My first stationary power tool was the Craftsman 10 Radial Arm saw. I purchased it in 1982 shortly after I got married. Contrary to popular belief, that tool has served me exceptionally well over the years in the role that it was intended to perform. After the second or third kickback during a ripping operation (and the subsequent wall repairs), I stopped using the RAS for ripping, eventually relegating it to the role of big, expensive chop saw. As the additions and remodeling of the house neared completion, I found myself looking to do more intricate work than "stud walls."
After another couple years of scroll sawyering (I love my RBI Hawk but that's another review!) and seventeen years of marriage, I found myself looking at the necessity of new coffee tables, cabinets, bookcases, etc. So. the excuse for a new tool! These tablesaw things are foreign to me. Think about it. I have a saw that I can see the entire blade, from the top, and now I'm thinking about making cuts from underneath??? Sacrilege! Anyway, after a lot of drooling, researching and pestering of SWMBO, I finally made my decision. Space considerations in my small basement, and less than deep pockets found me looking at the various contractor saws available. I finally chose the Jet JWTS-10PF. The picture above is the JF, with no side table and stamped steel wings. My model has an upgraded fence, a cast iron wing on the left, and an auxiliary table on the right.
Assembly, Fit and Finish
Got to tell everyone, the finish is superb! There were no extra (or shorted) parts and not a scratch in a painted surface. The assembly procedures were well presented by the manual, with full sized pictures of nuts, bolts and screws. Not even a child would mess this one up. The machine arrived in several boxes. The biggest one was approximately 230 pounds, definitely not a one man carry! Actually, now that the installation is complete, I can honestly say that the directions should indicate two people to complete the assembly. Attaching the cast iron wing was difficult with just one person, and the motor would have been impossible to install correctly without the extra hand from my wife.
A major downside was the installation of the fence. Jet supplies several different fences, depending on the actual model purchased. My model came with the Exacta 30" Fence. Fine piece of equipment, but pretty light on directions. This accounted for the only major fumbling on the project. Remember folks, a fence to a Radial Arm user is simply a straight piece of hardwood! Back rails, front rails, which is which? With no photos, it got a little confusing. Another disconcerting aspect about the fence was that the tapped threads in the saw base had to be drilled out to accommodate the Xacta Fence upgrade. One would think that Jet would have spec'd the upgraded fence rails to use the same bolts and holes!
Everything considered, assembly problems were minimal, and a call to JET customer service was the furthest thing from my mind.
Setting up the saw was an experience for me. It allowed me to get a close up view of how my new tool worked. As I was beginning to suspect, there really wasn't much for me to do. The rip fence was almost dead on right out of the box, I think I made one adjustment to bring it square. I did all the setup procedures listed in the manual just to be sure that everything was correct, and to familiarize myself with the process.
So this is where all you long time table saw users will start to laugh. There is no comparing performance between my old RAS and the table saw. Once I got over the shock of the motor speed (direct drive RAS compared to the belt drive table saw) I decided on a simple crosscut. Cuts like a hot knife in butter. I will confess, it took me a day or so to screw up the courage to rip. After launching several projectiles with the RAS, can you blame me for not trusting too easily? I was somewhat unsure / uneasy with not seeing what I was cutting, but that wore off after the first day. Now? I can't believe that I ever did without this tool.
Best move I ever made. The radial arm has now taken an honored position in the garage, where it will be used to cut 2x4 and the like, but I'll never attempt to use it for close tolerances again. The only major improvement that I would suggest to Jet would be that they spend the extra money to upgrade their standard power switch to a magnetic switch. When I plugged the saw in, the blade powered up! Magnetic switching would have prevented this. Finally, I would highly recommend this tool to any beginner, novice and intermediate user. There may be a reason for a $1600 saw for professionals, but this tool will take me very nicely down Woodworker's Lane for quite a while.
Michael Moran - 8/18/98