A power saw is one of the most critical components of woodworking essentials. However, these tools come in all shapes and sizes, with each design meant to serve a specific purpose.
Two of the most popular types of power saws in use today are the radial arm saw, and the table saw. The main difference between these saws is their cutting action.
The blade of a radial arm saw is attached to a movable arm, which allows you to manipulate the tool when cutting. As a result, radial arms saws are ideal for making crosscuts, as well as making cuts across the width of the wood.
Table saws, on the other hand, feature a blade that is built into a table. This blade can only move up and down. This design limits the table saw to making rips or cutting wood along the grain. Nonetheless, it is incredibly effective at what it does.
Which of these saws is better for you? This article will compare radial arm saw, and the table saw to help you figure that out.
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What is a Radial Arm Saw?
The radial arm saw is a power tool created by DeWalt in the 1920s. The radial arm saw was such a huge success that it was one of the primary contributors towards DeWalt becoming a leading power tool brand.
The radial arm saw is a type of saw that features a raised arm with a circular saw hanging from it. The saw slides back and forth along that arm when you push or pull it. To make cuts, you simply need to pull the rotating blade along the material.
Thanks to its design, the radial arm saw is especially stellar at making crosscuts, half-lap joints, dados, and rabbets. Additionally, radial arm saws come with a variety of settings and configurations to increase their versatility.
For example, you can configure them to make bevel cuts and miter cuts, as long as you have the necessary attachments.
You can also use this saw for ripping wood along the grain. Radial arm saws are also quite effective at cutting through heavy or dense materials.
While the radial arm saw will require more skill and expertise to use than the table saw, this tool is extremely efficient and reliable once you master how to use it.
What are Table Saws?
This power saw features a circular blade at its base. The base is fixed beneath the workbench to allow you to raise or lower the blade, as per circumstances.
The table saw is renowned for its ability to rip wood without difficulties. Additionally, these power tools are also exemplary at making cross cuts, as well as bevel and miter cuts.
You can also create dados and grooves using this machine. Nonetheless, you will have to be skilled at using the table saw, as those cuts require the blade to be set at a precise depth.
The top section of most table saws features a miter gauge and a fence to facilitate a wide array of cuts. Additionally, the blade of most table saw models bevels to allow for more complex cuts.
It is for those reasons, therefore, that the stationary table saw is a staple in most workshops. Woodworkers appreciate the ease of use, comfort, and high work output that comes with using this saw.
Table saws, especially the modern ones, are also safe to use because they come with automatic braking systems. These systems automatically stop the blade when they sense that it is in contact with foreign material, such as flesh.
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Radial Arm Saw and Table Saw: How Do They Compare?
Even though the radial arm saw and the table saw handle several related tasks, their unique designs give each saw inherent strengths and weaknesses. Therefore to help you determine which of these saws is ideal for you, let us look at how they compare based on the following factors:
Since the blade of a radial arm saw hovers over the workstation, it is more flexible in movement. This means that instead of moving the material to the saw, you move the blade instead. On the other hand, Table saws have their blades attached to the table, meaning that you have to move your material to the saw to make cuts.
Since the blade of a radial arm saw is dexterous, you will only need a small amount of space to operate, as you do not have to move the materials. With the blade of a table saw being fixed, you will require more space across all directions to align your workpieces across various positions.
As such, if you have limited space in your workshop, a radial arm saw might be the ideal saw for you.
The ideal power saw for your workshop should do more than just cut wood, which is what the radial arm saw does. For example, the radial arm saw can also serve as a planer, sander, or router when you fit it with the appropriate attachments.
On the other hand, a jobsite table saw can serve no other purpose other than to cut wood. Therefore, if you are looking for a saw that can perform other duties apart from making cuts, the radial arm saw is the tool to go for.
Related Reading: Band Saw Vs Table Saw: Which is Better for You?
When dealing with power tools, you cannot afford to let your guard down because things can go from normal to dire in seconds when using these types of tools. Nonetheless, some power machines are inherently more dangerous than others.
When it comes to power saws, the radial arm saw has a higher degree of risk associated with it than the table saw because the blade of a radial arm saw is exposed and constantly moving. Therefore, losing focus even for a second when using this power saw can result in dire consequences.
The blade of a table saw, on the other hand, is fixed in place in addition to the table concealing a significant portion of the blade. As a result, the table saw is inherently less risky than the radial arm saw.
You shouldn’t have to break the bank to get a good power saw for your workshop. Thanks to their widespread popularity, table saws are available across a wide range of price points based on the application.
For example, a table saw meant for small workshops will be much cheaper than that used for industrial purposes.
Radial saws, on the other hand, are typically marketed to professionals. As such, they are generally more expensive than table saws.
It is no wonder that more and more people are opting for cheaper alternatives, such as circular saws or sliding compound miter saws.
Related Reading: Table Saw Vs Miter Saw Vs Circular Saw: What’s the Difference?
Radial Arm Saw Vs. Table Saw: Final Thoughts
Power saws are a common wood workshop tool. Nonetheless, it can be tricky to determine the ideal power saw for your workshop, especially if you are still relatively green in woodworking.
This decision can be especially difficult when it comes to the radial arm saw vs. table saw, as they are both incredibly popular among woodworkers.
Ultimately, your choice should come down to what suits your needs best. Hopefully, this article has been of help in that regard.