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Radial Arm Saw Vs Miter Saw – Find the Difference?

Choosing between a radial arm saw and a miter saw can be challenging, especially for both seasoned woodworkers and hobbyists alike. Each saw has its unique strengths and is suited to different types of cuts and projects. A radial arm saw is versatile for a variety of cuts, including crosscuts, miters, and more complex joinery, making it a staple in many workshops for its adaptability. However, it occupies more space and requires careful handling to maintain accuracy and safety.

On the other hand, a miter saw is preferred for precision in making angled cuts, such as miters and bevels, which are essential for tasks like framing and molding. Miter saws are generally more compact, easier to use, and safer for beginners. They are ideal for projects that require repetitive clean cuts with high precision. Understanding the specific capabilities and limitations of each saw will help you make an informed decision based on your particular woodworking needs and the space available in your workshop.

Comparison Table Between Radial arm saw vs Miter saw

Radial Arm Saw Miter Saw
Versatility Angular cuts and trimming Angular cuts and trimming
Blade Straight cutting blade Fixed base pivotal blade
Blade Size 10 to 22 inches 8 to 10 inches
Cutting action Push, pull rail Push down
Accuracy Precise Good
Type of cuts Crosscuts, bevel, miter, compound, dado and rip-cuts Miter, bevel, crosscuts, and compound cuts
Portability No Yes
Applications Carpentry and woodworking Trim work, crown molding, frame work, and base molding
Safety Requires extreme caution Relatively safe. Includes fence and blade guard

What is a Radial Arm Saw?

The radial arm saw is one of the most versatile tools for woodworking. Similar to a miter saw it comes with a circular blade that is mounted to the sliding arm. It lets you make a variety of cuts and you can even adjust the blade to different angles and degrees. In a radial arm saw, the blade diameter varies from 12 to 22 inches. You can easily use it for cutting thick lumber. Whether it is ripping or cross-cutting, it lets you perform both.

Here are the features of a radial arm saw.

  • Allows rotating in different depths and angles for versatile cuts
  • Comes with a power circular saw that has a mechanical arm.
  • Suitable for blade diameter of 12 to 22 inches.
  • Enables attaching dadoes blades.
  • Provide better accuracy and stability with the side fence.

Radial Arm Saws

Radial Arm Saw Pros and Cons

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of radial arm saw that you should be aware of.


  • Versatile design: A radial arm saw can make a variety of rotations and changes for better versatility. It enables ripping and there is more cut capacity.
  • Powerful cutting depth: The blade diameter of the radial arm saw can cut thick lumber. It works by providing a powerful cutting depth.
  • Compact size: Compared to a table saw, a radial arm saw is compact and does not occupy much space. In doing so, it helps to reduce clutter by removing unwanted tools.


  • Safety: The mobility of the tool makes it prone to cause injuries. For this reason, it is important to use guards and other safety tools.
  • Lacks precision: It is not beginner-friendly as it will not let you provide effortless precision.
  • Accuracy: The angled and beveled cuts are not as accurate as we miter saw.

What Are The Applications Of Radial Arm Saw?

  • Crosscuts:One of the best things about radial arm saws is that it lets you make crosscuts. You will have to measure the wood piece by using a scale and mark it with a marker or pencil. By aligning the blade and lowering it to the piece, you will have to hold the stock against the fence. Follow it by pulling the saw towards yourself once the piece is cut. Before getting into any interaction, you will have to turn off the blade and return to a neutral position.
  • Miters, bevels, and compound cuts:In a miter saw, you will find bevel and miter release levels. This lets you have the degree of your preference while cutting. In comparison, a radial arm saw will let you set the degrees that require more measurements. As it lacks actual indication, you will have to make sure the blade is lifted while making any adjustments. You can lock the angle and you will also have to set the cut depth.
  • Dadoes and rabbets: A radial arm saw also lets you set the depth for making their dadoes. You can even utilize it for making rabbets. These cuts come in handy while working on different projects. It lets you create perfect U-shaped cuts across the width or L-shaped cuts along the board’s edge.
  • Ripping: You can even use the radial arm saw for ripping. All you have to do is to rotate the blade and lock it in place. You can then release the pawl and adjust it to the height for preventing any jams. It can be hazardous and you will have to be cautious while cutting in this way. While ripping, you will have to cut by moving the material away from the saw.

How Does Radial Arm Saw Operate?

The versatile design of a radial arm saw lets you use it for making a wide range of cuts. It is quite powerful and can deal with stubborn or thick pieces of wood. Even the compact size of the radial arm saw makes it easy to handle. However, make sure that you maintain better safety while using it. It is best used for ripping and cross-cutting.

