How Do I Fix a Stuck Radial Arm Saw?

How Do I Fix a Stuck Radial Arm Saw?

I traded for an older Craftsman radial arm saw, model 113-29461. Everything works on the saw, except I cannot raise or lower the arm that holds the saw carriage. I think it’s supposed to loosen on the front top, but when I try to crank it up and down to adjust the blade cut, it won’t move. The handle for cranking it up and down will move about a quarter turn, only. Help! – Ed Otenburg

Rob Johnstone: Well, it might be a couple of things, but it is impossible for me to know for sure without looking at it and/or taking it apart. There is an old saying that if something does not move, and it should — use WD-40. The column that the crank is supposed to be moving up and down might be rusted or gunked up in some way. I’d start by spraying a bunch of WD-40 down the column and see if that helps. It might be that the gears on the crank handle are messed up in some way, misaligned or just worn out. There is a manual for that saw free online (to see it, click here). You can always download it and start taking your saw apart until you find out what the problem is. Pay attention, because you will have to put it back together again … just saying.

Tim Inman: There is almost certainly a lock somewhere you have overlooked. If not that, then it is rusted tight. As my readers already know, I don’t have a lot of warmth in my heart for that type of saw, and for a number of reasons. Safety (or lack of it!) is top on the list. Also, inaccuracy and difficulty reproducing anything like accuracy is second. Short version of same: these saws are dangerous and clumsy. Get a real table saw and let somebody else take the risks with this one.

Chris Marshall: Judging from the online manual, it looks like that Craftsman saw probably dates back to the 1970s or 80s, and if it’s been sitting for all that time in a damp garage, basement or shed, I’ll bet it’s rusted stuck in the column. It could be that whoever owned it before you just never raised or lowered the column and arm and kept the blade height set for crosscutting only. So the mechanism eventually froze up. Maybe some of our readers have worked through the same issue with their radial arm saws and will offer their personal experience. Otherwise, I’d follow Rob’s advice: read the manual and start taking things apart slowly. Shoot some cell phone photos as you go to serve as a visual reminder of how it all fit together in the first place. Best case scenario: you’ll find the source of the problem and have the chance to give your old radial arm saw a good cleaning while you’re at it!

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