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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am getting into radial arm saws, and I am finding about 30 of them for sale in my local city, for about $50 to $200. They are all Craftsman 10" saws, ranging from 1958 to 1990 era. There are 1 or 2 Dewalts for sale for 4 times the price. And I found an occasional Model 10 Rockwell/Delta.

Searching for information on used RAS, all I find are articles saying they are dangerous, and useless, don't hold "square" and should be thrown away, also all Craftsman saws are junk, and "only the Dewalt are good." Zero information about the rare Rockwell models. Zero information about which years of Craftsman are good.

I'd like to have some advice, on what to look for. My goal is to buy an older Craftsman, because they are so cheap, and look very lightly used.
 

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Searching for information on used RAS, all I find are articles saying they are dangerous, and useless, don't hold "square" and should be thrown away, also all Craftsman saws are junk, and only" the Dewalt are any good. Zero information about the rare Rockwell models. Zero information about which years of Craftsman are good.
Based on my experience, I agree with all the above statements. Yes I have my asbestos pants on LOL. Theres a reason why you can buy them so cheap b/c demand is so low & sliders have replaced them.

FWIW I’ve owned 3 over the course of 35 years, the first was a 70’s era C’man (an absolute POJ), an older model DW (AMF) which was the best, and a Rigid which was “acceptable” sold that one for 50 bucks. The only one that would hold square was the DeWalt I think the reason it had an indexed lever like a miter saw, the others has tension release levers (and too much plastic).

Everytime you change a setting for a bevel or miter cut, or accidentally bump the arm it’s a 15 minute realignment session, so they were basically cut off saws. And poor ones at that, too. Cutting a board that isn’t flat and binds is a bad experience.

If I were bound and determined to get one it would be an older model Rockwell or DeWalt. The problem with that is what condition the motors are in, as they are are not replaceable and not cost effective to rebuild. I junked the DW b/c of that.

Worth pondering why no major mfg’ers make them anymore. Safety is one reason. But they do have their place in a shop.
 

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Good day. Welcome to The Forum



Good Luck on your hunt.

I own a 1970 series radial arm saw by Craftsman. Emerson Corporation made them for Sears for a number of years.

if you're going to only use it to cut 90-degree angles then they will work fine. look online you'll find a number articles on how to make aftermarket guards including this one.

almost any other tool will do what the radial arm saw will do and more safely.

a traditional cabinet, table saw with a sled will do lot of what the radial arm saw was used for.

watch the videos on how to tune one up.

you'll find there's a lot of adjustments to get it aligned up makes them very aggravating.

a good compound sliding saw and table saw will do so much more. just because it's inexpensive does not mean it's good idea.

you will need to make a new top for it make sure that when you saw motor out as far as it will go it's a handle is still over the table. There's still a lot of accessories for it out there readily for it.

the picture of the one you showed with a round knob on the front and lock are notoriously sloppy and don't always lock back in the same place twice. Also note but you're dealing with a saw that's 40 + it's going to need some initial maintenance. If you're not mechanically inclined to be able to take this saw apart and do the maintenance. getting all back to original again alignment skip buying the saw.

there are good cabinet table saws and sliding compound miter saws that will give you the same versatility and you will take up about the same out of floor space. much better use.
 

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OK, I own about 5 Craftsman RAS, maybe more if you count the one where I've used the carriage for a 2 axis panel saw?
Four of them are the 12" 220 volt models, except the panel saw and the vertical router, but that one uses it's own router motor.
The saw carriages that are supposed to fall off and jump over wood suffered from lack of maintenance and improper adjustment, and operator error.
The older ones had blade guards that didn't always come back to cover the blade or were not maintained properly.
As to resetting to "zero" after cutting at 45 degrees, there's an easy fix. Use a 45 degree jig and leave it at zero/90 degrees all the time. That's what I do.
The basic rule of carpentry/woodworking is:
When the workpiece is large, long or heavy, bring the saw to the work. Use a hand held circular saw or a RAS with an extended table like the lumber yards have.
When the workpiece is small, and possibly too small to cut without danger, bring it to the saw. If your fingers come within 4" of the blade, use a clamp or a jig to hold it.

