Radial Arm vs 12 in miter?

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Forum topic by Abn101mp posted 10-18-2016 08:39 PM 1008 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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51 posts in 770 days

10-18-2016 08:39 PM

My miter saw bit the dust today, so I’m immediately in the market for something. Just need some help and advice. I am a wood worker/custom sign maker. Si mobility isn’t a big issue.
Thanks for any help…

-- Dan,Mid-Maine

14 replies so far

View DirtyMike's profile


637 posts in 1080 days

#1 posted 10-18-2016 08:47 PM

I have both and have mine setup on the same crosscutting station. For quick 45 and 90 cuts the miter saw gets used. for larger stock or crosscut dados, or half laps the ras is king. If i were in your position i would buy a miter saw first.

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51 posts in 770 days

#2 posted 10-18-2016 08:48 PM

Ok thank you.

-- Dan,Mid-Maine

View LoyalAppleGeek's profile


160 posts in 1073 days

#3 posted 10-18-2016 08:55 PM

I also have both, and can say the deciding factor in my case if I were in your situation would be price. It’s relatively easy to find an RAS for around $100 if one is available locally, whereas a sliding compound miter saw, especially a 12 inch, starts at a significantly higher price. The RAS is, especially when paired with an accessory drill chuck, is very versatile, but a miter saw is faster to set up for the more common cutting tasks. I can recommend the Kobalt 10-inch Sliding Compound Miter Saw, it holds adjustments well, returns to settings accurately, and will set you back $200.

View Abn101mp's profile


51 posts in 770 days

#4 posted 10-18-2016 08:59 PM

I can get an arm saw for around $100.00 nearby. There are several for sale. With the arm saw, would it really be necessary to have a 12 in miter slider? Or just a 10 in? Also the radial is much more precise correct?

-- Dan,Mid-Maine

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3826 days

#5 posted 10-18-2016 09:28 PM

Only some Radial arm saws will reliably hold settings.

The Delta turret saws and vintage DeWalt saws are
the good ones. The Craftsman saws aren’t
particularly well-built in comparison.

View AHuxley's profile


822 posts in 3500 days

#6 posted 10-18-2016 09:34 PM

Also the radial is much more precise correct?

- Abn101mp

Depends on the particular RAS and CSMS in question.

For years I used my RAS for 90 crosscuts and dados but sold it after I got a Festool MFT3 which I find easier to do large accurate crosscuts and dados using the router. RAS are great if you get a good one with no slop in the carriage, however most of the cheap ones I see are Craftsmen models, I have never seen one as repeatably accurate as a good SCMS but they can be OK if just locked in at 90 and left there as long as you get one with little to no slop.

View DirtyMike's profile


637 posts in 1080 days

#7 posted 10-18-2016 09:44 PM

Speaking of the kobalt, I was looking at the new sliding miters the other day and it had the least amount of deflection, but the sliding action was atrocious. I have last years 12 hitachi sliding miter and it has exceptional precision for a slider, the newer model is a joke. OP if you can by with a 12 inch non slider that would a good option, be aware of the craftsman radio alarm saws. And almost old dewalt is going to need some parts or rewiring and hopefully not bearings.

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Craftsman on the lake

2823 posts in 3616 days

#8 posted 10-18-2016 10:03 PM

I’ve got a 12” compound sliding Bosch miter saw and love it. I tune it up once and awhile and it’s a pleasure to use.

I’ve also had a 10” Dewalt chop saw (non sliding) that I’ve had for about 5 years that is accurate and extremely durable. I carry it around to jobs and it’s always right on. Takes a beating.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View LoyalAppleGeek's profile


160 posts in 1073 days

#9 posted 10-18-2016 10:04 PM

Unless you are cross cutting thick stock over 4 1/2” thick, a 10 inch Sliding Compound miter saw is perfectly adequate. The added advantage is not only that both the saw and blades are less expensive, but they can then be interchanged with the table saw if the need arises. The Kobalt has 12” of cutting depth, my RAS has 18”. As for the sliding action on the Kobalt, I have never had an issue with mine over 3 years of daily long daily use, with half the cuts using the sliding action. For power, I’ve cut through stacks of 5 2×4s with a 80 tooth Freud Diablo blade and had no problem. The Kobalt warranty is no questions asked, we’ll give you a new one for 3 years. I had to take advantage of that on my table saw from them, and if there are any issues with the sliding action, just tell them and they’ll give you a brand new saw.

