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Chairman of the 'Board
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a rather congested 1200 square foot workshop I call "NetDoc's Grotto". As an automotive mechanic for thirty years, with a 4 year stint in a machine shop, most of my tools are made for dealing with steel and mechanical objects. Also, since I am an avid Scuba Diver, Instructor and make a living as the owner of the world's largest website devoted to all things Scuba, I have a large portion of it devoted to being a dive locker as well having a regulator rebuilding and test bench. I'll post pictures in a bit.

About a quarter of this space is devoted to a bunch of wood (mostly oak) that seems to be left from taking out a bunch of cabinets, and in front of that are my table and cut-off saw. I just added a planer and am in the middle of creating a woodworking bench. As I am looking at the one wall, I am thinking that I could make it far more usable if I turned it into a bench for routing and added a radial arm saw. That, or I need to replace my Delta compound cut-off saw with with a sliding version. I also need to do something to make my Ryobi 10" saw a bit more mobile as well as get rid of some of the clutter. I mean, who really needs to have 6 servers and an audio housing sitting around? I need to get rid of them and now.

So, what are your thoughts about a cut-off saw compared to a radial arm saw?
 

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where's my table saw?
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the can of worms has been opened

I have several of each so I can give you my thoughts.
The sliding compound miter saws are the way to go IF that's that way you chose to go.

A Radial Arm Saw is a heavier beast, ans is designed for stationary use, where as the miter saws are somewhat portable and can be shelved when not in use, as I do. My RAS gets used a lot for squaring the ends of long boards, taking a thin slice to trim a piece to length and it ALWAYS stay locked at 90 degrees to the fence. Any angle cuts are done with a miter gauge or sled on the table saw OR the SCM miter saw. The major complaint re RAS is that they won't go back to a previous setting accurately. To get around that you can make a jig to cut miters at 45 degrees on place it on the table still keeping the setting a 90 degrees. OR you can accurately set up your RAS and see how that goes. The older Deltas are favored for greater accuracy. The older Craftsman saws I have probably can be made to work accurately with some tinkering.

You are confessing to having too many hobbies and too little space so a large RAS and long table would seem to be out of the picture, but that's the way I have mine setup.

I have a 10" Bosch and a 12" Dewalt CSMS, both sliders. I don't carry the Dewalt around much but the smaller Bosch does a real fine job on everything I asked of it. If I were doing a lot of miters like frames and such I'd use my table saw and fine tune the sled for exact 45 degree cuts. For occasional miters a miter guage with a fence extension works great. I like the Incra with the positive stops for all the degree settings. The Osborne has a sliding arm that's accurate also.... around $100 or so. Small pieces need to be very well controlled on a SCMS or your fingers will show up on the floor.
A sled on the table saw is safer in my opinion...... .02 cents
 

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Old School
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So, what are your thoughts about a cut-off saw compared to a radial arm saw?
How many of each type and the brands seem irrelevant to your question. Getting back to the question...if you have the room, and can afford them, I would have both. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages. That would give you more choices in what to use.






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Chairman of the 'Board
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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I am semi-retired, and don't do this for a living. However, I am using my talents and tools to benefit ScubaBoard, so I guess I can call it work. I love to work with my hands and Tim Allen has nothing on me when it comes to loving tools. I think I've always loved the Radial Arm Saw. It has something to do with seeing them in my friends' garages growing up. I don't think they used them much, but boy did they make a statement. Right now, I want to be able to cross cut long boards easily. Often, on my 10" COS, I am flipping the board over to get the last part. It's never, ever perfect, and that's not good enough for me. I kinda like the idea of keeping the radial saw locked at 90 and using the table saw for all the fine stuff. I'm also tired of the wood mess keeping me fro utilizing that wall. I saw a nifty wood rack for the wall that would get it up and out of the way and allow me to have this bench along the wall. I have fifteen feet or so to work with.

Edit: So, I only need one of each tool. I don't need/want multiples. I think I own three routers, and really, two are in the way. I have my CCOS set up on a tool cabinet that contains mostly woodworking tools. That cabinet should up against the wall somewhere and not in the middle. It hogs the room and makes it hard to use my table saw, which simply needs more space.
 

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Master firewood maker
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if you have the space, a radial arm saw is more useful. if not, then the miter saw is the better choice.

if it were me, i'd do my darndest to make the space for the RAS
 

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After getting a good RAS, I haven't used my cut off saw. crosscutting long boards is the main use. Making dados, can be a lot faster than on a table saw.
I have a very small shop, but wouldn't give up the ras.
After changing the arm from 90 degrees, it takes me about 2-3 test cuts to get it square again. Maybe 1-2 minutes tops. Not a big deal. Once set, it stays set.
 

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I do not have and have never had a Radial Arm Saw. Nor have I ever had a desire for one. My sliding, compound miter saw does all I have ever needed.

Of course, as has been said, if you have the space and money adding another tool is always a good idea. You can probably find a use for it.

George
 

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Ask 10 different woodworkers and get perhaps 20 different answers.

I had an RAS from 1983 until 2010. I used it a lot to construct extensions, framing rooms etc.

Once I started to make projects needing precision, I found the RAS went out of calibration if I moved the arm, so then this became a dedicated 90 deg only cross cut machine.

I later purchased a sliding compound mitre saw, and the RAS was only used for the deepest cross cuts.

I did not get my first table saw until 2003. Then my RAS was used even less.

In 2010 I purchased a lathe and needed to find the floor space in my shop so I have to displace the RAS, gave it to a friend.

At the same period I upgraded the SCMS to the Bosch 12in Glider, which has almost the same cross cut as my RAS.

