Table saw or Radial arm Saw

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Forum topic by Medickep posted 08-24-2013 08:52 PM 2053 views 0 times favorited 50 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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574 posts in 1972 days

08-24-2013 08:52 PM


I’m a hobbyist who has seriously been bit by the woodworking bug over the last six months and I’m ready to take my work beyond the SKIL saw level, as I have little patience for that tool!

I’m trying to decide if I should go with a RAS or a table saw! If I go with a RAS, my father has offered to give me his 10’ workbench, which was built around his 40 y/o Craftsmen RAS. Unfortunately he is not willing to give up the saw too.

I grew up watching him use a RAS as a table saw as his articulates, so when people say the chop saw replaced the RAS I get confused.

The only reason why I would lean a little towards the RAS is the free bench and I feel like it would take less room as it can be up against a wall.

I did find a nice looking Rigid table saw (TS3650) for 300 dollars, which I was almost ready to pull the trigger on, but it’s missing the Her-U-Lift system, which I think I’ll need if I store it up against a wall. Rigid was closed today, so I couldn’t check to see how much it would cost to replace it. Individually by parts, it looked like it would be near 200$ At that point I would get a brand new one with the lifetime warranty.

I’m not to sure how usable a TS is against a wall, but thought I could have the right side up against the wall for most, smaller cuts.

Right now I make furniture for around my house, but I feel like I do want some accuracy! I’m sure I could make either tool fit in my three car tandem garage.

Thanks in advance!

-- Keith

50 replies so far

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2272 days

#1 posted 08-24-2013 09:08 PM

This can be an opinionated topic. Lucky for you, we have a lot of opinions here on LJ. I’m guessing you already hit the search button and found these previous topics:
Thread 1: Tablesaw vs. RAS?
Thread 2: What can a RAS do that a tablesaw can’t?
and my new favorite, thread 3: RAS vs Tablesaw vs. mitersaw vs handsaws vs Oprah in a fight to the death:

Since I didn’t get to participate in those older threads, I’ll start off this one with my opinon: If you’re undecided then I say buy them both even if it means building a bigger workshop or moving tools into the living room. She’ll forgive you because true love means never having to apologize for sawdust on the persian carpet.

Accuracy is as good as you make it, either one can be spot on or way off. I had a RAS that sounded like a C-130 taking off. It rattled so much it scared the cr@p out of me thinking that any day now it would toss a blade into my face and I hated all radial arms saws because of it so I sold it. Then a couple of years later I stumbled on a better one in a package deal and now I think they’re worth having.

I’ve seen replies here on LJ that say they have the TS against a wall. I assume they mean the right of left side, which makes sense because not all the cuts are with long timbers that hang out 20’ on each side. Of course the bigger your tablesaw the longer you can cut without boards hanging out the sides. And you can always get a HTC wheel-dollie thing to put under it.

good luck
welcome to the forum.

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

View knotscott's profile


8172 posts in 3609 days

#2 posted 08-24-2013 09:17 PM

TS is all I’ve ever known. It also seems to be much more popular in this day and age than a RAS. The 4650 for $30 0 is a nice buy IMHO…..get it aligned, and add a good blade….you’ll be set.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2909 days

#3 posted 08-24-2013 09:19 PM

Welcome aboard!! There are as many opinions as there are people so … can read it all. Both are great and remember that you have to learn to use what you have and use it well. Also remember it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission so the wife will forgive…....LOL

View Medickep's profile


574 posts in 1972 days

#4 posted 08-24-2013 09:42 PM

We’re about to leave but I can’t wait to read those threads (oops!) as well as the post in more detail. Unfortunately the guy acting like my three year old when I cancelled seeing it and said I needed to look into the herc u lift.

I’ll have to look some more! But at least I know it’s a good bargain. Thanks all!’

-- Keith

View bondogaposis's profile


5147 posts in 2585 days

#5 posted 08-24-2013 09:42 PM

I have both and use them, but if I had to go with just one, I would definitely pick the TS, it is far more versatile.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Woodmaster1's profile


1089 posts in 2821 days

#6 posted 08-24-2013 09:47 PM

I have both but my first choice would be a table saw. I would not give either one up. You will get more use out of a table saw.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3881 days

#7 posted 08-24-2013 09:52 PM

Table saws work well for ripping and squaring plywood
panels. Accurate crosscutting of boards over
60” or so is often awkward but can be managed
with feed tables and cut-off boxes.

Radial arm saws work well for crosscutting heavy stock
and some types of joinery, especially on the ends of
long, heavy boards. Since most smaller radial arm
saws cannot crosscut a 24” panel they have limited
usefulness in modern (sheet goods) cabinetmaking
where the table saw is generally preferred.

