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Thread: Radial arm saw versus miter saw

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Los Angeles, California
    Posts
    144
    I've had two Radial Arm Saws, a Craftsman, and a pre-war DeWalt. I agree with Lee that the Craftsman fell out of alignment pretty easy, to the point that I had a Allen T Wrench mounted on the wall next to the saw, and typically slacked the arm and used a framing square to square up the cuts weekly. It was pretty easy to align, about five minutes or less. The DeWalt is rock solid and is adjusted perhaps once a year.
    Regards,

    Tom

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Landenberg, Pa
    Posts
    243
    I echo this sentiment. The RAS gets a bad rap in my opinion due to the large number of crappy Craftsman, Rigid, Black and Decker, etc. models out there. There's a reason those are so cheap on CL. I have a small collection of old pre-war and post-war DeWalt RAS models (earliest 1941, latest 1958). They're amazing once dialed in, and hold their settings. I have three in the shop set up for various single tasks, though one can make a RAS do many things. I can crosscut 24in panels accurately, I can dado/rabbet/tenon anything you want accurately. The only thing I don't do on the RAS setups is rip. An hour's worth investment of your time on properly setting up a nice old cast iron RAS will result in a dead accurate machine that will outperform most of today's plastic mitre saws.

    DeWalt RAS production rapidly raced to the bottom of the heap once Black and Decker got involved, but the early ones are really gems.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas McCurnin View Post
    I've had two Radial Arm Saws, a Craftsman, and a pre-war DeWalt. I agree with Lee that the Craftsman fell out of alignment pretty easy, to the point that I had a Allen T Wrench mounted on the wall next to the saw, and typically slacked the arm and used a framing square to square up the cuts weekly. It was pretty easy to align, about five minutes or less. The DeWalt is rock solid and is adjusted perhaps once a year.

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Sandwich, MA
    Posts
    123
    I agree with Lee Schierer's remark that you can do dados well with a router. If you do rip cuts with your RAS, you'll give up that capability. I would replace your two existing saws with a quality CSMS, as you have suggested. A 10" saw probably has sufficient capacity and will be more affordable than a 12" model. If you need the ability to make rip cuts, consider buying a portable table saw that could be on a mobile base to move out of the way when not in use or a track saw. You're probably looking at spending about $1000 new for a decent CSMS and either a portable table saw or track saw. All three of these tools are available used in some areas of the country. It's worth taking a look on Craigs List in your area. Plus monitor the Classified Section of SMC.

  4. #19
    Thanks,Thomas, William and Bob

    What is a CSMS?
    I do have a portable Dewalt contractor table saw.
    It folds up when not in use.

    For rips, I have some EZSmart stuff that works fairly well for me.

    I'll confess.
    I haven't used my RAS once since I got it.

    But, I have the comfort of knowing that I have it if I need it.
    If space wasn't an issue, I wouldn't be having this discussion.

    Thinking of getting a CNC and it would fit nicely in the spot where the RAS sits

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Western Nebraska
    Posts
    3,722
    I like RASs to, I have a big old Dewalt that I keep around. The problem with it is that although it will do a lot of different things well, so will other more convenient tools. The one thing that no other saw will do as well though is crosscut with a dado head. I'm lucky to have pretty much any "normal" woodworking tool that I want at my disposal and a space big enough to use them in so I keep the RAS just for it's dado capacity. You can make nice dados on the slider but it's a pain to change the saw over to that mode. The cabinet saw relies on a crosscut sled, which has limitations on size and accuracy. You can cut dados by setting the depth stop and nibbling away with most SCMS, or a router, chisel, etc... However, the RAS is still king of crosscut dados.

    Question is, does that matter to you? I use them for cabinets a lot, but maybe you don't? If not, a SCMS and a table saw will do anything you likely need.

  6. #21
    Steve, I have a couple of cabinet projects for my own house I plan as soon as the weather cooperates (unheated shop)

    I recently did my first attempt at a rabbet on my table saw for some drawers and it didn't turn out well.

    Still getting my feet wet in trying to figure out what kinds of things I want to make besides things for the house.