In a radial arm saw, you will find a long arm that is linked with the main base. The arm comes in a circular design and has a blade at its end. Even the blade is in the center of the arm. In doing so, the arm swings from side to side and moves up and down. You can see that it operates similarly to the compound miter saw.

What is a Miter Saw?

A miter saw lets you cut in angled positions. It is a stationary power tool that comes with a circular blade. With it, there will be accurate and quick crosscuts. While using a miter saw you can have better control and precision as it comes with a hinged arm that is attached to the slit and fence.

The blade size usually ranges from 8 to 12 inches for better precision. You will also find a blade guard that offers better safety. Even the dust collection mechanism provides the perfect environment. A miter saw comes with the following variations

Compound miter: It lets you pivot the blade from left to right from manipulating the saw in any direction.

Dual compound miter: This is the dual version of the compound miter as it lets you tilt left and right and makes sure there will be any angle beveling.

Sliding compound miter: The sliding compound miter is for sliding backward and forward in compound movements. This lets you have increased length while working on wood pieces.

Here are the features of a miter saw

  • Side for better stability.
  • Allows locking the rotating angles for accurate adjustments and precise cuts.
  • Comes with a powerful motorized system.
  • The blade size ranges from 8 to 12 inches.
  • Includes a protective blade guard and a dust collector for maximum safety.
  • There can be table extensions or clamps.

Miter Saw Pros and Cons 

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of miter saw that you should be aware of.


  • Cut: It can make four variations of cuts at an angle by utilizing the workstation. One can even opt for customized cuts.
  • Precision: The motorized system and blade diameter help in better precision. You can use it for cutting any piece of wood as it comes with a rotation feature.
  • Variation: There are many variations for additional versatility.
  • Safety: Offers optimal safety with the dust collector and safety guard.


  • Limited cuts: Compared to the radial arm saw it can make limited cuts. For better versatility, you need to get a variation.
  • Not so powerful: A miter saw is not as powerful and it will not cater to a thick wood.

What Are The Applications Of Miter Saw?

  • Crosscuts:A miter saw lets you make standard cross-cuts by slicing across the grain direction. This type of saw can be perfect for making quick and easy crosscuts. Another advantage is that it does not require clamps or scale. By only placing the wood against the fence, you can cut to your desired width.
  • Miters:A miter cut is perfect for creating corners. It is angled and can be perfect for making frames or boxes. As the miter saw can pivot to different degrees, it makes sure there will be easy miters. The hinged handle also helps to offer better stability.
  • Bevels:Bevel cuts are also angled and get through the wood’s thickness. Utilizing a miter saw lets you make easy bevel cuts at your selected angle. It features an angular blade that helps to make an automatic bevel.
  • Compound cut:With the miter saw, you can also make compound cuts. This makes it perfect for crown wood moldings or kitchen renovations. A compound cut involves a blend of bevel and miter cut. By adjusting the bevel and miter angles, you can have the preferred degrees.

How Does Miter Saw Operate?

The mechanism of a miter saw is according to the design. In comparison to other saws, a miter saw offers high control and great precision. With it, there can be a refined output depending upon the type of project. A miter saw also helps to reduce your time while cutting the materials. It features a fence and a slit and the blade is 8 to 12 inches in diameter. It comes with a pivoted-added circular saw which is placed on the workstation.

Being a stationary tool, you will have to take the saw blade to the material for cutting it. It does not involve putting the blade with the piece. Using the miter saw involves holding the workpiece against the fence of the blade. You will have to give an accurate cutting angle to the plane of the blade and the biggest workpiece edge. The cutting angle becomes 90 degrees while cutting in standard position.

What Are The Main Differences Between Radial Arm Saw and Miter Saw?

  • Higher Cutting Depth:Miter saws are not capable of cutting thick wood. While dealing with thicker woods, you will have to opt for a radial arm saw. It can easily cut thick lumber due to the higher cutting depth.
  • More Choices of Cuts:When it comes to versatility, a radial arm saw can be your better choice. A miter saw provides you with four basic cuts. However, a radial arm saw lets you have more types of cuts making it ideal for professional purposes.
  • Portability:You will need a station while working with a radial arm saw. However, this is completely opposite when it comes to a miter saw. You can take your miter saw anywhere you want it with relative ease. On the contrary, moving a radial arm saw can be very difficult.
  • Lack of Precision:A miter saw stands out when it comes to making precise cuts. While using a radial arm saw for precise cuts, there can be a huge difference. However, it also depends upon the thickness of the wood, the precision required, and the type of cuts required.


Both the radial arm saw and miter saw come with their own pros and cons. If you are a beginner, your ideal choice will be a miter saw. However, a radial arm saw offers you more variety that makes it perfect for professional purposes. As these are suitable for woodworking purposes, you will have to use them safely. A radial arm saw offers advanced shaping flexibility but there can be safety concerns.

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