Beginners Woodworking Videos

Selecting The Proper Saw Blade

I often hear woodworkers say something like "I always buy good quality 60 tooth blades", or something to that effect. When I hear things like that I know that they really don't know how to select blades for the table saw, radial arm saw, sliding mitre or chop saw, because arbitrarily selecting a 60 tooth blade could in fact be the worst choice they could make, depending on what they are cutting.

Cutting Natural Woods - There are only 2 blades you need if you are working with natural wood, a ripping blade and a cross cut blade. That's it - 2 blades.
Ripping blades are used on table saws to cut along the grain of the wood. These blades will have fewer teeth ususally between 20 and 30 with 24 being the most common in 10 inch diameter blades. The other feature on ripping blades will be large gullets (the deep space between the teeth), these are used to clear out the long fibers of the wood as the saw blade moves through the wood.
Cross Cutting Blades are used on table saws, sliding mitres, chop saws and radial arm saws and are often 60 to 80 teeth in a 10 inch diameter blades. The reason a cross cut blade can get away with more teeth is because cutting across the grain doesn't require moving much wood fibre out of the way so the blade can do a better job.

Of course with all so-called rules there is always an exception and with natural woods the exception is Combination or General Purpose blades. These blades are designed to rip and cross cut, and they do a pretty good job of both but they still cannot rip as good as a dedicated ripping blade and they don't cross cut quite as good as a dedicated cross cut blade. If you have a budget and can only purchase one blade, or if you are constantly ripping and cross cutting, get yourself an excellent combination blade.
Freud had recently introduced a new multi-purpose blade that gives extraordinary results ... especially for a general purpose blade. It's called ther Freud Premier Fusion and uses a special tooth design employed by Freud. It's a bit of an expensive blade compared to others, but when you see the results that are obtainable from a general purpose blade, you will see why - they are extraordinary.

     

Cutting man-made woods like plywood, hardboard, Medium Density Fibre Board (MDF) Particle Board and chip boards, all require a different types of blade, depending on the materials.

Understanding What Makes a Quality Saw Blade

Spending good money on crappy power saw blades is what every woodworker wants to avoid. Some distributors of saw blades can "dress up" an inferior saw blade with a bit of paint, some cool packaging and sell a $12.00 power saw blade for $75.00  The only way of knowing what is a good buy and what is not a good buy is to educate yourself on saw blades and how to recognize the good from the not so good.

There are basically 2 ways to manufacture saw blades, the cheapest and most popular is to "stamp" the blades our of sheets of mild steel. The second way is to use a harder steel and actually laser cut the blades one at a time out of the steel.

Stamped Blades - As you can imagine, the problem with some stamped blades is that during the process of "stamping", blades can be created that are imperfect due to the forces involved in the stamping of the steel. This means blades can wobble somewhat which is not ideal when you are trying to make a straight cut. Most often, manufactures that are "stamping" blades, are also buying their carbide off the open market somewhere as this is the least expensive way to acquire carbide. Every stamped blade that we are aware of uses carbide purchased off the open market, which is then silver soldered on to the stample blade. This manufacturing process is the quickest, cheapest, and easiest for producing saw blades.

Laser Cut Blades - Blades that are laser cut will have the advantage of using a harder steel. It's not hard to see that a blade that is laser cut will not be undergoing the metal stresses of a stamped blade. This laser cutting helps to ensure the integrity of the steel, and that the blade  will be free from warping or wobbling. One of the inherent features of laser cutting is that duing the manufacturing process it is easy and convenient to also cut heat expansion slots and anti vibration slots into the blade, also helping to ensure a higher quality product. A company that would take the time to laser cut blades individually will in some cases be more selective of the carbide they use as well. Freud for example is the only blade manufacturer that we are aware of that actually makes their own carbide, 17 differet grades in fact. This helps ensure that the best grade of carbide is selected for each type of blade. For example, the carbide used in steel cutting blades is actually a softer carbide than that used in wood cutting blades. This is because carbide is like a "crystal" and tends to fracture as it is made up of millions of tiny grains. Using a softer carbide for steel helps ensure the carbide will not fracture when it is cutting the steel and thereby keep the blade sharper longer.

     

So ... HOW can you identify a better quality blade from those that are not ?

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