Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw – The Main Difference

Both a miter saw and a radial saw serve more or less the same purpose i.e, cutting through the woods. However, there are some minor differences that can change the whole game and their demand for different types of projects as well. 

In the debate of radial arm saw vs miter saw, many novice woodworkers may get bewildered for making the right choice. The use of each saw depends on the nature of your project. This article will provide you with the details of the usage, features, and cutting capacities of both saws. 

Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw

By the completion of reading, you’ll better understand the similarities and differences between a radial arm saw and a miter saw. Look through the reading thoroughly and you’ll end up gaining more information regarding the matter. 

Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw Which one to choose?

It totally depends on your requirement and expertise as well as which saw to choose. For instance, in my case, I prefer a radial arm saw over a miter saw. The reason is that being a professional and experienced woodworker I get to deal with a high capacity work more often. So a radial saw suits me more. But it totally depends on the need, you can not just go for randomly selecting your tools, you have to look thoroughly through every possible aspect. 

Miter Saw

Miter saw is one of the power tools which has a circular saw that you can fix with the horizontal sliding arm of the equipment. The primary function of this saw is to make accurate cuts through wood pieces. 

The saw uses a newer manufacturing technology which makes it easier to impeccably deal with smaller woods. They are easy to handle and manage as compared to a radial saw. You’ll find it unique from the other saws available in the market.

radial arm saw vs miter saw

The hinged arm of the saw offers high control ability. You can effortlessly fasten your wood pieces with the help of a slit and fence to make the cuts. The blade size varies from 8-12 inches in diameter which is the main thing in getting all the correctness in the trims. The saw is portable as well.

Also Check Best Miter Saw

This saw comes with a blade guard and dust collection which makes the dealing safe and workplace mess-free. The user can cut at any degree of angle with the help of rotations for making miters. 

In this saw, you can get three basic variations to make the cutting butter smooth. 

Compound miter to pivot the blade from left to right for high maneuverability. 

Dual Compound miter for easy tilting to the left and right to offer fast bevels at multiple angles. 

Sliding Compound Miter allows effortless backward and forward movements to deal with larger wood pieces. 

Types of cuts in Miter Saw

You can essentially make four types of cuts using the miter saw. 


The miter is an angled cut that is used to create corners. You can make cuts for frames, boxes, trim, and moldings.  The miter saw can pivot to several angles using the hinged handle and fence to give impeccable cuts. 

Cross Cuts

Crosscut is a basic cut that makes the cut across the grain of the wood with the help of smaller teeth of a saw. These are universal cuts that are the requirement of almost every woodworking project.

You can possibly make crosscuts with every saw but in the case of miter saw, the work is less hectic and flawless. There’s no need for strapping clamps and scale to get the work done. All you need to do is to put the piece against the fence and then steadily bring the saw closer.  Cuts of any width can be made as per the blade’s capacity. 

Compound Cut

A compound cut is basically a hybrid cut made of two angles, the miter angle and the bevel angle. The bevel angle is achieved on the vertical tilt of a saw blade. Whereas, the meter angles can be adjusted on the miter gauge of the table saw. 

The compound cuts can be easily made through a miter saw. The only thing to take care of is the adjustment of miter and bevel angles. You can set these angles to the desired degree before cutting through the wood pieces. 

Also Check Best 8 1/2 Sliding Miter Saw

Pros of Using a Miter Saw

  • It allows you to make customized cuts at angles of your own choice. 
  • The saw utilizes the blade’s monetized system along with the blade to make smooth cuts. Moreover, you can rationalize your cuts with the help of rotation features. 
  • You can use its different variations to add more versatility and speed in functioning. 
  • The safety blade guards and dust collection system ensures user safety and convenience


  • Apart from its usage for making cuts, it lacks in power that is required to deal with larger wood cutting. 
  • When drawing a comparison between radial arm saw vs miter saw, you’ll observe that miter saw offers less variety of cuts. But you can add to its versatility by acquiring its multiple variations. 

Radial Arm Saw

Radial arm saw offers advanced cutting options which makes it an absolute choice for cutting through larger wood logs. You can adjust it to a wide range of angles. It resembles the miter saw in appearance because of the sliding arm and the circular blade. 