I think it depends on the kinds of projects you need to do. If you can only fit one tool in the shop and need to cross cut and rip, then an RAS may be the way to go, but be prepared for frequent calibrations.

My RAS needed 3 hex headed screws to be loosened to calibrate. They were at the back of the arm, and since the RAS was up against the wall, this was always a pain for me.

If you have the space for SCMS and table saw, this would be my preference these days.
 

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if you have the room, and can afford them, I would have both. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages. That would give you more choices in what to use.
That's what I've done. I custom built a heavy duty workbench to mount my RAS and SCMS inline with a section of commercial rollers in between. I use the SCMS mostly, but I use the RAS for a lot of dado work and for wider boards. It's a 1950 Delta Red Star that I refurbished and it works like a champ.:thumbsup:
 

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where's my table saw?
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one important difference ... dados

Let's assume the space requirements are similar when cutting longer boards. You have a stand for the SCMS which can be over 6 ft long, you have a table on your RAS which is 5 ft long. The front to back depth will be about the same. Pretty similar so far, however a SCMS will not accept a dado cutter. :eek: One of the best ways to make half laps is a dado cutter on the RAS. A bookshelf with dados is another good operation. A stop can be set on the fence to get perfectly spaced dados on each vertical support like this:
http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f27/shelf-spacing-made-simple-using-ras-47095/

Oh sure, you can nibble away the material, making pass after pass and achieve a dado that way, but it may not be precise in width. And you can make shelf dado using a router and guide, but for half laps, and ease of set up, I prefer a RAS with a dado cutter. The large flat table on a RAS allows for various jigs to be secured as well. You can also rotate the motor so the shaft is vertical and use the large table to make moldings with the proper cutter. One advantage is the motor on a RAS is an induction type and is more quiet than the universal AC/DC types with brushes. The newer SCMS have motor brakes with stop the blade a little sooner than a
with the motor brake, not much though as I recall.

Finally, you can find used RAS all day long on Craig's List for $200 or so and you would not find a good SCMS for that easily.
 

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where's my table saw?
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capacity

What's the cutting capability of the older craftsman saws at 90 deg?
That depends on the fence location and how high it is off the table. My fence is 2" high and that allows the blade to be protected for that thick of material and not be exposed. This is necessary because you may want to slide the work under the blade while it's turning and not bump it when you adjust your length of cut.
My saw's capacity in 3/4" thick material is 15" with that fence set up. I could get 16" if I moved the fence toward the rear of the table.
 

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I use mine solely for Dado'ing and nothing beats it for that. Everything else I use my SCMS or table saw. Only cost me $100 off of Craigslist, but it does have a pretty big footprint. If I didn't have space, it would be the one I'd get rid of and move all Dado'ing to the table saw. Fortunately I have the luxury of keeping it, though.
 

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Chairman of the 'Board
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
OK, I've been looking for a nice radial saw since I began this thread. I really didn't see anything out there that I would spend as much as the seller wanted. However, yesterday I just happened to see a Craigslist ad for a radial saw and a free generator. Yeah, I don't know how they connect, except that this guy is moving off of land on to his 50ft Morgan. It's been sitting under a tarp and the table has floofed with the damp here in the Keys. I just downloaded the manual and ordered the hand wheel that raises and lowers the saw. The saw cost me $20 and the time it took to drive to Geiger Key, so I'm sure I wasn't taken... much.

Now I need to build a table for it. Can anyone give me a clue here? How big? How do I attach the fence? Do I make it out of MDF? I'm going to raise it to match my cut-off saw and make a unified bench for that and incorporate a router table in there as well. I'll post a picture tomorrow of the work area as it's progressing.
 

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Chairman of the 'Board
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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
No advice on the table? I was really hoping to get an idea on how to proceed before I jumped into the process.

So far, I have found this article: http://woodworking.about.com/od/dealingwithproblems/qt/RadialArmTable.htm and I have also bought a 24"x 48" 3/4" MDF sheet. I know I need to put in a fence of some sort, but where is up in the air. Just in front of the blade? Is there a sweet spot that will give me the longest cut for most boards? Should I dado a groove for the fence to sit in? Should I use hardwood for the fence or just a strip of MDF? How high should the fence be? Should I make it easily replaceable, or should I just replace the entire top when it gets ratty?
 

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where's my table saw?
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RAS table

http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/members/woodnthings-7194/albums/12-radial-arm-saw/

I made this table that extends about 40' or so to the left out of 3/4 plywood. I am right handed and pull the saw with my right hand and hold the work firm to the fence with my left. The long fence is a 1 X 2" that's about 7 ft long. I can clamp a stop to it for making identical length cutoffs. The more support on the left side, the longer the workpiece can be and have support underneath it.
The saw base has 2 angle piece that are supposed to level out the table. I simply eliminated those and attached my table directly to the frame of the base.

I screwed the fence to the one large sheet of plywood rather than making it in 2 separate pieces and weakening it. I can square the fence easier that way to the blade in the 90 degree locked position, since the arm is not adjustable.

Dust collection is a simple box at the rear of the blade hooked to one shop vac below the table and another smaller hose is hooked to a second smaller shop vac which sit on top of the table, probably overkill, but it really gets all the dust.
 
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Chairman of the 'Board
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
How far is the fence from the back? Did you dado the top to accept the fence or is it just screwed in from above?
 

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You have a big place as compared to my one car garage with a lot of stuff stored in it and some woodworking tools.
I am finishing up a miter saw station and so far, it has worked out great. I put the Kreg precision measuring system on it.

I still have to finish up the cabinets and put the drawer fronts on.

Here are a few pics.
 

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