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Reader Jay writes: “I recently bought a Craftsman radial-arm saw from a friend, but it came without a table top. I built my own, but after a couple of uses, I think I might have missed something. Do any of you Toolmongers have a design — or just photos — of a good radial-arm saw table top? Just FYI, my saw is probably from 1976.”

Jay, the photo above is of my father’s old Craftsman radial arm saw, but as you can see I got it without a top, too. Doh! Most of the saw tables I’ve seen have been really simple, so my gut says that you might have an issue with how you’re using it. Google, however, turns up tons of pictures. And Craftsman (one of our current sponsors) shows a table on the site for their new 10″ Laser Trac saw.

But let’s let the real experts answer. Toolmongers? What say you?

 

47 Responses to Reader Question: A Great Radial-Arm Saw Table Design?

  1. PeterP says:

    You could do it in granite, like the Steel City table saws:

    http://www.steelcitytoolworks.com/products_tools.cfm?section=2&category=12&tool=35675

    Although you might have some real issues if the blade ever hits the surface…

  2. Chris says:

    Get “How to Master the Radial Arm Saw” by Mr. Sawdust. Available on his website http://www.mrsawdust.com. Although the book is geared toward the DeWalt series of RAS’s, there are directions to make a great table top. The key is stability and flatness. The table is made of two layers of quality plywood with steel reinforcement.

  3. Adon says:

    Here’s a picture of our radial arm saw (or “Radio Alarm Saw” as we call it).

    http://www.industrialshapeandform.com/images/temp/radialarmsaw.jpg

    It’s an old one too. Probably from the 60′s. We got it without a table too. We just made one from a 12′ length of particle board with full length 4 x 4′s underneath for strength. The 4 x 4′s were dunnage that we just made straight. We added a fence along the back and added measuring tape (for rough measurements). Calibrating it took a little bit of time, but we generally only use the saw for cutting lumber for gluing.

  4. Old Coot says:

    There is a recall program involving many of these saws that could provide Jay with what I got a few months ago, a complete new table, blade guard, and some other cool stuff. Didn’t cost me a penny. Very cool. Here’s the url (I don’t know how to do links):

    http://www.radialarmsawrecall.com/

    • Turd Polisher says:

      Just want to thank you for the recall info, and to let everyone know they are still filling orders. Just ordered on a few minutes ago for my saw, looking forward to its arrival. Also wanted to thank everyone for all the great posts and excellent info. Have a great week.

  5. Old Coot says:

    Oh, the link self-creates. That’s also very cool.

  6. drago says:

    Coot – thanks for that link, my old Craftsman qualified for the recall!

    My current table is just a sheet of plywood with a 1×1 piece of wood bolted near the back for use as a fence.

  7. Old Coot says:

    drago: Happy to help. You’re likely to be amazed at the good stuff they are going to send you. And IIRC, they never asked me for proof of ownership (I’m at least the third owner) or any other hassle. Gave them the serial # and that was it.

  8. BC says:

    I came in here to mention the recall.. The kit comes in a good sized box — roughly 48″ x 18″ x 10″, and includes everything you need for a new table and blade guard… The only crappy thing is if you use the table most of the time the rip gauges will no longer be accurate.

    Sadly, the radial arm saw I inherited had been neglected – the flat bearings on the back side of the motor were completely dry, and the stator on the motor is trashed. The motor is NLA from Sears (of course) and its minimum $250 for a re-wrap, so I’m still deciding what to do with it.

  9. fred says:

    If you can afford the room – I’d highly recommend mounting the saw into a bench with a sacrificial plywood top and a wooden backstop straightedge fence. When we acquired our woodworking shop, it came with an old 16 inch Dewalt radial arm saw mounted in the middle of a 16 foot bench. If I were setting up the shop today I might not include this piece of equipment – but having it does come in handy.

  10. matt says:

    1 1/2″ Ply lid with MDF skin. Or same thickness of particleboard. If you need heavy duty, go with 2 1/4″ thick.

    I recommend spacing the fence off of the bed by about 1/16″. Helps to keep the sawdust from building up in the corner.

  11. Bill says:

    I have the exact same saw with the remnants of the original particle board top. The saw is in a storage unit but I have a sketch somewhere with dimensions – I’ll have to dig it up.

  12. NebraskaDave says:

    I picked up one of these vintage RASs (Sears Craftsman 10″ manufactured in 1968) earlier this year from a guy who swore by making the table from white melamine laminate. I see this is a fine table material for this saw and think I’ll keep it the same when I make a new one. Unfortunately, the previous owner had made the last table much too narrow for ideal or safe use.

