The TRUTH about radial arm saws

The TRUTH about radial arm saws

I need to set the record straight about what I think of radial arm saws.
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50 Comments

  1. Dan Layton on October 22, 2022 at 3:33 am

    I have a similar year Dewalt my grandfather had a radial arm saw and tell me about it the same however my dad‘s generation stopped using them and moved onto the tablesaw and miter saw. I agree with you 100% on everything about the radio arm saw just not being convenient. You can make much more accurate safer cuts quicker with all the other saws



  2. Nonya Business on October 22, 2022 at 3:34 am

    Your correct, every tool has a purpose. I just watched your older video also. Yeah, those old diagrams/pictures and instructions were very stupid.
    I also went back and watched that old man’s video. He made very good points, demonstrated safety and commonsense. Actually, I decided to find a good radial arm saw. Not because I think it’s better but because it commands less space. The shop I’m setting up now is a 20×24. A properly set up table saw will take up too much space. Any man, as always, great video. Much appreciated.



  3. Hisham Hamdan on October 22, 2022 at 3:34 am

    Fully agree..
    I worked with radial arm saw here in Syria..
    It is dangerous.. And it is the only machine that make me feel the fear.



  4. David Clink on October 22, 2022 at 3:36 am

    Well done. Have a Craftsman from 1980 and got the CPSC free upgrade. Best feature is space saving. Put against a wall and build in- out feed tables and it is great for more stable rips and cross cuts. Table saw consumes a lot of floor space so small shops in past liked them. I have a job site table saw and use it most. Never sawed sheet goods with either, that’s what track saws are for. I was able to make a rare 58 degree cut.

    Chop saws like added to RAS demise.

    Dave



  5. weslaws74 on October 22, 2022 at 3:36 am

    I teach building construction at a juvenile correctional facility and I have been a Project Manager, a General Contractor and a Journeyman Carpenter in the Union!
    Needless to say have used different types of saws and tools over the years.
    I agree with your comments!
    Radial Arm Saws are very versatile but are very dangerous!!!!
    I would say that the Radial Arm Saw is “The Great White Shark” of wood working tools and you must be extremely careful when using this tool!
    I own one and am very fond of it and I love it and respect the tool!
    I have an old Craftsman Contractors Saw that I love and don’t use it as much any more but I love that saw!
    A lot of memories and I respect the tool!
    You should respect your tools otherwise you’ll get hurt or killed!
    Keep up the good work!



  6. Albert Billman on October 22, 2022 at 3:37 am

    You are the opposite of an idiot my friend. You have an intelligent perspective and an eloquent delivery.



  7. italianbird videos on October 22, 2022 at 3:38 am

    Good video, as always. I don’t use them because they’re just not that accurate.



  8. Brody Leduc on October 22, 2022 at 3:39 am

    The blade is exposed to you on a table saw, way more than the RAS. As long you are rippin in "in rip"



  9. Burntsider on October 22, 2022 at 3:40 am

    I have a table saw, band saw, RA saw, and miter saw in my shop. I use the RA occasionally for crosscutting pieces too wide for the miter. I rip with it rarely, usually some little rip when my TS is set up for something. I’ve always used a neg hook blade. Never had any close calls. I respect it, though, knowing its risks.



  10. Michael Tucci on October 22, 2022 at 3:42 am

    I grew up using a radial arm saw. I am a professional woodworker (i make money for what I do). I do not have one in my shop now. I see no need to have one. They are dangerous and unnecessary.



  11. JohnFix on October 22, 2022 at 3:42 am

    I really enjoyed this episode. I worked for Black & Decker in 1968 and sold the Dewalt saw. I used to demonstrate it at trade shows and fell in love with it. I built my house using it in 1974. I loaned it out in 2010 and it’s a long story but never got it back. All your comments are spot on.



  12. Aaron Crowell on October 22, 2022 at 3:43 am

    Thank you Stumpy, do you go by Stumpy? I am a new viewer but old in this debate. I learned in the shop where every tool was considered dangerous and we had both table and radial arm saws. I’m not against table saws, I’m not against radial arm saws, I’m against stupidity in myself above all others.



