Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw – Which One To Choose?

There are many types of saws that are available in the market. One of the most popular is the miter saw. On the other hand, there is the radial arm saw. Both of these saws are available in many different sizes and with different features.

If you are in the middle of radial arm saw vs miter saw battle, you will find it difficult to choose which one you should buy. Therefore, it will be very helpful if you can understand the pros and cons of these two saws.

Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw
The main difference between radial arm saws and miter saws this is radial arm saws are better for making long, straight cuts, while miter saws are better for making short, precise cuts.

What is a Radial Arm Saw

Radial Arm Saw

A radial arm saw is a type of saw that is used for cross-cutting and ripping. It is also used for cutting door frames.

A RAS is designed with a long arm that is connected to the main base. This arm is placed in a circular fashion with a blade that is placed at the end of the arm. The blade is located in the center of the circular arm. The circular arm is placed on a pivot, thus the arm can swing from side to side and also move up and down.

If we are comparing radial arm saw vs compound miter saw, they are very similar. The only difference between them is that the radial arm saw is designed for greater portability. This is because the blades and the motor of a RAS are located in the main base.

What is a Miter Saw

Miter Saw

Miter saw is a power saw whose blade can be tilted to the left or right. The saws are used to cut different types of materials, such as wood, drywall, metal, plastic, etc. The saws come with a stand and a base, which are made of cast iron. The base is mounted on a wheel so that it can be moved easily from one place to another.

The blade of a miter saw is placed perpendicular to the handle and is made of steel. The blade is mounted on a tiltable carriage, which allows it to move in a circular motion. The blade usually has teeth on both sides, which can be used to cut both across a board and along the grain.

Difference Between Radial Arm Saw and Miter Saw

Radial arm saw and miter saw are two types of saws that are used in carpentry. They are used to make accurate and straight cuts in various types of wood. They are powerful and relatively large which makes them the best choice for making large pieces of wood.

It is very important to understand the difference between a radial arm saw and a miter saw. The main differences are in their functioning and their application. While a RAS can be used to make cross cuts on thick pieces of wood, a miter saw is used to make cross cuts on thin pieces of wood.

Hence, you can use a radial arm saw to make cross cuts on wide pieces of wood. You can also use a RAS to make bevel cuts.

A RAS is perfect for making cuts on large pieces of wood and on irregularly shaped pieces of wood. The main difference between the radial arm saw and a miter saw is that the miter saw is a hand saw that is used for cutting and trimming wood products. On the other hand, a radial arm saw is a machine that is used for making precise cuts.

In addition, the ways the two machines cut materials are very different. Radial arm saws use a circular saw to cut materials while miter saws use a reciprocating saw.

What is a Radial Arm Saw Used For

Just like the name suggests, radial arm saws are saws that are powered by radial motors. The name radial is actually given to the motor because it is positioned in a way that it resembles radial lines which are seen on a watch.

There are different types of radial arm saws and they help the user to cut in a variety of ways.



When you want to make a crosscut, you use a radial arm saw. These saws have the ability to move the blade not only back and forth, but also in a circular motion. The blade of this saw is connected to the motor, which is mounted on a swivel plate. As the motor turns, the blade is able to move in a circular motion, allowing you to make a long, uninterrupted cut.

Crosscuts are made by positioning the wood in the right position at the saw blade. The saw blade is then lowered and the cut is made by moving the wood against the blade. Instead of making a straight cut, the wood is cut circularly.

Miters, bevels, and compound cuts

compound cuts

To do a miter or bevel cut, the radial arm saw is moved to the appropriate angle. The saw blade is then slid into the cut line. This is done by moving the saw arm in the appropriate direction.

It’s not as easy as with a miter saw, radial arm saw’s accuracy is not as good as a miter saw or a table saw, but it does its job very well. The RAS can be used to cut compound miters, which means that you can cut a piece of wood at a 45-degree angle.

Dadoes and rabbets


To edge glue, you need to cut dadoes and rabbets. This is where the radial arm saw is a huge help. The saw can cut dadoes and rabbets at different depths.

When you’re cutting a dado or a rabbet, you need to place the material on the saw’s table and then use the fence to guide the material. The material is then moved and the saw blade is aligned with a mark on the fence. If the material is thicker, then you will have to use a stop.



Ripping is a very common and often used technique of cutting. This is where the piece which is being cut is faced in one direction. This is done in order to get lumber that is rectangular in shape.

The RAS can cut long or large pieces of wood or other materials by ripping. Ripping is basically done by making a cut with the material moving away from the saw.

What is a Miter Saw Used For

A saw can be used to do various tasks as a woodworker or a carpenter, to cut, shape, and sculpt various materials. It is useful for those who want to build a house or a shed. It can also be used to cut away unwanted items, make things look prettier and more appealing, or it can be used for several other tasks. Which? Let’s take a closer look.



Crosscuts are the opposite of rip cuts – they cut across the wood grain, rather than with it. Crosscuts are generally done at 90 degrees to the wood grain, but not always.

To do crosscut with a miter saw, you should keep the saw blade level with the wood and saw to the line. It is also best to start the cut with the blade at a low angle, and then gradually increase the angle as the cut continues.



When it comes to miter cuts, it is easy. You just need to make sure that the saw blade is at a 45-degree angle to the wood. This will ensure that you are able to make a clean and accurate miter. You should also make sure that there is a little bit of a bevel on the wood, and the saw should be pushed forward and towards the material you’re working with.


bevel cuts

Bevels are cuts that are made in a sloping manner. They can be done by using a miter saw, a radial arm or a band saw. To make a bevel cut, you need to tilt the blade so that it forms an angle of less than 90 degrees with the saw’s fence. This allows you to make cuts at various angles.

Just tilt your saw blade to a certain angle, and that’s the whole point of bevel cuts, to make a smooth, even tilt on the surface of the material.

Compound cut

Compound cuts

Compound cuts are when the saws are used at an angle, from the top and bottom, or from one side to the other. This is used to make things fit better and more precisely. A compound miter can be used to cut different pieces of wood at different angles.


Some of the questions that you might have in your mind are listed below. These questions will help you to get a clear idea about the differences between both tools.

How fast can both of the tools cut?

If you are looking for a fast-cutting tool then you should choose a miter saw. It has a much faster cutting speed than a RAS. Though, a radial arm saw can also be fast if you use a good blade.

How to cut precisely with a radial arm saw?

The most common way to cut accurately with a radial arm saw is to use a template. If you want to repeat an exact cut, you can use a template to trace the cut outline. If you have to make a new cut, you can make a template to use as a guide.

Are radial arm saws dangerous to use?

Radial arm saws are among the safest saws available. Their high safety rating is due to the fact that the saw blade is enclosed when in operation. However, it is always a good idea to treat this type of saw with the same respect and precautions that you would any power saw.

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Final Cut

In the end, it is truly a personal preference which tool you prefer. Some people feel that a radial arm saw is more versatile since it can cut wood and metal, while a miter saw is limited to cutting wood. Radial arm saws are generally bigger and heavier, while miter saws are smaller and lighter.

What saw do you have? Do you like it? What would you choose if you had to choose? Share with is your thoughts.

Sean Chapman
Sean Chapman

“A good tool stays with you for many years and choosing carefully ensures the job is done right, your work is neat, and the tool is always a pleasure to use”

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