Woodworking Tool Tips: The Radial Arm Saw

When you think of major saws for your wood shop, one of the first saws that likely come to mind is the radial arm saw. A radial arm saw is one of the larger saws that you can find in a wood shop and a very useful saw as well.

The saw consists of a motor that is suspended from a long arm that is in a yoke. The yoke allows for multiple degrees of rotation of the saw blade.

A radial arm saw is particularly useful for large pieces of wood that need to be cut down. It is also common to use a radial arm saw for ripping wood, which is taking a large piece of wood and cutting it down to size into two or more smaller boards.

Radial arm saws are also useful for cross cutting, using as a miter saw, a dado or creating rabbet cuts.

If you have the proper attachments for your radial arm saw you can turn it into a shaper or even a router. The possibilities for a radial arm saw make it a very versatile tool if you have the proper accessories and the knowledge.

Radial arm saws were first introduced in the early 1920’s by Dewalt and have since grown in popularity. However, radial arm saws are still not as widely used in the average wood shop as table saws or even band saws. The most common model for the average wood worker is the 10” blade model. This size of blade should serve a wood worker very well.

The arm of the radial arm saw can be raised or lowered and swung from side to side depending on what type of cut you need to make and at what angle you require. The saw can be adjusted for proper depth and the horizontal angle of the cut as well.

There are a few important safety considerations to keep in mind when you are working with a radial arm saw. Of course as with all wood saws you should be careful to watch for flying debris and wear appropriate ear and eye protection when the saw is in use.

Because of the way the saw is built, you also need to be aware of kick backs, which is wood that can catch and bind and kick back at the user. It is important to never stand directly in the path of the wood.