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Thread: The amazing RAS

  1. #1

    The amazing RAS

    Oh the Radial Arm Saw...it is a machine that has two camps behind it...those that strongly feel it is a dangerous saw and has no place in any workshop...and those that feel this is an amazing saw that they could not live without.

    Myself I firmly place myself in the second camp. I have had two saws, a Craftsman 8-1/4 saw that worked, but really not that good, and now a mid-60's Dewalt. Without question though...whether or not you hate or love the saw, you must be amazed at what it can do.

    No other saw I know of can saw on 5 different axis. In machinist terms, that is unheard of. A 5 axis milling machine will set you back about 4 million bucks. Of course our RAS cannot saw in 5 axis all at the same time, but it still is verstile.

    In my honest opinion, I don't think the saw gets the credit it deserves. I even read an article in a woodworking magazine stating "that with the invention of the compound miter saw, there is no need for a RAS in any shop." That is blarney because this saw can cut circles (literally) around a compound miter saw, not to mention adding other devices like sanding attachments and routers.

    So what are your thoughts on this woodworking machine? What camp are you in? Could you live without a RAS?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
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    I am firmly in the first camp. The only thing that amazes me about a radial arm saw is that anyone still uses them.

    Even when these saws were popular about 30 years ago and it seemed that everyone had to have one, I did not like them. I had access to two radial arm saws owned by neighbours (one a not very well buiult Craftsman and one a much better built DeWalt) and did use them a few times but, in doing so convinced myself that they were scarey machines and that I did not want one in my shop.
    Cheers, Frank

  3. #3
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    I do live without one, but I watched, as a kid, my grandfather use one with considerable skill, and make lots of amazing things.

    I think that the last ones that came along were not so good, and this caused a lot of the problems.

    I recall that Grandad bought a C-man unit and is sucked, he had all kinds of trouble with it, as it would NOT stay in alingment, so he dug out his old unit, I'm not sure the make, but it was HUGE and all steel.

    I know one thing for sure, as a kid I was SCARED to go anywhere near it!

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
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    Nov 2006
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    Woodstock, GA
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    I have a Delta radial arm saw that sees little use, there are a few cuts that it will make a lot better than any other saw in my shop so I keep it, if I were setting up a new shop I would not spend the money on it now. I also have a slide compound miter saw that gets used a lot

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    I am firmly in the second camp. Would not want to be without one. I am sure many have read my story on other forums. I had two Craftsman in my shop and was not impressed with either of them The newer ones became junk really fast!

    I searched for about a year before I found my DeWalt but it was worth the wait. I don't use the saw anywhere near it's potential because it's main use is cut off work. The other big thing I bought it for was dado cuts. It has a 1" arbor and I have not bought a set of dados for it yet. Still have sticker shock on those

    I don't see what scares people about them. One hand on the motor, one hand on the wood and your good. Even my 16 year old niece is comfortable using mine.

    I did do something stupid with mine right after I got it but it pulled the wood away from me. No kickback.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    Both camps, with qualification.
    My son is an emergency room physician. His observation of what comes his way is that the table saw is #1 in the shop for accidents. #2 is the radial arm or compound miter saw. BUT, the radial and/or compound saws produce, by far, the more serious injuries. He adds that, invariably, the patient says,"I never do it that way, but just this one time.......".
    My father had a DeWalt radial arm saw in his professional furniture shop and it was his #1 'go to' tool. Cross, rip, dado, miter. But, as said, the compound and table saw, plus other tools can still do it without the need for an old fashioned radial. I don't have one and don't have plans, or space for one.

  7. #7
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    Jeff, get many birds in them houses under the RAS

    The one my Grandad had looked much like yours, IIRC, but was a green color....?
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  8. #8
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    second camp primarly

    i have one and used several, and have heard of some horro stores, but you very well can get them from anything you use. i used it for multple piece cuts mostly and then for general cut off. have used the newer sliders but the cost of a ras vrs a slider is considerbly differnt. if i were to start over i would seriously look at the slider today instead. the first kitchen i did was with a ras and i made the face frames and doors on the ras. but today i use other methodes.
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Michigan
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    mixed thoughts

    Travis I technically have one, but it is not in my shop. A customer asked me to install a door for him about 15 years ago and in the form of payment he gave me a hardly used RAS, I didn't have the place to put it at the time so it has been in my dad's shop all this time. I really have no desire to get that one back since dad uses it for his stuff.

    I would like to find an older one like the one pictured, I think they have there place in any shop just depends on the user and their preference. This old boy in the picture uses his a lot and wouldn't part with it for anything. I was lucky to get a tour of his shop (Papa Bear Woodworks just north of me in St. Johns) his shop was loaded with old tools that he completely went through and re worked.
    A very wise man once said.......
    "I'll take my chances with Misseurs Smith and Wesson. "

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Ablett View Post
    Jeff, get many birds in them houses under the RAS
    Not yet but I am hoping! Actually I had the doors open yesterday and this little nosy Wren was in my Lab going from machine to machine checking everything out. Maybe she was homeless and looking??

    My niece came over and we made those. I just saw some bluebirds at the feeder yesterday so it's time to get the house out. My plan it make a bunch of these and see if I can get some more bluebirds up here on the mountain.

    The one my Grandad had looked much like yours, IIRC, but was a green color....?
    There were several of the models that were painted green. A splatter paint job with with spots I think. I believe those were the home/hobby units. Most of the industrial models like mine were gray. At least that is what I understand.

    No Steve, that is a SAW! Looks like a DeWalt and I am betting that is one of the 3 phase industrial 14" or 16" bladed models. My kind of saw!

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