Choosing A Saw Blade

By Robert Robillard on Workshop tips

Choosing the Right Saw Blade For The Job:Choosing A Saw Blade

Just walk through the aisle at Home Depot or the lumberyard and you’ll see a dozen types of saw blades, specialty blades, blades with certain number or teeth, carbide, rip, crosscut, dado, the list goes on… So which one do you buy?

Do you rely on what the clerk tells you?

Most saw blades are designed to do their best work in a certain type of cutting operations.  There are many types of blades.  Some are designed for ripping lumber, crosscutting lumber, cutting veneered plywood and panels, cutting laminates and plastics, cutting melamine, and cutting non-ferrous metals.

There are also “general purpose” and “combination” blades, which are designed to work well in two or more types of cut. What a blade does best is determined by the number of teeth, the type of gullet, the tooth configuration and the hook angle (i.e., angle of the tooth).

Good Saw Blade Advice:

The best saw blade  advice I can give you is DON’T buy a saw blade on price.   A 24 tooth rip blade might catch your attention

because it’s cheap  but if you try to crosscut with it you won’t be happy.  as with any tool, matching the blade to the job to be performed is super important.

The more teeth, the finer the cutting finish.   Saw blades with a low tooth count will cut fast and aggressively but leave a relatively rough finish, blades with more teeth will leave a cleaner finish.

If budget is a concern look for a combination blade.

Safety:

Choosing A Saw Blade

Before you buy any blade be sure to check the manual that comes with your saw(s) to determine what sizes of blades can be used on your particular models. Never attempt to use a blade that is not of the recommended size on any of your saws. A 12″ blade does not belong on a 10″ capacity saw blade and yes people make this mistake.

Types of Saw Blades:

The two primary types of circular saw blades are rip blades and crosscut blades.

Rip Blade:

A rip blade is used to rip stock along it’s grain. This type of blade has less teeth and a deeper gullet, to help clear away the material that is cut. A rip blade cuts the quickly, and rough.

Crosscut Blade:

A crosscut blade cuts with chisels or carbides that alternate between cutting wide left and wide right every other tooth. This can produce a thin kerf with a fine finish on most materials when crosscutting.

Combination Blade:

Combination blades are those that combine the benefits of both rip and crosscut blades, and are quite common. Combination blades come in a variety of tooth counts, typically ranging from as low as a 24-tooth to as high as an 80 -tooth blade.

Choosing A Saw Blade

Specialty Blade:

Specialty blades, such as plywood blades, will have a much higher tooth count and will leave a smooth finish with little tear-out, but cut slow.

Saw blades Have Three Basic Tooth Designs:

Flat Top Grind (FTG :

A ripping blade will have a Flat Top Grind (FTG) for fast cutting with the grain.

Alternating Top Bevel (ATB):

A cross cut blade will do the best job with an Alternating Top Bevel (ATB), cutting across the grain like a knife and producing a very smooth cut.

Triple Chip Grind (TCG):

A blade with Triple Chip Grind (TCG) is good for all-purpose cutting and also gives you a very clean cut. TCG blades are also good for cutting non-ferrous metals and plastics.

What Are Rake Or Hook Angles?

Choosing A Saw Blade

A hook angle is the angle formed between the tooth face and a line drawn from the center of the blade across the tip of the tooth.  Basically the saw tooth faces are tipped either toward or away from the direction of rotation of the blade, rather than being perfectly in line with the center of the blade.

A saw  blade with a positive hook angle is a faster-feeding blade and one with a negative hook is less aggressive. A negative hook is used for cutting metal and Melamine.

Care For Your Saw Blades:

Cleaning pitch off the blade:

I spray my blades with oven cleaner, rinse and then wipe them off with a rag.   Alternatively you can use kerosene or mineral spirits overnight, then scrub them with a non-abrasive kitchen cleaning pad.

Sharpening Saw Blades:

If you purchase a quality carbide saw blade, it can be sharpened by a professional saw sharpener several times.   Broken teeth can also be replaced.  Sharpening your blades instead of replacing them helps justify the increased initial cost of buying a quality blade.

High quality blades are usually made with stronger, better steel that cut quicker and cleaner, and keep their edge longer.  You get what you pay for…

My Favorite Blades:

In my shop I have a slew of saw blades, I spin mostly Delta and DEWALT blades because I like their quality.

Delta blades:Choosing A Saw Blade

I like the Delta blades because they have the Large carbide tips can be sharpened up to about 15 times and are available in a variety of specialty configurations.

