The Best Radial Arm Saws (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Cut through the noise with the power of these top-rated radial arm saws.
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BY Corrina Murdoch / LAST UPDATED ON February 27, 2021
If you’re searching for a woodworking tool that’ll be a versatile addition to your workshop, it’s time to consider a radial arm saw. These unique saws are large, heavy, and can take up precious space — but when it comes to versatility and usefulness, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better alternative. A radial arm saw can perform countless operations and is useful in many different applications. From crosscutting to dadoes and rabbets to miters to bevels, it can do it all. Don’t be surprised if a radial arm saw replaces a few of your more specialized saws, letting you save both time and space.
It’ll quickly become your go-to tool no matter what kind of wood you’re working with. Of course, that relies on you getting a high-quality saw that works for your purposes. In our list below we’ve broken down the best radial arm saws available.
Featuring a sturdy base and the ability to handle both single and compound beveling, this miter saw is a powerful option ideal for heavy-duty tasks.
- Saw uses tall fences to support high moldings
- Can crosscut large pieces with high efficiency
- Strong base keeps it steady and secure
- Slightly heavy and can be awkward during shipping
- Sliders need to be locked before moving the saw
Affordable and efficient, this power saw runs on a 15 amp motor that powerfully runs the blade at a speed of 5000 revolutions per minute.
- Miter angles adjust over a 52-degree range
- Moves both left and right
- Large base helps keep the saw steady while you work
- Somewhat lightweight design can cause migration on surfaces
- Thumb adjustments can get stuck in place
Touting a heavy-duty design and a 12-inch circular blade, this miter saw works on projects of all sizes. The user-friendly bevel controls make it suitable for workers of all experience levels.
- Adjustable bevel makes precision work easier
- Designed to quickly release locking fences for added efficiency
- Steel structure is resistant to damage
- Comes at a slightly higher price point
- Dust collection bin can be difficult to clean out
- Cord must be cared for well to prevent issues
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Benefits of Radial Arm Saw
- Make precision cuts. Because of the strong and powerful nature of radial arm saws, you won’t risk damage to the wood with which you’re working. It provides consistent, smooth, and reliable results.
- Excellent stationary tool. Since radial arm saws are so heavy-duty and large, they are ideal for woodworking stations. Designed to stay in one place, the tool is versatile enough to replace several handheld tools.
- Necessary for professional woodworking. Because these large tools are so efficient, they are ideal for anyone working with miters, dadoes, rabbets, and bevels regularly. They provide reliable and precise cuts consistently.
- Advanced versatility. Though a radial arm saw is primarily used as a saw for crosscutting, you can also use it for everything from working with moldings to guiding a router. It works with everything from miters to rabbets, requiring minimal changes between tasks.
- Works in conjunction with your other tools. You can use a radial arm saw for precision tasks in conjunction with your tile saws and your chop saws.
- Relatively low maintenance. Since the saw is so heavy duty and usually made out of high-grade steel, it is resistant to damage. The saw requires minimal upkeep required, needing you to only change out the saw blade over time.
Types of Radial Arm Saws
Representing the most common type of radial arm saws, the majority of these tools are heavy and designed to stand on the floor (and not to be moved). Usually, these saws weigh over 200 pounds and are meant to have a dedicated space in your workplace. Within this category, you can find saws with a wider bevel adjustment range and saw blades of different sizes. Generally, these will be easier to maintain and tend to last for longer.
A less common type of radial arm saw is those which can be moved. Though fairly heavy, these are light enough to move within your workshop. While this type of radial arm saw is likely to come with a smaller price tag, it won’t be able to perform as effectively as a heavier duty model (making it better-suited for recreational use). Though they are less advanced, some will still have a lot of adjustable components.
Opening its doors in 1923 in Pennsylvania, Dewalt’s first product was a radial arm saw. This brand, which invented this type of woodworking tool, then expanded into the tool industry. It has since become a leading name for tools of all kinds. One of its leading offerings is the Dewalt Compound Miter Saw.
With roots dating as far back as 1886, Bosch began as a workshop for engineering in the community of Stuttgart. Since that time, it has grown into a world-renowned supplier of all kinds of mechanical and electrical tools ranging from stereos to equipment. A top selection is the Bosch Cordless Electric Screwdriver.
Headquartered in Nurtingen, Germany, this company came into being in the 1920s. With its first product being a hand drill, it has since evolved into a company that develops a huge range of power tools. Known for quality and durability, one of its most popular selections is the Metabo Compound Miter Saw.
Founded in Milwaukee in 1919, Delta Machinery began as a humble manufacturer of small tools. After gaining traction on the market, it evolved into a creator of small industrial tools and machines. Now, it is a renowned provider of everything from machining supplies to tools for home mechanics like the Delta Power Equipment Slide Miter Saw.
