Cutting Dados and miters
on the Radial Arm
The Radial Arm Saw is a good choice to cut both
dadoes and miter cuts. The 12 inch saw in the lab
is capable of performing these cuts on wide
stock- approx. 18" wide (90 deg.), and 14"
wide (45 deg.).
An advantage of this saw is that the cutting
is done from the top, allowing an unobstructed view
of the layout line.
Attach a stop block to the fence for multiple cuts
in the same location.
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, a helper, or hold down clamps
to control long stock.
- 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
- The dado is performed either with a dado head,
or by making successive passes with the standard saw
blade to widen the cut.
- To attach the dado head,unplug the saw and raise the
blade so it is clear of the cutting slot in the
- Pull the saw out toward you, and lock it in
- Remove the guard and the blade.
- Use a piece of scrap wedged under the blade in
conjunction with the blade wrench to remove the nut from
- Place the dado head on the arbor adjusted to the
correct width you want to cut. (make sure the blade teeth
are in the proper direction).
- Replace the nut and the guard.
- Unlock the saw allowing it to slide freely.
- Adjust the cutting depth, and plug in the
- Make a test cut on a piece of scrap of the same
- Make any adjustments before cutting actual
- To dado using the standard blade, pull
the saw out toward you and lock it in place. Bring your
stock up to the blade and adjust the depth of
- Unlock the saw and let it slide back in position.
Make a test cut on a piece of scrap of the same
- Mark your dado position, beginning and end, on the
stock surface. "Nibble away" the field between the two
layout lines with consecutive passes.(only cut on the
pull stroke, never try to cut on the return stroke).
- The nibbling away will result in a slightly uneven
bottom surface. This can be smoothed with a file or sharp
chisel but is usually not a problem.
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
- The miter is an angled cut across the face of a piece
of stock. The saw arm can be swung into posisition, or an
auxillary fence installed, thereby angling the stock into
- To swing the arm, first raise the blade out of the
- Pull the saw out toward you and lock it in
- Unlock the miter adjustment handle by pulling it
- Unlock the positive locating pin by pulling it out,
and swing the arm to the left to the required
angle setting. (Swinging the arm to the right may result
in the saw not returning far enough).
- Lock all adjustments back in place, unlock the saw so
it slides freely.
- Hold onto the saw and turn it on. (you may have to
make a new cutting slot in the table and the fence).
- Holding the saw as its running, slowly lower the
blade into posisiton 1/16" below the table surface.
- Make a new cutting slot in the table and fence.
- Turn off the saw.
- Mark an angle on a piece of scrap, and test the cut
with a square or gauge.
- Make any final adjustments before cutting actual
Note that the saw has been angled to the left so
that the blade will return far enough behind the
fence and that the operator's hands are well clear
of the cutting path.
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 Don Perkins, 9/18/02