Radial Arm Saw Guide – Uses, Advantages

One may think that radial arms became outdated because of the development of new tools into the place. And people think that they are old technology when we compare them with the miter saw or other circular basic saws. But, it is not like that. Here, we will show all the aspects of the radial arm saws. You can find here how to use them, what are the advantages and what you can do with them. Because they are very useful tools lots of woodworking workshops are using this technology in general.

What is Radial Arm Saw?

Radial arm saw.

The radial arm saw is an old technology that is developed by DeWalt to make different kinds of cutting operations with the same machine. There is a circular saw that is connected to a horizontal structure. Along this horizontal structure, the blade can make a reciprocating motion. And this vertical structure or arm is connected to the vertical arm which gives the advantage to rotate along an axis. And also the circular saw can rotate along the horizontal arm. This is the general construction of the radial arm saws in general.

As yous see above, you can guess its versatility. Because different kinds of cutting jobs can take place with radial arm saws in general.

Parts of a Radial Arm Saw

A radial arm saw parts.
Image Source: mywoodshop.weebly.

To understand the general working principles of the radial arms more generically and technically, it is very important to take a look at the general parts that these machines constitute. So, you will understand that the working principle is very basic.

Radial Arm

Radial arm saws take their name from these machines in general. This is the structural part that holds the circular saw on itself. You are the direction of the circular saw that is attached to this according to the workpiece And the radial arm is attached to the vertical structural member that allows the rotation of the circular saw along its axis.

Electric Motor

The electric motor is directly attached to a circular saw. Once you open the electric motor, the radial arm will start to rotate. While you redirect the circular arm, the electric motor is direct with it.


The radial arm has rails which are called carriages in general. The circular saw can move along this carriage in general. So, it is very easy to move the circular saw along the carriage to adjust the place of cutting on the workpiece.

Once you adjusted the placement of the cutting tool over the carriage, you can easily lock the cutter with the carriage lock knob. This will provide structural stability in the cutting operation.

Blade Guards

Some machines do not have these guards. But they are very important in terms of occupational health and safety. The blade guards are very important guards that save the workers and operators from any possible accidents.


On the cutting table, the use of fences is very common to direct the workpieces to feed the cutting operation. For some of them, you can adjust the orientation of the fence in general. So, it will be very easy to orientate the fence in the possible direction.

Feather Board

This is another structural part that supports the feeding motion of the workpiece to the cutting tool. So, you will easily direct the tool with the help of the feather boards. And by using these structural members, you generally save yourself from any kind of injury.


The workpiece is the part that you are trying to cut with these tools. It is very important to fix the workpiece along the feed direction. The only job of the operator is to supply the workpiece along the feed direction. If the operator does multiple things such as both directing the cutting tool and giving the workpiece, it can cause very bad accidents.


For fixing the workpieces, the use of clamps is very important. Clamps are the devices that fix the workpiece along the cutting direction. So, it will be very easy for you to adjust the clamps.

Elevating Handwheel

Handwheels are very important to elevate the circular saw over the vertical position. After the elevating of the saw takes place, you can easily fix all the systems in a specific elevation.

These are the most general and important parts to operate the radial arm saws in general.

Advantages of Radial Arm Saws

Like the other cutting tools, there are different kinds of advantages of radial arm saws in general.

  • As you see below, you can make different and versatile cutting operations on different kinds of materials. Having only one radial arm saw, you can easily apply a very good cutting operation. So, it will be very easy for you to apply the different kinds of cutting operations.
  • In general, cutting depths of they are better. If we compare with the miter saws, the diameters of the circular blades are much wider. Soı you can obtain much more deep-cutting operations with them in general.
  • One may think that the radial arms saws are not compact and take up lots of space in the workshop. But if we consider their versatility of them, we can easily find out that they are better at space saving. Because you do not need to use different kinds of machines to obtain different kinds of cutting operations.

Disadvantages of the Radial Arm Saws

It is also very important to consider the disadvantages of radial arms saws in general. So, it will be very easy for us to determine if we need to buy a radial arm saw for our workshops.

