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The Proper Way to use a Radial Arm Saw

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The Proper way to use a Radial Arm Saw


Radial arm saws, because of their versatility, are widely used in the home, professionally, and in the vocation shop. They demand a thorough understanding by the operator of all of the procedures utilized.

To begin with, read and thoroughly understand the warnings and instructions on the saw and in the owner/ operators manual.

Always wear safety goggles or safety glasses with side shields complying with current national standard, and a full face shield when needed. Use a dust mask in dusty work conditions. Wear hearing protection during extended periods of operation.

Do not wear gloves, loose clothing, jewelry or any dangling objects that may catch in rotating parts or accessories. Tie back long hair.

Never operate a radial arm saw with tools debris or any loose objects on the table. Check often to assure that guards return to their normal position quickly if a guard seems slow to return or "hangs up," repair or adjust it immediately.

Make sure the blade is installed to rotate in the proper direction.

The saw blade should not extend beyond the saw table in any operation you perform.

Know what a kickback is and all the precautions in preventing it from occurring.

Wrong direction feeding of a work piece is extremely dangerous. Follow the instructions provided with, and on the saw very carefully.

Thoroughly read your owner/operators manual and instructions that accompany the lower guard.

Do not release your feed pressure on a work piece, wait until it is clear of the blade.

Never read near, along side, or around the saw blade. This is particularly dangerous.

During a crosscutting operation, never place arm, hands or fingers in the path of the blade.

When a crosscut operation is complete, return the carriage to the full rear position behind the fence.

The anti-kickback devices should be positioned to just clear the work piece in crosscutting. Anti-kickback devices may not work when cutting smooth, hard surfaces. Therefore, always cut with the smooth, hard surface down,next to the table. When rip cutting a spreader should be used.

Uses of some accessories, such as a dado or molding head, require special safety precautions and equipment. Consult the appropriate owner/operators manual.

Use only those accessories specifically recommended by the manufacturer of your tool.

Do not use grinding or wire brush wheels on your radial arm saw. Radical arm saws are not equipped with the proper guards for use of grinding or wire brush wheels.

Accessories specific to radial arm saws should be used with strict  adherence to the radial saw manufacturer's procedural and safety recommendations contained in the owner/operators manual.

Turn off, unplug when possible and lock the switch of the saw after each use. Store the switch or lock key.


Kickback of a work piece (stock) can occur when the work piece binds between the saw blade and the fence during a ripping operation. This can result in the work piece being ejected from the saw and thrown back towards the operator. Following are precautions and advisements to prevent the potential for kickback from developing out of wrong procedure and / or
operating conditions.

Keep your radial arm saw in correct adjustment and alignment. Use onlysharp, free cutting tools and accessories that were designed for your saw.Follow your owner/operators manual carefully.

Both the spreader device (to prevent binding) and the anti-kickback devices should be used for most ripping operations the spreader must be precisely lined up with the blade.

When ripping, the upper guard must be positioned to hold down the work piece on the table. Make certain that the anti-kickback device fingers are sharp, free-moving and adjusted to stop kickback and assure proper operation. See your owner/operators manual.

For ripping short or narrow stock, a push stick must be used. It is to be applied between the blade and the fence. Do not attempt to rip a work piece shorter than the diameter of the saw blade. Do not cut freehand (failing to use the fence to stabilize the workplace.

Other precautions which should be taken to prevent kickback while using a radial arm saw:

Keep blades sharp. A dull table may contribute to a kickback.

Make sure the set tooth blade has adequate set in the teeth.

Tooth set provides clearance between the sides of the blade and the work piece, thus minimizing the probability of binding. Some saw blades are hollow or taper
ground to provide clearance.

Keep saw blades clean. A buildup of pitch or sap on the surface of the saw blade increases the thickness of the blade and also increases friction
on the blade surface. These conditions cause an increase in the potential of a kickback.

Do not cut wet wood. It produces higher friction against the blade. Also the blade tends to load up with wet sawdust and creates a much greater probability of kickback.

Be very cautious of stock which is pitchy, knotty or warped. These are more likely to create pinching conditions and possible kickback. Avoid bowed stock that cannot be prevented from rocking on the table.

Never use a bent, broken or warped saw blade. Discard immediately.

Overheating a saw blade can cause it to warp and create a kickback.

Buildup of sap on blades, insufficient set, dullness and unguided cuts can all cause an overheated blade and kickback.

Free handing a work piece can cause crooked cuts and potential kickback.Crooked edges on the stock can also cause a crooked cut.

Make sure the blade is exactly parallel to the fence. If the fence closes in toward the rear of the blade it will tend to wedge the wood against the blade and may cause kickback.

Avoid standing or permitting others to stand directly behind the work piece when making a ripping cut.

Always hold the work piece firmly against the fence when crosscutting.