    I have an unfinished rolling kitchen island, then want to add a bunch of pull out shelves for my existing cabinets and pantry.
    Then a sink base and cabinet to replace my almost 75 year old sink base.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Lancaster, Ohio
    Posts
    197
    spent last night at work ripping 5'x5' Baltic Birch on a Radial arm saw, 14 3/4" wide 4 rips per piece 27 sheets total last night, 22 more tonight and 30 more on order to get the same treatment. I work in a maintenance dept that is not set up for woodworking and normally doesn't do it. However this needs done and the radial arm saw is there and very capable of doing this. Then need to crosscut the ripped pieces to length and finally will assemble the book shelves.
    Now there is a fairly new DeWalt sliding miter saw on the bench that absolutely can not be of any help on this project. On other projects it is the best tool for the job, all depends on what we are working on at that time.
    Still have boilers to look after and other work orders to do so cannot devote all night to any one project.
    I have a 4'x4' tv/stereo stand made back in the 80's out of 3/4" plywood with locking miter corners including the back, this was made with a radial arm saw and a very cheap table saw. Has been moved many times and still all joints are tight.
    All tools have a job they are great at, some they are good at and some that they can't do. Up to you to decide what each tool will do for you.
    I do like tools, 1 SawStop ICS, 3 radial arm saws, 14" band saw, 2 panel saws, 2 Shopsmiths, basement and garage are getting tight

  8. #23
    I need a bigger shop

  9. #24
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Lancaster, Ohio
    Posts
    197
    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Foster View Post
    I need a bigger shop
    I had a lot bigger shop in a separate barn at my first house, room to build one at the second house and now at my third and last house only have part of the basement(but grabbing more as wife and grandkids allow) part of the garage also as wife insists on parking inside along with mower and yard stuff. Make the best of what you have, figure out how to fit tools on the same bench, how to have mobile stands, etc. Main thing is to have fun, relax and enjoy your hobby. When I was young and poor did a lot with cheap tools, just have to figure out how. Learned more then, now enjoy good tools and treasure great tools. Still learning how to build things and really need to learn how better to finish furniture even tho I don't like finishing.

  10. #25
    I have some things on rolling flip top stands, a flip down smaller work bench, my table and miter saws fold up.

    I don't expect to ever be good enough that my work will be commercially viable.

    But I do like to make things, especially, things for the house which is smaller like my shop.

  11. #26
    The RAS can rip (safely if you are careful and if you use the ripping pawl and blade guard nose properly) and can dado. It can miter. Jigs galore can be made to do other tasks without having to move it off 90 degrees. It is however not portable.

    It being up against the wall is a plus for me vs a big table saw in the middle of the shop requiring even more open space completely surrounding it 360 degrees for the workpiece.

    Why not keep the miter under your radial and pull it out when needed.

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Aurora, IL
    Posts
    41
    I have not seen it mentioned earlier, but if you go the SCMS route, they still take up a reasonable amount of real-estate.

    my SCMS station with dust collection hood thingy probably ends up taking 4'x4' of floor space and ends up having the edge of the fence around 18-24" from the wall. It is better than a RAS but not a terribly compact setup. I'll be looking at a glide saw when I decide to upgrade my Hazard Fraught 12" slider to buy back some space.

  13. #28
    I would say keep the RAS and trade the miter saw for a mini that can handle trim if needed

  14. #29
    Stephen, my miter saw is on a fold up stand.
    It's quite portable.

    I don't have dust collection except for a broom.


    Facing my RAS, I have, maybe 3' to the left and 4' to the right.
    Right now to rip sheet goods I go outside.

    I may need to re-think my layout to see if I can keep it.
    It would be cheaper to keep it rather than ditch both my miter saw and RAS and buy a sliding miter saw.

  15. #30
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Western Nebraska
    Posts
    3,722
    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Foster View Post
    Steve, I have a couple of cabinet projects for my own house I plan as soon as the weather cooperates (unheated shop)

    I recently did my first attempt at a rabbet on my table saw for some drawers and it didn't turn out well.

    Still getting my feet wet in trying to figure out what kinds of things I want to make besides things for the house.

    I have an unfinished rolling kitchen island, then want to add a bunch of pull out shelves for my existing cabinets and pantry.
    Then a sink base and cabinet to replace my almost 75 year old sink base.
    I should have noted that not all RAS have enough stroke to dado across a normal cabinet in one pass. It's not that hard to flip the stock and line up the dado from the other side if you need to make a pass from each side to get across a side panel. You'll find it handy I think.

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