Delta also used a Tri-Foil brazing process to attach their carbide teeth to their saws.  Tri-foil  brazing is a thin layer of copper foil coated in  silver solder.  The copper acts as a shock absorber for impact against harder objects which help reduce the risk of saw tooth damage.

Delta laser cuts their saws from plate steel.  The laser cutting process allows for the blade to be manufactured to tighter tolerances.     The three expansion slots in their saw blades are for heat dissipation, noise dampening and reduced blade vibration.

A few of my favorite Delta blades I spin are:

1.  Delta Industrial #35-12100 Rn5-62 12-Inch x 100 tooth saw blade, 5 Hook ATB Plusr .5/8.  This blade cost approximately $118.00 and is worth every penny.  I run this on an 12″ miter saw.

2.  Delta Industrial # 35-1080HN5 10-Inch 80 tooth saw blade Hi-ATB Fine Crosscutting.  This blade cost approximately $99.00.  I spin this blade in my DELTA 10″ table saw that is dedicated to a cross cut sled..

3. Delta Industrial # 35-1080T Full Kerf 10- Inch 80 tooth saw blade, 5 Hook TCG.  This blade sells for $106.00 and I spin it in my table saw when cutting laminates and melamine.

DEWALT blades:

DEWALT  has some real nice blades.   I am a fan of their saw making process as well.  DEWALT uses a premium micro-grain carbide that produces ultra-sharp cutting edges that dramatically reduce splintering.   They use a laser-cutting process to create a well balanced saw blade that results in extremely accurate cuts.  Their saw blades have noise dampening slots reduce vibration to enhance cutting accuracy.

All of the DEWALT blades have a special coat finish that helps to reduce heat, friction, and pitch.

If you ever visit my shop you will see Delta and DEWALT blades in my two table saws ad chop saw.  In my tool trailer I use a DEWALT blade in my DEWALT table saw and a Delta 100 tooth, full kerf, 5 hook,  ATB blade in my portable miter saw.

A few of my favorite DEWALT  blades I spin are:

1.  DEWALT  # DW3218PT,  10-Inch ATB, 80 tooth precision trim-cross cutting blade.  This is a great miter saw blade and cost approximately $46.00.

2.  DEWALT DW3232PT Precision Trim, 12-Inch, 80 Tooth ATB, crosscutting saw blade.  This spins in my job site miter saw and costs approx. $50.00.

3.  DEWALT 72100PT Precision Trim, 12-Inch – Ultra miter cross cutting  saw blade.  This blade also spins in my job site miter saw and cost approximately $73.00.  for the money you can’t beat this blade and the quality of cuts is excellent.

This review contains my opinion of a product. I take pride in providing my readers with an honest and objective information as well as a practical approach to using a product. I never accept payment in exchange for a positive review. Many of the tools and products are provided to for free by a manufacturer for review.

RELATED POSTS:

Table Saw Blade Height

How To Get Cleaner Safer Cuts On A Table-saw

Table Saw Safety

Upgrades For Your Miter-saw

Tips To Upgrade And Tune Your Miter-saw

Keeping Rust Of Woodworking Tools

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor / Video Talent

Robert Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter and editor of AConcordCarpenter.com and principal of a full service renovation company located in Concord, Massachusetts; A Concord Carpenter, LLC. Rob is a recognized leader in tool and how-to information for building professionals, he also hosts the Concord Carpenter Cable TV Show, offering the do-it-yourself audience in Boston’s Meto West region expert advice on home repairs and maintenance. On his website, Rob covers all aspects of home improvement, remodeling, and specializes in problem solving for home maintenance. Rob is a recognized leader in tool and how-to information for building professionals. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate on best practices in the remodeling industry. The Concord Carpenter’s motto: “Well done is better than well said!”. Rob is a a regular contributor to DIY magazine Extreme-How-To Magazine and assistant editor at ToolBoxBuzz. He is also a tool safety and training coordinator for Push America on their Build America project.

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Comments

  1. jeff_williams says:

    One thing to add… For people that run lower powered saws, a thin kerf blade will help get through the material with less bog. The saw doesn’t have to work as hard since it is removing less material. With a thinner blade though, deflection can be more of an issue.

    1. Concord Carpenter says:

      Great point Jeff

  2. [...] friend Rob Robillard at A Concord Carpenter just posted a great blog article on how to choose a woodworking saw blade.  If you get a chance, [...]

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