There are as many opinions as there are woodworkers. There is no right or
wrong answer to your question for so many reason such as your intended use,
space available, funds available etc ad inifinitum. So... Here is my
It is generally accepted that a radial arm saw unless it is a very expensive
precision machine can be troublesome. With a stop pin at the back post to
set the saw at 90 degrees, 45 degrees and others there must be some amount
of clearance to allow the locking pin to be inserted and removed from the
locking position. One thousands of clearance CAN equal 1/4 inch or more off
of the 90 degree setting and you must then use a square to reset the saw
each time you change it. Many people have concluded that these saws are
good for rough in use but not generally real accurate work where angle
changes will be made frequently. Plus the length of the arm limits the
width of a board that can be cut.. There are a lot of opinions on the topic
but I'd summarize it by suggesting that you not consider one.
A table saw in my opinion is a "must have item". It is more flexible in
A miter saw is a valuable tool. I have 2 Dewalt's though they are not
Naturally the whole and real question is over the long term, what will you
be cutting? If mostly 4X8 sheets of plywood this can be cumbersome on a
table saw and even dangerous. So a vertical panel saw is the solution.
To summarize the whole thing IN MY OPINION...
I'd start with a table saw and a miter saw. These will do a lot of work for
The next question is how much should you spend and that is a double edged
sword. One thought is buy now what you can afford and get started on the
hobby, upgrade later if the hobby really catches on for you. Yet the other
side of sword says buy the very best you can even extending yourself some
and you will have good tools that can do much better work for you and
strengthen your interest in the hobby. But it does not sound like you're
inclined to spend $3000 on a Powermatic saw at this time. But if you did,
your results would be much better than a $100 saw and yield more rewarding
Bottom line, like all the rest of us, you have to do some serious soul
searching, financial planning, and consideration of just how far you expect
to take the hobby and proceed as best you can.
Now there you go, a lecture instead of a simple "buy one of these and one of