I have just bought my first house and am wanting to start acquiring tools for my workshop. I have done countless projects with my dad in his fairly well equipped shop having most any woodworking tool the advanced hobbiest needs. I am ready to start purchasing my own tools, and need to make a decision. Sure I would like to have both, but at the current time, my pocket book can't afford both. My question is would I be better off buying a table saw and a good compound miter box, or a radial arm saw. My dad got along for many years with the table saw / miter box combo, but a radial arm saw is really great. The projects my wife has lined up for me is end tables to matck the coffee table I made last year, a foyer table, and some assorted wine/glass racks and shelves. Any thoughts on this subject, or any other suggestions about shop setup, I would appreciate it.
I started with a radial saw, and I still have it. It took me years to buy my first table saw.
There's almost nothing you can do with a radial saw that you can't do with a table saw and miter saw combo. True, it's tough to do any horizontal boring with either, but there's just almost no other reason to choose a radial over a table saw & miter paired together. No matter what anybody says, you CANNOT get any radial to rip as well as a decent table saw can. They're harder to keep accurately aligned than miter saws, to the miter saw is likely to do better crosscutting in most stock.
My advice: Go with the table saw and a good miter saw. Later, if there's some compelling reason to pick up a radial, get that too. My guess is that you won't ever need to get a radial.
There are two primary kinds of cut, rip and crosscut.
While you can rip on a RAS, it is a more dangerour/higher skill operation than on a TS.
A TS will also crosscut well.
Thus a TS can easily do both ripping and crosscutting while a RAS only excels at crosscutting.
I've used both extensively and right now I have a good TS and no RAS and don't notice the lack.
My CMS is out on loan and I haven't missed it. This would be different if I were cutting a lot of moldings, I'm not, so the tool doesn't get much use.
Framemaking is a specialty and your average CMS isn't accurate enough for the task. This is not their fault, they simply aren't designed for this. Occassionally someone will luck out and get one that it sufficiently accurate, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
My experience is that RAS are good for rough carpentry like framing and the TS is better for everything else. My husband and I built 4 houses with a Sears RAS but I never tried woodworking because I could never get accurate cuts with it. Then I got a TS (recon. Delta Unisaw) and have been in 7th heaven ever since. Aworld of difference!!