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  1. #1
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    Oregon, USA.
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    Radial arm saw vs. Table saw

    Greetings all! My first post.

    I am new to wood working and have a question about saws. I have an old radial arm saw that I picked up for $75.00. Everything works, other than I think the motor could use an overhaul I think I made out quite well. I also have a nice new 12" craftsmen chopsaw. One that has all the angles.

    Here goes my question. I see lots of woodworking articles where people use table saws, yet I don't see any people using radial arm saws. Why is that? Are there limiations to using the radial arm saw that you don't have with the table saw? Well other than the obvious 18" reach of the radial arm. Is it safe to say or NOT safe to say that anything you can do with a table saw you can do with a radial arm saw? I am just trying to figure out if I should spend my bonus on a nice new table saw or should I spend it on other areas of my shop.

    Thanks for any replies.

  2. #2
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    Iowa CIty, Iowa, usa.
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    RE: Radial arm saw vs. Table saw

    What kind of stuff are you looking to build?
    If you are going to get into this hobby/sport/way of life/obsession, then at some point you will want/need a table saw. The radial arm is great and I wish I had one. It does a lot of the same stuff that the chop saw does. I would like to have an arm saw to cut dados across panels for shelf units.
    You will need to rip boards for your projects... that is cut them the long way to make them the width that you want. You can do it on a radial arm saw, but it is pretty scary to me and I would not wanna do it. Especially if you are just starting out.
    so.... I would really suggest that if you have the money and wanna do this thing, go out and get a good table saw. Then go to the library/book store and get some good books on how to use it safely. Perhaps not in that order :-)
    If you decide to get the table saw, search the threads for discussions of them and you find a ton of posts. Mostly on what brands are the best. We all have our preferences, but there are a few different classes of saws out there. It would be great to run out and but the best saw there is, but for most people that is not where we start. But I would buy the best that you can afford. Nobody ever says "this thing has too much power and it cuts too accurately.. I wish I had bought a cheap saw"
    If you don't mind telling us how much you wanna spend on this thing and what kind of stuff you are wanting to do, I am sure that the guys here will be more then happy to steer you toward a good saw.
    best of luck to you and welcome aboard.
    brent


  3. #3
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    Jan 2004
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    Oregon, USA.
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    RE: Radial arm saw vs. Table saw

    Hey thanks for the reply. Just kind of a FYI, I am not totally new to saws and wood. I used to frame houses in the summer months while in college. Got some good experiance, but as you know framing is not close to finish work or fine wood working. ;)


    I am looking to spend up to around $600.00 for a table saw. I have my eye on a craftsmen and then I seen a dewalt at Lowes yesterday. Had my 5 year old son with me so it was hard to spend a lot of time studying them.

    As far as the purpose of the saw(s)? Mostly hobby, but if I can get good enough to make nice things, I can see trying to sell some stuff. But i would say I will be happy to make things for our house and Christmas gifts. As far as what I want to make? Oh man... the better I get, the skys the limit.

    Oh and yes, I do have a router. Got a Skil 1820 for Christmas with a small little router table also. Thanks Dad! =)

  4. #4
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    Xenia, OH, USA.
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    RE: Radial arm saw vs. Table saw

    the radial arm is a great tool that you don't see as often these days partly because of the popularity of compound miter saws and table saws as well routers. 40 years ago when compound miter saws and routers were not very popular a radial arm saw was the saw of choice. Dados compound miters and panel ripping was all doable with a radial arm but now smaller tools smaller shop space and fewer woodwrokers makes it a less popular tool. I still use it for cutting dados and sizing 2 by lumber there is nothing better for quickly cutting half a dozen studs at the same time as a radial arm. And frankly I really prefer the raisal arm over my sliding miter for cutting molding and 2x10 and bigger.

  5. #5

    RE: Radial arm saw vs. Table saw

    Hi,

    I bought a Radial Arm Saw 18 years ago at Sears Surplus. It was new and cheaper than at the regular store. I didn't know a lot about woodworking back then - and I still don't, but I am learning all the time.