    He’d also built a mobile base for the tool which was far too weak and too narrow to be stable and, most importantly, safe for regular use. In trying it out, the damn thing began to tipped over on me. Not an ideal situation for it. I scrapped the base and moved it over to a short plywood shelving box I had to beef up as a temporary stand, but in the process I damaged the fence and back-table. With some research, I discovered I could still get many parts for the saw from Sears. Here’s the link: http://www.searspartsdirect.com/partsdirect/

    I just finished building a heavy-duty fixed base for the saw (just last night in fact). I’m working now on benches to either side to support long piece. When done, I planning on making a new table to fit the set up and I think I’ll do the same as the previous owner.

    Good Luck!

  13. Old Coot says:

    NebraskaDave: How about a photo of your new base? Would it lend itself to having sturdy casters? My saw is on the splayed four-legged open metal stand that (I assume) also came from Sears. It’s study enough, but I’d really like to be able to roll the beast outside occasionally.

  14. Simon says:

    I like using old MDF desktops to give 8′ on both sides of the blade. This was nice and flat and stable – l spent a fair bit of time aligning the 3 sections.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/simplesimon/855625010/sizes/o/

    I wanted to make the fence 16′ long with a sliding stop like this:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/simplesimon/331856185/in/set-72157594165119491/

  15. Handyman78 says:

    Thanks for this info! After reading I went right to my saw and sure enough, it was a Craftsman 113.199250 model. I filed the request and look forward to what they send as a repair!

  16. NebraskaDave says:

    Old Coot:

    Sure, I’ll post images if I can figure out how.



    Hope that worked.

    I’d originally considered making this bench mobile, thinking to build a platform on casters, but realized that would be impractical for my shop (and the tool). In your situation, however, I’d suggest looking in to using a Shop Fox or Grizzly Industries mobile base with your setup. (http://www.woodstockint.com/Products/26503000/ ) They’re adjustable and hold the weight.

    NebraskaDave

  17. NebraskaDave says:

    OK. The image upload didn’t work. Sorry.

  18. NebraskaDave says:

    Giving the image upload/link another go.

    http://img368.imageshack.us/my.php?image=ras1hb1.jpg

    NebraskaDave

  19. Jay Pyatt says:

    All:
    I posted the original question and really appreciate all of the responses. I checked the recall site and that will get me all the goodies. I think it will take some time for me to work through all the comments, but thanks for showing your support. Toolmongers rock.

  20. Joel Spangler says:

    Another beneficiary from the recall link here – thanks ol’ coot

  21. Old Coot says:

    I’ll be watching the mail for royalty checks ;-) .

    NebraskaDave: Thanks for the photos, gave me some ideas.

  22. danpc10 says:

    i have the same saw, and i need to know what keeps the arm from swing
    i don’t know if there should be a key where the tighten bolt hits in the back slot?
    i have the two hex bolts that you tighten and one in the middle that you tighten with a screw drive

  23. David Starr says:

    On my Craftman RAS (similar to, but older than, yours) the table has three set screws set into Tee nuts used for leveling the table. One loosens the screws securing the angle irons to the frame, adjusts the set screws to get the table exactly parallel to the arm and then tighten the angle iron mounting screws to hold the table just right. You may be able to find the factory manual for your RAS on the Old Woodworking Machines website (owwm.com). The manual will show how to align it and what fasteners should be in the table top. You may also need a pair of “table clamps” to secure the fence. Sears still carries parts for RAS’s older than yours.
    I make replacement tables for my RAS out of 3/4″ MDF. Cheaper particle boards may warp. A good grade of 3/4 plywood is OK. I make the table 4 foot long and two foot deep. Position the table so that the blade goes all the way behind the fence when pushed all the way back.

  24. gundwane says:

    Wow I am glad I found this article. I have a qualifying saw for the re-call.
    I do have the original owners manual for this saw. It has a main table top and then the fence and two other smaller table top pieces that can be used in different configurations. I could be talked into copying the manual. There are a six steps in aligning the saw to get everything accurate. Let me know if you are interested and how I could send you a fax or electronic copy.

  25. cohec says:

    Hi gundwane, I’d really appreciate an electronic copy of that manual. I have a RAS 10″ 113.197601C model, 1976 I assume, no top, no manual. I’m trying to determine if I qualify for the recall, but all the links on the recall site seem to be busted.