  13. Doug Lingle on October 22, 2022 at 3:44 am

    I love my radial arm saw……cross cuts only!



  14. Jacob Calkins on October 22, 2022 at 3:45 am

    I should’ve known you’d have a video answering whether or not I want one of these!



  15. Rich D on October 22, 2022 at 3:45 am

    I think you misunderstand Shakespeare’s quote. The full quote is “a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.” It’s a compliment and not meant as being derogatory.



  16. in4theride75 on October 22, 2022 at 3:47 am

    The radial arm saw was literally the only tool we were not allowed to use in our schools wood shop in high school. Just sayin’



  17. Lj H on October 22, 2022 at 3:55 am

    I purchased a 10” Craftsman radial arm saw in 1971. I have built several pieces of furniture and used it to re-model my home. During all those years I have never had a mishap. A few years ago I purchased a new table saw and was so unimpressed I gave it away and yes, I knew how to use it. I found it inferior to my radial arm saw in so many ways. I believe it is about understanding and respecting the tool. A table saw is easier to use but a radial arm saw is much more versatile. Given you opinion of the radial arm saw I suspect you really don’t like a Shop Smith .



  18. Vociferon Herald of the Winter Mist on October 22, 2022 at 3:56 am

    It was one of my husband’s favorite tools back in the 80’s and 90’s. That’s the tool that broke him into woodworking. Last week he gifted me with a 30 year old cast iron beast of my own. All tuned up. I’m so excited to see what she can do.



  19. OPAIK on October 22, 2022 at 3:56 am

    There’s 0% chance I will ever operate a RAS



  20. paul carlsen on October 22, 2022 at 3:57 am

    I used to use my father radial arm saw as a child. I have a shot numerous pieces of wood out the machine while ripping. Fun time!



  21. David M on October 22, 2022 at 4:00 am

    James, I enjoyed your video. Well thought out and explained about not only the radial arm saw, but all of the woodworking power tools in general. I just acquired a 1963 DeWalt model GA radial arm saw. This saw has a 14" blade. I plan on "only" using this saw for cross cuts. I have other saws for the other cuts. This saw has a 3 hp motor and 3 phase power requirement. It’s certainly a beast of a machine. Looking forward to getting it set up and using it. Thanks again for your your video.



  22. Patrick on October 22, 2022 at 4:01 am

    I see that it’s been 8 months since I commented here last and no one has made any comments since, either. I guess my additional comment regarding the saw climbing on top of the workpiece is, this is called a "climb cut" for two reasons. When pulling the saw carriage across the workpiece from the rear towards the front, the blade’s rotation is to "self feed" it, much like on the router table. Climb cutting requires additonal precautions in both instances. You must "stiff arm" the saw carriage to prevent it from over feeding and climbing onto the work. There’s a video on YT showing "push cutting with the radial arm saw", and it’s very interesting that method has no bad effects and can even be done without holding down the workpiece! Push cutting is NOT recommended in any of the videos or in any of the user manuals I have seen.
    Kinda makes you wonder why? It looks safe to me. I wonder what the rake angle the blade is on that saw?



  23. Scott Morris on October 22, 2022 at 4:02 am

    How accurate is a RAS, in terms of keeping its settings for angles?



  24. Eng setters on October 22, 2022 at 4:03 am

    There’s a reason so very few people use those anymore, and why less fingers are lost today. Also islanders are better than red wings lol



  25. coda creator on October 22, 2022 at 4:04 am

    I first encountered power tools as a student in middle school. We learned (sometimes with quite graphic stories from our instructor) about jig, band, and table saws, drill presses, and lathes. We didn’t have a radial arm saw. Or, if there was one, we never used it. This was in the late 1970s. I learned a lot about woodworking, built some simple projects that I was proud of, and then moved on toward high school and college without thinking too much about my wood (and metal) shop experiences in junior high. Today, given circumstances of the world and my personal situation, I’m incredibly thankful that we had such instruction. I realize just how much my kids have missed in music, art, craft, and trades because the public school system has been gutted by political morons bent on enriching themselves at our expense.

    My point, though, is that even in the 1970s, as big and powerful as the tools we learned on were, we did not learn on radial arm saws. And the only thing I can think of as the reason is that it just wasn’t necessary or wasn’t worth the risk.



