The Radical Radial Saw

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Invented by Raymond Dewalt in 1922 (did I really just mention that name here?), the radial arm saw (RAS) was invented as an all-in-one solution for the shop - allowing the user to not only make both cross cuts and rip cuts, but perform additional work like making dados, rabbets, and even molding and shaping.
For the uninitiated, the principle of the design is this, a circular saw glides across a horizontal arm on a yoke. The saw tilts on most axis, including parallel to the table, and the arm itself rotates 180 degrees on its column, allowing for a wide variety of cutting angles and miters.
So why is the RAS, with all of its abilities, relegated to history and almost forgotten? There are different facets that lead to its demise; such as cost, safety, industry improvements, and public perception.
Up to the time I put this content together, it was interesting observing the reactions of different people as we popped into different hardware stores while looking for saw blades, explaining that we had just gotten a RAS. Most people were shocked, with facial expressions like “they still make those?” or “why would you even consider getting one of those?” An employee in a major woodworking hobby store even crassly responded by saying “I hope you realize how unsafe that saw is”
This is the public perception of the RAS - a death trap machine on a stand that will toss projectiles at you and render you into a character in the movie Final Destination.
Creating this perception was quite possibly the darkest part of Craftsman’s history: when their radial arm saws, manufactured from 1958 to 1995 had a critical design flaw: lack of a blade guard. The recall was announced in 2000 and would have an impact on nearly 3.7 million machines. 
The auspices of the recall was to return your yoke and carriage to Emerson Tool Company (ETC), and they would send you a yoke and carriage bag, complete with blade guard and even some extra accessories. This later evolved into a $100 credit for turning the carriage in. The recall is still ongoing.
“ETC believes that its radial arm saws have always represented the state-of-the-art at the time they were manufactured and distributed. Prior to 1992, ETC’s radial arm saws included active guarding devices such as the nose-blade guard and the anti-kickback pawls. If you choose not to participate in this recall remedy and persist in using the saw, it is crucial that you follow all operating instructions and warnings.”
What’s not part of this perception is that there are still people out there that are extremely loyal to the RAS. Moreover, some of these people still have a Craftsman RAS that was part of the recalled group, but choose not to turn in their yoke and carriage. They have not gotten injured, anyway.
Why is that you ask? Well, proper use one might say. In ETC’s own words, ETC believes that its radial arm saws have always represented the state-of-the-art at the time they were manufactured and distributed. Prior to 1992, ETC’s radial arm saws included active guarding devices such as the nose-blade guard and the anti-kickback pawls. If you choose not to participate in this recall remedy and persist in using the saw, it is crucial that you follow all operating instructions and warnings.”
According to Wikipedia, the RAS fell to the invention of the miter saw, which was developed in the late 70s, alongside the fact that RAS machines carried an expensive price tag compared to it’s close cousin the table saw.
Despite the series of unfortunate circumstances, Craftsman kept the faith in the RAS. In 2001, Craftsman unveiled RAS 220381, an earlier make of the saw pictured above, which itself was unveiled in 2007 as RAS 22010 and included additional enhancements. 22010 is still available through Sears today, and quite possibly the only consumer-version of RAS left on the market. Want one? Get it here.

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