  • Safety is one of the major problems with them. Because the blade can freely move along the different axes and different orientations. And while operations are making complex and compound cuts, they are more prone to be dangerous if we compare them with the other basic machines.
  • Precision is another problem with them. The precision of these systems is lower than the other basic machines. The versatility provides a lower precision if we compare it with the other saw operations.
  • You can obtain different kinds of cuts with the radial arm saws. But the accuracy is not good as the other kinds of machines.

What Can You Do with Radial Arm Saw?

Woodworking is the most common application that the radial arm saws are generally used. In most of the big woodworking workshops, you can find radial arm saws are used.

In woodworking, some cutting operations are very important. By making these cutting operations, you can easily obtain different kinds of shapes and cuts in general.

Rip Cuts

Rip cuts are the most common cutting type in woodworking in general. They are the cutting operations that cut the wooden parts in the longitudinal axis. So, the cutting operation takes place on a very long axis. The machine that you are using must have the ability to feed the workpiece on the table.

The rotating saw of the radial arm saws provides an excellent feed place for the workpieces to make the rip cuts over them. They are very good machines that you can make rip cuts on wooden parts.

Cross Cuts

Cross cuts are also a very common cutting type in woodworking. Here, we are cutting the wooden part from the short axis. They are generally very basic cutting operations to divide the long and big wooden parts into pieces.

You can easily make cross-cuts with the radial arm saws without any problem. It will be very easy for you to cut the different kinds of wooden parts in general.

Miter Cuts

Straight, miter and bevel cutting operations.
Image Source: Instructables.com

Miter cuts are also like cross cuts. But you are making the cutting operation at a specific angle. So, there are two ways to do it. You need to rotate the workpiece, or you need to rotate the cutting machine. In radial arm saws, rotating the machine is much easier. You just need to rotate the circular saw with your hand to the angle value that you want to obtain for the miter cuts in general.

Bevel Cuts

Bevel cuts are also very important and hard-cutting operations in woodworking applications. The difference between the bevel cuts from the miter cuts, you are giving an angle to the cutting direction. In mite cuts, you are giving this angle to the cutting orientation.

This cutting operation is generally very hard to apply with conventional tools. But with the radial arm saws, you can easily adjust the orientation of the blade to obtain the bevel cuts easily. The versatility and the ability of the radial arms saws take place with this cutting operation.

Compound Cuts

Think about that you need to make a compound cutting operation that includes the bevel cuts and miter cuts at the same time. For example, you can not do this kind of cut with normal circular saws. But you can easily apply this cutting operation with the radial arm saws.


Image Source: Woodcraft.com

To obtain geometric features for the woodworking assemblies, we need to create dadoes on the woodworking parts. We generally obtain these geometric features with immerse the circular saw into the workpieces up to half. So, we obtain dadoes geometries.

You can easily obtain dadoes with radial arm saws in general. It is a very easy cutting operation with radial arm saws in general.


End rabbet cutting with radial arm saws.
Image Source: Woodcraft.com

Rabbets are also very important cutting operations in woodworking applications. They are very important geometric features that we apply the data to the edges of the woodworking materials. We can obtain the rabbet geometric features with conventional sawing machines. And also, we can easily obtain these geometries with radial arm saws in general.

As you see above, there are different kinds of cutting operations that you can make with radial arm saws in general. So, it is a very versatile tool that you can use for different kinds of cutting operations in general.

Working with Radial Arm Saws

It can have very good versatility, but it requires good operator skills. You need to have very good experience with the arm saws and saw operations, in general, to work with the radial arm saws.

Also, you can understand that the blade of they can move freely in different axes and different directions. You just need to direct them blade and fix it to the cutting orientation on the workpiece. But working with the radial arm saws safely requires good expertise in it.

If you are a big company that uses radial arm saws, you need to give the required instructions and important applied education to the operators that are using this machine. And also, occupational health and safety precautions are very important to apply safely.

Using the Radial Arm Saws in Safe Way

As you see above, we explained the safety problem of them. This is generally because of the wide adjustability of the circular blade for complex cutting operations. So, it brings very important safety problems.

There are different and very basic safety precautions while you are using radial arm saws in general. If you apply these safety precautions, you will minimize every possible accident that can take place while you are cutting the materials.