  26. Ken Russell on October 22, 2022 at 4:05 am

    I agree with you 100% about these saws. I’m actually looking for some useful way to re-purpose my RA saw. I haven’t used it in years, it takes up way too much space, and I don’t want to just trash it. Any suggestions?



  27. John Sahr on October 22, 2022 at 4:06 am

    I grew up using a radial arm saw. It scared me every time. I once made some box joints with the saw tipped on its side — basically a huge router, with the kerf as the box-joint size. It took me half a day to adjust the saw for the cuts, about 5 minutes to make the cuts, and then another half day to square the saw back up for regular "miter" operation. I don’t have a radial saw now, and I don’t intend to get one.

    Although routers scare me too, I would have been far better off using one for these box joints.

    This is exactly Stumpy’s point about not demanding more from a tool than you should.



  28. Craig Smith on October 22, 2022 at 4:07 am

    Well explained video. The radial arm saw is an old technology that was used in an era when safety was looked at differently. Just like cars from the 50’s & 60’s aren’t as safe as current cars. Driving a classic car in freeway traffic these days is well known to be putting your very life at risk should you be involved in an accident.



  29. Malcolm Perkins on October 22, 2022 at 4:09 am

    I started using a radial arm saw in my basement a little over 50 years ago, learning one step at a time. Over the years, the saw enabled me to do many projects – some more ‘risky’ than others. Today the radial arm saw sits on a shelf, but it’s still a very serviceable tool. Today, I love my Dewalt table saw, miter saw and a small shop full of other tools that, like you, I consider safer and more suited to the weekend projects I do, still just an amateur wood worker. Love your videos. Keep up the great work. Thanks! PS I still have the original 1969 manual that came with my radial arm saw and the illustrations are like the ones you showed in your video. I can’t believe I actually did some of those myself and still have eight fingers and two thumbs.



  30. stewartfrye on October 22, 2022 at 4:10 am

    The radial arm saw is NOT dangerous, the ignorant and arrogant users are. But that same ignorant user is dangerous to everyone in the shop, not just themselves. The arrogant user is worse than the ignorant user. There is no need to explain the saw, blame the user of the saw.



  31. Rick Sanchez on October 22, 2022 at 4:12 am

    What’s the best height for the bench?



  32. Jeff Fixes It on October 22, 2022 at 4:14 am

    I’m right there with you on the grief you get when sharing sanity or assessing risk/reward with passionate people. I like your calm approach to addressing these complaints, as you approach all your projects. Thanks for the tips, you’ve made me much more safety conscious, and my work is better to boot. Thanks for doing these things for the community



  33. Guy Baehr on October 22, 2022 at 4:15 am

    When using a radial arm saw for cross cuts, it’s often not necessary to use a notched push stick so I think some RAS users can get out the habit of using them. But they are very important for doing rip cuts. Mine is always hanging from my saw table (except when I’m using it) and it has the scars to prove its utility. Better the stick than my hand.



  34. Stumpy Nubs on October 22, 2022 at 4:16 am

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  35. David Goss on October 22, 2022 at 4:16 am

    My first saw was a Delta radial arm saw. What you said about constant adjustments and re-alignments was very true for me. Pretty much any cut required some sort of adjustment, whether it was raising/lowering the blade, adjusting the guard for a different piece, or making the thing square again. Regardless of practicality or safety, I didn’t think it was a fun tool to use. (Mine did have instructions for using it as a router–even as a novice, I knew that smelled like a bad idea)



  36. Squatter on October 22, 2022 at 4:17 am

    In the mid eighties I had a very nice radial arm saw. At first I thought it was brilliant. However, within a month of ownership I got rid of it. Reason being, once switched off the blade kept on running without a whisper for maybe a minute or more, without any warning that it could take your fingers off whilst quietly rotating in that switched off state. The second time I inadvertently touched the switched off blade with a piece of wood which got ripped out of my hand I realised that it was a quiet trap that will definately cost me some fingers, and sold it. Apparently later models were fitted with a brake mechanism that promptly stops the blade when power is switched off. I still make do with my 1973 model ELU flip saw., which is still running as if it was unboxed yesterday.



