Miter Saw or Radial Arm Saw which one you prefer?

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Forum topic by handyman_pk posted 06-05-2008 09:25 PM 26582 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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46 posts in 5103 days

06-05-2008 09:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am establishing my home workshop space is limited. I can’t put every thing in it, but don’t wanna skip versatility of different tools. need guideline to finalize my tools list.

if you have to chose one tool Miter Saw or Radial Arm Saw which one you buy and worth spending?

-- when you lose, Don't lose lesson

33 replies so far

View fredf's profile


495 posts in 5168 days

#1 posted 06-05-2008 09:52 PM

A Miter saw is more accurate and more portable. if you get a compound slide, about the only thing that you can’t do on it is rip. and I don’t like ripping on a radial arm, tho I have done it in a pinch.

dados are easier on the radial arm or cuts to a given depth for notching, etc, getting a good depth stop set on miter is iffy at best.

-- Fred, Springfield, Ma

View Raymond's profile


683 posts in 5185 days

#2 posted 06-05-2008 10:25 PM

I’m on the other side of the fence here, I really like a radial arm saw, they can be very useful…In my opinion i’d go for the Radial Arm…Dados are a breeze.

-- Ray

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27248 posts in 5280 days

#3 posted 06-05-2008 10:32 PM


I have to go with Fred on the miter saw. I use mine almost as often as I do my table saw. With my slider I can crosscut 12” stock. The only advantage that the RAS has is in dadoing long pieces. But if I am going to cut a dado I would rather do it on my table saw, freehand with my router or router table as opposed to a RAS.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 5627 days

#4 posted 06-05-2008 10:59 PM

I have both. I use the RAS most. The miter saw stays in my storage building. No particular reason – just like the RAS better.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5555 days

#5 posted 06-05-2008 11:42 PM

It also depends on what type of work you are doing. If you do a bunch of general carpentry, I would think the miter saw is more portable. I have mine on a mobile cart and can easily take to where the work is at. My RAS is less mobile.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Loren's profile


11505 posts in 5106 days

#6 posted 06-06-2008 12:08 AM

If you get a RAS I would advise you to steer clear of
the Craftsman and other handyman saws… even those
made today.

The old Dewalts are known to hold their settings. The
old Delta’s do too.

A RAS will do a much wider range of work than a miter
saw. If you could have just one I would choose the
Radial saw for in-shop work.

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5555 days

#7 posted 06-06-2008 12:14 AM

Blake did a nice restoration of an old Dewalt. It came out great.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Greg3G's profile


815 posts in 5543 days

#8 posted 06-06-2008 12:44 AM

I have both right now. I find myself using my RAS for doing rough cuts on wide boards that my miter saw could never handle. I use my miter saw for fine work and choping smaller parts. I am considering getting a 12” sliding mitersaw and letting go of the RAS. You rarely find boards over 12” wide now so the 16” capasity of the RAS is sort of mute. I have even considered the Festool’s table and circular saw combo. That is an espensive route but it would provide for a wider capsity cross cut and a little more diversty.

-- Greg - Charles Town, WV

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 5226 days

#9 posted 06-06-2008 02:06 AM

miter saw. its more accurate and i hate the idea of pulling the saw towards you with an ROS.

View Don Niermann  's profile

Don Niermann

219 posts in 5430 days

#10 posted 06-06-2008 02:19 AM

I have had my craftsman RAS for thirty years and would not part with it for any miter saw, which I have in a corner.

-- WOOD/DON ( has the right to ones opinion but not the right to ones own facts...)

View bryano's profile


546 posts in 5391 days

#11 posted 06-06-2008 03:49 AM

I have two ras and one miter. I use both ras. One is set up for dados and the other is set up for moulding.
my saws are dewalts and there are a world of things they are capable of. My miter saw is set up and ready for use but i have only used it a couple of times in the past 3 years.

-- bryano

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 5181 days

#12 posted 06-06-2008 04:00 AM

I have a old Dewalt Power Shop 925 and wouldn’t give it up for 2 miter saws. I grew up using the RAS, and feel that I can do much more with the RAS. I think RAS are more accurate and precise than a mitersaw, but that’s just what I am accustomed to.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View jcees's profile


1079 posts in 5257 days

#13 posted 06-06-2008 04:15 AM

They’re different animals though they are both primarily crosscut saws. The compound miter can do all kinds of bevels and miters with inherently more accuracy. Not that RAS are inaccurate but rather that they’re more easily misaligned or knocked out of alignment. That said, you’ve got a great deal more crosscut capacity, the ability to rip [carefully and with proper hold-downs], the use of a dado head, a power take-off spindle for overarm routing, etc., etc. So the RAS is a more versatile platform BUT the compound miter saw is inherently more accurate.

Loren is right on about choosing either an old Dewalt or Delta. I’d choose the Delta with it’s turret design.

Another alternative you might want to consider is a “sliding” compound miter saw. They have the tighter tolerances of the chop saw with the added crosscut capacity of an RAS. Something to think about.


P.S. I’m on my third compound miter saw. This one is a P-C 12” that has the laser guides, Schweeeet!

-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View handyman_pk's profile


46 posts in 5103 days

#14 posted 06-06-2008 11:10 AM

guys thanks for guidance and shearing your thoughts,

jcees & Francisco Luna what i will be doing in future i don’t know, i made small clocks to big cupboards, Cabinets door, any thing which i like to customize or build. so i need versatile tool.

as Loren said he will go for RAS because its capable of doing lots of things. I am with u Loren. i see RAS in action and like this tool.

jcees alternative idea of “sliding” compound miter saw is great at the moment. may be its will be good choice for starting.

this post become survey kind of thing. some how equal votes for both tools, all who use the Miter saw is because of accuracy. its good no compromise on quality.

now i wanna ask another Question what kind of accuracy and tolerance RAS can perform?

-- when you lose, Don't lose lesson

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 5273 days

#15 posted 06-06-2008 03:19 PM

The accuracy of the RAS is all about the quality of the machine, how accurately you set it up (which is quite a chore) and how careful you are using it. I have an old 1970s Craftsman RAS and I use it quite a bit for cross cutting, especially long boards. I also use the motor takeoff for drum sanding. If you use it to lop off 2×4’s and get rough with it, it can get knocked out of alignment.

A RAS is a nice tool to have in the shop. The biggest difference between a RAS and a sliding compound miter saw is it’s ability to make cuts with the blade held above and parallel to the table. This is particularly useful for cross cutting dados. The biggest difference between a RAS and a table saw is that the tool moves over the work instead of moving the work over the tool. This makes it useful for cutting long stock.


-- Scott - Chico California

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