    I did everything on that saw because I couldn't afford to get anything else until the last 2 years or so.

    I have mitered, done cross cuts, ripped full sheets of plywood, ripped 12 foot long boards, did big stuff and did small stuff, dados grooves and averything else. It can rip cut a 1/4 wide cut. Set-up is critical. Safety MUST be your first consideration.

    I have just recently bought a JET contractors saw. It does a much better rip cut and is by far easier at cutting panels, but my RAS is still very much and will continue to be part of my shop. I don't need a compound saw.

    PLEASE -- With ANY power tool, SAFETY FIRST. Don't work when you are tired. BE Careful, any remember SAFETY FIRST.

    Oh, by the way, -- did I mention that SAFETY must be FIRST.



  6. #6
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    Iowa CIty, Iowa, usa.
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    RE: Radial arm saw vs. Table saw

    I think I have seen people put cutter heads on them and do raised panels too. I have a spot saved for one beside my miter saw if I ever come across one with the right price on it.
    Which DeWalt saw was it? If it is the one I am thinking of, I like the rack and pinion fence, but it migh be kind of light for later on. Then again it would spank the one I have :-)



  7. #7
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    Huntington Beach, California, USA.
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    RE: Radial arm saw vs. Table saw

    Rick,
    I had a RAS for almost 30 years and inspite of the RAS I still have all ten. Got rid of the RAS for a table saw and haven't looked back.

    The RAS does one thing very well, square cross cuts. You can do a lot of other things with a RAS but not so well and a lot more dangerously. The device is just inherently dangerous when other operations are performed. The RAS is a right handed device that needs to be operated left handed for accuracy but can't be, due to its design. It is just an evil machine.

    All is not lost or wasted... If your RAS is a Craftsman, check out this link. On some models, if you send in the motor from the saw, Emerson will send you a check for $100. That's what I did with mine. Basically, Emerson is buying the liability from you rather than fight a future law suit. Dig out your model number (It is the thing that starts with 113.mumble) and check out the site.

    http://www.radialarmsawrecall.com/

  8. #8
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    Jan 2004
    Location
    Oregon, USA.
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    74

    RE: Radial arm saw vs. Table saw

    I did a search on Table Saw in the "Before I buy" section. I don't see much mention on Dewalt. Why is that? Are they not that good, are they too pricy for what you get? Are are they mostly just out of the price range of most? I read this article

    http://benchmark.20m.com/articles/Se..._tablesaw.html


    I can't stop eyeballing the dewalt dw746x (http://www.dewalt.com/us/products/to...?productID=253) Another thing I like about the dewalt are the accessories. I have read over and over... Get the best you can afford. I realize it's going to cost a bit more than what my original budget was, but... Well... I feel a Tim Taylor moment coming on.

  9. #9
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    Oregon, USA.
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    RE: Radial arm saw vs. Table saw

    rrich

    It's actually an old Wards Powr-Kraft Model TPC-2610B. Even though it's dangerous as you have mentioned, I can't tear myself away from it. I only paid $75.00 for it and it works great. Has 2 auxilary spindles, one 20,000 RPM and one 3,450 RPM. I can hook grinding wheels, sanding wheels up to it and what not.

    I have ripped with it. It ripped ok but I would think a table saw would work much better.

  10. #10
    Member
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    Mar 2002
    Location
    Somerset, TX, USA.
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    193

    RE: Radial arm saw vs. Table saw

    I used a RAS exclusively for 12 years before I was stationed (I'm in the Army) at a Fort with a woodshop. I've built everything from dinning tables to small boxes on a Craftsman 10" RAS. I always suspected and later confirmed that a table saw would be much more accurate and easier to use. However, if you take the time to do an accurate setup of your RAS you can do some nice work on it. Checking the setup takes time though, almost 2 hours to really do it correctly. Even with that, a table saw is still more accurate.



    http://www.jdgreene7.com/woodworking.html for woodworking page.
    http://www.jdgreene7.com/ to check out my other hobby's web site.


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