  37. Dan Layton on October 22, 2022 at 4:17 am

    100% crawl on you truth as well



  38. Jeff Goodwin on October 22, 2022 at 4:18 am

    Great video! I agree with everything said. I’d like to have a RAS as a dedicated dado saw just for shelving.



  39. Christian McCracken on October 22, 2022 at 4:21 am

    You said it perfect, “anything that can cut wood can cut you.” I’m always careful with my power tools. It was drilled into me growing up. And just seeing the power demands respect. So naturally the worst injury I’ve had was from a simple hand plane blade. I almost lost two fingertips because didn’t think about how sharp a stationary razor sharp blade could be.



  40. Chewyfingers on October 22, 2022 at 4:22 am

    I got one last year at action.
    Yesterday I moved it to my lower building. It didn’t fit through the door.it was HEAVY. Screw that saw.
    I work with huge grinders and MAZAK machines and know dangerous machines.
    I used this once for cutting 2×4 s .
    It’s better scrapped.



  41. MASTERSAIS on October 22, 2022 at 4:23 am

    I’m a practicer of taking off all safety guards and thank God I still have all 10 fingers



  42. Charles Rodriguez on October 22, 2022 at 4:25 am

    I’ve never used one of those. I also never knew the RAS even was a type of saw until now. Good informative video.



  43. WhatNot Zone on October 22, 2022 at 4:25 am

    I have a more modern Craftsman radial arm saw that was my dad’s. I made a new table for it and have used it a few times but really only have it because it was his. For some, the radial arm saw brings back that feeling of nostalgia from Grandpa or Dad. I feel that most radial arm saw owners have them because the tool is so different.



  44. Larry Schweitzer on October 22, 2022 at 4:25 am

    Excellent!



  45. Kyle Leon on October 22, 2022 at 4:27 am

    Just picked up a craftsman 10” today at a garage sale. After watching your video I’ll be cautious and read up on it before jumping right in. Thanks for the advice, nicely done video



  46. Seymour Wrasse on October 22, 2022 at 4:28 am

    the chop saw has taken over the majority of radial arm saw duties, I started out with a RAS and have had every scary thing you mentioned happen. anything with whirling teeth should be respected , as should the electricity that powers it



  47. Mark Abreu on October 22, 2022 at 4:29 am

    Your video brought back memories. My father loved his radial arm saw. He’s gone but his 10-inch Crafstman still sits in his shop. Someday I’ll have to sell it. Because I grew up without a table saw, they frighten me a little. Moving a hand towards a blade seems bad to me, even though I understand what you’re saying about it’s safety. I have asked more than a radial arm saw was designed for. It’s not a router, and trying got me a trip to the ER once.



  48. Andrew Schmitt on October 22, 2022 at 4:30 am

    I just found out you’re a Michigander like me, should’ve known from the red wings coozie 🤣 I grew up in Saginaw, no need to disclose your location on here but just wondering what area you’re from? Awesome content an held yourself together much better than I would have for these trolls(no pun intended)



  49. VB Hunt on October 22, 2022 at 4:31 am

    I remember the radial arm saw in my high school wood shop. That thing was highly accurate and easily adjusted for both 90-degree cross cuts and angled cross cuts (turning the arm, not angling the blade head). I also remember that the wood shop teacher had a rule that we could only use it for cross cuts and rotating the arm for angled cross cuts. Otherwise, we had to choose a different tool to make the cut we wanted. Most of the time, we had to rip sheet stock on the table saw (without a riving knife, they were not yet common at the time). About the time I graduated, my school got a vertical panel saw. I remember being jealous that younger students wouldn’t experience the "fun" of having a crooked rip cut in their expensive oak plywood because they couldn’t get someone to help on the table saw when they needed their sheet cut.



  50. Wade F on October 22, 2022 at 4:31 am

    I used to have an old craftsman radial arm saw. I can say first hand I had it climb over the top of a piece of 3/4 pine that was 12 inches wide. It climbed on top of it and lunged toward me the full extent of its reach. Scared the hell out of me. I suffered no injuries thank the lord. But even outside of that I mostly hated that saw. Spent more time aligning and squaring everything than I did actually using the damn thing.