Table or Radial Arm Saw?

I have a really crappy table saw. It takes 5 minutes to adjust the fence and then it is adequate for ripping; but it is completely worthless for crosscutting. I need something better than I have, and am willing to invest $500. (yes, I can hear you all laughing about buying something good for $500, but that's my budget)
If I didn't have any table saw, it would be an easy choice, but since I do... What do you recommend, and why?
I just finished a bookcase to hold an antique clock in our entryway. My next projects are a towel cabinet and an over the toilet cabinet for the bathroom. Thanks.
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$500 bucks will buy you a great "used" DeWalt RAS that will perform all of your home building needs.
--
Rumpty

Radial Arm Saw Forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/woodbutcher/start
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I would definately get a tablesaw. I bought the Rigid TS2424 at home depot (about that price range) and have been happy with it, as have many others. I think that the TS2424 has been replaced by the TS3612 or something like that but it is the same saw.
Frank
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$500 is a not un-reasonable budget. That's the ball-park for a good used contractor table saw. $550-600, will definitely cover a good quality used saw, with a good fence and blade. You could _probably_ sell your current saw for at least the 'over budget' amount.
I'd also look at a Ryobi BT3100, and a good blade -- that'd be in the $400, maybe $450, range.
Another possibility is 'upgrading' your existing saw. depending on -what- it is, and how (and in what ways) it's crappy. If the basic mechanism (the blade support and table) is sound -- a good fence, and a good blade, can make an *incredible* difference. WAGuesstimate, this'd be in the $300-400 range.

A 'bad' table-saw is, in many ways, worse than _no_ table saw.
I'd recommend a reasonable quality table-saw.
There _are_ a few things you can do "quicker, easier, simpler" with a RAS, with equivalent precision to a table saw -- but not a lot.
A Table-saw is generally more advantageous for the typical "cabinet-maker" activities.
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The RAS will do everything the average woodworker needs a TS or RAS to do, the TS will do everything the average woodworker needs a RAS or TS to do. They are different but each will do 95% of what the other one will do. What you have to decide is what disadvantages and advantages they have that are important to you. The RAS has a smaller footprint in the shop, for 8' lumber you need a space 16' x 8' for the RAS as opposed to 16' x16' for the TS. Few of us have the space needed for either one and must overlap space. The RAS is much easier to use for cross cuts and miter cuts while the TS is by far the best for ripcuts, and sheet goods. The TS is easier to adjust (even with a loggy fence) then the RAS and the TS tends to stay in adjustment better then the RAS. The RAS has more of a tendency to climb the blade over the stock being cut and come after the cutter then the TS does, this is scary to most people, but with proper handling can be avoided. Most RAS units are underpowered and will jam and lock if not used properly, this is also scary to most wood workers, but can be avoided if the saw is use properly. The RAS has more of a tendency to Kickback when ripping then the TS, this can be avoided by proper adjustment of the sawhead, (I have used this tendency to clear the table when making large numbers of narrow rips, scares the bejabbers out of passersby). The RAS is a little harder to use for the average weekend woodworker, because it takes more skill to learn to use and keep in good adjustment then the TS. Both are good tools and can slice wood up real well. What are you doing and which will do you the better job is the question. I like the RAS better then the TS but find the TS to be used far more then the RAS in my shop. Just my opinion.

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Thanks all for your thoughtful opinions. Looks like a new tablesaw.
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this tendency to clear the table when making large numbers of narrow rips, scares the bejabbers out of passersby).
Use of a push board eliminates any sort of kick back when ripping narrow pieces. It's easy to make, safe to use and does the job.

Use of a proper blade in diameter and profile virtually eliminates any sort of climb, i.e. the Forrest WW1 blade with triple chip profile with diameter matched to the amp rating of the saw.
A quality RAS (DeWalt) is pleasure to use.
--
Rumpty

Radial Arm Saw Forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/woodbutcher/start
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I pray you never get hurt ripping on the RAS. A board with some wild grain and internal stresses can cause some big problems.
I teach my students to pick up a skill saw and rip something before they rip with a RAS, and I tell them why.
Flame away if you wish, but IMHO, ripping with a RAS should be avoided, and then avoided some more. -- Jim in NC
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Ripping with a RAS can be as safe as with a TS and safer then with a skill saw (those things scare me). Maybe with kids in a classroom setting I would avoid it too, but 30 years ago I taught the technique to HS kids, and then let them use the TS to rip with.

with a RAS if you want to hear a wild tale. It can be "fun" sometime.

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Jim,
Thanks for your comments and thoughts about ripping. I'm one of those 40 veterans using the RAS professionally. We rip on it all the time. I might suggest for those not familiar with the RAS and wish to learn how to safely use it and enjoy it's benefits, read the following book:
"How To Master The Radial Saw" By Wally Kunkel
http://mrsawdust.com /
--
Rumpty

Radial Arm Saw Forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/woodbutcher/start
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Get the RAS. I have a table saw and it's a pain cutting straight even with guides and stuff. I mean with a RAS you plop the wood down and ZIP and you're done - perfect cut every time. If you are gonna cut long miters you'll need a table saw. For instance I had to rip a 72" miter cut which a RAS wouldnt do.

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