Radial Arm Saws

A radial arm saw basically consists of a motor (rather like a handheld circular saw) suspended from a long arm, in a yoke, which allows multiple degrees of rotation for the motor assembly. The motor assembly connects to the overhead arm by a carriage assembly that traverses the arm’s length when manually pulled by the operator. All parts of this assembly may be locked into particular positions as desired by the user. To achieve a simple 90 degree cross cut the saw is pulled from back to front, through a slot in the fence. To make a rip cut the motor head is rotated 90 degrees and positioned outside the fence parallel to it.

Radial arm saws were first developed by Raymond E. Dewalt in 1922 and were marketed under the name of the Dewalt "Wonder-Worker". Dewalt continued to manufacture radial arm saws until 1990 when they sold the rights to The Original Saw Company.

Original 1925 Patent Image of Dewalt Radial Arm Saw from USPTO.

Available from Vintage Internet Patents

Sears has sold their Craftsman brand since 1958, in fact there is a recall on the guard for some of the older models that even supplies you with a new table.

Delta entered the market in 1948 when they bought out Red Star Products, producing 8" to 20" models.

These versatile saws offer the capability of ripping and cross cutting as well as miter, dado and rabbet cuts. With attachments they will also work as a shaper or router in a pinch. Most home shops will have a 10" model, the larger models are usually found in industrial settings.

It cuts up to 2-3/4 inches deep at 90 degrees, 2-1/2 inches at a 45-degree bevel, and crosscuts 16 inches at 90 degrees.

16" Model

Crosscut up to 29 inches and rip up to 41 inches with the saw in the outboard position.

1. Wear safety glasses or a face shield.

2. Wear hearing protection that is suitable for the level and frequency of the noise you are exposed to in the woodworking area.

3. Keep the area clear around the saw.

4. Only use saw blades rated at or above the speed of the saw arbour.

5. Use only the accessories designed for that specific saw and application.

6. Ensure the guard is on the saw.

7. Stand on the handle side when cross cutting. Pull the cutting head with the hand nearest the handle.

8.Make sure the hand holding the stock is never in line with the blade.

9. Return the cutting head completely to the back of the saw table after each cut. The saw should be set up so that the blade will not move forward under its own weight or if the machine is vibrating.

10. When ripping, make sure that the overall length of the saw table (both infeed and outfeed) is twice the length of the longest pieces of lumber.

11. When ripping, make sure that the stock is fed against the direction of the blade (from the side where the saw blade rotates upward toward the operator). The blade should extend slightly into the table. The motor head must be locked at the correct height and angle.

12. Do not use radial arm saws for ripping unless the spreader (riving knife) and anti-kickback devices are provided and properly adjusted.

13. Do not take your hand away from the operating handle unless the cutting head is behind the fence.

14. Do not remove the stock from a saw table until the blade has been returned to its "resting" position at the back of the saw table. Use a stick or brush to remove scrap from the saw table.

15. Do not cut "free hand". Use the back guide or fence, or other device to keep the workpiece from moving.

16. Do not leave a running saw unattended - leave only after the saw has been turned off and it has come to a complete stop.

In recent years there has been much talk of pushing the blade through the stock away from the operator as a safer method of using the saw.

In my opinion one should never use a pushing movement back through the stock and against the direction of blade rotation. There are two important safety reasons for this. First, the blade will tend to lift the front of the stock off the table and possibly throwing it into the blade. Second, if the blade hits a hard spot in the wood it can kick back powerfully and suddenly push the motor back at the operator.

How to Build A Miter Gauge

Fixed 45 degree

If I have a lot of different cuts to make I find that it is often more efficient to make a jig than to swing the arm around, the opposite ends of 45 degree cuts can be made with the same jig.

Using 3/4" thick stock for the base allows the end of the material to pass over the fence, for thin material I like to raise the blade and cut on top of the base, for thicker material the saw blade can just pass by the edge of the base.

Cut a base about 16" square from 3/4" thick material, draw a diagional line from corner to corner. Position a strip also about 16" long so it is centered on the line, fasten one end with a screw tight enough that the strip can't move. Raise the saw up so it is just slightly lower than the jig and make a test cut using some scrap material with the jig in the position shown in the photo on the above left. Measure the angle of the test cut, make any corrections by moving the free end of the strip, when the cut is exactly 45 degrees fasten the other end of the strip with another screw. To cut the opposite angle rotate the base 1/4 turn counter-clockwise.


An adjustable gauge can be made by mounting a 1/4 circle segment on a base. The point is fastened with a bolt, and a slot is cut matching the arc for another bolt and wing nut. This jig is handy for cutting sharp angles greater than 45 degrees.


Make a Miter gauge

Replace the Table


36 tooth blade

Freud 8" Dado Blade

Flip Top Roller Stand