All in all, I can recommend both. Miter saw or RAS, RAS being more versatile and less expensive, miter saw being faster and having a great warranty. Be sure to carefully inspect any RAS for rust.

View Abn101mp's profile


51 posts in 770 days

#10 posted 10-18-2016 10:30 PM

Wow. Thank you all for the input. I buy a lot of my lumber from a fellah who has his own saw mill and I get a lot of Juniper and ash anywhere from 91/2 to 18 in wide. Yes. Some beautiful grain wood. Planing, ripping and cross cutting in prep for the project at hand can take up a lot of my time. But I get the lumber true and whatever thick pretty much want.
This brings me to my point. Sorry. I got off track. I really need a large cross cut option. But I understand the value in a good miter saw. So I guess I am just curious if I can get the most bang for my buck out of nice quality 12 in slider. Or just go with a really good used radial and then like some of u have mentioned, a good quality 10 in. I respect the idea of interchangeable blades from saw to saw.

-- Dan,Mid-Maine

View LoyalAppleGeek's profile


160 posts in 1073 days

#11 posted 10-19-2016 12:04 AM

I’ll start off by letting you know I’m a budget guy, so any advice coming from me will be airing on the side of the best for the least. I also highly recommend the Bosch 12-inch Articulating Arm Saw, but this is where money saving thing comes in.

The Bosch is around $600 if I recall correctly. The Kobalt, even if upgrading to their 12-inch model, is $300. A radial arm saw is $100-$150. So, given the type of work you described, I would personally suggest a 12-inch Kobalt Sliding Compound Miter Saw, and a good used Radial Arm Saw. Cost of both is $150-$200 less than the Bosch alone. Now of course, a pro grade brand like Bosch is going to have more in the way of, well, everything, but Kobalt compares favorably to Dewalt, if you have had the pleasure of using one. A radial arm saws flexibility in the way it can be positioned is a joy to have in the shop. It’s also nice to be able to leave the RAS set up for a task and then go to the miter saw to make a cut rather than repositioning the RAS for every job. Also, the RAS has a much larger table for supporting stock, whereas to get that amount of surface area on a miter saw you need to build a stand or station around it. Not only that, but the RAS table is a handy workbench when not in use.

So my recommendation would be to get a Sliding Compound Miter Saw that does its job well without the need to rob a bank to make the purchase, and a used Radial Arm Saw. I use exclusively reclaimed and awkward lumber in my shop, and I personally love that setup 8>D

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Roy Turbett

168 posts in 3758 days

#12 posted 10-19-2016 01:58 AM

I have an older cast iron 10” DeWalt RAS built into my bench. Its highly accurate and easy to position for miters because my front sacrificial top is 1/4” higher than the table behind the fence. This lets me swing the arm without raising and lowing the blade. Its also easy to cross cut wider stock by simply flipping the board over. The fence on a RAS is considered a disposable item and a fresh kerf cut makes it easy to precisely position stock.

I also have a 10” Bosch SCMS on a Ridgid stand. It sits in the corner and is only used when I travel to job sites. The one advantage the SCMS has over the RAS is the depth of cut is greater because the motor is mounted above the blade. It doesn’t produce as nice a cut as a RAS because the kerf is much wider.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5143 posts in 2671 days

#13 posted 10-19-2016 10:54 AM

I moved my miter saw to the shed where it gets pulled out for home improvement projects. I don’t see it (my opinion only) as a woodworking tool. The RAS, on the other hand, is a woodworking tool and that’s what replaced my MS. But, it can’t be any RAS…it needs to be a good one. The best way to insure that is (as mentioned above) to get a Delta/Rockwell turret arm, or an older Dewalt (one with a solid cast iron arm). Most folks that have a bad opinion of the RAS formed those opinions using the Craftsman junk that was marketed as the only tool you need in the shop. They (Sears) single handedly destroyed the category.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View rwe2156's profile


3144 posts in 1659 days

#14 posted 10-19-2016 02:28 PM

I agree with Fred re: Crapsman. I had an old DW AMF 9” saw but the motor was weak from day 1 and finally quick. Motor would have to be rewound by hand and didn’t want to spend the money. Big mistake. Now I wish I had spent the $’s to fix it. The old iron stuff is getting hard to find around me. The last Rockwell I saw the guy wanted $450 and he sold it for $400.

My old 12” DW non-slider works for 90% of xcuts I do. You can pick those up used quite reasonably.

Very wide boards I use a circular saw + panel sled on the TS (after jointing edge, of course).

New RAS’s like Original Saw are $$$$’s but they are what you really need in a commercial shop.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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