radial arm saw vs miter saw

Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw – How Do They Differ?

Using the right saw for the job makes all the difference especially when you want multiple precise cuts. And when it comes to precision and quality results, two types of saws excel in features and design: the radial arm saw and the miter saw. Find out about radial arm saw vs miter saw and see which type is best for your woodworking project. 

What are radial arm saws?

A radial arm saw is a versatile cutting tool that’s preferred by woodworkers who have limited space. It looks like a miter saw with a circular blade but the blade is mounted to an arm that slides and moves through the wooden piece. This seamless movement enables the radial arm saw to make precise cuts. 

Because the blade is mounted on an arm you can adjust it freely to cut varying angles. The user has to adjust the angles on his own. He must make accurate measurements to help the radial arm saw make accurate cuts. 

Radial arm saws can cut through thick pieces of lumber and slabs of wood as its blade diameter can range from 12 – 22 inches.

The main problem with radial arm saws is that it lacks a safety switch. If you’re not trained to use a radial arm saw, you can end up with deep cuts and torn fingers.  Also, if the blade is not too sharp, it can grab onto the workpiece and launch it to the other side of the room. 

A radial arm saw has built-in locks but you can always construct a fence to make the tool safer and more stable. Here are some of the features of a radial arm saw

  • Comes with a mechanical arm and a powerful circular saw.
  • The blades come 12  to 22 inches in diameter. You may also use other blades like dadoes blades. 
  • With a side fence to make the tool more stable and accurate.
  • The saw may be rotated and used to cut at different angles.  
  • You can install safety guards to make the tool safer. 

Radial arm saw uses

This type of power saw can be used to make the following:

  • Making crosscuts 
  • Making compound cuts, miters, and bevels
  • Ripping 
  • Making rabbets and dadoes

What are miter saws?

Miter saws are stationary cutting tools that have a circular blade to make accurate and quick crosscuts on a workpiece. A miter saw allows you to make more precise cuts and to be fully in control thanks to its prominent hinged arm, a workpiece with a fence and slit. 

The miter saw blade has a diameter of 2 to 12 inches and thus will allow you to create very precise cuts. There is a blade guard to make the tool safer. A dust collection port removes all dust, sawdust, and dirt from the workpiece so you can easily see your project. 

There are 3 varieties of miter saws:

  • Compound miter saws – this type of miter saw lets the blade pivot left and right so you can move the saw in different directions with ease. 
  • Dual compound miter saws – this kind of miter saw works like compound miter saws but will let you tilt the saw to the left and to the right to make easy and fast bevel changes no matter what angle. 
  • Sliding compound miter saws – you can move the blade back and forth along with the compound movements. 

Miter saws have impressive features that are unsurpassed by many power saws. 

  • The miter saw rotation angles may be placed in a locked position to make accurate cuts and easy adjustments. 
  • With depth stops to allow height adjustment of the blade. 
  • With a protective blade cover to prevent accidents. 
  • There is a side fence, clams, and extensions available. 

Miter saw uses

Miter saws have the following uses:

  • Making crosscuts
  • Creating miters
  • Making bevels
  • Making compound cuts 

What are the differences between the two power saws?

It’s easy to mistake a miter saw from a radial arm saw as these have almost similar components. So, remember the following differences:

  • Radial arm saws come with a higher cutting depth. This allows the saw to cut through very thick lumber. 
  • Miter saws cannot cut through very thick pieces of wood or lumber. 
  • Radial arm saws require a stable area, a station where they can be operated safely. You cannot shift it from one area to another or from one location to another. 
  • Miter saws, despite their size and weight, may be taken anywhere. You can take it out of the working area and take it to the field if you need to. 
  • Radial arm saws are capable of cutting different cuts and variations. 
  • Miter saws can only make 4 cuts. But you can cut from varying angles.
  • Radial arms don’t have safety switches so you can’t immediately cut power from the machine in case of an accident. If an accident happens, the blade may still be running and it’s hard to remove the power from the electric socket exposing you to further dangers. 
  • Miter saws have accessible safety switches and thus, you can stop the blades from running in case of an accident. 
  • Radial arm saws are generally more dangerous than a miter saw. You must always remember to lock the saw when not in use as it may accidentally move down and hurt you. 
  • Miter saws are safer with straightforward, safe, and efficient designs.
  • Radial arm saws may have a workbench included while miter saws have depth stops and blade guards. 
  • Miter saws are easy to adjust. 
  • Radial arm saws need manual measurement and adjustments. Any mistake can cost you your project.

When it comes to the radial arm saw vs miter saw, the best saw will depend on what you want to do. If you want to cut larger wood pieces or lumber, you need a radial arm saw. If you want a safer saw with easy adjustments, you should go with a miter saw instead of a radial arm saw.





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