Reply by Minorhero

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Posted on RAS, A necessary beast or outdated Dinosaur??

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373 posts in 2568 days

#1 posted 04-19-2011 04:44 AM

I have a Dewalt 7790 and I like it quite a bit. That being said, between a table saw and a sliding miter saw (if it is a good one and very accurate) can duplicate all of the cross-cutting operations a good RAS can do.

If your RAS is of good quality, is properly calibrated and has a good dead flat table then it is absolutely possible to use it for finish level cuts. Most people do not have dead flat tables however. Most folks have a table that is made from a single sheet of MDF or plywood (either of which sags with time and thus throws every cut out of square). If you do not have a good table then your RAS is can only be used for rough cuts and that decreases the usefulness of the tool. If your RAS does not have a solid cast iron arm but instead has a sheet metal arm bolted to a steel frame it will not give finish quality cuts either.

So while a sliding miter saw and a table saw can duplicate the capabilities of a RAS, the RAS will be easier to use for certain kinds of cuts. For isntance, it can be easier to setup repeatable cross cuts because the RAS has a bigger table surface to work with and the work piece stays put. This is where Dado’s really shine on a RAS.

There is however one function a RAS can do that neither a table saw or a miter saw can do without a jig, and that is make tenons. A RAS can easily be turned into a tenon making monster because the blade can be turned parallel to the table making it extremely easy to cut shoulders. A table saw requires a jig to accomplish the same task, and most such jigs have are limited as to the size of the piece you can make a tenon with, a RAS is limited only be the height of the blade above the table.

So that is basically it. If you want to make tenons, or make lots of repeatable cuts, a RAS is a good tool to have. If you do not need to make lots of repeatable cuts or need to make many tenons you probably do not need the RAS.

There is of course a third option. Keep the RAS and sell the sliding miter saw. You will probably get more for the slider then you would for the RAS depending on the condition.

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