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Thread: Is a radial arm saw dangerous?

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Comox, BC, CANADA
    Every tool out there is dangerous, if you don't know how to use it properly, if you do not show it proper respect, if you are not careful.

    Every tool out there is safe, if you know how to use it properly, if you show it proper respect, if you are careful.

    No matter where you go, there you are. B. Banzai

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Lindenhurst, NY11757


    The companies that made and sold RAS's did all users a disservice by including with a brand new RAS the worst blade possible. The Craftsman, for example, came with a blade with a huge positive rake! No wonder people got scared when they made their first cuts. The saw wanted to climb right over the wood being cut. Given the right blade,(negative rake) there is very little tendency for the blade to self feed. As for ripping, I have been there, done that, but a table saw is my weapon of choice for that operation.
    The blade I use now I bought from Mike Jackson(search for his name on this site). If you call him and tell him your application he will recommend a blade for you.The blade i got was top grade and very reasonable.
    Pete Leyden

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Milwaukee, WI
    I've had my Craftsman RAS for 40 years, and have never had a problem. The most important rule is to use a blade with negative hook. To determine this,draw a line from the center of the mounting hole to the perimeter. The leading edge of the tooth should be parallel to the line or lean slightly backward from the line. This reduces the tendency for the teeth to grab the material and pull into it.

  4. #19
    I've been suprised by the level of "fear" that seems to be associated with RAS. This includes a talk I had with an oldewr WW'r at a garage sale last weekend. The RAs seems to have a negative reputation. Not that it would be wise to not give ANY power tool the proper respect. I'm a newbie and the first tool I bought was an old DeWalt 7740. So far there have been no incidents, but I do have to say that using my TS without the blade guard get my heart moving much faster then the RAS.

    Thanks to those who supplied the info on blade/positive tooth rake this may be one of the reason for my safe operation of the RAS.


  5. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    RAS safety

    My Craftsman RAS saw was my primary power tool for years. I did everything on it including ripping and some sophisticated joinery off fixtures.

    I must admit I have moved all ripping operations to my tablesaw. Not just because I have one, but I did launch a few pieces of lumder across the room when ripping on my RAS.

    I won't give up my RAS, but I have learned what is appropriate for it.



  6. #21
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Near Nashville TN
    I used a Wards 10" RAS for years till it burned up when the barn it was in burned.
    That saw is really missed.

    Given I never had enough room for a table saw or place to use it, the RAS was great
    and was kept at the side of a garage where I could pull the car out and move the saw
    if I needed to rip anything.

    Whenever I did ripping, it was ALWAYS with someone else assisting. So I guess that
    would be better on a TS. The most I ripped was plywood or 2x4's.

    Where we live now there is a chop/miter saw available with a big bench (but the saw
    is not attached to the bench and moves around, and it is not adjusted to the right
    height for the table either ... makes it hard to use accurately. But the folks that own it
    just use it for rough cuts at best. From what I have seen, it has functionally replaced
    much of what folks used to use RAS for.

    Personally I would love to have another RAS, and I do not consider it safer or more
    dangerous that any other saw, just different. ALL saws are dangerous if you do not
    respect and take care of them.

    I wonder if the reputation of RAS being dangerous is due to lack of training, safety
    considerations, or bad technique on the part of the users? Probably a question none of
    us can answer.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Belden, Mississippi
    Quote Originally Posted by Dino Makropoulos View Post
    Yes. Very lucky.
    I called SEARS 18 years ago and I told them to take their junk
    out of peoples hands.
    That did it... 15 years later.

    Oh Well!!!!
    I bought mine in 1978. Still have all the fingers, eyes, etc. and the saw.
    Just got my first TS last year, and am now feeling good about it.
    Any of this stuff will hurt ya badly if ya act stupid.
    Ever stuck your finger in a hot glue pot? I did. ONCE!!!
    On the other hand, I still have five fingers.

  8. #23
    It's only dangerous if you plug it in and flip the switch on.

    Shouldn't be any more dangerous than any other saw. Just follow normal safety procedures and common sense and you should be safe.

  9. #24
    I use mine very day that I work in the shop. Like any other tool that has a blade it can be dangerous if misused, but are they dangerous?...I say no.

  10. #25

    Post RAD~no~ but that depends on what you are using it for?

    YES! old technology and very unpredictable~ for cross cuts~ not so bad, for ripping~ that is a different operation all together~ unpredictable and can be dangerous, that's why I sold mine last year~ ? in my opinion ~ I would have to say nay on this one.

  11. #26
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Apple Valley MN
    I've heard that RAS do more damage than table saws. So they get a bad reputation as being more dangerous. That is because once they bite they don't want to let go. A table saw will just cut the apendage off, a cleaner cut.

  12. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Cordina View Post
    I've heard that RAS do more damage than table saws. So they get a bad reputation as being more dangerous. That is because once they bite they don't want to let go. A table saw will just cut the apendage off, a cleaner cut.

    Not quite sure I understand what you mean.

    If you google table saw injuries, some of the images are quite horrid, no clean cuts at all.

    I dont understand why the blade on a RAS would "not let go".

  13. #28

    Post Direction of pull~ Kerf

    The RAD cuts up and will continue to pull up on the material. Everyone has there +/- to every tool ~ understandable. but with a good CMS and TS ~ there is no need for the RAD ~ the other issue is the footprint that they take up in your shop. I have my CMS on a utility vehicle and is stored in my shop taking up 2sq ft of space vs a 4' x what ever length you make the bed ends .
    Some people swear by RAD's ~ some don't ~ but in my opinion, I would rather be safe than sorry.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    May 2006
    If you have or have had a RAS that cuts up then I understand your apprehension. A good quality and properly tuned RAS cuts down on the wood and pulls it toward the fence. I can crosscut a board with my Dewalt MBF without holding it and the board doesn't move. I don't recommend doing it that way, but it can be done. I have a CSMS and a good table saw, but I still find a lot of uses for my RAS.

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Chandler, Arizona
    I got my first Dewalt RAS for my Birthday when I turned 15. I built a lot of the furniture still in our home today with that saw. Anyone that says ripping on a RAS is dangerous is wrong. They either don't know how to set it up or as I have witnessed several times sending the stock through the wrong way. The saw was eventually moved up to the family cabin and then sold during mom and pops big divorce wars of 2004. Damn.....I lost my Inca bandsaw then too.


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