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Radial Arm SawRadial-arm saws operate conversely to table saws or circular saws, in that with a radial-arm saw, the movement of the saw blade through the wood is going with the cutting motion of the saw blade. On a table saw or circular saw, the movement of the saw blade cuts against the direction of the saw.

Is that truly the safest way to use a radial-arm saw? Would it be better to pull the saw forward, position the piece and then cut through the wood? One could likely make a logical argument for either case, but there is only one correct answer.

In Radial-Arm Saw Cutting, learn the correct answer to this question, so you can operate your radial-arm saw safely.

(c) 2013 Chris Baylor licensed to About.com, Inc.

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February 12, 2013 at 1:16 pm
(1) john3347 says:

I am 71 years old and I have been using woodworking tools since my early 20s. I read, many years ago, that I was supposed to pull the saw toward me as I perform a cut. I tried this for a few months and I had a near accident because of following this procedure. The saw hung in a knot and jumped over the workpiece. Yes, it was near the end of a wide board so there was more leverage to force the arm up enough to let the saw jump over the board and maybe I was pulling too hard or not hard enough; perhaps the blade was dull, or perhaps some adjustment was not correct. Although there was no injury that resulted from that incident, it proved to me that I did not want to saw with a radial arm saw in the recommended direction. That occurred probably 40 years ago and I have NEVER since pulled the saw through a board. I have also never again had a similar experience. I always pull the saw toward me, insert the workpiece and push the saw through as it cuts. If the saw hits a knot or binds for some reason, it simply stops, but does not jump toward the operator. If the work piece is positioned firmly against a mechanical stop, the cut is noticeably cleaner, too. In this case, the experts are just wrong and unless and until see that my observations, and my personal experiences, are a fluke I will continue to cut the “wrong” way with my radial arm saw but I will continue to do so with both of my hands and all of my fingers intact. Having said that, I do admit that the very design of a radial arm saw is contradictory to normal saw function and thus is subject to controversy. The blade should spin in the opposite direction and sling sawdust all over the operator.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!

October 9, 2013 at 5:25 am
(2) Hutzul says:

Hi John3347, your experience and comments makes perfect sense to me.
I am a mechanical engineer with lots of machining experience, and in my opinion a tool should never cut in the direction where it can grab the work piece, ignore this advice at your peril.

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