Woodworking By LPI - radial arm saw blade

The radial arm saw is a unique type of table saw with the blade mounted at the end of an arm that pivots in a horizontal plane atop a stationary base. The operator stands in front of the machine when using it, rather than sitting by its side as with most other types of table saws. This gives full access to both sides of the material, allowing both ripping and crosscutting. It allows for accurate cuts on long pieces of material without having to stand at one end while feeding the material into a blade that runs down the side of a table.

Saw blades are one of the most important parts of any radial arm saw. You have to make sure that your blade is in good condition when you use it, otherwise, you run the risk of getting a bad cut. New blades will last for years if they’re kept sharp and adjusted properly, but dull or damaged saw blades can be extremely dangerous. Not only do they produce a bad cut, but they can also kick back towards you or even bind in the material. It’s very important to keep an eye on your blades and replace them if necessary so that you can always have a good cut when working with your radial arm saw.


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A saw that cuts into a pretty hard log in a few strokes are a well-sharpened blade. A dull blade will go through much more slowly and with much greater effort, producing lots of heat in the process. This can be bad for your tools, but not necessarily bad for your workpiece – it’s better to let the tempering process happen gradually than to take the edge off the blade in seconds by forcing it through hard material. If you do use your saw for ripping (cutting along the grain), then you might want to be more careful about how much stress is placed on the blade.

Radial Arm Saw Blade Life

Radial arm saws use many thin-kerf blades with alternating teeth and rakers and sharp corners that impact the wood and remove much material in a single pass. This means that it’s easier for the saw to get clogged with tars and shavings which will dull the teeth if not cleared away regularly. The blade also accelerates at a very high rate, slamming into your workpiece with high force.

This produces large amounts of heat that are transferred to your blade. A dull blade will heat up faster and hotter than a sharp one, which can lead to premature failure of the blade. The two types of blades are ATB (alternating top bevel) and FTG (flat top grind). The former is for general use, while the latter is used mainly with table saws because it reduces splintering on the top and bottom edges of a cut. Inadequately tensioned blades will also get hotter faster.

Radial Arm Saw Uses

The radial arm saw can cut long pieces of wood, metal, or plastics with ease. The radial arm saw can cut material that is too large for a table-saw to handle. Materials are fed into the blade by sliding it against the fence, which runs perpendicular to the blade’s rotation path. Start by measuring your rip-width (the width of the cut) and accounting for both kerf loss and blade drift. The fence is clamped to the table, and slots allow it to move back and forth on a rail so the user can make rip cuts of any width up to 26-1/2″.

The radial arm saw has an advantage over other table saws in that you have more room if your workpiece is wider than what will fit on a standard table saw. It can cut up to 26-1/2″ wide, which is about the maximum width of any woodworking task. There’s also enough room so you can use your miter gauge and rip guide at the same time.

Compared With Other Table Saws, Radial Arms Saws Are Known To Be More Precise

The radial arm saw is extremely accurate due to the way it’s designed, with a narrow blade kerf, fence tightness, and height accuracy being less of an issue. The machine runs on tracks so there are no wheels under the table that can get knocked out of alignment or have their tracking changed by attaching clamps or other objects. You don’t see it much, but there’s also a screw that you can adjust to remove any sideways play in the blade. With this kind of construction accuracy, and no tracking issues to speak of, the radial arm saw requires little effort to make it work exactly as designed.

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Radial Arm Saw Limitations

Due to its size and weight, the radial arm saw is not very portable. Also, unlike with circular or band saws, you cannot cut curves in workpieces on your radial arm saw (you can only rip straight cuts). This requires additional cutting setups with either a jigsaw or circular saw. It can be difficult to use this tool at odd angles because it takes a lot of balancing and moving around to find small pieces in hard-to-reach places. You must be careful so as not to bump the blade or you could lose a finger, hand, or limb.

Radial Arm Saw Dust Collection

Dust collection is an important part of any power tool, but it’s especially crucial for radial arm saws because there are so many parts that can come into contact with your workpiece. It’s the only table saw without a guard, so you have to rely on your blade guard and riving knife for safety. A good dust collector will not only keep the area free of debris but also stop it from getting into vents or other parts that can cause damage.

This tool is known to spew dust everywhere since there are no containment features working to keep the mess out of your face. The dust collection system does a good job of pulling dust through a 4″ hose to a vacuum, but there’s no place for chips and smaller pieces to go. This means that your workstation will get full quickly, and you still have to clean up all the floor area around where you work, as well.

Radial Arm Saw Dust Collection Options

If you don’t already have a dust collection system, you can buy a dust collection kit consisting of a 4″ hose and adapter for your saw. To protect the teeth of your blade from materials that could damage them, you can use an anti-kickback device that helps stop small pieces from being ejected. This device, when in place, can reduce the thickness of your cuts by up to 1/32″, which is not a lot but could affect some projects.

