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Not long ago I was watching Norm knock out some dados for a garden fence project, and I felt inspired to go to Sears and check out their selection of radial arm saws.  Back in the day — the ’80s and ’90s at least — you could always find two or three versions of the radial arm saw in any Sears store.  Well, folks, it looks like we’re down to one sole survivor.  The good old days, when Toolmongers young and old could browse through all the different models and features, are gone.

The Craftsman Radial Arm Saw, touted as the “Professional” model, is a ten-inch version with a fixed base and a beefy 3 HP motor that should be able to handle all your cutting and wood-removal needs.  It comes with a 40-tooth carbide blade and a blade brake, and it boasts Laser Trak technology, which looks like the lasers I see on all the other tools.

The saw lists for about $750 at your local Sears.

Radial Arm Saw [Sears]
Street Pricing [Google]


20 Responses to The Last Radial Arm

  1. fred says:

    A victim to the sliding compound miter saw.
    We still have a big old Dewalt in the shop that I think was built when the building went up. I certainly didn’t buy it as a tool purchase.

  2. russ says:

    Wasn’t that a great idea? The sliding compound mitre saw. You can get a decent 12 inch for a lot less. Easier to take with you also.

  3. Shopmonger says:

    Yeah, But who will make a slide with adjustable depth so you can do dado’s….

    I have been looking to try and modify one for this….or make a attachable jig…..

  4. Kris says:

    Sears also shows a Delta Radial Arm Saw on their website at 2x the $.

  5. Old Coot says:

    What Shopmonger said. You’ll have to pry my radial arm saw from my cold dead fingers before you can have it.

  6. PutnamEco says:

    There are still some great saws available. I’m particularly fond of the Northfield unipoint. There is the Original Saw, which is the modern version of the old Dewalt, bought out by a couple of investors who really believed in the saw. Then there are saw by the like of Omga, CDT,Marvco etc. Just keep your nitro glycerine pills handy for when you see the price.


  7. core says:

    to Shopmonger…

    Festool makes a compound slider (10′) which has settings allowing for accurate dado cuts. The length of the dados is shorter than that of a radial, though. It is also quite expensive…


  8. Bill says:

    The deep adjustable cross-cut and rotate to rip features make the RAS a master tool!

  9. beckkl says:

    search craigslist for these. You can get them for $100-$200 without much effort.


  10. fred says:

    I suspect that the RAS may have been over-hyped back in the 70’s as the do-all shop tool. Our big old Dewalt saw sits square to a big massive bench that stretches 8 feet on either side of it – certainly not something that I could have in my home shop. It came with the commercial shop when our business acquired it back in the 80’s It is used little – but only for crosscutting at 90 degrees. It’s used so infrequently; that I don’t remember when I last bought a new 16 inch blade for it. I’m not a carpenter – but my mechanics who are have told me that the RAS is best used in crosscutting and gets out of whack easily if you use it for ripping. I suspect that some of those Sears saws that were so popular in the 70’s may not have been as well constructed as our older Dewalt – succumbing to the “getting out of whack syndrome” more easily and often – even when crosscutting. It may have been a case that the do-all tool did not live up to the expectations of the mass market that it was targeted at – or that home-shop carpenters didn’t want to take the time to keep it in alignment or even learn how to use it to its potential. For our business, we have many more stationary saws: – a few more table saws than other types – but do enough work to justify sliding tables, a dedicated panel saw to break down sheet goods, and a dedicated straight line rip saw. Thinking about the room these occupy on the shop floor – not to mention the cost we would need to lay out to purchase these all new again – I think I can see why the RAS’s hype was appealing for someone setting up a home shop. I also remember a time when Shopsmith’s were heavily marketed as the only stationary tool that you needed for a home shop. I’m guessing that both RAS’s and Shopsmiths still have their devotees – who likely produce fine work with them.

  11. Alan says:

    I’d guess the trouble with radial arm saws was that it wasn’t that cheap to make a good one, though they certainly tried! They did need to be adjusted fairly often. Good ones like the old Dewalts made that pretty easy.

  12. forler says:

    my favorite saw can do almost anything i have a sanding,router,drill,dato kits for my old one.

  13. johnnyp says:

    I agree with Fred on the RAS . I owned an older Black & Decker, the same exact saw as my
    brother’s, which was labeled DeWalt . These saws are nowhere as accurate as a belt driven
    table saw, powered miter saw or circular saw used with a straight edge. In order to make
    them accurate, a motor with a precision armature is required, expensive. About the only thing its good for is cutting vinyl siding, but then you could buy a saw buck and not break your back loading and unloading .

  14. SharkyTM says:

    I’ve got a 1970’s Craftsman RAS, and would never EVER get rid of it. Its the perfect saw for a lot of tasks. It only wants a wall on the shop, unlike a table saw, which wants to be in the middle of the room. If I’m not going to use it for a while, I just raise the arm, rotate it to 0*, and lower the arm. Now I’ve got my table back for other uses. I rip stock on it occasionally, it does it, but not very well. Nonetheless, I think its a valuable part of a wood shop, and use mine pretty much every project.

    I’m also buying a SCMS, but that’s for portability. I get tired of walking 35′ and going through 2 doors to cut one piece of wood.

  15. Sidney French says:

    They are nice but a little on the dangerous side. The biggest problem is that they cut against the rotation of the blade. This is okay if you have the right blade on the saw, one with a negative rake on the teeth, but most people just put any blade on them. As far as ripping, I don’t want to be impaled when it throws the wood.

    They are great if it is one that can have a router mounted to the slide arm.

  16. Johnny Cash says:

    My 1976 Sears Radial Arm Saw is remarkably rugged, having sat outside in my backyard with only a plastic tarp over it for sun and rain protection now for 33 years. It works fine whenever I need it. It doesn’t even rust outdoors like that. Remarkable tool.

  17. Ivan says:

    That’s funny as I saw the same episode where Norm was using it with a Dado blade.
    Last year I got a Sears Electronic RAS but have been afraid of using it too often. The spinning blade does scare me a little. But after the Norm show, I decided to keep it after all and start reading and even investing in some attachments. Thanks Norm.

    I do agree with some comments above, I also have been shoved some wood in the pelvis area when ripping wood.

  18. Joel Wires says:

    Totally off topic, but just in case anybody is interested. I’ve got a big beefy Craftsman radial arm saw with stand and everything that I’m going to be selling this summer (or sooner) if anyone is interested.

  19. FB says:

    My dad had one (DeWalt) he got in the early 60’s that I inherited – a fantastic machine! But a few years ago, when it need parts, they were no longer available. Like everybody else, I got a slider and a table saw. Gotta admit, the table saw is a whole lot more accurate! Times change.

  20. Sal says:

    The RAS outperforms a CMS by a mile any day. When I got my first DeWalt a few years ago, the precision that it had when I first used it without setting it up was better than the finest miter saw I ever used. If you follow the instructions in the Mr. Sawdust manual, you basically have a machine tool quality saw.

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