functions seem to be more reliable and stable (very heavy) than modern buys. My view is to keep everything that works and fix anything that does not.
I still have mine. The problem with the darn thing is if you move it much it gets out, or at least mine did. Once I dedicated it to 90 cross cuts it was fine. I only use it for that purpose and long boards. If they are resonable I would rather cut them on the TS. I tried selling it once but it was a lost cause. I'd sell it if I could.
...For that old machine lovers: http://vintagemachinery.org/home.aspx
I use mine for dados and crosscuts on wider boards. I'll use my chopsaw for trimming down a 2x4, but use the RAS for most other crosscuts and 45 degree mitres. I don't do any of the really exciting ripping and molding operations that the saw can do. For me it was a lot cheaper, and slightly more versatile than a new SCMS, and the old cast iron is extremely accurate. I enjoy having a power tool older than I am, but it's more of a "nice to have" than "shop necessity".
I use mine all the time to crosscut. I will still miter with it and cut odd angles on wider boards the chopsaw won't handle.
I do not rip on it any more. I had a memorable incident late one afternoon when I was tired and in a rush (formula for disaster). I tried to rip a 1/4 inch thick piece of mahoghany by feeding it the wrong way(into the direction of the blade). I got my hands out of way as soon as the good Lord prompted me to do so. The wood got between the blade and the table and the saw shot that 4 foot long board across the shop and through a hollow core door. So, I wouldn't endorse ripping on a RAS.
Would you try ripping from the wrong end of a table saw then say I don't recommend ripping on a table saw.
In a breakfast of bacon and eggs the hen has a passing interest but the pig is fully commited
Basically the first stationary power tool I used was a very large Delta RAS, 12" if I remember correctly. I was a novice and yet I had no issues with it whatsoever.
Fast forward about ten years (which was about 20 or 25 years ago!) when I made my first stationary power tool purchase: a radial arm saw (I won't say the name here, except that it was an 8" POS). This first tool was an accident waiting to happen and later iterations of this model addressed the first generation difficiencies, but that did me little good as I had the first model. This RAS was scary every time fired up and I'm sure accidents resulted from it and other saws with the same construction. I sold this saw after I purchase a cabinet table saw.
About a decade ago, I still longed for a radial arm saw and purchased a Delta 10". This was a pretty good saw, but it was doomed to be sold as I started moving down the path to handtool useage. It had more than sufficient power and was ridgid enough, but alas, my Disston #16 was more fun!
The point of this post is, in my humble opinion, radial arm saws are not inherently unsafe, anymore than any other power tool. The issue is lack of understanding of safe operation of the tool. What did Clint Eastwood say? "A man has got to know his limitations".
Even done from the right end, I was always uncomfortable ripping on a RAS with that long fence.
I have had a 25 year old used Craftsman forever, and I use it to crosscut all the time. But it does not have the precision of my crosscut sled on the table saw. There is slight lateral play (slop) in the carriage and it slides int he track. Slight lateral pressure can displace the cut to one side or the other of the line. Normally I am using it to rough-cut parts to approximate size but make the final crosscuts on the TS crosscut sled. If you star tout with an 8 ft long board, it's great to cut down to smaller peces.It depends whether you are making fine furniture or Adirondack chairs for the deck. For the former, the RAS is not adequate in my estimation. For crown moulding it's probably fine. I agree it has a tendency to come forwards, so as long as you are prepared for that and keep ressure against the handle to stop it, it shouldn't be a problem.
Not sure if yours is the same as mine (Craftsman c. 1974) but there are adjustment screws to take out the slop in the wheels. I'm sure you know this but I had a similar issue with mine and tightening them did the trick. Also, cleaning the rods on the rail that the motor head rides in/on makes a big difference too. Mine had built up pitch and the cut kinda looked like the blade wobbled in a cut.
The thing I find using a RAS is that I tend to finess the machine/motor head-cutting blade instead of finessing the material as might be done with other machines. I use mine for all kinds of operations as does Mike H. but the bulk of the work mine sees is rough cutting parts, mitres on wide boards. etc. Using a dado blade makes quick work of making lap joints too.
May not be the most accurate but has been my go to machine many times. And if and when it dies, I'll replace it. Was my first stationary power tool also and it never rips.
There should be an adjustment knob to increase friction on the carriage. It shouldn't be able to move on its own. In addition to the obvious safety benefit, this helps control the saw when crosscutting. By the way, my dad had a 1970's Craftsman RAS, and it was always out of alignment. I have a much older cast iron DeWalt, and there is no play at all.
My saw came with no restrictions for the carriage movement. Shortly after getting the RAS, Sears came out with an attachment sort of like a window shade. A spring and cable tended to pull it back towards the column. It was a little flimsy and just the other day I modified it some to make it stronger, but it sure helps give one confidence that it won't slide up and contact a workpiece. The saw cost me $184.00 in 1962 and just yesterday I took the motor to a repairman who estimated $90.00 to put new bearings in it. Well, what do you do, when your tooth aches you have the dentist fix it.
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