Introduction: Radial-Arm Saw Overhaul & Modification for Low Profile Storage

About: hmmm...

This instructable is about how to overhaul/re-build a Craftsman radial arm saw.  I also included instructions for some modifications I made so that it can be stored compactly against the wall of my 1-car garage.

My father recently gave me his old radial arm saw.  It had been sitting in his garage, un-used, for at least a decade.  Despite the fact that it was rusty and wouldn't rotate, I gladly accepted because my work space is too small to use my table saw for cross-cutting lumber.

I used this manual:

but there are many models of Craftsman radial-arm saws, so you may have better luck looking here:

Step 1: Remove Saw From Arm

The saw I have is really heavy.  It must be over 100 lb.  To avoid injury, remove the saw motor from the arm first.

The only limitation on the movement of the saw blade on the arm was a small socket-head screw.  I removed that, released the brake, removed the anchor for the coiled cord and slid the motor off the arm.

Step 2: Remove Arm

At first, I couldn't even rotate the arm of my saw.  After some inspection, I discovered that the rotation occurs at the top of the column.  I soaked it with penetrating oil, banged on it with a mallet, but the lock mechanism wouldn't release.  So, I decided to tear it apart and clean the parts.

First, I removed the cap at the top of the column (First diagram, 1 & 4).  Then, I removed the two bolts seen when looking down into the column (First diagram, 5).  The, I removed the panel in the back of the arm (Second diagram, 1) and removed the socket-head screw that sets the limits on rotation (Second diagram, 49).  Then, I wiggled the arm off, little by little.  When it got stuck, I tapped it gently with a mallet.

Step 3: Clean Column

The vertical motion of my saw was severely compromised.  The exposed part of the column was badly rusted.  To fix it, I cranked the saw up until the entire rusted portion was exposed. 

To remove the rust, I tried 400-grit sand paper.  It was too fine and just gummed up.  I switched to 220, which was much more effective.  I used some cotton rags to clean up the bits of rust that the sand paper scratched off.

Step 4: Arm-Rotation Lock

Even after cleaning up the bearing point of the arm, I could not disengage the locking mechanism.  I removed the long shaft that connects the lock to the user end of the arm and found the mechanism rusty.  After cleaning the parts and re-assembling, the locking mechanism worked.

Step 5: Clean Carriage Bearings

The carriage moves on rollers along hard steel shafts.  After cleaning these shafts with sandpaper, I noticed that one of them was damaged where the rollers made contact.  There were two flattened stripes along the entire shaft.  To remedy the problem, I rotated each shaft.  The original orientation included a counterbored hole that accommodated the head of the machine screws that secure the shafts to the arm.  When rotated, the head of the screws protrude.  This complicated assembly because I had to fit the motor onto the arm before securing that end of the shafts to the arm.

Step 6: Custom Bracklets for Wall Mount

I made custom brackets that secure the saw to the wall.  The original mounting scheme included the flange at the base of the column and a pair of bolts below it, which cannot be seen in the photos.  Instead, I secured the column above, providing a secure support that minimizes wobbles.

Step 7: Alter Vertical Adjustment Crank

I mounted this saw against the wall of my single-car garage.  My custom mounting work was done with the intention of rotating the arm of the saw out of the way whenever it was not in use.  The problem was the shaft and crank used to adjust the height of the saw. 

I modified the saw by drilling into the lead screw (runs vertically inside the column) and adding a 1/4" threaded rod as an extension.  The vertical adjustment could then be cranked up and down from the top of the column.

Step 8: Build a Folding Table

Finally, I built a folding table for the saw.  It's supported by 4 hinges and held square by removable triangular supports.  It's level but not quite square to the arm of the saw, so I used some shims.

Now, read the instructions people have posted about aligning the saw blade:
Craftsman Tools Contest

Participated in the
Craftsman Tools Contest