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Will I need both?

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  • Will I need both?

    Hi everyone

    I am new to woodworking and am in the process of purchasing equipment (lots of fun). I have been looking at radial arm saws and 12" sliding compound miter saws. If I buy the radial arm saw, would it just be redundant to also get the 12" slider?

  • #2
    I would say the radio arm saw is the best tool for the job.
    Andy B.


    • #3
      I think for someone just starting out in wood working You should purchase a Sliding compound miter saw. Why? Because they are easier to adjust for miter cuts & can be returned to the commonly used miter cuts easier then a Radial Arm Saw. I have a 12" Radial Arm Saw & a 12" Miter Saw Only because My Dad gave me his 12" Radial Arm Saw & I have used it for several years. But now that I have a 12" Compound Miter Saw I don't use the Radial Arm Saw as much because the Compound Miter Saw is easier to use. If I had never received the Radial Arm Saw I would have purchased a 12" Sliding Compound Miter Saw. Another thing is that the Sliding Compound Miter Saw is smaller & lighter than Radial Arm Saw so it will be easier to move around & will not take up as much floor space in your shop. Remember with a Radial Arm Saw you pull the saw through the material while using a Sliding Compound Miter Saw you pull it out & push the saw down & back through the material toward the fence. The reason I purchased a Compound Miter Saw instead of a Sliding Compound Miter Saw is because I do Have the Radial Arm Saw for wide cross cuts. The 12" Compound Miter Saw serves me just fine for most all Cross cutting that I do. If I need to cut wider material I'll use the Radial Arm Saw.
      Darn I\'ve stretched this board 3 times & it\'s still to short.


      • #4
        I agree with Bart. For standard cross cuts and miters, and compound miters, it's easier to do on a miter saw.

        But I will add that a RAS will also give you ripping capabilities. My Ridgid RAS came with a shaper head and 4 sets of blades, so you can actually do profiles. On the other side of the RAS motor is an auxilary shaft you can put a drill chuck on to drill holes in long stock. For instance bed posts for decrative turnings. I don't recommend it, but you can remove the guard and do spline or groove cuts too. It's also better with bench or cabinet space on both sides rather than using the Flip Top Stands.

        The new Ridgid 12" Sliding miter is $549.00.
        The Ridgid RAS is $597.00
        It all depends on your project intensions and methods of work. I use the RAS and the Ridgid 10" compound miter and haven't found a need for anything far. (But drools over the new MS1290!)

        And of coarse, the size of your shop, and thickness of your wallet. (Or in my case, thickness of the plastic)
        John E. Adams<br /><a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a>


        • #5
          If you decide on the Radial Arm Saw READ READ READ the instructions for each operation especially READ READ READ the instructions if you plan on using it to rip material because you can get hurt bad if you do it wrong.

          Some of the other operations that the RAS can do are interesting. I would recommend researching to find a good book on the RAS to supplement the owners manual.

          These saws are able to do a lot of different things with the right attachments. But to do it safely you had better know exactly what your are doing.

          But when you count the time to set it up many times you can either use a different electric tool or hand tools & do it quicker & sometimes safer. I'd opt for the other tools the allow you more latitude. Multi purpose tools like the RAS are great but can be somewhat limiting.

          Again Research & get a good book, I wish I could remember the authors name. He also had a good video. It was a young man that had his Dad's Craftsman RAS & he had all kinds of jigs & was a whiz with a RAS but even he has graduated on to other tools. The RAS I think was his first power tool.

          If I was to use my RAS all the time for cross cutting & mitering I would I would use triangular wedges set against the the fence to set the material at a constant angle rather then having to move the angle of the head. You can lay a triangular wedge against the fence knowing it is an exact angle make the cut & move on, no fussing around trying to set the saw up to make the cut & then fussing around to set it square to the table again.

          Or you can just get a Sliding Compound Miter Saw & other electric hand tools, & regular hand tools.

          There are as many options in tools as there are ways to make a project.

          You'll need to decide for your self what you want & how much time you want to spend trying to get a tool to do what you want it to do. Or if you want tools that do a limited amount of things but do them real well with easy set up.

          What is your frustration level?
          Darn I\'ve stretched this board 3 times & it\'s still to short.


          • #6
            I think it depends on what type projects you intend to do. My opinion, and I think this is the general consensus on this forum, is to start out with a table saw. I then added drill press, jointer, planer, router. There is no end to the accessories. Don't forget plenty of clamps

            Best regards,



            • #7
              Hello All,

              I have found the posts on the RAS vs SCMS very interesting. I have the makita LS1011 SCMS with Bies. tables and it is a very good tool. I thought RAS's were more trouble than there worth until I saw a contractor freind's new Original Radial Arm Saw (Dewalt reproduction) in action.

              Now this is the woodworker's cadillac of RAS's without a doubt. I think it works out to about US$ 3500 AND $5000 CDN. But what a machine. It has a 24" crosscut capacity with a 12" blade and has a 5/8" arbor the comparable General 14" has a 1" arbor so the original will take "off the shelf" blades.

              After trying it I want one, if you wood like to see the website I think it is

              I don't work for Original Saw I just like this tool and thought you guys might be interested.



              • #8
                I have to admit, with my compound mitre and a table saw, I can't see what more I could do with a radial saw. Then again, I've never used one. From the sounds of things the radial is a bit more difficult to setup and use. From the ones I've seen, they are a bit of a space hog aren't they?


                • #9
                  Comparing a typical radial arm, like a Ridgid, to a sliding compound miter saw, like a DeWalt (ain't seen the Ridgid yet), they are close to the same size. An RAS generally comes with a stand, but an SCMS needs one too. If you enjoy lifting heavy machines a lot more than I do I guess you could use a temporary space for an SCMS, that option is pretty much unavailable with an RAS. SCMS looks smaller because a lot of stuff "sticks out the back", where an RAS can push the column nearly against the wall.

                  A radial arm can do a lot of things an SCMS can't dream of. As one example that I've done, you can make coves with one by angling the head instead of the arm. All kinds of stuff like that can be done, but these techniques don't seem as popular as they used to be.

                  If all you're looking for is a really high end cutoff saw, I think you're better off with SCMS. They are simpler machines, that generally translates directly to less maintenance time.