Friday, June 14, 2013

Ludicrously Sharp Radial Arm Saw

Next on the Tour de My Uncle's Shop, is the radial arm saw. It's almost distressing how easily this cuts wood. Seriously, there's no resistance. It doesn't feel like you're cutting anything. It barely even sounds like you're cutting anything.

It's practically impossible not to be struck with a profound respect for the power, capability, and inherent danger of the tools we use when you're using this thing.

Radial arm saws are used to cross cut rough lumber. Trees grow up and are longer than they are wide, which means we cut boards that are long and not that wide.

Look at this stained piece of red oak, see how the grain pattern runs vertically? If you were to cut with the grain, that's called "ripping" the wood. If you cut across it, that's called "cross cutting" it.

If you look at the radial arm saw picture closely, you can see that all it does is slide forward. You can see this by looking at the groove it has cut into the table in front of it. Also, look at the board lying on the table. It's rough, unplaned, lumber, and if you were taking a 12 foot board and fitting it on the six foot long bed of a truck, you need to chop it down by cross cutting it. That's what this saw does, and it does it very well.

I don't have a radial arm saw. Truth be told, they're kind of a luxury. A chop saw, or compound mitre saw as they are also known, does the same thing. You can also rough cross cut lumber on a table saw or even with a jig saw. Hell, a Sawzall would do the trick too. But if you've got the space, money, and desire, then a radial arm saw does just fine.

By way of comparison, here's a picture of the chop saw:

Yeah, it's not quite as big...

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