Beginning as a department store in Minnesota in 1902, Dayton evolved into a large supplier of tools after merging with the Hudson Company. It now has locations across the United States, including the well-reputed target stores. A popular offering is the Dayton Calibrated Measurement Microphone.
Radial Arm Saw Pricing
- Under $100: Some lightweight radial arm saws fall in this price range, usually incorporating few extra features and working as a standard miter saw.
- Between $100 and $500: The most common price range for radial arm saws, these tools range in weight, blade size, and special features, though generally perform reliably.
- $500 and up: High-end radial arm saws fall in this price range, usually including extra features like dust collection and additional protective safeguards.
The blade of the radial arm saw is perhaps its most important feature since it is the part that does the cutting. Standard saws have a circular blade with a diameter of either 10 or 12 inches. The blade’s rotation is powered by the motor which spins it quickly and causes a quick and precise cut. The blade should be protected by guards to prevent any risk of injury to the worker.
Since the vast majority of radial arm saws are meant to be stationary, they will incorporate a very heavy and wide base. This ensures that the saw remains stable while it works, unlike other woodworking tools like jigsaw and handheld units. Heavier bases are better for precise work. However, since the base is so heavy, this type of saw is not designed for portability. This feature makes it better to find a dedicated location for this tool in your workshop.
The arm of the radial saw is the adjustable component that slides the circular blade over the surface. This cutting area is stationary while the arm is the part that can be shifted. Using the bevel, you can shift the angle of the cutter. It is also able to maneuver for mitering work. Because of the versatility of the arm, this type of saw can perform versatile tasks.
- Power. The power of the motor directly impacts the efficiency of the radial arm saw itself. Measured in amps, most high-end options have roughly 15 amp motors that can achieve powerful rotations of the saw blade itself. So long as it is properly ventilated, the saw won’t get damaged by heat and can perform consistently over time.
- Speed. The level of amperage that powers the radial arm saw indicates the revolutions per minute of the circular saw blade. You can find models that revolve at speeds up to 4000 turns per minute. Others revolve at speeds of roughly 800 revolutions per minute. The faster the revolution, the more efficient the saw.
- Flexibility. When looking at the specs of your radial arm saw, investigate the range over which you can adjust the arm. Crosscuts require a wide range, at least the ability to work at 45 and 90-degree angles. Added capacity for adjustments adds to the versatility of the radial arm saw itself.
- Accessories. While the saw itself is fairly standardized, there are special accessories that make upkeep a lot easier. High-end options have vacuuming technology that prevents dust build-up. This limits the risk of fire and keeps your worksite clean. Check for any special features like a dust bag and extra blades to make lighter work of maintenance.
Best Radial Arm Saws Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Aim to find a specific and dedicated location for the radial arm saw since most of them are too heavy to move around.
- Always clean up any dust that resulted from the woodworking to prevent the risk of fire.
- Practice routine maintenance to ensure that your radial arm saw remains in good condition.
- Check on the blade before you begin the work to ensure that the teeth are in good working condition.
- If using the blade for ripping, take measures to prevent kickback both for safety and cutting accuracy.
- As the adage goes, measure twice and cut once, making sure that the part is correctly aligned before making your cut.
- Unplug the radial arm saw after you’re finished using it to prevent issues with the circuitry.
Q: Are radial arm saws obsolete?
No, radial arm saws are still very useful in woodworking situations. They are versatile and cut accurately. Since they usually have either ten or 12-inch blades, the saw can cut through a lot of different materials in many different ways.
Q: Is a radial arm saw worth having?
Yes, a radial arm saw is a good investment, though the type you need depends on how you plan to use it. For more casual applications, a lighter model is better. Industrial (or ongoing, heavy-duty) uses require a more advanced radial arm saw with added versatility and capacity.
Q: What's better: a radial arm saw or miter saw?
A radial arm saw has a more substantial cutting depth, making them better for thicker materials. Miter saws are lighter-duty and work more efficiently on thinner materials. The better saw depends on how you plan to use it; though, in general, a radial arm saw is more versatile.
Q: Can you rip wood with a radial arm saw?
Yes, you can rip wood using a radial arm saw, in addition to cross-cutting, and slicing dadoes and rabbets. The diverse applications of radial arm saws are what sets them apart from other tools, adding value through efficiency.
Now that you know the ins and outs of radial arm saws, you can make the right pick for your woodworking shop. It could be the DeWalt Sliding Compound Miter Saw or the affordability of the Metabo HPT Compound Miter Saw. There’s a saw for every workshop.
Do you have some experience with these tools? Let us know in the comments below. Happy sawing!