Radial arm saws versus table saws

Table saws and radial arm saws have slight differences in configuration. Both are considered indispensable tools for woodworking, necessary for domestic carpentry. Both saws appear similar, offering a tabletop surface. However, each of these saws offers some advantages and disadvantages that you should be aware of.

Understanding the saw setup

The table saw consists of a metal table. A spherical saw-edged blade sticks out of the table. The extent to which the blade protrudes can be easily adjusted. The blade is driven by an electric motor. The saw has a cutting fence around the entry point, leading to the blade. This is necessary to ensure that the wood remains securely in position when the blade cuts it. In table saws, the wood moves towards the blade. The angles of the blade can be altered but it remains securely in position.

The same motor-driven blade configuration is also found on radial arm saws. However, it differs slightly in the positioning of the blade. The blade does not protrude through a table, it stands on it. The wood is laid horizontally, on a table extension, called a yoke. However, the yoke is intended simply to position the wood and not hold it in a fixed position. Here the blade moves through the wood, the blade is portable.

Pros and cons of table saws

Table saws are considered the safest option. Since the blade is firmly secured, the chances of injury due to the uncontrolled action of the blade are negated. The presence of a stable rotating blade means that homeowners with basic woodworking skills can also use a table saw. However, table saws need more clearance to cut a piece of wood. Since the blade remains stationary, space is needed for the cut wood to collect from the other end of the table. Additionally, table saws are a more affordable option, commonly sold in many easy-to-understand configurations.

Pros and cons of radial saws

The radial arm saw has become popular due to its more compact size. It can be squeezed in small garages. It is often installed against a wall, as no clearance is needed on both sides of the blade. However, radial saws are considered a riskier option. They are not intended for homeowners with basic woodworking skills. The presence of a maneuverable blade increases the probability of accidents. Radial arm saws are a newer introduction compared to table saws. The presence of a moving knife means that the price varies between numerous retailers. Each brand offers different safety ratings and features that ensure precise blade movement. Radial saws are generally expensive and are generally sold with various blade attachments. Retail options based on such considerations can be overwhelming for first-time buyers.

Choosing the right saw

To choose a suitable saw, you need to be aware of the various woodworking activities for which these saws are best suited.

Table saw

They are ideal for making ripped cuts – deep, longitudinal cuts, made along the grain of the wood. Table saws are recommended for ripping because they have a more stable work surface. If you are a hobbyist and need it for basic cabinet work, table saws present a sensible option.

Radial arm saws

They are ideal for making more demanding manipulative cuts such as miter cuts and cross cuts. The radial arm provides a very skilled sawing element. Cross cutting involves cutting across the width of the wood and this becomes easier if the blade is flexible. This also makes it easier to move around the wood and shape it accordingly. Also, the motors found in radial saws are a bit more powerful, making them a better choice for cutting old, hard wood. Radial saws should be considered if you plan to undertake more complex woodworking projects, such as trimming and remodeling wood. These saws offer greater flexibility in terms of packaged bladeless options. Most radial arm saws are sold with multiple accessories, as accessories for sanding, routers and planers. These accessories can be used to avoid sawing,

Looking to buy a new electric saw? Check out our Electric Saw Buyer’s Guide.

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