There are hundreds of different table saw blades available from many, many different manufacturers so how do you begin by selecting the one you need. There are probably a number of blades that will work for you so narrowing down what works best for the amount of money you want to spend is a simple matter of knowing the basiscs. This article along with the video will help eveyone new to woodworking, gain the knowledge to make wiser choices when selecting table saw blades.
There are 3 questions you want to ask yourself when looking for table saw blades, 1) - What material will you be cuting 2) - What machine do you have (table saw, mitre saw and what size, 9 inch, 10 inch, 12 inch and is horse power or amperage of the saw) and finally 3) - what is the purpose of what you are doing - furniture making, building a fence or a chicken coup or installing crown molding. 3 very relevant questions that will all come together to help you find the best blade(s) for your use.
Watch this and other similar videos on YouTube - https://youtu.be/qUHxMsL-e6o
Easily the most popular table saw blades on the market right now are 10 inch blades and also the widest selection. There are basically 2 types of blades, Full Kerf - approx 1/8" (kerf referrs to the width of the saw blade tooth) and Thin Kerf - approx 3/32".
Full kerf blades are thicker teeth, thicker steel bodies and heavier blades. They are used in bigger more powerful saws. Full kerf blades have more carbide in their teeth which means the teeth stay sharper longer, and they can be resharpened more more times than thin kerf. Full kerf blades will cut a wider swath so they will use up more material and will create slightly more saw dust and shavings. Full kerf will be slightly harder to push material through as the width of the blades is slightly wider. Full kerf blades are often preferred by commercial and industrial businesses that are using saw blades constantly as these blades withstand harder more rugged use and can be resharpened more often.
Thin kerf blades are often more preferred and used smaller shops and individuals who are not using their saws constantly. Thin kerf blades slighly narrower teeth which means they cut up less material and leave behind less saw dust than full kerf blades. Thin kerf blades are not able to be sharpend as many time but are easier to push through material as the blades are slighly thinner. For smaller powered saws, thin kerf blades will help these saw to perform better owing to less friction in cutting through the wood. It is possible to use full kerf blades on many smaller saws, but full kerf blades will eventually contribute to the heating up of the table saw's motor and can decrease the life of the motor.
Table saw blades fall into a few different categories including Cutting natural wood (ripping and cross cutting), cutting man-made materials like MDF, Particle Board, Plywood type materials, steel cuting blades, plastic cutting blades and even non ferrous aluminum and brass cutting and of course, many of these blades are available in in full or thin kerf and some of the blades can be used for multiple uses.
Ripping Blades - are primarily used for cutting natural wood and for cutting the full lenght or "with" the grain of the wood. These blades will often have 24 to 30 teeth and will have large gullets, that is the space in front of the tooth. The large gullet is to allow the blade to remove wood fibre as it cuts it's way through the long stringy part of the wood. Ripping blades are not renowed for making nice clean cuts, but there are exceptions, like the Freud Diablo Glue Line Rip blade that makes a super clean cut on wood up to 1 inch thick.
Crosscut Blades - are used for cutting accross the grain of natural wood, and can also be used for man-made woods such as plywood, MDF etc. Cross cut blades frequently come in tooth configurations of 60 to 90 teeth and depending on the number of teeth and how they are cut, the blades can make a rougher cut or a super fine cut. These blades will have smaller gullets as they are not moving out the volumes of stringy wood fibre.
Combination and General Purpose Blades - These blades have been on the market for many years and are designed to be a replacement for people who either do not like changing blades, or prefer not to change blades in their saws. General purpose and Combo blades as they are called, are often between 40 and 60 teeth. These blades often do an adequet job of cross cutting and and equally adequet job or ripping, though neither is a quck or as good as dedicated ripping or crosscut blades. One of the advantages of some combo blades is that they are often very convenient and will make very good cuts on man made materials like plywood, MDF etc.
Special Purpose Blades - there is a wide selection of special purpose blades dedicated to specific materials. Like ...
Hardi Board, another man made product that requires a special blade to cut it. Steel cutting blades have somewhat softer carbide and smaller diameters for cutting throuh up to 1/4" plate steel.
Laminate Floor blades have harder carbide and special teeth configurations for contractors and builders who are cutting laminate flooring on a frequent basis.
Trex Blades are another new type of blade for cutting Trex Composite decking material.
Plastic cutting blades have a special tooth design that allows them to cut through hard plastic sheeting without causing chipping problems associated with other blades.
An Important Word about Carbide - decades ago, saw manufactures started using carbide at the tips of most of their saw blades. The nice thing with carbide is that it is not affected by heat like steel toothed blades of the past were. This means that carbide tipped blades will stay sharper longer, and, in most cases the carbide can be re-sharpened.
One of the disadvantages of carbide is that it is NOT like steel, it is very hard but bery brittle which means when carbide is bumped or hit with another hard metal, like steel, it often break or fractures. For this reason it is highly recommended to NOT PLACE YOUR CARBIDE BLADES DIRECTLY ON YOUR STEEL TOP TABLE SAW. Doing this will often chip or break a tooth. If you must lay a table saw blade on your steel topped table saw, put a piece of wood down first for it to sit on. Chipped and shattered teeth from laying blades on table saws is very common and it is risky to continue to use these blades as it is unknown what other teeth may also have been compromised and the last thing anyone wants is to have a piece of carbide coming off a spinning table saw blade which has happened and can cause serious injury.
Another common problem is people who accidently drop their table saw blades on the floor underneath their table saws when trying to install a new blade. Again, this happens frequently. The blades sometimes slip off the arbor or out of their hands in an awkward moment and drop, often onto a concrete floor breaking of one or more teeth. If you are an infrequent changer of blades, you may want to condsider laying an old towel or something similar under your table saw when changing blades just so this does not happen to you and you end up destroying a brand new, expensive saw blade.
There is nothing like cutting material with a brand new saw blade and often it is difficult to tell when a blade is dull, especially carbide. Sometimes the difference betwen partiallty dull and sharp can make a huge difference. If you feel your cuts could be finer and not as rough, or that you seem to be pushing harder on the wood you are driving through your saw blades, maybe it's time to invest in a new blade or a new sharpening ...
Copyright Colin Knechbt