How to Tune Your Radial Arm Saw

Cutting angles and bevels in wood, at one time done on a radial arm saw, is now done more accurately and more easily on a chop saw. But to do these cuts with precision, you'll need to know how to tune these saws. Here are 5 steps that will help you tune your saw:

Things you'll need:

  • Radial Arm Saw
  • Framing square

Step 1—Square the Blade For Cross Cuts

With the long edge of your framing square lined up with the saw blade, turn the blade adjustment knob to check that the blade is square with the edge of the frame square. If it is not square, loosen the saw's yoke screws and adjust the position of the motor, making the blade and edge of the square line up, flush. Tighten the yoke screws when you're sure the saw blade is flush with the edge of the square.

Step 2—Adjust for Blade Travel

For your cross cuts to be made accurately, be sure the saw blade travels perpendicularly along the saw arm. To check this function, take off the saw's blade and blade guard, then lower the saw motor so there is a space of 1/16 inch separating it from the table surface. Now, to be sure the motor is square, place your framing square against the blade fence while moving the arbor along the edge of the square. Your motor will be square when the arbor touches the square as it moves along the arbor's travel path.

Step 3—Square the Fence with the Blade

To reduce possible kickbacks and splintering of your wood when you use your ripping blade, check to be sure your fence and blade are square, by placomg the square's short end of the square against the table and blade fence. You should measure the blade's angle at its surface, not at its teeth. To bring the blade to a perfect square, loosen the screws (or bolts) under the yoke, then turn the motor until you have the angle you desire.

Step 4—Square the Blade for Ripping

To avoid the problem of kick back when ripping, you will need to be sure your saw blade is properly adjusted. To do this, unlock the swivel lock and turn the motor until it is in the "rip out" position. Now, use your framing square to insure that the angle of the saw blade is square with the table surface. To bring it into square, you will need to adjust the saw's rear bearing. You can do this by loosening the bearing and moving the saw. When the fence is square, tighten the bearing.

Step 5—Align the Splitter to Avoid Kick Backs

Not all woodworkers with radial arm saws like to use saw splitters. For some, the risk of injury is too great. Injury is sometimes less likely with the availability of special kerf blades and anti kick-back pawls made to reduce these kick backs. Because of differences in how various adjustments for the various types of saws are made, there are no universal instructions that apply to all saws. For this reason you should follow your manufacturer's suggestions for making these adjustments.