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What is a Beam Saw?

Crystal K. Wilford
Crystal K. Wilford

A machine with a large saw blade used to cut logs into beams and timbers is a beam saw. The beams it cuts are typically used to construct the framework of buildings. The saws often use circular blades and come in a variety of different styles to suit various job requirements. Many saws have semi-automatic adjustments, although some require manual manipulation before each cut is made.

The beam saw can be permanently affixed to a table or be portable with the option of temporarily affixing it to a stable surface for use. Most of the saws are manufactured with a fixed, protective shield covering a portion of the blade, leaving the rest of the blade exposed to cut. Some smaller saws provide an additional cover, or lever arm, that shields the blade and retracts smoothly when the beam pushes against it. This provides a safety feature that prevents injury from contact with the operating machine.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Many saws are attached to a stable framework, like a table or sawhorse, to provide a platform enabling straight and easy cuts. The radial arm beam saw is attached to an arm that rests above the surface of a metal table or bench. This permits the saw to slide back and forth along the length of the table and be adjusted for different cuts. Other arm-equipped saws can be rotated, turned, or moved to a different spot on the table for custom angled cuts.

This form of saw uses an elongated bar and chain combination similar to a chainsaw. The bar usually rests vertically so the chain pulls up, drawing the saw against the beam and reducing the hazard of the saw jerking out of control. These cutters can be affixed to a stable apparatus to permit very thick logs to be cut into beams. In addition, beam cutters are often the first step in shaping a log into beams that can be cut into smaller beams.

The beam cutter is primarily used by industrial companies to shape over-sized pieces of wood and to cut multiple beams or railroad ties in uniform sections. The beam saw offers more variety in size, power, design, and is more maneuverable than other types of saws. Many models of the saw are equipped with controls which start and stop the blade or automatically move the saw blade over the beam on the table. While the beam saw is also used in construction, the precision and custom options offer a versatility to finish smaller projects.

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      Man with a drill