Have you ever actually tried to rip a piece of rough oak with a saw blade that is not actually designed for ripping? Likewise have you ever tried to make fine cross cuts on a small piece of plywood with a cross blade? If you have then you know the importance of choosing the right blade for a particular cutting task. Selecting the right saw blade is very important especially if you want to get proper smooth cuts on the material that you are going to use you saw on. If you don’t choose the right blade for a particular cutting task, then there is no doubt that you will be disappointed when you start using it.
Nowadays, there are many different types of saw blades in the market which claim to be of high quality but the reality is that not all saw blades which are out there in the market are actually of high quality. If you are not careful you can easily buy a low quality saw blade and end up regretting later. Before you buy a saw blade, it is very important to first find the purpose of the blade. Do you want to use it for purpose of ripping or cross cutting or even both? If you can answer this question, then you will be on the right track to selecting the right blade.
These blades have been designed to specifically rip boards to make them narrower. They remove large amount of materials by cutting aggressively but they often don’t leave a perfect smooth finish. They have small number of teeth usually 20-24 but sometimes that have up to 30 teeth and deep gullet. They have a hook angle of about 20 degrees meaning that the blade’s teeth is slanted forward aggressively when compared to crosscut blade. Rip blades are usually used on table saws because of the number of teeth that they have and the hook angle which makes them the perfect choice for table saw.
Crosscut blades are exclusively used for cutting boards across the wood’s grain. They actually have more teeth when compared to rip blades (about 60-80) and their teeth have hook angle that isless aggressive. This feature makes these blades to have more individual cut per second and a more reduced feed rate thus enabling them to deliver smoother cut line. Their teeth are angled in a knifelike form on both side of the blade, a feature that enables them to deliver quality cuts with less tearing. Technical term used to describe this kind of tooth pattern is called alternate top bevel (ATB). Unlike rip blades which have flat tops grinds that makes them more efficient in material removal, have actually rough cut surface.
On the other hand cross cut blades delivers smooth cut surface because they have a less hook angle that is less aggressive. If you want to make a cross cut on your table saw or if you actually have a radial arm or a miter saw, you need to have a cross cut blade .But you need to be very careful and ensure that the hook angle is appropriate for that particular tool. Most of the time radial arm saws and sliding miter saws tend to overfeed something which can result to tearing and sometimes it can even put you in danger. If have these tools , it is recommended that you always used a crosscut blade that has hook angle of 5 -5 degree but for a non-sliding miter saw, you can use a blades with hook angle of about 10 degrees
Combination blades are usually used for cross cutting and ripping. They are ideal blades to have in your workshop especially if you regularly perform a mix of cross cuts and rip cuts. Although a combination blade cannot rip effectively the way a ride blade does, or cross cut smoothly the way a cross cut blade can do, this blades can actually save you a lot of time that you could otherwise use to swap the blades. If you choose good quality combination blade, it will actually leave a smooth burnished surface .On the other hand, if the blade get dull or a pitch builds up on it, wood burning can easily occur. It is therefore very important to always be careful and ensure that you maintain and use the blade properly as per manufacturer’s instructions.
Thin or full kerf.
Many woodworkers are usually in dilemma when it comes to deciding whether they should buy a full kerf or thin kerf blade. All these two types of blades have they own pros and cons. For instance a thin kerf blade actually requires less power to operate because it removes less material. This means that when you use this blade, you can cut quicker through materials without putting too much strain or stress on the motor. On the other hand full kerf has amazing features like anti stick coating and expansion slots meaning that warping is not actually an issue.
Saw blades for sheet stocks.
Melamine and plywood are usually cut by specified blade known as a laminate or plywood blade. These type of blades has have many teeth (about 80) and an alternating top bevel grind that helps to slice through the material. These blades have conservative hook angle of less than 5 degrees and their gullet are usually small. This feature makes this blade ideal for meaning smooth cuts with minimal chip out.
Steel or carbide.
Both steel blades and carbide blade have their own pros and cons. For instance a carbide blade has shaper teeth with stays that way for log period. On the other hand a steel teeth is ideal especially for cutting wood dubious origin or any wood that you suspect it may have nails screws or any other debris.
Brand of Blade
Determining the type of blade is fail a straight forward process to most people. The tricky part where most people have problem to choose is the brand of the saw blade because there are many brand in the market which all claim to be of high quality .In addition, we all have budgetary constraints. But two most commonly discussed brands and most recommended in wood working message board are Forrest and Freud. Other brands that have also receive favorable mention include CMT, Amana, Oldham, Ridge Cardide, Tenryu, Everest and Systematic.