Which one should you get?
The best older ones have a one piece column support. The newer, older ones have a split column support. I favor the one piece.
However, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference, they are both strong.
Look for a 12" model, but they are rare and require 220 volt supply, which you may not have.
I have no experience with Deltas, or Rockwells, but they also require proper maintenance and adjustment.
There are so many moving parts, and locks and adjustments, that most owners just give up and don't keep them in good condition.
They also take up a lot of space in a small shop, so folks just want them "gone" and that's why they are so cheap these days.

I wouldn't have a wood shop without at least one with an extended table having 30" to 40" to the left of the blade. I see the RAS as a companion to the table saw and most large shops, or well equipped smaller shops will have both. There are many videos on You Tube extolling thier virtues and expaining how to adjust them and a few that are down right wrong about how to use them.
This is one of the best and there's a whole lot that's going on here that may not be apparent to a novice, but he's really good with the RAS!
Notice that he's an older gent, but still has all his fingers:


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Notice there are two shop vacs on this RAS! The bottom orange one collects the dust from the green box behind the saw. The red one on the table gets the dust spun off from the blade. Notice there are no 45 degrees cuts in the 3/4" plywood extended table I made. This saw stays at 90 degrees all the time.

Notice how the 1 X 3 fence extends beyond the table for cutting long pieces to length using a stop clamped to the fence:
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A good video on tables and fences for the RAS:
 

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I am getting into radial arm saws, and I am finding about 30 of them for sale in my local city, for about $50 to $200. They are all Craftsman 10" saws, ranging from 1958 to 1990 era. There are 1 or 2 Dewalts for sale for 4 times the price. And I found an occasional Model 10 Rockwell/Delta.

Searching for information on used RAS, all I find are articles saying they are dangerous, and useless, don't hold "square" and should be thrown away, also all Craftsman saws are junk, and only" the Dewalt are any good. Zero information about the rare Rockwell models. Zero information about which years of Craftsman are good.

I'd like to have some advice, on what to look for. My goal is to buy an older Craftsman, because they are so cheap, and look very lightly used.
Any saw is dangerous, you just have to get accustom to how it operates. A radial arm saw can be very handy to have in the shop but you have to be careful what you use it for. They are made to do too many different things and the lightweight construction of home model saws you can't expect them to cut accurately all the time. You can cause the saw to cut out of square by the direction you pull it out making the cut. Then if the wood is especially hard it will cause the saw to rise up a little causing an out of square cut. I've had the saw raise up and go over the top of a board without completely cutting it. It needs to cut at it's own pace. I found the radial arm saw more useful cutting narrow pieces of wood for cabinet faceframes and rough cutting wider boards to be finished cut on a table saw.

When shopping for a saw be sure to pass on a Delta 12" saw if you come across one. Don't know the specific model but there was a defect on the carriage bearings which allowed the saw to come off the arm while running.
 

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Touchy subject for sure and like many I have some strong opinions. BUT they are my opinions, not researched and proven facts.

To start with, I wouldn't be without a RAS in my shop. I use my regularly.

As for Craftsman RAS, I had two and will not have another. No I don't think all Craftsman are bad but my two were horrible. All the typical issues, one wouldn't even cut a straight line. Seriously!

The newer ones were not well made. I think there are still some low mileage models out there that work well, But I expect they would eventually wear out too. I think the reason is they were value engineered to a point they wore out quickly and were hard if not impossible to repair. I sincerely believe Sears is the main reason for the bad reputation the RAS has.

I am a big fan of DeWalt and the Delta's but you still have to be careful because with heavy use they will wear too. But they were much better quality than Craftsman and last longer.

I have a large DeWalt and it stays square. I can angle the arm and bring it back to square no problem. Being able to index the arm to odd angles is one of the best things about a RAS.

