Not looking to start a war here, but I want to know if this is a bold statement by my teacher..

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Forum topic by newbiewoodworker posted 11-04-2010 11:56 PM 3663 views 0 times favorited 62 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View newbiewoodworker's profile


668 posts in 2797 days

11-04-2010 11:56 PM

My shop teacher today said that “Radial arm saws are no more dangerous than mitre saws”..

I know some people love em, some hate em, but doesnt this seem like a bold remark.

I know using a chop saw, occasionally, if I am making a quick cut, Ill position myself, then close my eyes(even better, Ill ususally clamp it down..) rather than doning eye pro… But I wouldnt dare use a RAS with my eyes closed.. But don’t you think that might instill that kind of thought process?

This is the teacher that told me it would be 100% safe to grind chisels with an angle grinder… lol..

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

62 replies so far

View Manitario's profile


2629 posts in 2853 days

#1 posted 11-05-2010 12:03 AM

personally, whereas I respect my mitre saw and its potential to harm me, the thought of using a RAS terrifies me.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View JasonWagner's profile


527 posts in 3150 days

#2 posted 11-05-2010 12:06 AM

I have a 1961 (grandfather’s) Craftsman RAS. I don’t really use it for much but a disk sander anymore, but if you’re comparing them to miter saws I would say they’re only a little more risky. Mainly because of the tendency of the blade to try to climb over the piece being cut. But if your hand is on the carriage and the other out of the way, it shouldn’t be dangerous. They do require more focus in my opinion. A good blade for a RAS is also more important. A dull blade on a miter saw will just be slow at cutting, the RAS may climb (hook angle is key too). I would definitely say ripping on a RAS is more dangerous than a table saw.

-- some day I hope to have enough clamps to need a clamp cart!

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3144 days

#3 posted 11-05-2010 12:07 AM

Just …. seems like a pretty reasonable place to inject … this

-- -- Neil

View newbiewoodworker's profile


668 posts in 2797 days

#4 posted 11-05-2010 12:10 AM

You notice they skip amputation of fingers… and move directly to the bigger masses… such as arms and hands… lol.. and to think… he told us they were “safe”...

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3085 days

#5 posted 11-05-2010 12:10 AM

I a way he has right
if you lay your arm on the board just infront of the fence
and start cuting both saws will deffently make the job
if you want to loose an arm

but to me the Rs will always be the most dangerus nomatter how you argue against it
also if you compare the maschine to a Ts , Bs and the sliding mitre saw

take care

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3682 days

#6 posted 11-05-2010 12:11 AM

You CLOSE your eyes while using a power tool?!!
Please, please do not do this…it just takes a moment to put on protective gear, splinters and crap like that can go through an eyelid no problem, closing your eyes does NOT protect them well enough! If you were a student in my class you would be in for a whack of remedial safety training before you ever turned on another power tool in my class.

Any tool is dangerous if used unsafely, I’ve worked with cutting torches, heavy equipment and explosives and the only time I’ve been hurt is when I’ve done something stupid. The longer I hold my EMT license the more I realize there are not really true accidents just bad choices, most accidents are avoidable. I once was teaching a buddy of mine how to sharpen a chainsaw with a hand file (I never even imagined someone would cut themselves while sharpening)...but here was my buddy just moments into trying it himself and his fingers were all shredded and bleeding…so even hand tools can be dangerous if not used with safety in mind…and no the chainsaw was not running at the time LOL!

Uggh an impalement in the eye is just a gross, gross thing to deal with…

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3043 days

#7 posted 11-05-2010 12:13 AM

My opinion is that any saw or tool is only as safe as the operator so I agree with your teacher. If you follow the safety rules 100%, then you are 100% safe. Which tool you’re using is irrelevant.

I’m also of the opinion that closing your eyes while using a chop saw is way more dangerous than using a radial arm saw with your eyes open. I wouldn’t dare using any tool with my eyes closed.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View wwbob's profile


111 posts in 2845 days

#8 posted 11-05-2010 12:14 AM

Will radial arm saws get “saw stop” technology any time in the near future? May not be possible due to the location of the blade, no place to retract.

-- "I like the quiet I hear." - Channing, age 4

View newbiewoodworker's profile


668 posts in 2797 days

#9 posted 11-05-2010 12:17 AM

Mark, I only do it occasionally, and only when I know I am safe. If I have to do it, I always look away… I know its not the brightest move, but if I am outside, and my glasses are in the shop, sometimes I just get lazy… And at that, its once in a harvest moon(well blue moons happen too often)...

Please, that aside, I really dont want to get into an arguement over my safety practices..

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3043 days

#10 posted 11-05-2010 12:19 AM

I think Saw Stop technology could be added to radial arm saws, the blade would just have to retract up instead of down. I know the Saw Stop company is doing research on adding the technology to other types of saws but since radial arm saws have mostly gone away in favor of chop saws I doubt it’s high on their list.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3044 days

#11 posted 11-05-2010 12:21 AM

I had a RAS at one time. No more. If you only use it as a miter saw I think it is reasonably safe. However, IMO, when you try to rip with it you are asking for trouble.

In my world, a table saw is for ripping and cutting dados. If I had a RAS I would be using it as my miter saw – - – so why not just have a miter saw? They take up less space, are easier to use and, if you have a slider, they have almost as much capacity as a RAS.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3256 days

#12 posted 11-05-2010 12:30 AM

I have been involved in a production shop for a long long time. I have yet to see a radial arm saw accident, or even know of one by my several hundred professional customers. I have seen and know about multiple table saw, jointer, router, and shaper accidents.

Are radial arm saws dangerous? Absolutely!!! So was my tricylce when I was 5. Be careful. I personally don’t see why a RAS is any worse than a miter saw—-just my opinion—but based on experience.


View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4023 days

#13 posted 11-05-2010 12:39 AM

Just like guns and motorcycles, all tools need to treated with respect. However, a mitre saw isn’t going to grab traction all of a sudden and come at you like a pissed off alligator. Since I got my SCMS, I don’t think my RAS has been even plugged in.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View newbiewoodworker's profile


668 posts in 2797 days

#14 posted 11-05-2010 12:46 AM

LOL! I like the analogy….

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

View RalphBarker's profile


80 posts in 2739 days

#15 posted 11-05-2010 01:07 AM

I’d agree, in general, with the similar level of risk between a RAS and a “chop” saw. They both work in about the same way.

I, too, have recently started using a miter saw with my eyes closed, but it’s while dreaming about the new Bosch glider. ;)

showing 1 through 15 of 62 replies

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