    Thank you

  26. cohec says:

    hmmm…I guess I would have to put an email addy up on the board. I’ll create a sacrificial one and post it if that will work.

  27. rob says:

    What do old Craftsman radial arm-saws and cast iron, 220v table saws sell for?

  28. NebraskaRandy says:

    Several comments, some off-topic.

    I replaced my original Craftsman table with inch thick particle board covered by a relatively soft plastic laminate (it was the top from a desk that I bought at an auction). This works very well, in that is doesn’t chip and splinter, and especially because I can wipe up spills before they damage the surface. In fact, it works so well that when I install the recall upgrade kit (soon), I am going to replace the table with the same material. This second replacement of the table will allow me to widen the table from 40 inches to 50 inches (all that my cramped shop allows). The splendid 40 inch table that came with the recall upgrade kit will be kept in reserve. One question that I have not been able to answer though is why Craftsman tables have two table pieces behind the fence/backstop. I made just a single piece behind the fence/backstop when I replaced the table, and I have encountered no disadvantages. So why two separate pieces of table?

    Also, I have found it worthwhile have a separate fence/backstop that I use only for ripping (= no kerfs (kerves?) from crosscutting in the fence).
    The kerfs in the crosscut fence tended to snag my boads when I ripped them. My current rip fence is 72 inches long and make from oak flooring (two boards joined at 90 degrees for rigidity). The rip fence is scheduled for an upgrade as well, as I have some 8 foot pieces of oak flooring that I am going to use to make a slightly longer fence. I plan to use the old rip fence as a new cross cut fence, because the extra length beyond the sides of the table should help when crosscutting long boards.

    Finally, because I have an uneven floor, the alignment of my radial arm saw was very sensitive to relatively small changes in position. I dealt with this by drilling holes in small boards, and then having the leveling feet contact the floor through the holes in the boards. After nailing the boards to the concrete floor, the saw can’t shift horizontally, and my radial arm saw maintains its alignment.

    • Dan says:

      “why Craftsman tables have two table pieces behind the fence/backstop. I made just a single piece behind the fence/backstop when I replaced the table, and I have encountered no disadvantages. So why two separate pieces of table?”

      For most crosscuts, miters, & rips, the single piece should be fine. The second piece allows the fence to move back an extra couple of inches for ripping wider stock (i.e., sheet goods) and for use with some of the RAS accessories (moulding heads, etc.).

      Personally, the moulding head I bought for my Craftsman RAS 20+ years ago scared the crap out of me. I haven’t used it since.

  29. Robert Alford says:

    I do not have a tag on my saw, but the sears radial arm saw you have at the top of the page is just like mine. Do you have that #?

  30. John says:

    # 1132310 ….Don’t know if it qualifies. I will check

  31. How do I determing the year of my Craftsman 10 inch table saw? I have been looking at the website and I have kinda determined that maybe the year manufacture could be the firs four digits after the (113.xxxx) my mine is 1977 so does that mean my saw was manufacture in 1977. Also, do you know if t here is a laser sight upgrade available for this saw? If so, can you provide me with the info?

  32. bill thomas says:

    Exactly the same saw as I bought new in about 1975 and have used since. It’s my primary saw and I get a lot of laughs when I say that, but actually I do a lot of cabinet work with it.

    I don’t use the radial arm saw as a chop saw, and rarely cut any stock thicker than an inch. If you’re going to use it as a chop saw, then that’s what it will be.

    I used up the original Craftsman particle board top years ago and have made several since, each one is better. Current top is a piece of an old store display unit shelf, made of some kind of paper bottom, and particle board core, and a white laminate top. I like the white top because I can use a pencil to write notes and mark cuts, etc., and then it wipes off. This top is 40 inches x 19 inches. The laminate for the shelving is really nice stuff, and I use it for jigs and gluing up projects too. Had about eight of these shelves twenty five years ago, only one and a few pieces left. Also, besides the tops, I go thru a lot of fences, and always have a couple for different uses.

    I added a steel 1-1/2 x 2” angle reinforcement across under the front about an inch in. This is to keep the top flat, and gives extra support.

    Two secrets to make the radial arm work well: set-up and saw blades. I spend hours when I have time, maybe once a year or after a lot of use, to set up the saw. You need to get the saw to travel square or perpendicular to the fence, saw blade parallel to that travel, saw blade perpendicular to the table top, and then adjust the table top to be flat to the saw blade. I use a drafting triangle, a precision metal square, and sometimes a dial indicator to do all of this…and a good eye. Takes a while to get the table top right too.