The criticisms of radial arm saws generally fall into
complaints about inaccuracy (though there are some
that do hold settings) and feeling unsafe about

If you have the space, it’s nice to have both.
The radial arm saw indexes its cutter opposite
the work table and for some cuts like dados
this helps achieve more consistent depth
with less fuss.

View JFloyd's profile


1 post in 1970 days

#8 posted 08-24-2013 10:25 PM

Hi Keith,

Having started my home shop more than 30 years ago in very limited space, I opted for a table saw as my first stationary tool—I didn’t have room for anything more at time. A few years later (when I was fortunate enough to have both the space and the money) did I buy a RAS and like a kid with a new toy, used it at every opportunity. I still have both, but use the RAS much less than the TS—possibly because I have jigs and attachments built or acquired prior to the RAS purchase.

I think an important consideration is one of what you are planning on doing in your shop: what are you going to build? In my case, I seldom build anything more than six feet. When needing to crosscut a longer timber, I usually opt for a circular saw or a hand saw for getting a close approximate length, do any ripping on the TS, then make my final (finish) cut with a sliding compound mitre saw. I still use the RAS for crosscutting pieces larger than the mitre saw will handle, for some tenoning…

I couldn’t hold back a slight grim at your comment regarding a lack of patience with a “skil” saw :). No insult intended as I feel something of the same albeit very likely for different reasons. On jobsites for years, I many times found that different “skil” saws, i.e. brands, had much different feels to them—handle position, balance, etc. made some brands feel better to me that others. I was always able to make better, more accurate cuts with those that felt better in my hands. Finally, at least one manufacturer produced a saw with a moveable handle. In my shop, I use a Milwaukee—usually for full plywood panels or for straight-cutting (ripping) crooked boards most every day.

The table saw is the work horse in my shop.

My advice: consider what you’ll be doing with your saw — the accuracy of both the TS and the RAS depends on setup—either can be extremely accurate with proper setup/adjustment.

Good luck and be careful.

View Woodknack's profile


12455 posts in 2614 days

#9 posted 08-24-2013 10:51 PM

I learned in a shop with both RAS and TS and enjoyed using the RAS although I understand they make many people nervous. Some people using TS + RAS have the latter set up as a dedicated dado machine. I would have a RAS in a minute if I had room for one but in an either/or situation, definitely get the tablesaw first.

-- Rick M,

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6341 posts in 3428 days

#10 posted 08-24-2013 11:03 PM

I too have both, and each has been a staple in my shops for years…..The RAS is a 1985, and if it ever gives out, I’m going with a sliding miter saw….But when I think this thing might die any day, it just keeps on ticking, and taking a lickin’.......Just remember, a RAS is one of the hardest machines to get dialed in, and keep it dialed in…..But once you do, it’s a great tool to have in your arsinal…...Good luck finding one…...

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....!!

View Medickep's profile


574 posts in 1972 days

#11 posted 08-24-2013 11:40 PM

Hey guys, I snuck a view of these posts at my birthday dinner, what a great site!! I will think hard about my needs and let that as well as price help me decide.

Thanks again for all of the posts!

-- Keith

View TheDane's profile


5573 posts in 3897 days

#12 posted 08-25-2013 02:02 AM

I have used a RAS (in a tech school shop where I took classes) to break down long stock. Never liked using it, and have never seen the need for one in my shop.

I have a tablesaw and a 12” Hitachi slider. Haven’t run into anything yet I can’t do with one of those saws so I don’t see a need for a RAS.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2526 days

#13 posted 08-25-2013 02:17 AM

Table saw would be my recommendation; and, I cut my teeth on a RAS and had the attitude that it could do everything as well, if not better than a TS. That is until I started using a TS and found it to be more accurate. So you know we’re I’m at with this comparison, I’d mention that my TS is a PM 60 and my RAS is a 12” Delta. Good luck and enjoy whatever you decide to start with in your wood working.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View a1Jim's profile


117416 posts in 3811 days

#14 posted 08-25-2013 02:27 AM

Welcome to Ljs
RAS’s are inexpensive because many folks have replaced them with sliding compound miter saws that take up much less room. The thing I don’t like about RAS’s are that if your not experienced they can have very serious kick backs when trying to rip wood,that’s the main reason I tell my students not to buy them. A table saw is much more versatile in that many jigs can be made for a table saw to do specialty operations along with the everyday ripping and cross cutting .
In my opinion table saws are the hub of any woodworking shop. If you decide to get a table saw you might search LJs on the subject of ”which table saw to buy” there must be 20-30 threads on the subject. What ever equipment you buy safe operation of wood working tools is a must to prevent serious injury. I’d suggest taking a beginners wood working class to help you learn safe operation and techniques .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View mbs's profile


1657 posts in 3174 days

#15 posted 08-25-2013 03:07 AM

In my shop the radial arm saw is used less than 1% of the time that the table saw is used. I really wouldn’t miss the ras if I sold it.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

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