Crosscutting with the
Radial Arm Saw
The radial arm saw is a multi-purpose tool. It
not only crosscuts and rips lumber but it can also
be configured for use as a jointer, drill, router,
sander, and lathe. The saws primary function is
crosscutting. It can make a variety of crosscuts
including: straight, miter, bevel, dadoe, and
This sheet describes the procedure for
crosscutting stock to length. For other operations
ask your instructor or refer to one of the many
Controls: The controls on
the radial arm saw in the materials processing laboratory
consist of the following:
- A magnetic power switch that must be reset if the
power in the laboratory is interrupted.
- An elevating crank located in front of the saw used
to adjust cutting depth.
- A track locking lever located at side of travel arm
used to adjust travel.
- Adjustable anti kickback finger located in front of
blade to hold stock
- A bevel clamp located at the front of the saw used to
adjust bevel angle.
- A miter clamp located at the top of the saw used to
adjust miter angle.
Note: There are other controls and accessories used with
the saw that are not listed.
Potential hazards: Because
of the saws cutting ability and rotating blade, the
following hazards exist.
- Contact with the blade will result in
- Clothing or other articles may become entangled and
pull the operator into the blade.
- Foreign material in the wood may cause the saw to
- Airborne wood and saw dust may cause injuries,
particularly to the eyes.
- The operator could slip and fall into the saw.
Safety practices: Because
of the above listed hazards the following safety rules must
- Do not operate the saw if you are unfamiliar or
uncomfortable with its use.
- Before cutting, inspect the stock for loose knots,
metal, or any other hazards.
- Clear the cutting table of any objects that could
enter the blades path.
- Keep the floor and area around the saw clean and free
from any tripping or slipping hazards.
- Inspect the saw blade for defects and insure that it
- Make sure that all locking handles are tight.
- Adjust blade to proper cutting depth.
- Slide the saw back and forth to insure it travels
- Make sure all guards are in place and function
- Always wear approved safety glasses.
- Never work alone.
- Avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that might
get caught in the saw.
- Make sure power is off and the blade has stopped
before making any adjustments.
- Unplug the saw before changing or working near
- Never cut round stock.
- Never cut more than one piece of stock at a time
- Never cut stock that is shorter than the blade
- After making a cut, return the saw to its rearward
- Remain focused on cut do not allow yourself to be
- Hold stock firmly against fence while cutting.
- Never cut stock that doesn't lay flat on the
- Use table extensions or hold down clamps to control
- Keep hands and arms out of the blades path.
- Turn off the saw to clear any materials from near the
- Change blade if you notice smoking, burning, or
wavering during cut.
- Turn off saw if you encounter any unusual problems or
Crosscutting is the operation used to cut stock to a desired
length. The operator holds the stock in place against the
fence and pulls the blade across the stock to make the cut.
Refer to the following instructions.
- Inspect stock for defects and foreign material that
may fly loose during cutting.
- Clear cutting table of any objects that may enter
blade travel path.
- Inspect saw to ensure guards are in place and that
blade is secure and in good condition.
- Make sure the saw travels back and forth freely.
- Set blade height so that it cuts no more than 1/16"
below surface of cutting table.
- Set miter position indicator to desired angle and
secure clamp. You should check the miter angle by cutting
and measuring a scrap piece.
- Measure stock and mark the cutting point.
- Make sure saw is in it's rearward position.
- Start saw and let it reach its maximum speed before
- Hold stock firmly against fence making sure that its
laying flat on the table.
- Make sure arms are not crossed in front of saw.
- Pull the saw forward to make the cut.
- Push the saw rearward to its stating position.
- Turn off the saw and wait for the blade to stop
before removing stock.
Note: To learn about other operations using the radial
arm saw, consult with your instructor or shop supervisor. Do
not attempt any operation that you are unfamiliar with.
Proper position for cutting. Stock
must be held firmly against the fence while making
the cut. Never cross your arm in front of the blade
Improper position for cutting. Note
that the operators left hand is in the path of the
blade. The cutting table must be clear of any items
that may enter the blades travel path.
Spence, William T., (1981). Woodworking. American
Technical Publishers. Alsip, IL.
Feirer, John L. (1988). Cabinet making and
Millwork. Chas A. Bennett Company. Peoria, IL.
ITT 252 - Materials Processing
Department of Technology
University of Southern Maine
Prepared by Steven Burgess, 9/25/2001