    Spend some money on blades. For crosscutting I am using a DeWalt ‘Thin Kerf’ Ultimate Crosscut blade, 80T, DWG3218TK. For ripping I am using a Freud Glue Line Rip, 30T, LM74010. These two blades changed my life. The Glue line rip cuts so smooth, there’s no need to run stock over the jointer. Incredible. For both blades I use blade stiffeners on either side of the blade. The stiffeners limit the depth of cut, but the way I use the saw that’s not a problem.

    Another difference in the way I use the saw is that except on long pieces, I rarely change the angle of cut. Instead, I use a large adjustable drafting triangle and sometimes make guides out of Masonite hardboard.

    I try to keep everything clean, and have a shop vac connected to the blade guard and a dust collector at the back of the saw.

  33. Mark says:

    From Craftsman I requested an upgraded safety housing for the blade.Along with the safety shield the sent me a whole new tabletop as the housing needs a little more space when parked. Maybe you’ll luck out and receive one. I think it depends on the model number. The used one I purchased was from the eighties. Good luck!

  34. roger says:

    I have a craftsman model #113.290001. trying to find a year. its gold in color and made of cast. Also have a delta model 900 cat #33-616 9″ blade and ant find date. need tops for both.

  35. roger says:

    also gonna call to find if its covered for the recall!

  36. Alex B says:

    Thanks everyone, you’ve answered two of three questions I needed answered (but didn’t intend to ask). Without checking the id plate I’ll say my old 70′s model is exactly as pictured top of this thread. Now I’ve got better ideas than the particle board table falling off… and the globe chair casters I jammed into the leveling feet.

    BUT… I may have burned out the drive motor or possibly just “permanently” tripped the breaker when I hit some tough lumber on too long of an extension cord… yes, my fault.

    Any ideas on repairing or replacing the motor if it comes to it? Nobody around here rewinds armatures or replaces “brushes” anymore… probably brushless anyhow? I hate to bypass the safety switch, but could briefly as a motor test.

    I have not checked Sears yet, found this great resource via Google. Thanks again in advance!

  37. Jules says:

    Thanks for the tip on the recall!

    I just received my Recall upgrade package (March 3rd, 2013), a week/half after ordering. (Surprised at how quickly it came!)

    I purchased my RAS from someone last summer, and just got it set up. The hobbled table they put together isn’t what I would deem ‘sturdy’ or ‘safe’, so I came here while searching for some options on how I could fix that.

    While I have been able to use it as is, I’m not entirely comfortable with it.

    I will try to post some before and after photos so anyone else coming here can see what they provide if their RAS qualifies for the recall, too.

    Thank you for posting that information, folks! I’ll be back here for future help, that’s for sure. :)

    J

    • tm says:

      Jules, did your kit come with a new table as well?

      • tm says:

        Never mind Jules, I decided to call them, it does come with the table for my saw, 4-8 week delivery, I think I will get a piece of wood to use it for now anyhow, my table is toast, it got wet, the new parts look decent though and they send the saw dust out the back

  38. Docteric says:

    Wow! I was browsing around looking for some direction in making a new table for my Craftsman Radial Arm Saw and came across this site. My saw is eligible for the new parts! Way better than making a new table myself. And i’d damaged my guard a few months ago. Thanks for the info. I’ll be back.

  39. Gary Smith says:

    What is the correct size for the table pieces for a Sears Model 113.199250 10-inch radial saw? Based upon a 2010 note above from Bill Thomas, he states the table is 40″X19″. If this is so, what is the dimension of the secondary table piece that is positioned behind the fence?

  40. Docteric says:

    Amazing. I got my new table and guard in two weeks. Incredible service. ‘Haven’t put it on yet. maybe tomorrow. The new table pieces are 40″ wide. The front piece is 16″. The two secondary pieces are 7″ and 4″.

  41. Andy says:

    I have been struggling with making a new table for my ras. I happened upon your forum here and thought I’d give the recall a try. I’ve never been one to turn down free tools! My new guard and table is on its way! Thanks for the info!

  42. rtrg says:

    I need help in identifying my sears saw. It is a combination of a miter saw base with a radial saw arm minus the height adjustment. A transition machine between a fixed compound miter and a slider. It is NOT a radial saw in the design we are all familiar with. It is part of the 315 model number series. The rest of the numbers cannot be read, plate is scratched. A list of these model numbers would help. reeltoreelguy@gmail.com

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