Well, you're right...modern sliding mitre saws can do a lot.... but there are several things a radial arm can do easily that a miter saw can't.... or can't easily. F'r instance, you can put a dado blade in a radial arm, and set the cutting depth above the table, and zip out bookcase sides or housed stair stringers or make tenons on cabinet parts fast and easy. Ripping's a bit spooky, but if you tilt the guard down so it almost touches the wood, there's no place for your fingers to get in there....
Back in the day, every house carpenter around here had one, it was always set up in a long specially-built bench-top so there was plenty of support for wood being cut, and got used for everything ...... making piles of identical blocking or window framing parts, cutting mitered trim ends, even following a chalk line to straighten a crooked piece of wood. They were the one tool that did it all. They had a reputation for being 'almost' accurate, but that's because nobody bothered to spend the hour it takes to tune one up, or put a decent blade in them.... they can be dead on if set up correctly.
They are also much quieter than a mitre saw, the induction motors just hum along.....
I have a late 40's/early 50/s center-pivot Delta radial arm, that I was given...and restored and tuned up. I use my fancy mitre-saw way less now that the r/a saw has come to live in my shop.....
Which leads to today's shop tip:
How to save money on quality tools:
watch your local Craigslist for vintage power tools being sold...often by widows or children of the deceased..... old iron tools of a quality almost not available nowadays can often be bought for $100-200... if they still run and don't sound like the bearings are lubricated with rocks, they are likely still in fine shape. (just stay away from mid-vintage Craftsman stuff.... once cast iron got replaced with stamped steel, they became definitely homeowner quality.)
F'r instance, a quick look showed me this saw:
new, a unisaw is close to $2K
And, a Delta radial arm saw...for a whole $50!
Edited by roscoe, 21 July 2019 - 07:39 PM.