Radial Arm Saw (RAS) - 10-Inch, Craftsman
Most projects start here, at the workhorse.
Click image to enlarge
Note: This saw is no longer in the shop.
This is the workhorse in my shop. I do not currently have a table saw so I am performing virtually everything on the RAS. That will change in the future, when I add a good table saw to the shop. But until then, the RAS handles virtually everything I ask of it. Aside from my mistakes, there have been no problems in using this saw.
When assembling my RAS I added a wooden shelf inside the legs to both add storage and to stiffen the leg assembly. I also built a fold-down table extension that extends to the left. This way I can work with very long lengths of wood without having to hold the working end of the board down.
Along the way, I have added a single-blade dado cutter that functions, but will be replaced with a stacked dado cutter. The wobble blade is too hard on the sides of soft material and leaves a slightly curved bottom to the dado. Besides, it is only 6-inches tall, making half-lap dados or rabbets on 4X4 material nearly impossible.
I also bought a molding head, and have used it a few times but anticipate making far more use of my big router. The molding head is just too scary on a RAS. I used to use it on my old table saw and that was much better.
The only problem I have had is letting too much time pass between checking the alignment of the saw. Every saw should be checked periodically to be sure the blade is running true. An RAS needs it a little more often because all the works are suspended. It usually is not far out of line, but I do notice an improvement in joints and general fit after re-aligning everything. The whole job takes less than half an hour and does not cost anything. There are no good excuses for not keeping up on alignment.
In addition, whenever this RAS starts acting up when ripping stock, I get a new blade and all is well in the world. It seems that when this saw is set in rip mode you really can tell when the blade is working too hard. Good quality blades last a long time if you stay away from nails, staples and really dirty boards.
UPDATE: This tool has been the subject of more Craftsman bashing than I every suspected. I have received e-mailed assurances it is junk, won't cut right and will hurt me. None of these predictions have come true. This saw has performed very well, with no repairs needed.
I did figure out a way of setting this unit up that has made a tremendous difference in how it holds the alignment. To see the story, Click Here.
The radial arm saw is not for everyone, but I love having it in my shop. It compliments the table saw nicely in that I can set it up to make repetitive cuts, or use it when I have the table saw committed to another operation. For rough-cutting large boards, the RAS is the tool of choice. It also handles large dados that would be difficult or dangerous on the tables saw accurately, and safely.
Late in 2004
I replaced this Craftsman RAS with a Bosch SCMS but sold the RAS to a friend who continues to use it regularly.
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