What Type Of Cut Should You Not Do With The Radial Arm Saw

It’s definitely not the right tool for plunge cutting or for making compound miters. You can’t use it to cut complicated shapes, and you shouldn’t rip longboards with it either as they could get away from you and do some serious damage. It also takes a lot of effort to move the saw around once assembled, so you need a very large workpiece to justify using it.

Can You Use A Dado Blade On A Radial Arm Saw

NO! Never use a dado blade on the radial arm saw. You should always use an ATB or FTG crosscut blade. Using a dado would not only produce bad quality cuts but there’s also a risk of a kickback as well as motor damage from high torque and overloading. The dado blades cause way too much vibration, which can lead to the motor mount becoming loose and causing major issues for your saw.

Which Type Of Blade May Be Used For A Crosscut On A Radial Arm Saw

To crosscut on a radial arm saw, you should use either an ATB or FTG blade. These types of blades have alternating teeth and rakers to leave a clean edge every time. A dado blade has no way of regulating the depth of cut, so it can’t be used for joinery or miters. Using a dado blade for crosscuts may not be a huge issue, but you can’t guarantee that the blade will stay straight and produce clean cuts. For that reason, we advise you to avoid using them for this purpose.

What Is The Greates Benefit Of A Radial Arm Saw

The greatest benefit of a radial arm saw is probably how quickly you can change the blade thanks to the quick-release mechanism. It is also easy to use and offers a great degree of accuracy, whether you’re using it for straight or angled cuts. Simple work light and onboard storage make it easier than ever before to keep track of your blades.

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How Do You Control The Splintering On A Radial Arm Saw

The radial arm saw will not produce splintering if you use a quality blade. Splintering occurs when your blade is dull or set wrong, which causes it to push the wood together rather than slice through smoothly. You can avoid this by using an ATB or FTG crosscut blade with 20-30 teeth per inch depending on the project. While it can’t be helped, you may want to clean up splintering by hand with a sharp chisel or knife.

What Is The Weight Of A Radial Arm Saw

The typical radial arm saw weighs around 80 lbs. This type of tool is generally made from metal and doesn’t have a ton of moving parts, so it’s a very solid and heavy tool. The weight will make it a little harder to move around the shop, but the sturdiness is well worth that extra effort.

How Can You Cut Odd Angles On A Radial Arm Saw

The quick-release mechanism on most radial arms lets you adjust your angle quickly and easily. If you use this mechanism, you can simply rotate the arm to your desired angle before placing it against the fence. This type of saw is also very well suited for angled cuts thanks to its 45-degree bevel capacity combined with 90 degrees left and right miter capability.

What Are Radial Arm Fence Settings

Radial arm fence settings are created to let you make the same length cut every time even if your workpiece is a different size. You just have to set the position of your fence and then lock it into place before making a test cut. This ensures that your cuts will be perfectly square, which makes any project much easier to complete without wasting material.

How Do You Replace A Blade On A Radial Arm Saw

On most models, the process is very simple and only takes a few moments of your time. You just have to release the tension on the arbor by pulling down on the tension handle. Pull the worn blade out and put a new one in its place. Once it’s secure, release the tension handle to lock your blade into place.

What Are Some Different Radial Arm Saw Accessories

The only accessory you really need is an arbor wrench for changing blades, but there are several other options if you want them. Circular saw blades can be used on a radial arm saw, and there are also jigs for custom cuts as well as dust collection systems. If you need to cut smaller pieces of material, you might want to invest in a dado set or chipper blade as well.

What Is The Biggest Size Cut That A Radial Arm Saw Can Handle

The cutting capacity of a radial arm saw varies depending on the model that you have. Most models can handle 2x12s or 4x4s at full capacity, but there are some options out there that can handle up to 6x6s. If you need to cut larger pieces of material, it might be best to invest in an industrial-grade radial arm saw or a slab saw.

Radial Arm Saw Workbench

The best way to use your radial arm saw is with an inexpensive workbench. These stands are easy to make and they allow you to adjust the height of the saw easily. This makes it very simple to cut large pieces of material, even if they’re ten feet long or more. You can build one of these stands in a few hours with some 2x4s, plywood, and bolts. Once you have it set up, place your radial arm saw on top of it and you can get back to work right away.

Radial Arm Saw Stand

Using a radial arm saw can be really difficult if you don’t have somewhere to mount it. This makes the addition of an adjustable or mobile stand that much more important. You can roll your radial arm saw wherever you need to go, and some models will even fold up for easy storage in between uses.

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