An extremely exciting recent addition to my shop it’s the new 12” 2hp Radial Arm Saw from King Canada Tools.
This thing is an absolute beast! I know, I know, you may have used one in shop class back in high school and it took Bobby’s left hand off, and it has a reputation for being dangerous, and your dad said they should have been outlawed…. Hear me out. Technology in these machines has benefitted from some upgrades in the last few years. Yes, just like any powered tool in any shop, they’re all dangerous on some level. With correct set up, a caution for safe user guidelines, and proper maintenance a radial arm saw is a game changer to the speed and accuracy of your cuts.
The biggest risk with radial arm saws is as you are cutting and it’s working into the wood, it can get a bit too much traction, start to climb cut and the saw can come flying back. If you’re not paying attention and your other hand is in the way it WILL do some serious damage and for the rest of your life you’ll only be able to do right handed high fives! Kickback is no joke. Just like other tools such as table saws, mitre saws, routers, jointers, shapers, circular saws, mother-in-laws, and chain saws you have got to show respect or they will try to hurt you.
There are advantages to using a radial arm saw, large cross cut capacity, compound mitre cut capacity, the fact that it takes a dado stack for cutting half laps, cross laps and rabbets. I also want to highlight the capacity of the saw to go 90 degrees to cut tenons which is a huge time saver. Just like any tool, treated right, and worked with carefully it can be safe. There are always risks with tools but if you understand the dangers and risks and operate the tool in a way that reduces or eliminates the risk of injury then there are tons of advantages to a tool like a radial arm saw.
Let’s take a tour!
- Boasting a huge 16” cross cut capacity
- Has a return cable that pulls the saw back when you’re done using it
- With a quick pull of this lever, you can turn the saw up to 45 degrees in both directions for mitre cuts
- In 2 easy steps you can rotate the head between 0 and 90 degrees with positive stops at common angles allowing you to do mitre cuts on your cross cuts or your angle cuts
- A rotating lever on the topside allows you to move the saw up and down
- You’re able to lock the saw in place anywhere along it’s arm
- The cutting head can rotate is adjustable to 90 degrees in both directions for ripping and you can reposition the blade guard to prevent boards from wanting to kick back
- There’s an additional anit-kickback bar on the left side for ripping boards from the other direction
- The saw has 2 well placed 4” dust ports, one that hooks up right behind the blade, and one that hooks up to the saw guard
My absolute favorite set up to use in this machine is the 8” Dado from Freud Tools. It will actually fit up to a 13/16ths Dado stack.
If you’re ready for increased productivity, shortened processing time, and added fun then I think it's worth revisiting the idea of a radial arm saw.