Prepping for restoration

New life for an old DeWalt Radial Arm Saw

A few years ago I inherited my grandfather’s old radial arm saw (RAS). Pop-pop (as I called him) passed away in 2004 and the tool sat in my mother’s garage until In finally got settled into place with enough room for more stationary equipment. My grandparents lived about 5 minutes away from my parents house and it was more or less like having a second set of parents. As a child I spent a ton of time helping my grandfather around the house with various projects. I’m an only child, and my mother was an only child, so I think I was the closest to Pop-pop, especially for guy stuff. I grew up watching old westerns and action movies with him, hanging out and working on models, trains etc.

So in 2007/2008 I moved the machine up from NY into my shop in MA and started the restoration process. It’s not the biggest model radial arm saw, but it was a solid model, very well intact and was a labor of love more than anything. It’s not a tool a use every day, but for the times I do use it (like repeated dadoes), its very good at what it does.

Restored unit with new Mr. SawDust table in pace
Restored unit with new Mr. SawDust table in pace

Here is a view of the completed machine complete with heavy duty ‘Mr. Sawdust’ table.  If you ever do restore an old DeWalt Radial Arm saw I highly recommend the ‘Mr. Sawdust’ book as it was a great resource both on the history of the tool, how to tune it up, and how to build the Mr Sawdust table which really addresses the biggest shortcoming RAS’s had (giving you a much bigger and more stable work surface that will not deflect under load). It’s all shined up, cutting true, new blade, new base, new table and looking and running as good or better than new.

My grandfather was not always very neat and tidy in the garage/workshop and I thought it was interesting how I found the machine with all the accessories and original manuals stacked up on the table which was odd to me since I knew the machine had not been used in years and they had moved since it was last used. When I related this to my Dad he pointed out that it clearly must have been my grandfather putting it all together for me to have which was really emotional for me when I realized he was right. The happy ending is now that the machine is all restored and tuned up, it’s a bit like having Pop-pop in the shop with me.

Below is a slideshow covering the restoration process with more details in the photo captions.

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4 thoughts on “New life for an old DeWalt Radial Arm Saw”

    1. Hi Mary,
      It’s great to hear from you. Your father’s book came in handy as I restored my grandfather’s Radial Arm Saw — after reading it I felt like I knew Wally — he seemed like a great guy — and he reminded me a lot of my own grandfather.
      Take care,

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Believe it or not, I’ve got just about the exact same saw downstairs just waiting for rehabilitation. First I’ve got to get the table saw tuned up! My generous uncle handed down his shop tools and I’m having a great time getting them into shape.

    1. Hi Jeff,
      Thank you for the note, I’m glad to hear you enjoyed that post. If you get around to restoring your Radial Arm Saw and have questions as you go through it, feel free to send me a note. Good luck.

      Take care,

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