All that to say I wouldn't consider a Craftsman, there is a reason they are cheap. Of course that is your choice but I would hold out to find a DeWalt of Delta. I would check it out carefully before buying too!
 

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When I started woodworking back in the late 1970s, the radial arm saw was our primary woodworking tool. My roommate and I also shared a jointer, bandsaw, and drill press, along with handheld power tools, such as a drill driver, circular saw, belt sander, etc. We used the radial arm saw to build a bunch of furniture, a full kitchen, a room addition, and a large house. We used the radial arm saw for crosscuts, rip cuts, miters, bevels, dados, combinations of them, etc. We replaced that gouged out table a lot. We were young and dumb ... and lucky that nobody was seriously injured. We did a lot of things the wrong way. People today know a lot more about shop safety, so yeah, we were lucky.

(We know a lot more about sawdust safety, too. We used to let the sawdust accumulate behind the RAS until it could fill several trashcans. Back then, our dust collector relied on shovels. Masks? Filters? Huh?)

As @DrRobert pointed out, everything you read about the issues and dangers of radial arm saws are true. Today I have a SawStop table saw, an ordinary, non-sliding miter saw, and a small cordless circular saw. They work well for me. I would choose them over a radial arm saw, no question. Then again, I learned a few things over the last 40 years of on and off again woodworking. If I had unlimited shop space, budget, etc. I might think about a radial arm saw, reserved for 90 degree crosscuts only, but that would be a "nice to have", not a "must have."

Best wishes and good luck!
 

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Touchy subject for sure and like many I have some strong opinions. BUT they are my opinions, not researched and proven facts.

To start with, I wouldn't be without a RAS in my shop. I use my regularly.

As for Craftsman RAS, I had two and will not have another. No I don't think all Craftsman are bad but my two were horrible. All the typical issues, one wouldn't even cut a straight line. Seriously!

The newer ones were not well made. I think there are still some low mileage models out there that work well, But I expect they would eventually wear out too. I think the reason is they were value engineered to a point they wore out quickly and were hard if not impossible to repair. I sincerely believe Sears is the main reason for the bad reputation the RAS has.

I am a big fan of DeWalt and the Delta's but you still have to be careful because with heavy use they will wear too. But they were much better quality than Craftsman and last longer.

I have a large DeWalt and it stays square. I can angle the arm and bring it back to square no problem. Being able to index the arm to odd angles is one of the best things about a RAS.

All that to say I wouldn't consider a Craftsman, there is a reason they are cheap. Of course that is your choice but I would hold out to find a DeWalt of Delta. I would check it out carefully before buying too!
Does your have positive setting like the Delta turret?

Once set on the Delta. I can move between 45 and 90 with out resquaring
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My experience is with larger, heavier saws; but the info may apply to smaller saws of the same brands. I have a 12" turret arm Delta saw and a 16" DeWalt.
The Delta saw is not last word accurate, just as several people have written. It does do a lot of clever tricks pretty well. If I was framing a complicated roof, this is what I would want to have. I'm not sure how those sliding miter saws would cut the shoulder in a bird's mouth joint in a rafter tail, or even if that's how roof framing is done anymore; but I really liked this saw when I did that sort of thing. Parts for it became impossible to get as some point. The nut in the elevating mechanism and the v groove carriage bearings went out on this, and the saw would be done for if I didn't have the ability to make replacements myself. I like the way the turret arm pivots, but that may just be personal preference.
DeWalt industrial saws cut like a dream. Even in mills where everyone and their brother uses them, they remain smooth and accurate for years. They are too big and heavy to fool with much. Mine and all the other ones I've used were set up as 90 degree cut off saws and left that way. I got this saw when I was building mostly stile and rail doors. It would cut the ends of a 2 1/4" thick, 12" wide hardwood rail perfectly straight and square. I've only run smaller DeWalt saws on a few occasions years ago, but I recall they had a similar solid feel to them.
 

