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  • Table Vs. Radial

    I am an intermediate level woodworker with a few tools like a compound miter saw and a router table. I am currently making small projects and finding that, although I have what I need to complete the job, it would be much easier if I had a saw for making long straight cuts. I would also like to move up to larger projects like tables but with out that ability I don't think it wise to waste the wood. The question is, table saw or radial arm saw. I have watched both in use and even had a turn on a few but I don't know which to buy. I have limited shop space and like the multiple uses of the RAS but I don't want to get stuck with a tool that won't rip a straight edge.

  • #2
    Txrex, You have just entered the realm of personal opinion. I am not an expert on the matter but what I can tell you is that I have both. I've had my table saw for several years but my RAS - only a few months.

    TS- Totally depends on which one you own or intend to get. I have a BT3000 Ryobi (Sorry Jake)which I got from home depot for about $250 many years ago and it does a fair job. Major draw back to my saw is it's very difficult to cut sheet goods due to it's small size and lack of power. It's easy to move about the shop.

    RAS-Easier to cut wider rips (limited on BT). I still have to have external supports to cut full sheets of plywood but it works a lot better than my TS. I love the extra cross cut capability over my CMS too.
    down side is it's kinda big for a small shop but to me it was worth it.

    One option to this is to have Lowes or who ever you buy your ply from to rip it for you to a more managable size and then clean it up once you get home this service is normally free.

    So which one to get, well I love both of my saws and don't regret getting either of them. At this point I like the RAS better but If I had a better TS I might think differently.
    What you plan to do with the saw besides rip ply also makes a difference.

    JMO but I hope it helps.

    Scott
    NO NO NO- I engineered it to look like that!! Crooked-HA!

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    • #3
      Txrex---if you're specifically interested in making rip cuts, get a full-sized contractors' saw, like the 3612. A RAS does a number of things well, but rip cuts aren't one of them. In fact, for narrow stock, the RAS can be darned dangerous, since you can't pass your hand under the motor housing----you're sometimes very close to the spinning blade----I never liked doing rips on my RAS.

      Also, while the RAS does many other cuts very well, and IMO, it's easier to cut dados, than on a table saw, the trade-off is you have to be very patient and careful on your alignment---I mean checking alignment every time you take it to an angled cut and back to 90 degrees. They go out of alignment much easier than a table saw.
      Dave

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      • #4
        I have a 13 or 14 year old Delta RAS. Never was able to get to rip properly. All I can tell you is that I have a 10' x 18' space to call a shop and no money to spare. I still went out and bought a TS3612.

        If your stated purpose is long rips (or panel cuts), IMHO you must have a TS. I spent a lot of time researching fences (for saws in my price range.) The 3612 beat them all. Again IMHO, the fence is the whole point of a TS

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        • #5
          Dave,

          At what point(s) do you leave the RAS and go to the TS or router for dado cuts? Just tried a router for dados for the 1st time (20" wide panels). Not the router's fault but the cuts were lousy. I should've stayed with the RAS and flopped pieces. OTOH, gotta learn to use a router someday.

          Later, Curt

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          • #6
            Curt---I'm not the one to ask about routing dados, because I don't do the best work either. I've heard others talking about making a series of narrow passes, which tells me they've had the same problem---of the bit catching/climb cutting when trapped in the grove. While I always use the router for blind/stopped dados, I use the TS for most everything else.

            RAS up to it's board width limitations, is easier since you can line up the blade directly with your layout lines.

            Believe me, if I had the room for both ts and ras, I'd have both---with only room for one, I have the TS----
            Dave

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            • #7
              I'll second Dave's comments.
              I've never cut straighter or nicer dados than on the RAS. It never fails when you take your time with the router because you really need to do a nice job BAM the stupid router moves off the guide and you start over or better yet you don't happen to notice the fact the after measuring 5 times that it's crooked. Hince my signature I spent a week building a book case one time and when I had it glued up I stood it up and my wife came out to the garage and said-"It's crooked! What I would have done for a RAS then.

              Peace Scott
              NO NO NO- I engineered it to look like that!! Crooked-HA!

              Comment


              • #8
                Texrx,

                Get the TS. I have a RAS and a TS and like both of them, but for ripping the TS is the best and safest tool. The RAS is great for crosscuts, dado's, miters, bevels and lap joints but I never use it for ripping.

