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Sliding Compound Miter or Radial Arm Saw?

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  • Sliding Compound Miter or Radial Arm Saw?

    I would like to get some opinions on whether people prefer a sliding compound miter saw or a radial arm saw (assuming they can only have one)? I am thinking about one or the other for my next big purchase. I'm not really interested in doing compound miters at this time. I'm mainly interested in being able to easily cut acurate angles. I would prefer to be able to accomodate wide boards up to 10 to 12 inches. The saw would mainly be used for furniture projects.

    Any thoughts or comments?

  • #2

    I may end up being the lone wolf on this but I'll jump in and tell you how happy I am with my RAS. I also have a CMS (not a "sliding" one however which comes a littel closer to the functionality of the RAS) My CMS is certainly more portable and that is the reason I have it. The RAS has not had nearly the attention as the newer offerings in sliding CMS's. Since I do not have a sliding CMS I can not comment first hand but others seem to really like them. As far as the RAS, I have found it to be a much used tool in my shop. It has the reputaion of being a jack of all trades (or is that Jake?....sorry Jake.) but master of none. While I do not use my RAS for ripping, I have found that when adjusted properly, I am getting very accurate and repeatable cuts in cross cutting, miter cuts as well as compound miters. I have also had good results using the saw as a shaper. I like the visibility the orientation of the saw offers. I have two large work/support tables on both sides of my RAS to handle long stock and really love this setup. I certainly would not try to talk anyone out of a sliding CMS if that is what fills your needs. I just think the RAS has a lot to offer and has been somewhat overlooked lately in favor of some of the newer developments in woodworking tools. It certainly deserves a closer look. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    If I had to select just one I would consider a couple of things. 1) how important is portability? 2) how much cutting capacity do I need (stock width vs saws capacity). I have not seen any diy'er models of sliding CMS's which have the reach of a RAS but I would check this out. I am not up to speed on all the sliding CMS specs.

    Good luck,
    Wood Dog


    • #3

      I am like Wood Dog, I have a RAS and a miter saw. Unlike Dog though, I rarely if ever use the RAS for miter cuts (mainly because the miter saw has been able to handle the job so far) I use mine mainly for cross cuts. It is set up with large cabinets both side so I can fully support a 12' workpiece. The RAS excells at this and since it is always set up. One other thing that the RAS can do that a SCMS can NOT do is dado's. I really like to be able to see the cut as it is being made. I guess you can do everything that the RAS does with a SCMS and a table saw, but for me I really like having the RAS. If I had to equip my shop again, I would buy the RAS, and then an inexpesnive miter saw for portability, You can pick up a non compound miter saw for arounf $100.00.

      -Rob<br /> <a href=\"\" target=\"_blank\"></a> <br />Damn, I hit the wrong nail again. Ouch that hurts


      • #4
        Third vote for a RAS---yes, they do take a certain amount of care and alignment, but the versitility (vs. a SCMS) far outweighs the extra alignment effort.

        A RAS was my first saw---and while I was later glad to move on to a table saw, there are still features I miss. Also, frankly, SCMSs are just too darned expensive for their limited capibilities----they don't dado---they still have distance limits, smaller than a RAS.


        • #5
          Just getting started I do not have a RAS yet, however the previous posts were the reasons it is on my wishlist.

          My friend and I both have a little 10" sliding compound from ........(don't scream) Harbor Freight. We both LOVE it!

          If you need something for portability this should meet your needs and it is cheap enough to just get it along with the RAS and cover all your bases.

          Have Fun!
          Every project I start is a gamble.


          • #6
            If I had enough room in my shop, I'd be all over the RAS. It has much greater versatility than the sliding compound miter.

            If all you are looking for is accurate angles and are not handling long boards I would look at upgrading your miter guage for your table saw. I bought the Accumiter at the wood show when it came through town. I now cut all my miters on the table saw and use the 12" compound miter saw just for straight cuts on long boards.


            • #7
              I have a Rockwell Delta RAS, a table saw, and a CMS. I use all three a lot, but If I had to get rid of one, it would be the CMS. If I could keep only one, it would be, and one time was, the RAS. The combo is dynamite!



              • #8
                Thanks for all the input. I don't see much regarding RAS anymore, but judging from everyone's comments they seem to be pretty popular even with all the CMS offerings. Since cutting long boards is an issue and I'm not concerned about portability, the RAS sounds like a good choice. I'm tired of using my circular saw to get it small enough to manage on my table saw.



                • #9
                  I have a cabinet TS and a Rigid 12" CMS (it is great) and will be getting a RAS in the future for reasons others have stated here. In my research of RAS and SCMS one thing to note is the accuracy of the cut relative to the slide. SCMS are generally inaccurate (good enough for carpentry not always best for furniture maker)with the exception of the Hitachi. RAS also have the problem but have a means to adjust and overcome it.
                  If you need portability then go with a 12" CMS otherwise a RAS will provide the same capabilities and a lot more.
                  Heaven is in my Work Shop!