This saw has lost its popularity among new craftsmen but it’s still found in most professional’s toolboxes. Its versatility makes it count for several cutting purposes. You can achieve a great level of precision and accuracy in the cuts made with this saw. 

radial arm saw

The blade comes in different ranges of 12 to 22 inches. Unlike other saws that lack safety, it comes with locks and a side build fence that offers stability and safety.

Types of Cuts Made with Radial Saw

You can utilize a radial saw to make four types of cuts.

Ripping wood pieces

The rip saw can be used to rip wood materials. It allows you to part the pieces lengthwise easily. In order to do that, you have to rotate the blade and lock its position. In order to avoid any jams in kick-backs, release the pawl and adjust it according to the height of the board. 

You need to be extra vigilant while doing this because, during this activity, the blade can be most hazardous. 

Dado and Rabbet Cuts

The rabbets are L-shaped cuts that are made by the edge of the board. While dadoes are U-shaped cuts that are made across the width of the wood. Both the cuts are highly useful in the joining of woods in different projects.

The radial saw allows you to adjust the cutting depth as per the requirement of your project. With that, it can be used to make perfect dadoes and rabbets cuts. 


Creating crosscuts has never been that simple with a radial saw. All you need to do is to measure the wood slab with the help of a scale and make a mark using a pencil. Don’t forget to consider the width of the blade. 

You May Also Like Single Vs Double Bevel Miter Saw

Now bring the blade down and align it before you turn on the power. Keep holding the stock in opposition of the fence and try to tug the saw in your direction when the cut is being made. When the desired cut is achieved, turn off the saw and bring it to the neutral position. 

Bevel, Miter, and compound cuts

The radial saw features bevel release levels which allow you to manually achieve the degree of cuts you want to attain. But for that, you have to make sure that the blade is pulled up when you make adjustments and lock the angle before making the cut. 

You can also manually adjust the cutting depth as per your desire. But in radial saw, unlike miter saw, in-depth measurements of the degrees are required because the saw itself doesn’t indicate any adjustments.

Pros of Using a Radial Arm Saw

  • It offers a powerful cutting depth. You can effortlessly tear apart the larger logs and can deal with daily-driven projects as well. 
  • You get a number of rotations and a degree for high maneuverability with a radial saw. 
  • It is compact in size and won’t occupy much of your workshop’s space. 


  • It is less precise as compared to a miter saw. It is more of a professional saw and isn’t suited for beginners. 
  • It doesn’t come with safety guards and other safety tools. So you have to buy them additionally in order to ensure your safety while working. 

Difference Between Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw

The main difference between a Radial arm saw and Miter saw is cutting capacity and variety of cuts. Both the saws more or less serve the same cutting purposes. However, there are some considerable differences that can change the demand and usability of both. 

radial arm saw vs compound miter saw

Cutting Capacity

Both saws differ in offering cutting capacity. A radial arm saw can cut through larger and thicker woods whereas a miter saw is more ideal to be used for smaller pieces. If your project type is to deal with thicker wood, a radial saw is a wise choice for you. 

Variety of Cuts

When it comes to versatility, the radial saw wins the league. A miter saw can make only four basic types of cuts. On the contrary, a radial saw is more adaptable for multiple cuts such as crosscuts, bevel, rabbets, bevel, miter, and compound cuts, etc.


A miter saw serves well when it comes to portability and handiness. You need a specific place for a radial saw to get it fixed while in the case of a miter saw, you can transport it to your desired workplace easily. 

The Bottom line-Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw

To wrap it up, a miter saw is your saw if you have to deal mostly with home improvement tasks. You can make all kinds of basic cuts with it along with enjoying the portability and low cost as well. On the other hand, if you need to deal with some professional jobs and need a variety of cuts, a radial saw would be a more wise choice. It surely would cost you some extra bucks but you can enjoy bringing life to a number of your dream projects with it. 

FAQ’s-Radial Arm Saw vs Miter Saw

Are radial arm saws obsolete?

Radial arms saws aren’t obsolete completely. The versatility of the saw has made it sustain its place in most of the craftsmen’s workshops to date. But the fact that you can also achieve a variety of cuts with a miter saw in addition to the handiness it provides, the ball goes to the miter saw’s court.

What is a radial arm saw?

A radial arms saw is a versatile stationary power tool that can effortlessly cut through thicker logs. It has a blade that is attached to the hanging arm with its head. It offers a variety of cuts, trims and can easily cut boards in lengths. 

Also Check How to Unlock Dewalt Miter Saw

Leave a Comment