A while back in the Woodworker’s Journal eZine, editor Rob Johnstone reminisced about a frighteningly big ol’ radial arm saw back in his dad’s shop.
We were particularly pleased with the reminiscences two of our readers shared in response and their close connections with men who didn’t just use some of the classic tools of the 20th century — they invented them.
The dad of Mike Schuler of Champaign, Illinois, John Schuler, “was head of purchasing for Skil for 25 years after World War II. His good friend, [Bill] Topolinski, an executive vice president, bought the rights to the radial arm saw from Skil and left the company to produce them on his own. My dad came with him.”
The large RAS, known as the Topp Saw, had its good points, but Mike said its downfall was its configuration as a back arm saw: “The power head was mounted to the end of a substantial arm. Thus the bearing assembly was fixed at the top of the post. The logistical problem is that the saw cannot be positioned with its back right up against a wall; it needs room behind the bearing assembly and post for the entire arm/head assembly to retreat in the ready position before a cut. Depending on the size of the model, this was as much as 36"!
Tom Kernan, Sr. of Lakeland, Florida went even further back in time in his tool recollections. His dad, also Tom Kernan, designed DeWalt’s first radial arm saw around 1925. Tom still has the third one of these saws made.