Have you ever used a radial arm saw that seemed to move through the material a little too easily, as if the blade was pulling itself through the cut? Or maybe you’ve used a sliding compound miter saw and felt the material you were cutting lift off of the surface of the saw during the cut. If you have, there’s a good chance that the saw wasn’t outfitted with the right blade.
Radial arm saws and sliding compound miter saws require different blades than saws with blades that rotate toward the solid surface of the tool (like a table saw). They have a tendency to want to over-feed and “climb” the material. They won’t make a good cut and can even be dangerous if they have the wrong kind of blade.
For most purposes, sliding compound miter saws and radial arm saws should be used with a blade that’s on the less aggressive end of the spectrum, like a crosscut blade with a very low or negative hook angle. There are even a few saw blades designed specifically for sliding compound miter saws that also work out very well on radial arm saws.
Getting the right blade for these tools is extremely important. There a couple of Rockler articles that will help you find the best saw blade for the tool and application you have in mind. “Saw Blades 101” will give you a background on all of the most important saw blade terms and facts, and “Choosing the Right Saw Blade” will give you specific information on which blade will work out best for the most common applications. Saw blades aren’t exactly cheap, but good ones will last a long time. It’s worth the time it takes to learn a little about what makes a good blade, and what different blades are made to do, before you buy.