  • Unplug the device: While you are setting up the device for cutting operations, unplug the device to prevent accidentally switching it on.
  • Adjust the blade guard: Most of them have mechanisms to adjust the blade guard according to the cutting condition. So, you can easily adjust the blade guard according to the cutting condition. And it will provide the highest safety while you are cutting the materials.
  • Use safety glasses: Safety glasses are the standard application in most of the workshops in general. While you re using power tools or hand tools, you need to use safety glasses to prevent any kinds of injuries in general. So, it is very important to use them while you are using them
  • Ear safety: In general power tools are working in high noise from the safety noise levels. Maybe you can not feel the effects of these noises in short term. But in long term, you can understand the harming effect of the high noise power tools. So, while you are using the radial arm saws, it is better to use ear plugs to provide safety for your ears.
  • Use Anti-Kickback Mechanism: Kickbacks are very dangerous effects for the operators. It can cause accidents while you are using the radial arm saws. Most radial arm saws have anti-kickback mechanisms. You can adjust it before starting the cutting of the workpiece.
  • Use Dust Collection Systems: Dust is a very bad thing to prevent sight while you are working with the power tools. So, it is very important to use dust collection systems in general.

These are the general safety precautions that you can take while you are using the power tools like radial arm saws in general.

Common Alternative to Radial Arm Saws; Miter Saws

Miter saws are generally used as an alternative to them in general. Because miter saws have different kinds of advantages over radial arm saws in general aspects.

You can use the miter saws for crosscuts, miter cuts, and bevel cuts just like them. And the miter saws are generally recent technology if we compare them with the radial saws. These are the general advantages of the miter saws over the radial arm saws;

  • You can easily move the rotational cutting blade along the swing arm. So, it will be very easy for you to direct the cutting blade over the radial blade arm.
  • Miter saws generally provide much more safe operation if we compare them. Because the adjustment of the blade guard is much better than the other.
  • When it comes to accuracy, miter saws are better than them. And also it provides much more easy use.
  • Also, miter saws require much less place than them. They are very compact in structure if we compare them with the miter saws in general.

Also, take a look at the disadvantages of the miter saws over the radial arm saws;

  • In general, they are much more versatile. You can make much more complex cutting operations with these machines in general.
  • Cross cuts are much higher in accuracy in them in general. So, you can easily create different kinds of cross-cuts with high accuracy.
  • These machines are much more powerful than the other kinds of saws. So, you can work with harder and bigger workpieces with them.
  • In general, for people who are looking for power-cutting tools to cut bigger workpieces and bigger parts, they are best in terms of price.

By considering these parameters, you can easily decide between them and the miter saws in general.


From above, you can easily understand that radial arm saws are decided tools by most woodworking workshops. Because it provides very good versatility. And you can easily make different cutting operations for bigger parts. There is no alternative for it in terms of this aspect.

But also, there are other alternatives to them such as table saws and miter saws. You need to consider the drawbacks and advantages between themselves to obtain the best tooling operation that you need in general.

This article can be very useful for you to learn about radial arm saws in general. And you can decide to buy one of them or consider the alternatives. Because each workshop generally requires different kinds of things.

These are the general points that we can point out about this topic in general.

Finally, do not forget to leave your comments and questions below about the radial arm saws.

Your precious feedbacks are very important to us.


What is a radial arm saw good for?

Radial arm saws are best for complex cutting operations on big wooden parts in general. While you’re dealing with the big and hard wooden parts, you can make compound cuts with the radial arm saws.

Why are radial arm saws unpopular?

The accuracy and the precision can be a problematic issues with the radial arms saws. And also there are different kinds of new technologies such as miter saws and table saws to make the same cutting operations in a more accurate and precise way.

Can you still buy a radial arm saw?

On the internet, there are different kinds of sellers of radial arm saws. You can find used and new ones. So, the production of radial arm saws is currently going on in general.

Is it worth getting a radial arm saw?

According to the type of cuıtting operations that you need, you can buy one of them. If you are dealing with the cutting operations of the hard ad bigger wooden parts, these machines will be very useful for you. And also, you can easily make compound cutting operations with these machines on the bigger workpieces. But if you are dealing with smaller workpieces in general, the miter saw can be a very good advantage for you.

What was replaced by the radial arm saw?

Miter saws are the new technologies that are used instead of radial arm saws in general. Because they are more compact and generally safer in the operation.


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