On Sun, 19 Mar 2006 07:18:00 -0500, "Joseph Handy"
These two saws have their specific strengths and weaknesses. A miter
saw (or chopsaw) is the preferred saw for crosscutting, and probably
more popular due to its portability, accuracy, and cost. A radial arm
saw can cut dados (miter saw can not), but can get out of adjustment
more easily than a miter saw. Some woodworkers claim you can rip on a
radial arm saw, but it is no substitute for a table saw. If I had to
pick between a compound miter and radial arm, I would not hesitate to
pick the miter saw over the radial arm saw.
More information needed. That question is a lot like, which is a better
mode of transportation, an automobile or minivan?
Given simple and different circumstances either one could be better than the
MS are quicker to adjust, and possibly more accurate.
RAS have greater capacity (in depth, if not height). It is easier to flip a
big panel over to finish a large cut on a RAS than on a MS. They are
wonderful for dados. They are typically available used at much lower prices
than MS. They "can" be used for ripping, though I wouldn't recommend it.
I just bought a RAS and got rid of my MS. Would have been nice to have
both, but I don't have the room. It really depend (doesn't everything?) on
what you want to use it for. If you will be cutting a lot of miters,
especially compound miters, buy a miter saw. If you will be doing mainly 90
degree cuts, some over 11", buy a RAS.
| >I was wondering which is the preferred saw for crosscuts the radial arm or
| >the the compound miter saw. What the advantages and disadvantages of each?
| MS are quicker to adjust, and possibly more accurate.
| RAS have greater capacity (in depth, if not height). It is easier to flip a
| big panel over to finish a large cut on a RAS than on a MS. They are
| wonderful for dados. They are typically available used at much lower prices
| than MS. They "can" be used for ripping, though I wouldn't recommend it.
| I just bought a RAS and got rid of my MS. Would have been nice to have
| both, but I don't have the room. It really depend (doesn't everything?) on
| what you want to use it for. If you will be cutting a lot of miters,
| especially compound miters, buy a miter saw. If you will be doing mainly 90
| degree cuts, some over 11", buy a RAS.
If you have long miters, (11") buy a Sliding Compound Miter Saw. I have one and it went a long way in replacing my RAS. That and a good table saw completely replace a RAS with functionality to spare.
Joseph, you specifically mention crosscutting and no other application.
For crosscutting only, you can't beat a CMS for accurarcy and
portability although you are limited in capacity. I have used both for
a number of years and as with any tool, both have their strengths and
weaknesses. But you only mention crosscutting so I won't address the
vesatility of a RAS. Without knowing what your application willl be,
my recommendation would be to buy a CMS with a 12 inch blade. This
will give you a lot of versatility for easily crosscutting and mitering
stock up to 12 inch width and including 4 X 4 stock. 10" miter saws
are super for smaller stocks but I can tell you from having previously
owned one that you'll be glad you spent the extra bucks to buy a 12"
model. Don't cut corners on price and do your homework - read the
available reviews. Consider that when using a CMS, you'll need
supports on both ends when crosscutting stock where you'll end up a 18"
or more of material (this is added cost). Premium 12" blades ain't
cheap! I wouldn't consider anything less than a very good carbide
tipped blade, depending on your application of course. While a laser
guide isn't an absolute necessity, manufacturers of the better quality
CMS saws are integrating them into their saws. If you can get one, I
would recommend it for ease of use an accuracy. Speaking of accuracy,
both my RAS and miter saw are dead on accurate. Not because they are
made that way, but because I keep them that way. I haven't found a
saw, including my stationary cabinet saw, that doesn't need a minor
tweak every now and then to ensure dead on accuracy - some require them
more frequently than others, even the premium saws. Some just less
than others. CMS or regular MS if moved around a lot, work site to
work site, garage to driveway, etc., will require regular checking and
likely some minor adjusting to ensure their accuracy. When making you
buying decision, keep ease of blade changing and ease of maintenance in
Radial 'ARM' saws should be outlawed. They are extremely dangerous.
Nothing like a whirling disc of metal, edge covered in hardened sharp
teeth, then mounting it on a motor then hanging that whole contraption
on some bearings and sliding it all over the place....yummmm... good
thinking! Oh, yes, almost forgot, move it TOWARDS yourself when
Wow! You must have had a real bad experience with a RAS Robatoy. I've
had mine for more than twenty years and have used it extensively for
cross-cutting, ripping and dadoing from 1 by stock to 4 X 4 stock and
sheet goods. I've never had an accident with this saw, not because I
was lucky, but because I know how to use it and because I strictly
adhere to and follow the correct procedures when using it. Safety
first!!! For example,why would you pull the saw into the stock toward
you rather than pushing it into the stock away from you which is the
preferred and safe method? I don't know of any power tool, electric or
pneumatic, that is inherently safe since they are all capable of
injuring, maiming or even killing a careless or unqualified user.
Uh, I don't know where you learned to use a RAS, but you always pull
the carriage through the stock (on crosscuts--rips, obviously, are
done with the carriage locked in position). It is potentially
extraordinarily dangerous to try and work with a RAS by pushing the
carriage through the work.
Now, if you're secretly Bruce Johnson in disguise, then you're
probably talking about a SCMS, with which many people do push the
carriage through the work. The HUGE difference between the two that
not only makes it possible, but even safe, with the SCMS is because
you can lift the blade to pull the carriage over the work before
pushing it down and back through the cut.
By the way, don't take my word for this--look at virtually any book or
instruction manual for a radial arm saw published in the last 50 years
to verify what I've said. Wally Kunkel's book is a good example. I can
scan and email the details from my users manual for my 1972 Sears RAS
if you'd like.
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