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What is a Radial Arm Saw?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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A radial arm saw is one of the more versatile woodworking power tools. The basic design of a radial arm saw allows for vertical movement of the saw, which is housed in the saw carriage and supported by an arm. The yoke houses the motor and the blade and allows for beveled cuts from 0 to 90 degrees.

For home use, a radial arm saw is ideal for cutting mitered, beveled, and compound angles. Most radial arm saws come with a stand and are sturdy enough to handle ripping lumber, though not quite as easily as a table saw. However, the versatility of a radial arm saw makes it an ideal tool for most home improvement projects such as trim, molding, and door casings. The radial arm saw is also quite useful for cross cutting and accommodates attachments and different blades, such as a dado blade used for cutting grooves.

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Some of the attachments include rotary planers and sanding and buffing wheels. If you are purchasing a radial arm saw with the intent to utilize attachments, you need to make sure the make and model has a shaft that accepts the attachments and that you buy the attachments made for your saw. The radial arm saws you'll find at most home improvement stores will be 8 inches (20.3 cm) to 12 inches (30.5 cm) in size. This refers to the diameter of the blade the saw uses and the majority of makes and models are 10 inches (25.4 cm), which is the size most commonly purchased for home use.

The price for a radial arm saw ranges from about $600 to $1,000 depending on make and model. Though the radial arm saw is a versatile enough power tool for the investment, some woodworkers prefer a compound miter saw. The usefulness of a radial arm saw in your own shop or garage will depend upon your personal preference and most commonly performed projects.

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