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I'm the second owner of the Delta. Regency cabinets used it for cutting door parts. They traded me in around 2000. I have never had a problem with this saw. It's been accurate since day one.The reason they got rid of it was they bought a tigerstop...

I use it for doors and drawer fronts. Make a lot of dentil molding...

I may be a bit bias with Delta since shop in high school had all Delta and first cabinet shop I worked for had all Delta. Color rubs off on ya I guess..
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Supermuble have you looked at Delta turret saws?

Probably not because they won't fit in the $50 - $200 price range, more like $1000 - $1500?
 

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Why didn't you call me? I woulda driven down to MS and bought from you for that price!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
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Having no real info about what the "worst" Craftsman saws are, I purchased a 1978 model 113-197750 Sears Craftsman 10" saw for $75. The owner was so delighted to see it leave his wood shop, he seemed genuinely enthusiastic and threw in an extra dado blade for free. He said he had never used it for ripping boards, because it "terrifies him."

The saw is barely used, and looks like it has been mostly in storage for the last 43 years. There were at least 5 of this exact model of saw available in my area for sale.

It is an 120v 11 amp motor, with 13.25" crosscut capacity. I've heard that "Sears" are of course the very worst saws. Although the entire saw is metal and cast iron and cast aluminum except for the motor housing which is plastic, and the various plastic beauty covers. I noticed it has steel rods that are screwed on, for the roller slide rails, so it could theoretically be fully rebuilt, unlike the various types of RAS which use slots in the cast iron housing for the bearing slider raceway.

It has "detents" that click in very solidly. When you twist the motor, and lock the bevel angle at 0 degrees, it locks in with absolutely zero play, even before you tighten the permanent locking lever. There is no slop in any of the parts, and when you rotate the entire arm back to zero, it locks in properly and extremely precise. (I find it hard to believe that "bumping" the saw or moving it around, would make it completely out of square.) I'm guessing the alignment problems people have are likely related to the fence moving? .

Some impressions I get, having never used a radial arm saw until today:

1.) Pushing the saw seems like a much better method of cutting, and a lot safer.
2.) The saw should have a lockable trigger operated power switch, as well as a main power switch.
3.) Having the saw configured for a "push" forward motion, would eliminate the issues that people encounter, with the saw "climbing" towards you.
4.) Pushing the cuts, would only require one single sliding motion (not 2 per cut).
5.) Pulling the blade towards you, is really fun and exciting. It seems incredibly dangerous and inappropriate. It's one of the funnest experiences I've ever had. This may be my new favorite tool. I know I'll be making tons of unnecessary cuts just for fun now on a RAS!
6.) What stands out to me is how precise and well built the saw is, as it weighs about 80 pounds, not including the stand.
7.) The lack of a bevel or worm gear drive system, makes it about 50% quieter than a comparable 7 1/4" Skillsaw.
8.) The motor seems to be turning very low RPM, and makes a much less intrusive "whine" than the older high powered circular saws.
9.) Compared to a high RPM worm drive screaming miter saw, there is something "soothing" about using the direct drive radial arm saw.
10.) The riving knife (wheel) and adjustable blade guard make the saw far safer for ripping boards than the early model saws.

Overall, for $75, it feels like a very high quality, very expensive saw.

I might decide to throw it away after a few more hours of testing. haha. But the initial impressions are better than I expected, with so much negativity surrounding the "quality" of these "Sears" saws. I will report back after more advanced testing.

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While many of the Craftsman saws were crappy, you need to know that some of them (and Montgomery Wards) were made by DeWalt. My personal favorite are the Powershop models. I don't have a good picture of mine, but here is a typical model.

I have a 12-inch Craftsman branded model (black) that looks brand new.



Those that say a radial arm saw cannot hold true don't know very much about how to set up an accurate tool. That's what makes the Powershop models so attractive--the stops and adjustments are very precise. The last time I calibrated mine, I had it set to within a few thousandths of a degree, and with machined blade flanges (store-bought blade stiffeners) I had zero runout.
 

