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RAS vs Table Saw

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Forum topic by MrRon posted 04-14-2015 08:03 PM 857 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MrRon

3926 posts in 2705 days


04-14-2015 08:03 PM

There has been much discussion here and on other forums about the safety of RAS’s. Many feel the RAS is very unsafe. I have both types of saws and use them both. I do most of my crosscutting on the RAS and ripping on the table saw. In the past, I have used the RAS to make miter/ rip cuts, before I got a table saw. From a safety issue, I find the RAS a bit safer to use over the table saw. That goes opposite to what most woodworkers feel. With the RAS, one hand is gripping the handle while the other hand holds the wood steady. With the table saw, both hands are in motion going past the blade. In the latter case, you have two hands to keep an eye on and with the RAS, only one hand to keep track of. This is just my own personal observation.


10 replies so far

View pjones46's profile

pjones46

986 posts in 2104 days


#1 posted 04-14-2015 08:50 PM

IMO, with the advent of chop saws and their improved accuracy, size and portability, the RAS market was killed. Not to mention insurance companies punching up their rates for any shop that had one. Also, with the router becoming a means of mortises in sheet goods of all sizes as well as jigs to use such for tenons, many found it cheaper to go with routers for cost and space.

When my ancient RAS gave up the ghost, I just did not replace it.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View nkawtg's profile

nkawtg

204 posts in 713 days


#2 posted 04-14-2015 09:19 PM

With a RAS you don’t have to make blind rabbets or dado’s because you easily line up your mark with the blade because the blade is above rather than below.

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Minorhero

372 posts in 2066 days


#3 posted 04-14-2015 09:36 PM

I have and use both. Actually I am in the process of restoring a 12” Walker Turner RAS right now.

The RAS has its place in a shop but to my mind that place does not include ripping. The fence system on the radial arm saw relies upon a fence that will inevitably be made of wood and then be cut up as the years pass. Since this is your reference point for ripping it means over time your cuts will become less reliable and at some point you will need to replace your fence etc etc. A RAS has a lot of more potential for kickback with a board as well. Since you are feeding the board into a direction it wants to travel, its easy to get a board to shoot like a rocket projectile across the room. Thus ripping is really not a good idea. I love my RAS but I use it only for ripping, dados, and tenons.

I think a lot of the reputation for a RAS being a dangerous machine is very well deserved. The danger is not so much in making crosscuts but rather comes from the various tool manufacturers advertising the RAS as a one tool shop and selling attachments for everything from drilling, to routing, to shaping, to sanding. Heck there are even RAS add-ons for scroll saws. Many of these other uses were extremely dangerous if not done correctly, some were dangerous even if done correctly because the machine is just not well suited to them. Some of the pictures of the horizontal borer in the old manuals are extremely iffy looking to me.

A RAS can be more accurate then any chop saw or sliding miter saw on the market today and easily has more reach. That plus the versatility in making dados and tenons means I will always own one. But I will never trade in my table saw to keep my RAS.

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timbertailor

1591 posts in 886 days


#4 posted 04-14-2015 09:54 PM

I love my RAS. Has a lot of sentimental value, as well. It takes up a lot of space but it doubles as a work bench and tool storage so it still earns it keep.

When the RAS was first purchased, it did double duty since my father did not own a table saw at the time. He converted a two car garage into an air conditioned space on one side with a partition to the wood shop side. No table saw, just a RAS. So, it can be done but I still rely on my table saw heavily and prefer it for ripping.

-- Brad, Texas, https://www.youtube.com/user/tonkatoytruck/feed

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Oughtsix

42 posts in 636 days


#5 posted 04-16-2015 09:10 PM

Since you are feeding the board into a direction it wants to travel, its easy to get a board to shoot like a rocket projectile across the room. Thus ripping is really not a good idea. I love my RAS but I use it only for ripping, dados, and tenons.

This is THE primary reason RAS’s are dangerous…. PEOPLE DO NO KNOW HOW TO USE THEM PROPERLY! Any RAS manual makes it VERY clear that you never rip in the direction of the blade, you ALWAYS rip in the opposite direction the blade is turning. And you always set the antikickback pawls to just below the surface of the board you are ripping. And you always set the back of the blade guard so it just clears board you are working on.

I have ripped thousands of linear feet of hardwood and plywood on a RAS with my father when I was growing up. A time or two we did have some gnarly lumber that pinched the blade and the antikickback pawls did their job of preventing a kick back.

I learned woodworking from my father on a Delta turret arm RAS and a RAS will always be one of the main machines in my shop. I do rip on a table saw but that is pretty much all I use my table saw for. If people prefer chop saws good for them, I prefer a well tuned industrial quality radial arm saw. Use what ever you are most confident and competent on!

View distrbd's profile

distrbd

2227 posts in 1908 days


#6 posted 04-16-2015 09:24 PM



With a RAS you don t have to make blind rabbets or dado s because you easily line up your mark with the blade because the blade is above rather than below.

- nkawtg


What do you mean by “you don’t have to make blind rabbets”?

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View Oughtsix's profile

Oughtsix

42 posts in 636 days


#7 posted 04-16-2015 09:33 PM


With a RAS you don t have to make blind rabbets or dado s because you easily line up your mark with the blade because the blade is above rather than below.

- nkawtg

What do you mean by “you don t have to make blind rabbets”?

- distrbd

I believe he was saying it is really quick and easy to line up dados, rabbets, tenons etc on a RAS because of the view of the alignment marks on the stock and the blade with a RAS. As a RAS user I find making such cuts on a table saw cumbersome. Not that it is that big of a deal but when you get used to aligning such cuts on a RAS a table saw seems not quite as convenient.

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LyallAndSons

66 posts in 2058 days


#8 posted 04-16-2015 10:11 PM

I have 2 of the old, heavy cast iron Deltas and, as long as I’m in the cabinet business, I don’t see me giving them up. One always has a dado blade, the other a neg hook cross-cut blade and is set dead on at 90. I love my RASs but I wouldn’t rip, or allow an employee to do so. Is it safe for you to do so? I don’t know, only you can answer that question. Do I feel safe doing it? No, I don’t. Just my .02

-- Lyall & Sons Woodsmiths...Custom handcrafted woodwork since 1989

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TimberMagic

114 posts in 641 days


#9 posted 04-16-2015 10:25 PM

I bought my RAS in 1976—it was my first major power tool. ’ never had issues ripping, but I also used it as intended with anti-kickback pawls in place. Bought a table saw about 10 years ago to take over ripping tasks. The RAS is dedicated to 90 degree cross cutting. A miter saw handles angled cuts. I’ll likely never give up my trusty old RAS.

-- Lee

View mountainaxe's profile

mountainaxe

130 posts in 1967 days


#10 posted 04-18-2015 05:48 PM

Both table and RA saws have their place in my shop. I have two RAS…one set up for crosscuts and the other for dados. You can certainly use a RAS for ripping, but the table saw is far more easy to use and less frightening. As for safety, any tool with a sharp spinning blade can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Many accidents occur because the operator was doing something stupid…search this site and see how many people have been injured using table saws versus a RAS.

-- Jeff, "The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me."

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