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What is a Pendulum Saw?

By Christy Bieber
Updated May 17, 2024
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The pendulum saw is a popular sawing machine, mostly used in large wood shops and saw mills. Pendulum saws are one of several different types of saw mechanisms that utilize the disc blade or circular saw. They are often used because of their ability to make precise angled or straight cuts. The fact that such saws are powered in a manner that allows them to cut thick material with ease and efficiency also makes them a versatile saw.

The pendulum saw works in the manner indicated by its name: as a pendulum. The circular saw blade is powered by a large motoring unit that is positioned in a manner that allows the blade to travel along a prescribed radius while it is spinning. This action allows the user to designate the angle at which the cut is to be made, and then cut through the material from the top through the bottom without having to adjust or move the work piece.

Much like a radial arm saw or miter saw, the pendulum saw has a prescribed range in which it is allowed to travel. This is an advantage and a limitation at the same time. The pendulum saw does have a wider range of travel than a radial arm saw, which is an advantage; however, it isn’t usable as a compound miter saw since most units don’t allow for the angles being cut to be multiplied.

The fact that the saw is powered by a strong motor allows it to be used for cutting a thick or dense material. This is an advantage; however, the thickness of the material that may be cut on a pendulum saw is limited by the dimension of the saw blade. This is a limitation all circular saws have in common.

Another advantage/limitation combination that comes with pendulum saws is their size. Most pendulum saw units are large enough that they remain stable when cutting wide or long material, however, the saw is not one that is easily moved around due to its size. Compound miter saws, as well as some smaller radial arm saw units, are able to be used in the field on construction sites whereas pendulum saws are mainly stationary and “in-shop only” units.

There are also many different accessories for different models of pendulum saws. Accessories range from customized cutting tables to different setup options. These have helped to make pendulum saws a more versatile option in large-project wood shop settings, as well as in industrial saw mills.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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