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Newbie to wood working here. So while I have been hunting for a starter table saw (That's over in another thread) I went over to my elderly neighbor's house to clean up her leaves. We get to chatting, I mention my new fascination with wood working and told her about the kids craft table I just built. She tells me about her deceased husbands table saw in the basement and would I like to have it! So I was excited thinking it was a table saw but turns out to be a radial arm saw instead. I didn't know anything about it (and neither did she) and asked her if I could research it first. I didn't want to take it if I wasn't going to use it. As I am sure you are all aware its a pretty versatile tool. I probably will never use it for ripping (looks a bit scary to do) but it seems like it would be a great tool to have for cross cutting. I need to build a new table top/fence for it and clean it up. My question is a general one

Any tips, tricks, dos and most importantly don'ts around a radial saw?

P.S. he also had a box of c-clamps, electric sander and hand planers I can take. In a week my "shop" went from only a circular saw and drill to a Radial Arm Saw and hopefully a table saw by the weekend!

Thanks!
 

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Radial arm saws are good for crosscutting, but that's about it. Just make sure all the guards are in place and be careful, the saw wants to walk towards you when you are pulling it through a cut.
Mike Hawkins;)
 

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I think you should try it out. Make sure you get a blade designed for a RA saw. If you have the wrong style blade it can climb and that's the real danger. I used one to rip with. My first saw I owned was a RA given to me. Built a few bird houses with it playing around.
 

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I love my radial arm saw. It is just a light weight Craftsman but once it is set right there is nothing like it for cross cutting. I try not to change the angles unless I absolutly have no choice, I have an old Makita miter saw for small angle stuff. I agree with you that ripping is a little risky, I used to do that when I used this saw on job sites years ago. I use everything from a 28 tooth to a 60 tooth depending on what I am cutting. If you have the space for it, I suggest to get it and set it up.

Here is a shot of mine set up;

 

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An RAS is required equipment in my shop. But be aware, a lot of the bad press about the RAS stems from those who owns some f the troublesome Craftsman. I've had 2, and will never own another. But a good Dewalt, or a Delta Turret arm, can really earn it's keep. They can swing to cut miters and then return to a perfect zero (my C'man saws would never do that). In my case I kicked the miter saw out, it's in the shed for home remodeling projects. As for blades, the best ones (unless you do intend to rip) will have a negative hook angle, that reduces the chances of grab and gives a much smoother cut. The Freud LU91 is such a blade. Back to the Craftsman saws, the older ones seem to be quite useable by many. This would be the ones from the early 70's and older.
 

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I believe a ras, is a great addition to a shop.
Besides crosscuts, it's great for dado's, and angled cuts.
I don't understand the "set it at 90, and never move it" idea.
My old saw doesn't have a 90 degree detent, so I have to line it up with the cursor, and make a test cut. If I just swing the arm for a cut, it might take 2-4 test cuts to get perfect. Less than a minute. No big deal, considering the advantage.

When doing deep dado's, do it in 2 or 3 steps. A simple stop collar, on the post is all that's needed. It can be as simple as a hose clamp, or machined as mine was. Set collar at final dado depth. Make first cut. Lower a turn or so, and make second cut. Lower to stop and make final cut.
I had to cut about 20 deep dado's on 2. 2x4's, for a quick drying rack, and ganged them together, and cut all dado's in under 5 minutes.
 

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I also have owned a number of Craftsman ras's. Now, that I have a Red Star (Orig Delta turret arm saw) I wouldn't want to go back to a CM saw either. But if I was in a position with no ras, I would buy an older CM, if nothing else was available. As said the early 70's and earlier, CM saws are the best of the CM, ras's
A Craftsman ras, is better than no ras.
 

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So tell us, what brand is it. Like Fred says a lot of the Craftsmans are junk. I am not an expert on the RAS but have used a lot of them in my working days from 9" to 16". The most solid ones in my opinion are older DeWalts. Be aware that some of the older DeWalts take 9" blades, good solid machines but good blades can be hard to find.
 

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Just make sure all the guards are in place and be careful, the saw wants to walk towards you when you are pulling it through a cut.
Mike Hawkins;)
If you have the wrong style blade it can climb and that's the real danger.
The saw cannot climb over the board and come at you. The motor/saw assembly is a fixed distance between the table and the arm, and does not move up and over a board when cutting. If it does that more than one attachment point is loose or not connected, and in that case the saw should not be used anyway. A dull blade, or pulling too fast may cause some resistance which may put an upward pressure on the motor, but in no way will it climb over a board. It may just feel like it.






.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the input! I found on another thread here how to build a table for it. Any suggestions on table surfaces?

It is a craftsman but from the early 70s. Check out this owners manual...I started reading it and it is so old school cool! I plan on getting it over here tomorrow. I will post pics.
 

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No ,the saw didn't move and come at me but the board shot out like a rocket. It started pulling the board/climbing and I had to let go. I think running the wrong style blade was my problem.
 

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That saw looks to be one of the Radial 100 models, and is generally considered to be one of the good ones. If it doesn't work out, you can always send the motor in for the $100 recall bounty. As for the table, there is a polualr type amongst RAS fans called the Mr. Sawdust table. He wrote a book on Dewalt saws and detailed it there. But basically it's 2 pieces of 3/4" MDF sandwiched together. What keeps it flat is the 3/4" wide, 1/8" thick metal bars embedded in the MDF. They are placed ON EDGE in between the 2 pieces. You cut grooves to let them fit in, the bars are epoxied, and the MDF glued together. If that sounds of interest any number of folks here can walk you through the process. In any case, congrats....sounds like you're enthused about the saw.
 

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That is a decent saw. I'd snap it up.

Get the model number if you can, there's a recall on some models that they will provide new guards and tables.
 

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That book with the red cover is an interesting book, on CM ras's. Show you can do anything with it, except make lunch!

There is a similar looking book titled, Radial Arm saws, also a Craftsman book. This one shows in detail, how to set up the machine.
It also shows the forked piece, inside the arm, that can get spread apart, and prevent the arm from locking solid. It's a pita to fix. Just a few hammer blows, fixes the part, but getting it out and back in is the trick!
I think it can get spread, if the arm is bumped into hard enough. Although, I don't remember bumping mine, and one day it wouldn't lock up solid.

Decent saw otherwise. The number on the top of the book cover, that has the set up info is, 9 2938

Good luck with the saw
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I am really looking forward to getting it, cleaning it, making look and work like new! I could have gotten it today but I knew if I did I would have been in the garage for the rest of the day. I also had to finish my first big woodworking project (kids craft table). I did final sanding and attached the table top this afternoon. Tonight it's staining time!
 

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if it's like the one on the cover of the booklet. it's a good saw. CI column support, column and travel arm. kind of fussy to align, but if it's not moved around the shop and ONLY used for 90° crosscutting, it's a handy tool. mine came from a neighbor and needed $60 in parts. it's a great tool for the shop.
 

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I'm still using a 12" craftsman I bought new in 1974. The rollers have eccentric centers that you can adjust so it rolls tight, straight, and true on the cast iron arm. I still use it, but have fine tuned it to the point that I only want to use it on finish stuff at 90 degrees. A more modern sliding miter saw cuts angles. I keep a Forrest blade on it most of the time. You have to specify 5/8" hole in a 12" blade when you order one. Normal for 12" is 1" hole.

I really like where the on/off switch is right under your thumb.

I have it dedicated to making shoulder cuts on window sash rails in a current project that you can see on my "windows" page.
 

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I have an early 70's DeWalt and it's a great saw. But they don't make them anymore so parts are a problem when you need to replace something.
 
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