When you talk with woodworking experts and professionals, they say if you had to choose one stationary power tool in your workshop, go with the radial arm saw. The radial arm saw is primarily used for crosscutting but it does wonders with bevel mitering, mitering, bevel ripping, ripping, and bevel crosscutting. With laser guided cuts, the radial arm saw is both efficient and precise. By simply adding the various attachments available, a radial arm saw will become a router, sander, buffer, polisher, and a boring machine.
The size of any radial arm saw always refers to the size of the blade that the saw will take. The most common size is the 10-inch radial arm saw model but they also are available as 12-inch machines. If you are a professional woodworker who requires a bit larger tool, then consider the 14-18 inch "chop saws" which will handle any heavy-duty work you send its way. The blade size ultimately will decide how deep the saw will cut. For example, a 10-inch blade can cut to a 3-inch depth. Many of the better radial arm saw sold today come with automatic blade brakes that slow and then stop the saw once the motor is shut down.
Buying Guide - The newer Craftsman models have something called Laser Trac that will give you precision cuts while ripping or crosscutting stock. The laser feature is mounted near the blade on the saw's spindle and is activated when the blade reaches 1500 rpm. You want to find a saw with controls that are easy to read and placed in appropriate locations on the saw. The on-off switch needs to be big enough and easily accessible in case you want shut off the saw quickly. It should also be lockable for safety reasons, many models have removable keys. The radial arm saw should be positioned at about 36 inches high and you want the table securely set up to handle larger stock. A 1 1/2 HP motor is plenty for most 10-inch saws and you want the motor to have a double spindle. Bevel and miter cut stops need to be adjustable so the 45 and 90 degree cuts remain accurate. The scales need to be easy to read, the table top should be smooth, the safety guard need to be clear so you can see through it, and the fence should adjust smoothly. You also want to make sure that the saw accepts accessories if you ever want to use it for other purposes besides crosscutting or ripping. The top radial arm saw brands are DeWalt, Delta, Craftsman, Ryobi, and Ridgid. You can find Craftsman saws at Sears and many of the other radial arm saws can be bought at HomeDepot or Lowes. They are expensive, the Craftsman 10-inch is about $650 and the more expensive Delta radial arm saws are $3000+. Keep reading below to find out which models perform the best and rated the highest amongst consumers and professionals. For the best selling radial arm saws online go here. Amazon carries a wide line of brands and some of the best prices you will find online.
Best Radial Arm Saw:
RECOMMENDED - The top 18-inch radial arm saw is the DELTA 33-420 18-Inch 5 Horsepower Radial Arm Saw, 230-Volt 1 phase ($6000) - customers say this saw is incredibly sturdy, the motor can power through even the toughest cuts, and the accuracy on cuts is top notch. The one common complaint on the Delta saw was that the saw blade was made of steel, not carbide tipped like other brands. Owners say replacing the blade with a Freud blade makes all the difference. There is a 2-year limited warranty on the Delta saw. We had several users want to know where the newest DeWalt radial arm saws were and we found out that they stopped producing those types of saws in 1989 (the original DeWalt pattern are now made by the Original Saw Company, of Iowa). You can buy rebuilt models online, but we suggest going with another brand that offers a newer model. The Ridgid RS1000LS Radial Arm Saw is another 10-inch model that costs less than the Craftsman at $549, but we could not find any reviews or consumer feedback on this machine. Check with your local HomeDepot on what models they carry. ANOTHER OPTION - The Festool Package Deal TS 55 EQ Plunge Cut Saw with MFT/3 Multifuntion Table is a great alternative to the basic radial arm saw. The Festool functions as a chop saw, miter box, and radial arm saw.
Best Value Radial Arm Saw:
RECOMMENDED - The DELTA RS830 10-Inch 1-1/2 Horsepower Radial Arm Saw, 115/230-Volt 1 Phase is a top selling 10 inch radial arm saw on Amazon. The Delta radial arm saw comes with saw, blade wrenches, and manual. The RS830 is priced at below $1500 and there are enough solid reviews online to at least consider this model. Delta has a very good reputation in this industry. Owners suggest buying the Irwin 14076 Marathon 10-Inch 80 Tooth ATB Thin Kerf Finishing Saw Blade with 5/8-Inch Arbor to go with the radial saw. Feedback from consumers say the saw does well at rabbet and dado cuts although a few mention that the adjustments on the saw are somewhat difficult (most notable the height adjustment). Sears sells the popular Craftsman 9-22010 Professional 3 Horsepower 10-Inch Radial Arm Saw with Laser Trac for $825 and so far the reviews are positive. We have found that Craftsman hasn't compared so well in the past versus other brands with other power tools, but this radial arm saw seems like the real deal. Feature include the 3 horsepower Control Cut feed rate motor, a sturdy work surface for big stock pieces, an automatic blade brake will stop the blade in seconds, a 40 tooth carbide blade, and a built-in accessory shaft that will accept lots of accessories. Feedback on the saw is that it's plenty powerful, runs quiet, and the laser guide is right on. A few owners said the Control Cut feature slows the saw down and the saw was difficult to setup. Check out Sears.com for the latest scoop on this saw.
Radial Arm Saw Accessories:
From all of our findings online, it appears that radial arm saws are a dying breed. Many of the manufacturers that used to product them no longer do. Other saws like table saws and miter saws are versatile enough that radial arm saws may not be necessary in the average homeowners workshop. If you still own an older model or even one of the few newer models of radial arms saws take note that you can still get accessories or attachments for them. We found some excellent equipment at Rockler.com and Amazon.com. Buy items like the Avenger Dual Laser Guide Kit, an EasyCoper for crown molding, and top blades from Freud, Amana, or Forrest.