Actually I covered the entire table with 1/4" so that didn't work for me,
but it is a good idea for the future. The saw I was using was a Sears 9" and
didn't seem to have all that much room behind the fence. That one was
relegated to the garage for misc cutoff work and the 10" that I inherited
migrated to the shop. The table on that one was trashed when I got it and I
built a new one from MDF and decided not to cover it, just replace it every
so often. Now with your comments, maybe that was a bad idea on my part, but
A radial arm saw can do anything a compound miter saw can do, a lot of what
a table saw can do, and has its own collection of tricks as well. Main
problem is that tuning it is a bit finicky and you have to keep an eye on
it to make sure it doesn't get misaligned.
Couple of "must have" books,"Fine Tuning Your Radial Arm Saw" by Jon
Eakes--out of print but you can order it in ebook form from
and "How to Master the Radial Saw" by the late Wallace Kunkel aka "Mr.
Sawdust" <http://www.mrsawdust.com/ .
If you have a radial arm saw in good tune you don't strictly speaking _need_
either a compound miter saw or a table saw--just about anything you might
want to do that a circular-blade saw can do you can probably figure out a
way to do with the radial arm saw--but after you've worked with it a while
and learned its strengths and its limitations you'll find that you probably
_want_ both--each does some things really well, other things only with much
effort, and for each type there are some things that it just plain can't
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
The RAS is your best option for the small shop, especially if you need
miters etc for moulding in the home.
Suggest reading "How To Master The Radial Saw" by Wally Kunkel
Also join us on the radial saw forum:
Radial Arm Saw Forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/woodbutcher/start
The RAS doesn't hold setup as well as a CMS, but it does many things very
well, as has been said. I would add that there is no equal for ripping long
boards, especially if you build a logn table. Mine is 8', but when I was
building my house I had a 16' table.
The RAS is not as righd as a TS, so you have to watch the angles, especially
the main arm angle, as you work.
Cutting very small pieces is dicey, since you must hold them near the blade.
Other than that, I think the RAS is safer than a TS, because you can put one
hand firmly on the table, even holding the fence sometimes. and the other on
the handle. With no hands moving, it's hard to get cut. Once in a while a
rip will kick back, but no worse than a TS. Besides, when ripping you can
stand to the front, out of the line of fire.
For big rips, I sometimes get a wife or kid to help guide the outfeed side.
Then when well along I go to the outfeed side and pull the rest of the cut.
Get a RAS book and see what you think. Sears used to put one out.
I have owned all three. My first table saw was a Craftsman RAS, about a
1965 model. Made lots of decent furniture with it. I did a LOT of rips
with it without problems. In fact, I didn't get a CS until the late 70s
and replaced it with a PM66 in the late 90s. I bought a CMS in the
early 90s (Craftsman) and ended up using it for carpenter type jobs
because I couldn't get it to maintain its setup if I moved it off 90d.
Sold it. Still have the RAS (mainly crosscuts, dados, cheek cuts, etc.)
and the PM (all else). Works for me. YMMV.
Something I neglected to mention--after you have it check out
<http://www.radialarmsawrecall.com/index2.htm and see if yours is one for
which an upgraded guard is available. If so, order it--it's free and
includes a new table.
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
I never move the arm on my radial arm saw, I use one or the other of
these jigs for miter cuts, this way I find it stays accurate:
I also have a miter saw that I bought to take to job sites, if suppose
if I didn't already have the radial arm saw I might have went for the
sliding model. I find it handy to have both sometimes, each set for
I have both a Radial Arm Saw (RAS) and a Compound Miter Saw (CMS). I
only use the RAS when I need to make a crosscut that is wider than the
capacity of the CMS, or sometimes to cut a dado across a long board.
The reason is that the RAS is inherently less accurate than the CMS
and is much more difficult and time consuming to set up for each cut.
My RAS stays locked on 90 degrees in each direction because it's such
a pain to set up. If I didn't already own the RAS, I would never buy
one INSTEAD of a CMS, even if I got a good deal on it.
"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom
that is in it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down
on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid
again---and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold
one anymore." - Mark Twain
I faced that same decision maybe 5 years ago. I needed only shop work, but
needed precision. They had (then) just come out with their current RAS model
at Sears, and it had better stability, precision and range than the Delta or
earlier Sears RAS's. I now also have a chop saw (for portability), but find
that most of my use is split about 70% TS and 28% RAS. I only use the chop saw
in the shop if the RAS is setup for something.
When set up properly, you can change the RAS between left/right-45 and center
nearly as fast as the chop saw. The RAS maintains somewhat better accuracy,
though you'd really have to compare against a sliding chop saw to be fair. I
only know of one slider that's as good, as that costs nearly what the RAS
While far more versatile, beware that the RAS does require more careful
initial alignment, and more knowledge and skill to use it well. Mine has seen
molding made, certain types of routing, and fly cutting surfaces.
If you enjoy learning how to use tools, have the time, and don't need the
portability, I'd recommend the RAS. Else, save up for a good sliding chop saw.
I hate my RAS. When it kicks, it kicks right at you.
Don't ever put an arm in front of that thing or it will cut it off.
Mine is a craftsman and doesn't stay very true. Great for quick crosscuts
that don't have to be too accurate.
My sliding miter is much straighter and cuts where you aim it.
I have a Jet contractor's saw. I have a Delta RAS. If put to the test,
I'd have to give up the RAS first, by a narrow margin. Why this
ridiculous contest? Each constributes a lot to the shop. I love my
RAS. It does a lot of things well. I could get along without it
before the table saw. Big Deal.
Greg Ostrom wrote:
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