Radial Arm Saw vs Table Saw: Which One is More Useful and Why?

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

Have radial arm saws become obsolete? This is a fair question considering that compound miter saw has become more popular, especially for casual users. They take up less space and are safer to use.

But the new radial arm saws can also be more flexible when you add accessories for routing, sanding, and shaping wood. They also remain the best option for crosscutting boards wider than 12-inches and rough boards.

Table saws have the advantage of allowing you to cut big size boards to size accurately. You can add some accessories to the saw to help you make precise joint cuts that make stronger joints than when you use other saws.

Let’s look at the differences between these two types of saws to help you decide which is the best option for you.

We recommend a table saw over a radial arm saw, specifically, SawStop 10-inch 1.75HP Cabinet Saw. It is a heavy-duty table saw that can be used to cut large stock as well as cutting and shaping wood for construction. It has excellent safety features and a solid metal construction for durability and low maintenance. It is aligned for perfect accuracy which makes it a good choice for professional work.

Radial Arm Saw vs Table Saw: Product Reviews

ProductDetails
1. SawStop 10-Inch Professional Cabinet Saw

  • 1.75 Horsepower motor
  • 36-inch T-Glide Fence and Rail
  • 10-inch blade diameter
  • Shroud and Dust Collection Blade Guard
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2. Original Saw Company 12-Inch Contractor Duty Radial Arm Saw

  • 3HP I-phase 208/220V TEFC motor
  • 24-inch crosscut
  • 32-inch height standard worktable
  • Heavy gauge steel frame and legs
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1. SawStop 10-Inch Professional Cabinet Saw

The 10-inch 1.75HP Professional Cabinet Saw features a 36-inch professional glide system made of heavy gauge steel construction for sure lockdown and precision measurement. The trunnion and arbor of this saw provide strength and stability while the gas piston elevation allows for easy adjustability.

This table saw has an excellent safety feature system that detects when the blade has come into contact with your skin and stops it in under 5 milliseconds.

This system has saved hundreds of woodworkers from losing their fingers in an accident. It also comes with a shroud and dust collection guard that captures up to 99% of the dust created.

Specs

  • 75 Horsepower motor
  • 36-inch T-Glide Fence and Rail
  • 10-inch blade diameter
  • Shroud and Dust Collection Blade Guard

Pros

  • Dust collection blade guard that collects 99% of the dust created
  • A true vertical elevation with a gas piston assist for smooth and easy adjusting
  • Features the SawStop patented safety system that stops the blade immediately on contact with your skin

Cons

  • Some users have had alignment issues with the blade and the fence

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2. Original Saw Company 12-Inch Contractor Duty Radial Arm Saw

The 12-Inch Contractor Duty Radial Arm Saw is an industrial standard saw that is designed for wood cutting up to 3-inch deep. The saw is suited for small workshops that fabricate cabinets, shelves, doors, and similar fittings.

The saw performs cross cuts, miter, and bevel cuts and it has the best cut quality in its class with precise and repeatable accuracy right out of the box.

This is because the saw is tested and fully assembled in the manufacturing facility before being packaged and shipped out to you. It makes for an easy set up with minimal adjustments to help you get started as soon as you get the saw.

Specs

  • 3HP I-phase 208/220V TEFC motor
  • 24-inch crosscut
  • 32-inch height standard worktable
  • Heavy gauge steel frame and legs

Pros

  • Powder-coated heavy gauge steel frame and legs
  • Features an automatic blade braking system
  • Precise and accurate cuts every time
  • Stable cutting surface with minimal vibrations

Cons

  • Has a higher risk of injury than a table saw

Radial Arm Saw Vs Table Saw: What You Need To Know

Both saws are designed to cut wood on a table surface. What is different is the position of the blade and how it cuts the wood. The table saw has been around longer, since the 18th century, while the radial arm saw was invented in 1922.

While they are both very instrumental in woodworking, they each have certain advantages over each other. Let’s look at some of these in more detail.

Uses Of The Table Saw

The table saw features a circular blade that protrudes through the table from underneath. The depth of the cut on the wood is made by the blade moving up through the table.

