Reply by Loren

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Posted on Radial arm verses Sliding miter.

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10477 posts in 4211 days

#1 posted 12-18-2010 07:12 PM

An advantage of radial arm saws is they can do a nice job with
dados. Only very large saws have enough capacity to do a
finish crosscut on a 24” deep cabinet side. No SCMS can make
that cut, but it’s a cut you’ll have to do a lot if you make
kitchen boxes.

A big radial arm saw is mostly a tool for breaking up solid wood
lumber to usable length. That is, arguably, what the saw was
designed for and it’s certainly the way they are used in factories
and lumber yards.

Radial arm saws can be tuned for doing some precise joinery work.
I would stay clear of the Sears ones and look for an older Delta
or Dewalt – these saws take and hold settings much better.

SCM saws are fun to use. No doubt about it. I don’t think you’ll
get cabinet-making accuracy from a 12” model, but such a saw
is great for building decks and things like that.

I have a 8 1/2” Dewalt SCMS and it’s a pretty accurate tool due to
the smaller blade and reasonably tight build-quality. Blade flutter and
play in the head isn’t a big problem with the smaller blade. It is
accurate enough for crosscutting and furniture-grade butt joinery
in wood that isn’t too thick or tough. The Hitachis are said to be
good too, but all these saws are really portable tools for doing trim –
they are a far cry from the heavy cross-cutting miter saws used in
industrial settings like picture frame shops.

I own Festool stuff and the Dewalt SCMS and the only machine I trust
to cut accurate tenon shoulders is a table saw or a tight radial arm
saw. Even the Festool work table setup has too much play to be reliable
for this application.

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