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:  http://www.owwm.com/pubs/detail.aspx?id=2498

but there are many models of Craftsman radial-arm saws, so you may have better luck looking here: http://www.owwm.com/mfgindex/detail.aspx?id=222&tab=3

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:


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    10 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Could you share the hole spacing for the custom mount?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I just saw this instructable. I love those older radial arm saws, as Phil B pointed out, more people should take advantage of their capabilities. I have a Craftsman myself, but it's only twenty years old. Looking at yours has given me the incentive to drag it out and tune it up.

    Phil B

    8 years ago on Introduction

    I am assuming you are not the original owner of this saw. It appears your saw suffered some abuse over the years. Someone on eBay sometimes has the round rods that carry the saw motor and yoke on the arm for relatively little money. I always wondered if a person could not just make his own. They might not be hardened. Many radial arm saws use a crank on top of the column for height adjustment. Yes, they are heavy--about 180 pounds. You have a special problem with fitting the saw into a one car garage. I am glad to see you are getting use from your saw. I have one that is slightly older by a couple of years. (See Related Instructables down the right side of this Instructable.)

    5 replies
    neffkPhil B

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I've already seen your instructable. It was part of the inspiration for actually dragging my saw out of my father's basement.

    Based on the flattening, I would say that the rods aren't hardened. I was able to flex them a bit, by hand. Also, there are holes drilled in the ends, which is not something you could easily do with hardened stock. The holes could have been drilled before heat treatment and quenching, but I don't see any deformation at all. My guess is it's cold-formed medium- or high-carbon steel, which is strong, rusts terribly, and has very tight radial tolerance.

    Oddly, the problem was only on one side---I lost track of which side, but I think it has to do with how forces are distributed when the saw is under load.

    Phil Bneffk

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    One of my objectives has been to get people to take another look at radial arm saws and begin to exploit their capabilities. I am glad to have been of help. My saw has a "V" groove cut into the side of the arm on both sides, just like yours; but without the round rods. Over the years I have sometimes thought I would like to replace my convex bearings with concave bearings like you have and the rods. A badly vibrating wire brush wheel even put a couple of knicks in my "V" tracks, but I found a way to restore the tracks and have not opted for the rods.

    Your father's basement must have had some moisture in the air to cause the rust. It is good you were able to remove most of it.

    Thanks for your response. Congratulations on its Featured status.

    woodchapPhil B

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I recently picked up an old 12" Craftsman radial saw model no. 113.23301., For some reason there was duct tape around the cylinder that supports the arm. on tear down and closer inspection I found that the back-up plug(steel part no. 63078) and the friction plug nylon (no 63077) were missing. I am able to get the nylon plug from Sears but not the steel one. Anyone know what size the steel one is so I can fabricate one? Thanks....

    Phil Bwoodchap

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I do not know if my 10" saw uses the same size metal fitting as your 12" saw, but, assuming it is made as on the 10" saws you should be able take dimensions from the opening in the cast iron base of the column. The round hole on the backside gives you the diameter of the metal plug insert. A raised portion on the end of the plug fits into the slot on the back of the column. There is a hole running through the length of the plug insert for the nylon plug. That hole is threaded part of the way so the nylon plug can be tensioned with a screw. The body of the metal plug has a large "V" valley. Set screws in the cast iron receiver for the metal plug work against the slopes of this "V" valley. I hope that is what you are asking.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    My old RAS I fixed up:


    It was a good deal for $20.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great Instructable! Clear and well written, with some nicely original ideas (pointed out to me by Phil B, our resident RAS guru :-). Featured and rated.