There are diverse cutting machines used in the woodworking industry, such as a table saw, miter saw and radial arm saw.
Radial arm saw is a versatile tool and can be used for different woodworking cuts.
In this article, we will discuss five important uses of a radial arm saw.
Table Of Contents
Let's Start With A basic Question: What Is A Radial Arm Saw?
Radial arm saw is one of the most used power saws in the woodworking industry, it is a cutting machine that has a circular saw mounted on a sliding arm, which can slide along a horizontal arm.
Most radial arm saws make use of 10" blades, which can cut the workpiece up to 3" in thickness and crosscut items more than a foot in width.
The radial arm saw has a variety of uses, some of those uses are furniture building, woodworking, timber framing, and many more.
Top 5 Uses of Radial Arm Saw
Radial arm saw is used for many purposes, but we will look at five important uses of this power saw.
1. For Crosscutting Thick And Wide Stocks
A radial arm saw is probably most used for crosscutting thick and wide items.
The depth of the blade is set some distance below the surface of the table during the cross-cutting operation.
Then the motor of the saw will be up to speed to lower the cutting blade to the position where cutting is taking place, this is done to avoid cutting grooves on the uppermost part of the table.
The stock is held securely by a holding device against the fence, to avoid the cutting blade from resting forward towards the machine operator.
This power saw can cut 90 degrees to the length of the material and the angle is sometimes 45 degrees.
The radial arm saw is the best tool used for cross-cutting dadoes and rabbets, the dado is installed by raising the cutting blade some distance higher from the table, the cutting blade guard is reattached after that.
Cutting operation can begin and three or four pieces of timber can be at a time.
The radial arm saw can be used for cutting miters of up to 60 degrees. Angle cuts such as miter cut is a cut that can be bisected at any angle other than 90 degrees along the wood’s width.
Most building projects make use of miter cut and are also used in the production of tables, chairs, picture frames, and many more.
The process involves rotating the pivoted radial arm to your desired angle while cutting.
This is the last use of a radial arm saw we will be discussing. Rabbets and dadoes cutting operations can also be carried out using a radial arm saw.
These cuts are useful in carpentry and joinery works and large woodworking projects.
Rabbet cut is a groove cut into the edge of the lumber, while dado is a slot or trench that is cut into the side of the timber.
They are widely used in making wood joints, cabinets, and wooden furniture.
Rip cuts can be made by different kinds of saws, they run along the grain of the timber. Rip cuts are essentially used in cutting large pieces of wood.
This rip cutting process involves turning the cutting blade of the radial arm saw into 90 degrees and locking it, then moving the wood against the rotating blade to perform a rip-cutting operation.
One of the major reasons for using a radial arm saw for ripping wood is due to the accuracy you can have when compared to other types of saw.
The radial arm saw is also used for making bevel cuts, which are slanted.
The difference between the miter cut and bevel cut is the thickness of the material.
Miter cuts are not made along with the thickness, while bevel cuts are. A bevel cut is mostly used in carpentry and joinery works where the carpenter does not want any sharp edge.
The lock is released and the blade is tilted to your desired bevel angle before cutting. The radial arm is swiveled to the desired miter angle for a compound cut operation.
A radial arm saw has many pros when compared to other types of power saw. Some of its advantages are listed below:
- It gives accurate crosscuts
- A radial arm saw has greater accuracy than other power saws
- It can cut large and heavier pieces of wood
- Radial arm saws are portable, they are less bulky and do not occupy much space
- It can be used as a shaper too
- A radial arm saw has a rip capacity of 31 ½” and 16 ½” of crosscut at 45 degrees on the gauge
- It is more versatile than every other saw
Many woodworkers often wonder what’s best between a radial arm saw and a table saw.
Both saws have their uses and uniqueness, but when you put some factors into consideration, you might want to consider one over the other.
A table saw and radial arm saw can perform the same operation in the workshop, but each of them has pros and cons.
The major difference between the two types of power saws is their cutting action, which makes them useful for the specific type of woodworking tasks.
The function of a table saw is to rip, cut pieces of wood along the grain, but a radial arm saw is used for crosscutting, to cut pieces of wood across their width. When you are considering safety, a table saw poses a lesser threat and risk to the operator than a radial arm saw.
A radial arm saw requires more professionalism to operate than a table saw, but the use of a radial arm saw can be the best for you when mastered.
The list goes on and on, you can make your choice by putting the two power saws side by side.
You can use a radial arm saw over a table saw if you are considering the space economy or if it is the best tool for the specific work at hand.
This is another question people often ask, but I will give my opinion here. A radial arm saw takes caution, skills, and professionalism to operate, because the cutting blade doesn’t rotate against the direction of the pull, but rotates with the direction, which poses a high risk to the machinist.
Using a dado blade on a radial arm saw is like using a table saw without splitters and guards. I will say YES, you can use a dado blade on a radial arm saw, but you need to follow safety steps.
Using Radial Arm Saw Safely
- Make sure you push the saw into the board
- Do not pull the saw towards your direction as you would do for a standard blade
- Use a narrow cutting width to reduce the stress on the saw
- Do not wear a long-sleeve shirt
- Stand clear of the cutting path of the blade
- Do not divide your attention while performing this operation; Be focused
- Read the guidelines in your radial arm saw’s user’s manual for dado blade installation and uses on a radial arm saw
I will also advise you to go for other options if there are any, due to the high risk in using a dado blade on a radial arm saw.
We have discussed the uses of a radial arm saw, now you know the pros in using this power saw in your workshop.
Its usefulness in ripping, crosscutting, beveling, and many more. It is important to note the various factors concerned when using a dado blade on a RAS, you need to take extra precautions when using a dado blade on your RAS.
I want to believe you found this article helpful, do well to read more on all that has been discussed here. Thanks for reading.