Saw Blade Selection
Click here to download a printer friendly version of Tip-
1-2 (292 KB)
Help with Downloading
the RIGHT saw blade for the job:
saws typically come with a single Combination-style (multi-purpose)
saw blade...and the majority of woodworkers will use this
single blade for virtually every cut they make, except for
dadoes. For most applications, this is an acceptable approach...as
long as that single Combination-style blade is of a high quality
and most of all – SHARP.
Combination-style blades are the “Jacks-of-all-trades” of
blades, it’s important to note that using this one-blade-for-everything
approach will result in some compromises in operational efficiencies
most of your work involves the building of simple, small projects
where you may only be making a few of each type of cut, a
Combination Blade may be all you need. However, larger scale
projects often involve scores of saw cuts...some of which
may require specialized capabilities. In those instances,
having the RIGHT type of blade for each job can make a significant
difference in those cutting efficiencies and performance.
a listing of the most common types of available blades and
why they’re best-suited for particular tasks.
Blades are designed for cutting with the grain
of the wood. Since this is easier than cutting across the
wood fibers, rip blades have fewer teeth with a larger “hook
angle”, which allows them to cut more aggressively and take
a bigger bite of wood. And, since they are able to take this
bigger bite, they also need to have deeper gullets to accommodate
the rapid removal of large amounts of waste.
Blades are designed for cutting across the grain
of the wood. Since this is more difficult than cutting with
the wood grain, crosscutting blades have more teeth with a
smaller “hook angle”. This provides additional cutting edges
to make the more difficult job easier. However, it also means
that although rip blades have more gullets than crosscut blades,
each gullet on a crosscut blade will be shallower than those
on a rip blade.
Blades offer the best of both worlds. With teeth that
are typically arranged in “sets”, they may have a deep gullet,
followed by a rip tooth, then four or five crosscut teeth
with shallow gullets. This allows a combination blade to perform
both operations with results that approach those of using
a specific blade for a specific job.
Blades offer between 80 and 200 teeth with shallow gullets.
With this many cutting edges at work, plywood blades usually
make very smooth, splinter-free cuts. However, their shallow
gullets mean that you’ll have to move the wood through the
cut more slowly to allow for the removal of waste.
(“Planer”) Blades typically have tooth configurations
and “hook angles” that are similar to combination blades.
Since they’re not normally available in carbide-tipped models
and their teeth have no set, the sides of hollow ground blades
are recessed (or relieved) to provide clearance (and prevent
burning) as they pass through the wood. These blades will
make a super-smooth cut when crosscutting or ripping but should
only be used for final, smoothing cuts on wood that’s already
been “trued” ...and not for making initial sizing cuts.
Kerf Blades are available in rip, crosscut and combination
styles. Their teeth are much narrower than most conventional
blades. This allows them to cut through stock more quickly
and with less strain on the machine. As a result, thin kerf
blades make their cuts with less waste.
or Carbide-Tipped? This is an age-old question that you’ll
have to answer for yourself. While steel blades are typically
about half the cost of their carbide-tipped counterparts,
depending on the types of wood you cut and how many cuts you
make, steel blades will require five to ten times more
sharpening than carbide-tipped models. For that reason,
most experienced woodworkers are willing to pay the higher
prices up-front... eliminating the need for frequent trips
to a professional sharpening service.
IMPORTANT SAW BLADE TIPS:
Never cut woods that you suspect may contain nails, screws
or other metal objects with a saw, as doing so will damage
your blade and possibly cause personal injury. Hitting a
metal object with a carbide-tipped blade could result in
a carbide tooth being separated from the blade and thrown
maximum cutting efficiency and the smoothest cuts, always
keep your saw blades clean and free of pitch or gum. Use
saw blade cleaner for this job.
Four signs that your saw blade is getting dull:
blade or wood smokes and/or gives off a “burnt” odor
when making a cut
blade wanders off the cutting line, making it difficult
for you to maintain a straight cut
workpiece tends to lift off the saw table surface and
“climb” over the blade as you make your cut
find yourself having to substantially increase the amount
of pressure necessary to push your workpiece through