Use of Sliding Compound Mitre Saw vs. Radial Arm Saw

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Forum topic by Tootles posted 08-04-2014 01:56 PM 1749 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2735 days

08-04-2014 01:56 PM

Topic tags/keywords: miter saw sliding compund miter saw scms radial arm saw

Today I was talking to a student about how to use a Sliding Compund Mitre Saw. He had been taught, as the diagrams on the machine show, to pull the saw towards him, start the saw, drop the blade, push to cut and then stop before lifting. It occurred to me that this is different to the radial arm saw where you pull to cut, despite the fact that the saw blades rotate in the same direction on the two machines. I realised that I don’t actually know for certain why this is so – though I do have contradictory theories about which is better and why.

Can anybody please explain? Thanks.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

12 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


10814 posts in 1719 days

#1 posted 08-04-2014 02:04 PM

The best way is to make a cut that you won’t lose your fingers doing so.

Hope this helps.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View patron's profile


13641 posts in 3574 days

#2 posted 08-04-2014 02:10 PM

pulling the blade into the work
the leading teeth are cutting down
making a clean cut
but if not ‘strong armed’
can grab and ‘jump’ into the work
with possible injury or jamming of the blade

cutting from the front to the back
the teeth are going up thru the cut
with rip-out on the top of the work
not the way i cut
since i want the top face to be clean
not the under side
which might not be seen

just loosely pulling on the saw
can be dangerous
so ‘strong arming’ it
will push me back
if things jump or jamb
keeping me clear just in case

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1658 days

#3 posted 08-04-2014 04:26 PM

Pushing the saw through the wood using a miter saw is safer.
A RAS owner has no choice and must pull the saw through the wood.

The blade rotation wants to grab the wood and fly thought it. Can cause binding if not careful.

Just needs getting used to and it becomes second nature.

-- Brad, Texas,

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3881 days

#4 posted 08-04-2014 04:49 PM

I consider pushing a RAS to cut to be the safer procedure.

However it must be observed that sometimes this makes
inserting the work a hassle and then one wants to
pull to cut instead. Proper RAS blades have a negative
hook angle which may serve some roll in preventing
the saw from climbing into the work. Also though there’s
the mass and friction in of the carriage, which is heavier
than a sliding compound saw. I have found that
by sort of “strong arming” the RAS a pull cut can be
made in a controlled way.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5229 posts in 2727 days

#5 posted 08-04-2014 04:59 PM

Nothing else to offer, they are made to work differently.

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

View MrRon's profile


5257 posts in 3477 days

#6 posted 08-04-2014 04:59 PM

Using a blade with negative rake minimizes the tendency for the blade to self-feed. Regardless of which saw you use, the wood has to be firmly held down and against the fence.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5305 posts in 1954 days

#7 posted 08-04-2014 05:05 PM

The operation described by the student as to the use of the SCMS is correct from a safety standpoint. However, many will choose to let the blade score the top of the wood as they pull it toward them, then completely lower the blade and push it back. This creates a shearing effect, cutting into instead of out of the wood on both the top and bottom eliminating tear out. On a RAS pulling the blade toward you while cutting is standard procedure and must be done with a very controlled feed rate to prevent jamming or worse. This technique should never be attempted on a SCMS due to the lighter weight of the motor and associated sliding parts combined with the fact that the motor can pivot up and ride over the board.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View stefang's profile


16207 posts in 3568 days

#8 posted 08-04-2014 07:29 PM

When cutting with my SLM saw I usually pull to score the work lightly and then push for the actual cut. This prevents tearout on the top side of the workpiece.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3255 days

#9 posted 08-04-2014 10:52 PM

bigblockyeti described exactly how I use my SCMS…. light scoring cut pulling on the top, then when you get all the way to the front, plunge down and push back. This method minimizes tear out on both sides and is particularly helpful if cross cutting plywood where the veneer can tear something horrid on the top if you don’t do the scoring cut first.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View amt's profile


49 posts in 1952 days

#10 posted 08-05-2014 01:19 AM

I have both saws, and I push cut on both of them. There’s really no inconvenience for me on the RAS for a push cut. I have just become used to pulling the saw while off, then placing the material, then pushing through the cut. With a fence set up for this (a little further back) it works quite well.

-- -Andrew

View Ocelot's profile


2123 posts in 2871 days

#11 posted 08-05-2014 01:55 AM

Great discussion!

I use the RAS for all cross-cuts and dados and generally pull to cut.

Sometimes I pull the wood out of the way after the cut to avoid going back through the kerf to return the saw.

I don’t have the special negative angle blade – although I was recently looking at them online. I use a Freud “ultimate cuttoff” blade (I think it’s called). I do feel some self-feeding forces but don’t find it hard to resist them.

I’m think the dada stack must have a fairly low hook angle. Never paid any attention to it. I don’t find it hard to control – although I do feel it pushing toward me.

But I never knew about the way a slider saw is used. Scoring sounds like a good technique.


View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 2735 days

#12 posted 08-05-2014 02:29 PM

Thanks for the relpies everybody.

Bigblockyeti, your comment that the SCMS is able to not only pull itself into the wood, but also to ride on up and over it makes sense. I suspect that might be the key reason for the difference. I have had a couple of occasions where a RAS that I was using pulled itself into the wood and stalled the blade – it did not feel excessively uncontrollable, dangerous or scary. After all, a blade is most dangerous when it is spinning, not stopped (depending on what it is required to get it spinning again of course). But with the freedom that the SCMS has to climb up and over and to keep on coming towards you, especially of you are assisting it by pulling on the saw at the time, well I’d imagine that could be a bit different.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

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