The Radial Arm Saw (RAS)

The Radial Arm Saw (RAS) – at one time this tool was extremely popular but has now become rare.  Since I learned to use the radial arm saw at a young age it was one of the first tools I bought when I setup my woodshop.  There are several articles around the internet saying the RAS is a dangerous tool to operate but in reality there is no basis for this as the vast majority of accidents involve table saws and jointers.  I have heard people say a table saw is safer because you always know where the blade is while on the RAS is moves but in reality the opposite is true because the table saw blade is normally hidden under the work while on the RAS the blade is always visible.

RAS Pros:  Very versatile, can do almost anything.

RAS cons:  Versatility comes with the cost of requiring knowledge and longer setup times.  Crosscuts (which are what the RAS is normally setup to do) are now easily done on a sliding miter saw, which is basically a RAS dedicated to this one cut.

Bottom Line: If you could only have one major power tool this would be the one to have but since that’s not usually the case I would not recommend purchasing a RAS unless you’ve already got some experience using one (or have a mentor to help you get started using it).


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