A portable radial arm saw is a valuable tool. It allows you to make precise cuts with little effort. There are a few things you should keep in mind when using this type of saw.
1. Goggles and Ear Protection
With any kind of saw using safety glasses and ear protection is vital. The saw itself is very loud, and can damage your hearing in a short amount of time. Saw dust and wood slivers can fly towards your eye. Not only can this injure your eye, it can cause your eyes to water, obstructing your line of vision. This is a dangerous combination when using a saw.
2. Inspect the Lumber
Knots or dead spots in the wood you are working with can cause the job to become much harder. Dead spots can splinter easily and cause uneven cuts. Knots in the lumber can fly across the workshop when they are struck, causing damage to the work area and injury to yourself. If you have to cut a piece of wood with a knot, be sure the blade doesn't need to come in to contact with the knot while you work.
3. Guards and Fences
Many newer models will include a safety stop feature that will cut the power to the saw off if the guard isn't in place. If you have an older model, always take the time to ensure the guard in in place and locked. Using a fence will help you keep the saw in the correct position, and will help you avoid mis-cuts. Even with a fence, it's important to not cut free-hand, meaning don't rely on the fence to keep the lumber from moving.
The stock you are working with should be firmly secured to the work table. Pneumatic clamps are the best, but any clamp that is secure will work. Never try to use a portable radial saw without securing your stock.
Don't attempt ripping unless you have anti-kickback devices in place and adjusted properly. When you are ripping you want to be sure to feed the lumber against the blades direction. This will give you a clearer cut and help you minimize your work time. It's also a good idea to make sure the saw table is at least twice the length of the longest piece of wood you are working with.
Always keep your hand on the saw handle while you are cutting. When you are done with one cut and need to return the saw to the resting position, lift it with the handle. Don't allow the saw to swing back on it's own. This will damage the blade, and can kick back materials towards you, causing injuries.
7. Turn It Off
It can be tempting to leave the saw running while you run across the workshop to grab another item. It's also tempting to leave it running in between cuts. Anytime you return the saw to the resting position, or if you have to leave the saw table, the saw should be turned off.