Radial Arm Saw Vs. Miter Saw

Whether you’re into carpentry or woodworking, you’ve probably come across radial arm saws and miter saws. While they’re both intended to make some of your projects a lot easier, you may be wondering what they do well and where they differ. All this information and more is below!

What Are They?

Why not kick things off with the radial arm saw? It’s incredibly versatile, and it’s an excellent replacement for a series of other tools. You can identify it by its sliding arm with a circular mounted blade.

The design makes it incredibly effective at cutting through wood stock in various ways. Much of this is achievable through the blade’s ability to accommodate adjustment to various angles. Note that some level of manual measuring is required to achieve the best results.

On the flip side, there is the miter saw. It also features a circular blade but is intended purely for precision and speed. Additionally, the hinged arm design tends to make for greater control.

Miter Saw Pros and Cons

How about starting on a positive note? There are several pros to going for the miter saw. These are as follows:

  • It’s hard to beat the sheer precision that you can achieve with ease
  • There’s a built-in dust collector and safety guard that contribute to cleanliness and protection, respectively
  • You can use either the blade or the workstation to make angle adjustments, making for more measured and deliberate coats

With that said, there are some down sites to note, which are:

Radial Arm Saw Pros and Cons

As is the case with the miter saw, the radial arm saw has its own set of advantages, which are:

  • These designs are incredibly versatile, thanks to the immense maneuverability that is synonymous with them
  • With a relatively small footprint, the radial saw helps you to keep things less crowded, especially since it can replace several saws and other tools 
  • The blade diameter gives you the advantage of quite a powerful cutting depth, able to take on everyday woodworking use while being suitable for materials, such as lumber.

There are a couple of negatives to bear in mind, which are:

  • You give up some level of precision by going for a radial arm saw
  • Since there is no built-in guard and buying one means giving up some mobility, you compromise on safety and you’re more susceptible to injury

Major Differences

So, now that you know a bit more about the qualities that come with each of the two designs. What are some of the key differences that you should remember?


While the radial arm saw helps you to declutter with its versatile applications, it requires a station that translates to fixed positioning. The miter saw, on the other hand, allows you to move around with it quite easily. 

So, you can bring the miter saw to the work, but you must bring the work to the radial arm saw.

Cut Variety

As indicated before, the radial arm saw is incredibly versatile, and that means it gives you a broader range where the types of cuts offered are concerned. The miter saw does have multiple cuts, but it boils down to four.


Unfortunately, the radial arm saw gives up some level of precision when you compare it to a miter saw. Note that depending on the type of cut you are going for, this may not even be a problem. However, it’s something to keep in mind if your specific use case calls for a little more accuracy.

Cutting Depth

Based on the blade diameter you’re working with, the radial arm saw allows for a greater cutting depth. with it, you can take on thicker lumber variants. Miter saws don’t do well with thick pieces of wood.

Final Remarks

Each saw has areas in which it shines. Before you purchase one (unless you are going for both), you want to pay attention to your specific needs. For example, if you are going to exclusively work with thick pieces of wood, then you may want a radial arm saw since that’s more suited to that kind of work.

Why trust Handyman.Guide?

s written by Itamar Ben-Dor, who has 25 years of experience in renovations, carpentry, locks, creation, landscaping, painting, furniture construction, and furniture renovation, works with concrete, plumbing, door repair, and more.

This article was written by Itamar Ben-Dor, who has 25 years of experience in renovations, carpentry, locks, creation, landscaping, painting, furniture construction, and furniture renovation, works with concrete, plumbing, door repair, and more.

Disclosure: handyman.guide participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Itamar Ben Dor

Itamar Ben Dor

My father is a practical engineer, and as a hobby he was also involved in construction, renovations, carpentry and woodwork at home; So there was always tools, saws, drills and more at home. Already I was a little kid Dad and I would renovate the house. Once we built a shed for garden tools, once we did flooring for the garden, once we renovated the bathroom and that’s the way it is. Long before there was an internet, directories and plans. We would build things, kitchen cabinets, install electrical appliances, do flooring, pour concrete and more ... I in this blog want to pass on to you the experience I have gained over the last 20 plus-minus years since I was a child to this day and give you information about the best tools, project plans, guides and more.