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Having no real info about what the "worst" Craftsman saws are, I purchased a 1978 model 113-197750 Sears Craftsman 10" saw for $75. The owner was so delighted to see it leave his wood shop, he seemed genuinely enthusiastic and threw in an extra dado blade for free. He said he had never used it for ripping boards, because it "terrifies him."

The saw is barely used, and looks like it has been mostly in storage for the last 43 years. There were at least 5 of this exact model of saw available in my area for sale.

It is an 120v 11 amp motor, with 13.25" crosscut capacity. I've heard that "Sears" are of course the very worst saws. Although the entire saw is metal and cast iron and cast aluminum except for the motor housing which is plastic, and the various plastic beauty covers. I noticed it has steel rods that are screwed on, for the roller slide rails, so it could theoretically be fully rebuilt, unlike the various types of RAS which use slots in the cast iron housing for the bearing slider raceway.

It has "detents" that click in very solidly. When you twist the motor, and lock the bevel angle at 0 degrees, it locks in with absolutely zero play, even before you tighten the permanent locking lever. There is no slop in any of the parts, and when you rotate the entire arm back to zero, it locks in properly and extremely precise. (I find it hard to believe that "bumping" the saw or moving it around, would make it completely out of square.) I'm guessing the alignment problems people have are likely related to the fence moving? .

Some impressions I get, having never used a radial arm saw until today:

1.) Pushing the saw seems like a much better method of cutting, and a lot safer.
2.) The saw should have a lockable trigger operated power switch, as well as a main power switch.
3.) Having the saw configured for a "push" forward motion, would eliminate the issues that people encounter, with the saw "climbing" towards you.
4.) Pushing the cuts, would only require one single sliding motion (not 2 per cut).
5.) Pulling the blade towards you, is really fun and exciting. It seems incredibly dangerous and inappropriate. It's one of the funnest experiences I've ever had. This may be my new favorite tool. I know I'll be making tons of unnecessary cuts just for fun now on a RAS!
6.) What stands out to me is how precise and well built the saw is, as it weighs about 80 pounds, not including the stand.
7.) The lack of a bevel or worm gear drive system, makes it about 50% quieter than a comparable 7 1/4" Skillsaw.
8.) The motor seems to be turning very low RPM, and makes a much less intrusive "whine" than the older high powered circular saws.
9.) Compared to a high RPM worm drive screaming miter saw, there is something "soothing" about using the direct drive radial arm saw.
10.) The riving knife (wheel) and adjustable blade guard make the saw far safer for ripping boards than the early model saws.

Overall, for $75, it feels like a very high quality, very expensive saw.

I might decide to throw it away after a few more hours of testing. haha. But the initial impressions are better than I expected, with so much negativity surrounding the "quality" of these "Sears" saws. I will report back after more advanced testing.

View attachment 432285 View attachment 432286 View attachment 432288 View attachment 432287
I think for a home model saw the Craftsman saws were some of the best. I bought a Craftsman saw very similar to that one in 1972 and it's been in constant use since then. The only repairs I've done on it was change the carriage bearings a couple times and replaced the switch.

I wouldn't get in the habit of pushing the saw. Because of the rotation of the blade that has the potential of lifting the board off the table. You have to be especially careful to hold the board down when doing that. If you take your time and allow the saw to cut at it's own pace you won't have an issue with the saw climbing.

The switch is lockable, there is a yellow tab in the center of the switch you remove to lock it.

The saw turning at low RPM is a concern. It's suppose to be turning 3450 RPM which is normal for a radial arm saw. There should be a whine to it.
 

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I have had 5 RAS, the best was a 1957 220 5 hp 16 inch Dewalt, it is still running like new today. It is a pain to set up dead on, but once set it doesn't move. Just remembered, I had 6, I junked the turret saw, didn't like it, but I never gave it a chance either, so it may have been a good saw. The Dewalt could cut cabinet sides with one stroke.
 
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