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Forum topic by nightowlll posted 02-22-2012 09:20 PM 12219 views 0 times favorited 45 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View nightowlll's profile


12 posts in 2736 days

02-22-2012 09:20 PM

OK, I am not a professional carpenter but I have made some things for myself and my family over the last 20 years such as dog houses, entertainment centers, tables, etc.

However, about 7 years ago I sold a Delta Table saw I had bought for a couple of hundred dollars. It wasn’t a very expensive model and I wasn’t too happy with the wobbly stamped steel base it came with. Also, the rip capacity was only like 18inches I didn’t buy an extension or anything.

Now, I haven’t really done a project for a while but plan on doing some a lot more now that I have the time.

Money is still quite limited and I have seen some used table saws as well as used radial arm saws on Craigslist and other places. I have never used a radial arm saw before but they look like they can be much easier to use than a table saw. Can anyone tell me what they recommend if I only could afford to buy one? And why?

What is usually the maximum rip capacity for a radial saw?

I’m planning on working with a lot of 4’x8’ plywood, etc.

Also, my garage/my shop is kind of limited on space and I heard from someone that table saws need much more room than a radial saw.

Thanks for your help in advance!


45 replies so far

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3374 days

#1 posted 02-22-2012 09:23 PM

The 4×8 limits you to pretty much using a table saw. I think you will find the TS more versatile.Where I live(Tampa Fl) there are a number of RAS’s a week on CL. I thought about one ,once but most on LJ’s did not recommend it.

-- Life is good.

View dufus7441's profile


60 posts in 3323 days

#2 posted 02-22-2012 09:27 PM

I have both and favor the table saw over the radial arm saw. Mostly use the radial arm saw for cross cut, use the table saw for ripping, and joint work. Also use the table saw for mitre joints.

-- Paul

View canadianchips's profile


2627 posts in 3448 days

#3 posted 02-22-2012 09:39 PM

I worked with both. When I needed accuracy I always went to my table saw. I had a very good table built for my radial arm and for my table saw. I tried dado’s but was never happy with the results. It seemed I needed to constantly tune the arm for up and down as well as sideways accuracy. My radial arm was capable of RIPPINg a 4×8 sheet in half the long way.(Making 2 24” x 96” panels). When I needed to cut material for making rafters or wall studs – the Radial Arm saw was the one I used.
IF I had to choose ONE…. TABLE SAW hands down….(But that is Me, I live on my table saw)

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View a1Jim's profile


117689 posts in 4028 days

#4 posted 02-22-2012 09:40 PM

If it’s all about what one saw can do over the other then a table saw wins hands down. If it’s about being very limited on funds then a radial arm saw can be had for as low as $25 because folks are replacing them with sliding compound saws.
If you can handle around $500 you can get a fairly good used cabinet table saw or a new Ridgid table saw in that price range.

View waho6o9's profile


8709 posts in 3028 days

#5 posted 02-22-2012 09:45 PM

One might consider a track saw. I understand money is limited, but a track saw is way versatile, like Festool.

Nightowlll you might be content with a Bosch 4100 fold up table saw, and if I were you I would get a table saw, no doubt.

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 4204 days

#6 posted 02-22-2012 09:46 PM

Please consider going to a straight edge cutting system instead of using a table saw on 4X8 sheets. Table saws are not safe for this type of cut….....(although people keep doing it). There are quite a few cheap and accurate systems out there now for cutting sheets. A good straight edge, and the proper blade on a circular saw is much safer. I have a younger guy working for me now that always ripped sheets on the table saw, until he saw that I could make just as straight a cut as he could on the table saw…....and doing it much safer!

Here is the straight edge that I use.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3526 days

#7 posted 02-22-2012 09:55 PM

I used to own a RAS. I got rid of it. IMO, it offers very little additional capability over what you can do with a table saw and it was taking up too much space.

If I was choosing between a TS and a RAS, there is absolutely no question that I would choose a TS.

waho6o9’s comment about a track saw (a.k.a. plunge saw) is noteworthy. I have one of those also. It is particularly good for working with sheet material and it can perform some (but not all) of the functions of a table saw. When considering typical table saw functions, I consider the plunge saw to be very weak at: (1) working with small items, (2) blade tilts and (3) dado cuts.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 4204 days

#8 posted 02-22-2012 09:58 PM

TABLE SAW: If you are going to buy a smaller table saw, there are 2 really nice choices out there right now.

The Bosch 4100 series
The Ridgid 4510 series

I have owned the Ridgid for quite a while now and it gets beat up pretty bad on the job sites. It keeps on chugging no matter what my hooligans on the job site do to it. The Bosch is very nice as well but it costs quite a bit more. Bosch makes great tools period.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3422 days

#9 posted 02-22-2012 10:00 PM

I to do a lot of sheet cutting and the table saw is not my first choice.
Because I don’t want to dedicate the open space needed for sheet work on my TS, I usually break sheets down with my circular saw first. Then use the table saw for smaller pieces.
I have, up to now, done this in the garage floor, on top of a sheet of styrofoam, using a clamped straight edge to keep the cuts straight.
I am in the process of building me a sheet goods storage cart with a rack on the side which will work like a panel saw. This is a combination of several designs I have seen in magazines over the past few years. If it works as well as I hope it does I will post a project on here. I would like to have a real panel saw but they are way too expensive for my budget.

If a table saw has plenty of room and auxillary tables around it to support the sheets it will, of course cut big sheets, but I’d rather handle a 12 lb saw on a good guide than try to keep a 50lb sheet of plywood straight and tight against the fence.

