How to Use a Radial Arm Saw

The wood working enthusiast always needs information on power tools that will make what they do easier.

Staionery Radial ArmStaionery Radial Arm
A radial arm saw has a capability that not many realize. More than just making good, clean perpendicular cuts, the radial arm saw can help make some complex cuts as well. Keep in mind that radial arm saws, like many power tools, come in different models. Not only does it make straight and angled cuts, it also allows for cerf cutting, making that hard to cover radius a snap.

Be certain that the radial arm saw is mounted perpendicular to a table. This table should also be equipped with a stationery fence which should also be perpendicular to the saw.

At the back of the arm there is a gauge that has marks which represent angles. In most cases, the release mechanism is a lever that extends out from the right side of the arm. Pull this lever towards the front of the saw to release it, set the angle desired and push the lever back to its original place.

Most radial arm saws will only cut 24 inches, so the material to be cut should fall within that range. Also, when setting up an angle, some of that distance will be lost.

Another feature that some radial arm saws have is tilting. This feature allows for miters. Locate a lever (or knob) near the body of the saw and loosen it. Set the desired angle and tighten the lever back down.

When making special cuts such as miters, the saw will need to be raised or lowered. Locate the lever that keeps the height secure, loosen it and adjust the height needed.

Things You Will Need

  • Radial arm saw
  • Wood
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Pencil


  • Always wear safety glasses.
  • This saw will also setup to rip wood as well.
  • Keep all material secured while making cuts.
  • Cerf cuts are made by raising the blade so the cut doesn’t go all the way through the wood.


  • Do not set the blade lower than necessary to make the cut.

About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.