Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw

If you grew up in a household that loved woodworking, then there’s a good chance you had a radial arm saw in the garage or the shed. Some of you might even still be using a radial arm saw today for your woodworking needs.

But probably not. The radial arm saw really has gone the way of the buffalo in the woodworking world.

There is no question that the radial arm saw was a versatile tool for its time. Since 2000, however, many power tool innovations have caused woodworkers to look at a different option: the miter saw.

Main Differences Between Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw

The main differences between Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw are:

  • Miter Saw is more portable, whereas Radial Arm Saw is not very portable. You can’t move around with a radial arm saw because its big and heavy. 
  • Radial Arm saw has a higher cutting depth, whereas Miter saw has some disadvantages on that. 
  • Miter saw is safer because of the blade guard, whereas the radial arm saw is not so secure because it doesn’t have a blade guard. 

In the radial arm saw vs miter saw debate, there are certain key points that prove the miter saw is a superior option for modern woodworking. So if you’re still using that old radial arm saw, good for you. Check out what an upgrade to one of the best miter saws could do for your work.

#1. Miter saws offer sliding arms today. Many of the best miter saws today offer a blade diameter that is as large as 12 inches. You’ll receive cross-cutting capacity and numerous features that allow you to quickly make precision cuts. The sliding arm allows you to make the same cuts a radial arm saw would make, but in a fraction of the space. A miter saw can go almost anywhere.

#2. Miter saws don’t bite you like radial arm saws. If you’ve ever used a radial arm saw, then you know how easy it was for that tool to bite you. The rotation of a radial arm saw required most models to plunge the saw into the wood with a rotation that was directed at the operator. If the saw jammed, then the working piece got thrown at you too. Miter saws don’t require you to have fast ducking reflexes. The rotation goes away from you and guards are in place to prevent biting.

#3. Miter saws allow you to rip lumber. Now to be fair, a radial arm saw could have you ripping lumber in no time at all. It isn’t as easy to make rip cuts with a miter saw, but it can be done. If you need to be cutting dados, the miter saw can get the job done too, although it takes more effort to move the blade around.

Here’s proof of what you can do with a table saw or a miter saw.

#4. Miter saws let you make those tough angle cuts. Miter saws will rotate vertically and horizontally, allowing you to make the same tough angle cuts that a radial arm saw let you do. You can perform exact degree angle cuts with ease thanks to the angle measurement markers that are on most miter saws. Just make sure to invest in a miter saw stand for maximum precision and efficiency.

#5. Miter saws have an effective blade guard. You don’t have to worry as much about the rotating blade of a miter saw compared to the rotating blade of a radial arm saw.

Miter saws are also much more affordable for woodworkers, with prices of the best miter saw beginning around $150. The radial arm saw certainly had its day to shine. It still has beneficial uses. For the modern woodworker, however, the time to upgrade to a miter saw is now.