Radial Arm Saws

Radial arm saws are one of the most versatile saws for making many types of cuts for woodworking projects

Radial Arm Saws - Buying Guide

Woodworkers often say that if they only had one type of saw in their workshop, the radial arm saw would be the one. With a head that swivels, tilts and slides, these saws work like a sliding compound mitre saw, but with much more versatility.

This buying guide highlights the sizes, options and power of radial arm saws.

Options

A radial arm saw can do the job of several other tools when equipped with the right accessories

  • Radial arm saws offer the convenience of moving the saw through stock rather than moving the stock through the saw.
  • Capacity and power are the major options that are be determined by the size and type of materials you work with.
  • Adding accessories, such as a dado blades or moulding heads, expand the capabilities of radial arm saws.

Sizes

The size of radial arm saws are primarily determined by the diameter of the blade

  • Like table saws and mitre saws, radial arm saws are usually either 10 or 12 inches with larger models available for commercial purposes.
  • Check the size of your circular, mitre and table saws to see if you can share their blades.
  • Prices increase as the blade diameter increases.

Power

Make sure your saw has enough horsepower when working with hardwoods to avoid overtaxing the motor

  • Most radial arm saws are between 1 ½ - 3 HP.
  • Harder woods and cuts that remove more material in a single pass also require more horsepower.
  • Horsepower increases as the blade diameter increases.

Spec What It Means Typical Values

Arbor size

  • Size of the hole in the center of the blade
  • Match the blade and arbor diameter of your radial saw with your other saws if you want to be able to swap circular blades between them
  • 5/8" or 1"

Blade size

  • Diameter of the blade
  • Larger blade diameter delivers more cutting capacity but also a higher price tag
  • 10" or 12"

Crosscut capacity

  • Tells you the maximum stock width you can cut at 90º
  • 14" to 16"

Depth of cut at 45° bevel

  • This is the thickness of stock you can cut at a 45º bevel angle
  • A bevel cut is made with the blade tilted to one side, so depth of cut is less than with the blade perpendicular to the work piece
  • 1-1/4" to 2-1/2"

Max. dado Capacity

  • Determines the width of dado blade that can be used with the saw
  • A wider dado blade allows you to make a wider groove in a single pass
  • 13/16" to 1-13/16"

Max. depth of cut

  • This is the maximum stock thickness you can cut at a 90º angle
  • To create a cut that exceeds this depth, you would have to flip your work piece
  • 2-3/4" to 3-3/4"