You are a beginner handyman, your budget for tools is stark and you would like to get a good saw in a garage sale at a ridiculous price for what seems to be an incredible bargain? Here’s why you should think twice, even after reading about it.
First of all, it must be said that the saw is a machine tool that is fairly old. It reached its peak in the 1960s and 1970s when some manufacturers offered lighter and less expensive versions. At that time, the radial saw was sold as the ideal machine for the handyman who wants to undertake renovations or make cabinetmaking projects. Considered a hybrid machine tool between the table saw and the miter saw, it was meant to be the all-in-one solution for do-it-yourself. What has really happened and why has it fallen into oblivion over the years?
The appearance of the miter saw, portable and not bulky, will probably have dealt a fatal blow to the radial saw but it would be wrong to believe that this is the only reason that sealed its tragic fate. A much more sad reality hides behind all this, and many handymen, who can never count on their fingers until ten, can testify today. The radial saw is a machine tool which, by the very nature of its design, is very dangerous to use under certain circumstances. It’s shortcomings are serious, and we must understand them before paying a poor guy who tries to get rid of it in his garage sale.
The downsides of the saw
The main defect in design of the radial saw is to have a moving motor, and therefore a blade that can take you by surprise and move very quickly on top of the table. If your fingers are in the trajectory of the blade, well, you can say goodbye! Moreover, the direction of rotation of the blade, which is also completely exposed, causes it to seek to lift the pieces of wood into rip. By comparison, the table saw tends to place the piece on the table during the first part of the cup. This only makes it very dangerous to split with a radial saw: at the slightest wedge, it will project the piece violently in your direction. Another not insignificant point, The radial saw is the only machine tool which cuts by pushing the piece of wood not against the teeth of its blade but in the direction of rotation of the latter. Have you ever attempted to make a cup by picking it up behind your table saw or by punching a piece of wood from left to right on the router table? This is exactly what you do with a radial saw… Does that make you feel better? Not me.
Another disadvantage of the size of the radial saws designed for do-it-yourselfers is their lack of precision. Capable of making cuts in a multitude of positions but too lightly built, they struggle to maintain the accuracy of their settings over a long period of time. To avoid this problem, it is sometimes necessary to confine them to a single task, such as bucking. What is the point of using a radial saw if it is only the work of a portable miter saw?
Choosing the right blade
Since the carriage that supports the saw can move back and forth, it is very important to choose a blade with teeth with a negative angle of attack, so that it does not bite too quickly into the work piece And that it causes a backlash.
In today’s environment, and with all the much safer options available on the market for do-it-yourself er, it is not surprising that radial saws find it difficult today even for a handful of dollars. That said, an experienced person who knows how a radial saw works will be able to get away with it with great caution, but at what cost? For having personally witnessed an accident on a radial saw where a member of my family left two fingers and for having lived with him the disastrous consequences of this accident in his life and his ambitions, I know today That this machine-tool belongs to another era, that it no longer has its place in a workshop and that it is better to relegate it to extinction.