Radial Arm Saw Safety

When working in a machine shop, there is a lot of activity, noise, and heavy machinery being used. This can often lead to accidents that can be serious, and sometimes even fatal. One of the most common machines in this environment is a radial arm saw. Designed to cut wood and metal quickly, this tool can be convenient but also very dangerous. It's important to understand how to properly operate these saws in order to avoid a serious injury.

Proper Safety Measures

Before you operate a radial arm saw, be sure that you understand the correct operating procedures. Here are some tips to help keep you safe:

  • When ripping material (cutting against the grain), be aware that it can kick back and cause serious injury. Always stand to the side of the work material when ripping.
  • Perform a pre-cut safety check by making sure the blade is properly placed, and that there is no pitch (sap from wood) on the blade.
  • When cutting, gently guide the material through the blade, ensuring that it does not pull the wood through too quickly. 
  • Never use parts or pieces that are not made for that specific model of machine. Incorrect parts can cause malfunction or the saw will not work correctly, resulting in injury.
  • Wear hearing and eye protection. Radial arm saws are quite loud and with frequent use can cause hearing damage, and can get debris into the eyes.
  • If you're near someone operating the radial saw, let them complete their current task before interrupting them. 
  • Remove all scrap, dust, and debris from the saw and table before making a new cut.

Things to Avoid

There are certain things to avoid doing while using a radial arm saw in order to ensure proper safety:

  • Never use a blade that has become cracked, or a blade that has gotten dull. Radial saws require very sharp blades in order to work properly.
  • Do not leave a saw unattended if it is still running. Unplug the saw once you've finished working.
  • Never reach in to remove materials until the saw blade has finished cutting and is completely returned to its resting position.
  • Don't force materials through the saw. Some items may be tougher to cut than others, and slow but steady will always get the best results. Forcing materials through the saw can cause it to kick back which can be very dangerous.
  • Blade guards are to be secured around the blade when in operation. Never operate a radial saw without the proper blade guards attached.

Visit a machine shop, such as Adrico Machine Works Ltd, for more tips.