The wood or board is pushed along the spinning saw blade on the table to cut. It’s used to make ripped cuts along the grain of the wood and crosscuts. It can also be adjusted to make 45-degree angled cuts.

Pros

  • It is easy to use because the table surface is sturdy and the blade is fixed.
  • It allows for large pieces of wood or board to be cut smoothly and accurately
  • It allows for more precise cuts by use of accessories such as jigs
  • It has fewer saw adjustments which make it easy for unskilled workers to use

Cons

  • It takes up more floor space.
  • Since the circular blade is fixed, the user has to manually maneuver the board to be cut
  • Limited variety of cuts because you have limited range of movement to shape the board

Uses Of The Radial Arm Saw

The radial arm saw features a blade attached to a movable arm that hangs above the table surface. The saw moves across the table surface to make crosscuts across the wood. This saw is much more versatile than the table saw because it makes many other types of cuts.

Pros

  • It allows for making a wide range of miter cuts and decorative cuts
  • It is easier to use for cutting heavy or thick pieces of wood
  • It requires less workshop space to set up and easier to maintain

Cons

  • The movable blade presents more safety risks to the user than a fixed blade
  • The smaller table surface limits the widths of the cuts that can be made
  • It is significantly more costly than the table saw.

Radial Arm Saw vs Table Saw: The Top Brands

The radial arm saw and the table saw are both heavy-duty machines for cutting a variety of construction materials apart from wood. Before we review the individual machine, let us briefly review two of the top brands that produce them.

Original Saw Company is the industry leader in manufacturing radial arm saws.

It was established in 1990 when the company purchased the rights to the original radial arm saw invented by Raymond DeWalt in 1922. Although many variations were developed over the years, DeWalt’s design remained the most successful.

Over the years, the company has expanded manufacturing cut off saws and beam saws, as well as an accessory line. They produce 24 models of the radial arm saw that range from the Contractor Duty 12-inch to the 22-inch heavy-duty series.

These wood cutting radial arm saws perform a wide variety of cuts including compound miter cuts and bevelling, and dado operations.

Some of the features you can expect to find on their radial arm saws include:

  • Fan cooled motors with an integrated electro-mechanical brake system that operates even when the power drops out.
  • Cast iron and cast aluminum construction that provides a stable cutting surface with minimal vibrations
  • Features an anti-restart feature that drops out when power is interrupted and shuts off the machine
  • Automatic adjusting lower blade guard

SawStop is the number one cabinet saw manufacturer in America with over 350 dealer locations in America and around the world. It is a privately owned company established in 1999.

The first SawStop table saw was sold in 2004 and since then it has built a strong brand presence built on innovative design and craftsmanship.

Though table saws are considered safer to use than the radial arm saws, there are still tens of thousands of people who suffer life-changing accidents on the table saw. It is for this reason that SawStop has focused on engineering solutions that enhance safety.

Their innovative safety feature can stop a spinning blade in less than 5 milliseconds as soon as it comes into contact with skin. It has saved the hands and fingers of woodworkers from possible amputations and thus saving their livelihoods.

Here are some specific features that you can find across their table saw product catalog:

  • SawStop safety system that includes an electronic detection unit and a fast-acting brake system that stops the blade in under 5-milliseconds when contact is detected.
  • Cast iron and steel construction provides a more rigid and stable machine.
  • Each table saw is aligned and tuned for the maximum performance and perfect accuracy right out of the box.

Conclusion

As we wind up, let us answer the question we had at the beginning. Radial arm saws are not completely obsolete although fewer companies are producing them now.

A great example is the 12-Inch Contractor Duty Radial Arm Saw manufactured by the Original Saw Company. It is one of the best performing industrial-sized radial arm saws with the best cut quality in the market.

However, if you’re looking to cut larger boards and your workshop has better space, we recommend the 10-inch 1.75HP Professional Cabinet Saw. Apart from providing accurate and precise cuts, it has one of the best safety systems that you can find in the market. The table saw is flexible in the variety of cuts it can perform.

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