A RAS can be used for ripping but it’s difficult at best and normally limited to about 24 to 30 inches width; depends on the arm.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 3136 days

#10 posted 02-22-2012 10:25 PM

RAS was my “primary” for years ($$$ issue)...very versatile but also somewhat dangerous unless kept properly tuned (the versatility increases the “tuning” points)...and then you have the issue of much of the blade on the RAS being visible. So anyway, TS is now primary with 12” miter saw for cross cuts (not a fan of the TS for cross-cutting without a sled.). RAS is in storage at a friend’s house but quite often I really wish it was here.

panels…I wish I had a vertical panel cutter but hard to justify. So I drag them to my table and knock them down with a circ saw (dimensions left proud), then finish cut on the table saw.

as long as we’re on panels, encountered one of my gripes last week…I always mark 4 spots and draw the line using all 4. now with a 4’ reach, a lot is “eyeball”. Take to the TS to finish…short on one end…turns out there was a staple on one edge that caught the tape measure. not bad enough to set the intended piece aside and clip a new one from the other end but the uncut piece is also goofed up. great…so make sure to check for those staples (for what I pay the local yard they should do that).

View Grandpa's profile


3263 posts in 3126 days

#11 posted 02-22-2012 10:32 PM

A radial arm saw that is tuned up will do as good a job as many table saws. The thing about this is we spend hours tuning our table saws and we usually throw the radial arm on a rough riding trailer and haul it to a job and then complain about how it is not accurate. A good radial arm that is tuned like we tune our table saws will do almost everything the table saw can do. Some things it will do better. I like the idea of cutting dadoes where I can see the cut being made. A radial arm saw will do this. It will rip a sheet of plywood in half. It will not make a 47 inch cut like some tables saws. If you want accuracy from a table saw you need to tune it then make sleds and jigs. We expect the radial arm saw to do this out of the box and complain because it won’t. A big sliding miter saw will do a lot of things but it won’t cut a dado….at least mine doesn’t. What can you buy cheapest. Usually a table saw because they are plentiful. People that have radial arm saws usually keep them because they like them. Radial arm saws in my part of the country retain their value better than table saws. My son bought a Sears Craftsman radial arm saw for $50 about a month ago. It was the cheapest he had seen for a circa 1978 model. When he went to pick it up the man said take this Circa 1955 Sears table saw too. I don’t want it. He ended up with both for $50. Usually they ask $250 for the radial arm saw here. He bought the saw because it was cheap. He didn’t need it. I have % table saws sitting in my shop right now Plus the one he just bought. They range from not so good to pretty good plus a ShopSmith. I cut everything on them. Sheets to small stock. You can do it if you build the jigs. If you want to rip on a radial arm saw you need to use caution. The head will turn both directions in many or most cases. Set up backwards it will pull the stock out of your hand if you are lucky and it will launch like a rocket. If you are not so lucky it will pull you into the saw. That and a bad arm is what makes the radial arm saw weak. I don’t personally own a radial arm saw. I do know people that have them and use then for everything they do. I know a man that built a grandfather clock on with his radial arm saw. top to bottom – start to stop It all comes down to preference.

View Paul Miller's profile

Paul Miller

33 posts in 3905 days

#12 posted 02-22-2012 10:42 PM

Ripping on a Radial Arm can be very dangerous; especially on short pieces. The blade is turning such that it tends to lift the material up off the table, where a Table Saw is pushing the material down on the table. I have both and only use the RAS for crosscutting long stock that would be clumsy on the Table Saw. If I had to choose between the two, it would be a Table Saw, and use a circular saw with a shop made squaring jig for crosscutting long boards. I usually break down sheet goods to rough dimension with a Circular Saw then true them up on the Table saw.


View drfixit's profile


318 posts in 3595 days

#13 posted 02-22-2012 10:46 PM

I have both, and the table saw is the work horse of my shop. The RAS gets used more as a bench than a saw.

-- I GIVE UP!!!! I've cut this @!&*!% board 3 times.... its still too short!

View ohtimberwolf's profile


934 posts in 2803 days

#14 posted 02-22-2012 11:13 PM

All I had for years to remodel with was a RAS. Craftsman 10 inch I bought in 1988 (with the accessories that I don’t think I have ever used). I still have it. I use my RAS very seldom now but as some have said if tuned up you can cut 4×8 sheets with a good table set up. I am fortunate as I have 8 feet on each end and I also can rip just a little off if I need to but short cuts such as 1 inch should be done with a guide and the circular saw unless you have help for that cut.

If I had to have just one of course it would be the table saw but it is really nice to have both and as stated above they can be bought very cheap. I receintly sold a nice Craftsman 12 inch with a stand and good blade for $125.00 Just MHO larry

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

View nightowlll's profile


12 posts in 2736 days

#15 posted 02-22-2012 11:59 PM

OMG!! You guys are the best!!! Thanks for all of the info. I guess it’s a hand down TABLE SAW is the WINNER!!

So, now, the question is, what is the best table saw for around $500 to $600 that I might be able to find out there or used. I saw a Makita on CL the other day a guy was selling with one of those fold down stands but it looks like he sold it. It was model 2704. Has anyone heard of this one?

Also, I would prefer to have one that is more stable as I don’t really work on a job site (other than my own garage) but storage is probably really easy with those fold down stands it’s just that I am worried about the stability of the saw with one of those stands and I have never used one like that…..

Anyone have any final recommendations on specific models that are KNOWN to be GREAT SAWS that I might be able to find used, etc. ?

Thanks again to everyone for your comments and advice…..It is MUCH APPRECIATED!!

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