                For most of the cuts that are performed on a RAS, you can make jigs for the TS. Because of the crosscut limitations, I also have a crosscut sled for the TS to handle boards that are too wide for the RAS. You can also build a sliding miter sled for the TS.

                For dado's on boards that are too wide for the RAS, I prefer using a router. I really haven't had any problem keeping them straight. I use a good straight-edge clamp and just keep the router tight to it.

                Bob R

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                • #9
                  Scott---don't you just love it when SWMBO immediately notices those "little" errors! I must have installed 300 feet of baseboard and the first thing out of the wife's mouth was about one spot with a gap between the wall and the wood.

                  Bob---if you have any tips--love to hear them. Don't know whether it's dust/chip build up or what, but unless I make two passes to get my dado width, the darned router waunders off before finishing the end of the cut. Which is why the only time I use the router is on a router table or when I absolutely must do a stopped dado, which IMO is too dangerous on the table saw.
                  Dave

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                  • #10
                    Ok dave I have to ask, I've seen a lot of abreviations for a lot of things but SWMBO is one of the one I can't figure out! Hows About a little help!

                    Scott

                    In advance I'm going to just go ahead and feel stupid now.
                    NO NO NO- I engineered it to look like that!! Crooked-HA!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Txrex:

                      I have a RAS, TS2424, MS1060, 2 router tables and 2 freehand routers.

                      Alot of talking about dado's here, and there is a specific use for each one for dado's, and a specific way of using each tool for the dado's.

                      Personally, with the tools you mentioned, you would be better off investing in the TS3612 than a RAS.

                      You can make a cross cut sled, outfeed or outfeed multi table, snag a couple Flip Top stands, and with your imagination and help from us on these forums you can produce just about anything you want to.

                      With the limited shop space you have available, the TS3612 is mobile with the included Hurc-U-Lift system. The RAS is not, and is better accomodated by cabinets or bench space on both sides to support the longer stock you mentioned on wanting to cut.

                      Although I have had great success in using my RAS for many operations, I must insist that a table saw be your first purchase of a major saw. The RAS is a very sensitive piece of machinery and with a great deal of adjustments to keep it fine tuned for highly accurate cuts. Where the table saw has less adjustments and is easier to keep fine tuned, and it stays in tune longer. Also, a wider veriety of blades available for the TS as the RAS uses zero or negitive rack tooth pitch, or at least should for safety reasons. And as mentioned, The Ridgid fence is as good as it gets on a Table Saw.

                      Feel free to browse my site, and others listed on this forum for photo's of shop set ups and uses of the machinery. Perhaps this will better help you make your decission.

                      In any decission you make, I wish you the best. And we are all here to support you in your efforts to improve your skills and ability with what you have in tools and machinery, as well as the space you can dedicate to your shop.

                      [ 02-14-2003, 08:18 PM: Message edited by: UO_Woody ]
                      John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"http://www.woodys-workshop.com\" target=\"_blank\">www.woodys-workshop.com</a>

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Dave,

                        I really don't have a secret. I have 2 tru grip clamps I use for the straight edge - 1 a regular clamp and the other one a 'back to back' clamp. The 'back to back' is thicker and longer than the regular tru grip and I use it on wider pieces.

                        When I cut the dado's I apply the clamp and move the router from left to right and this actually pulls the router into the fence. I don't know how your router can wander off line, since the rotation of the bit actually helps keep the router tight to the fence.

                        Bob R

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                        • #13
                          Three replies in one:

                          SWMBO She Who Must Be Obeyed, closely related to LOML - Love Of My Life

                          Router dados. For years I have used a dado blade. Recently I built a jig that guides both sides of the router (so I can cut a 3/4 inch stopped dado with a 1/2 inch bit). This has given me my best results and alignment.

                          Table Saw vs. Radial Arm Saw: I have both. If I were limited to one, I would keep my Ridgid TS3612 table saw. But the factors to consider are so numerous that I put my two cents worth in a page on my web site - www.plesums.com/wood/saws.html

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            That's an [img]smile.gif[/img] excellent [img]smile.gif[/img] pro/con saw dissertation posted on your website, Charlie! You're a gifted tech author.

                            Keep on keeping on!

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