I recently obtained a T1531 DeWalt RAS (1964). Built my daughter a mantle with crown molding 52degree. Made all the cuts with a ragged table, and have not even tuned it to "absolute true" yet. It preformed perfectly. Made rips, compound miters flawlessly (yes I had to fuss with angle adjustments).
We know what we do, and if we do RAS's we grow to know them. I'm 59, a seasoned woodsmith. I have one project with this saw. It's a design of genius. Yes it takes caution, a bit more time/patience. I will continue to do RAS's, and take the time. It's good for me to slow down. Yes I use newer compound miter saws (miniature table), but for me they will never replace an RAS.
RAS's have received a lot of verbal abuse over the years but I find them an essential part of of my shop. In fact, I have three - a more modern Craftsman w/full Factory Craftsman top & leg set, a DeWalt 7700 which I completely restored (just needs a table) and a magnificent DeWalt 925 (circa 1969) in near perfect condition which I just acquired and have yet to completely clean up. The difference between the 2 DeWalts and the Craftsman saws is noticeable as soon as you turn on the switch. No contest. I can hardly hear the DeWalt motor. The Craftsman sounds like a threshing machine in comparison. I would take an older model DeWalt any day. If you have doubts about RAS you need to get your hands on a copy of Dr. Sawdust's book, " How To Master The Radial Arm Saw". Once you do that you will understand how versatile a RAS really is. Except for ripping sheet goods I would hardly need to have a table saw in my shop cause once you get it fine tuned a RAS rivals the speed & accuracy of a table saw any day. Older DeWalts can still be found and purchased cheaply and parts & accessories are often available on eBay or elsewhere but, honestly, if your DeWalt was reasonably taken care of by the previous owner(s) and the bearings are still good & motor runs OK there is hardly anything else that isn't easily remedied. Just don't buy one that has these problems. Clean it up a bit, tune it, plug it in and go to work. A Unisaw might be great but who has $1500 to buy one? Get an older DeWalt, learn how to adjust and tune it and you will be far happier and a whole lot less poor.
I use a RAS weekly. I refurbished a Dewalt/D&B 7740 RAS I recieved for free. $30 in a set of bearings and new wiring. Big cross cuts (over 8"), dado cuts & lap joints.
The only saw I used as a youth was my dad's RAS. He only had room for one saw.
You need to have a high degree of respect for any piece of wood shop equipment, some require more!
Someday I may replace it with a sliding compound miter saw, but I ca't justify the price.
I don't under stand the original statement about the CNC.
The total cost of my home shop does not even come close to the price of a CNC large enough to replace my RAS...
I have just recently installed a 1950's DeWalt RAS in my cube van for use on job sites. The RAS was a dump find that lingered in obscurity. I made a new table and fence and have squared the saw to both. After a week of riding around in the van, it does NOT need to be adjusted. I can't saw the same for my miter saw. The cuts are glass smooth. I also own a late model DeWalt SCMS. Parts on the RAS that are made of aluminum are made of plastic on the SCMS. Cast iron parts on the RAS are made of cast aluminum on the SCMS. I see the RAS as no more time consuming to setup than a TS. I can cross cut, miter, rip, and Dado for small jobs with out unloading anything from the truck.
If you cut off fingers with a saw, how is it the saws fault. Like driving a car with your eyes closed, you wreck and blame the car? Woodworking is not for the impatiant. Set up of tools is the most important aspect of cutting with any saw. About the only complaint I would have would be lack of portability.
I know of two people that have lost fingers to this tool. if you need to cross cut large panels get a panel saw!
I wouldn't have room for one in my shop, but if I had the space, I'd find a good used one and set it up nahm style for dado cuts.
I owned one and changed to a table saw and power miter box. Cross cut and dado was nice , ripping I felt was dangerous. Very hard for me to keep aligned .
I had two of them. I sold the Delta cheap, and gave the Craftsman away. I have two table saws now and no power miter saw. Along with a bandsaw I think power cutting is covered pretty well.
I am like Ray in that I got mine in the 60 TH. At the time it was great and yes it was one of the saws Sears condemned, but I did not turn it in. I still use it to cut material to rough length. I have to be careful about keeping it cutting straight. At that time Good Table Saws were to expense for me.
I own an old Craftsman that was my FIRST woodworking tool (1970). I wouldn't take anything for it, but I also wouldn't pay a nickel for another one. I use it mainly in the center of a long workbench for crosscutting long boards and for fine tuning other crosscuts.
I'm surprised that their are so few votes for "A royal pain in the rear to keep tuned properly". Maybe this is because most people no longer buy these types of saws. I only use mine for rough sizing lumber to get it ready for the next step.