How Do I Choose The Right Saw Blade(1)
Making smooth, risk-free cuts with your table saw, radial-arm saw, chop saw or sliding compound miter saw relies on having the appropriate blade for the tool and for the sort of cut you want to make. There's no lack of quality options, and also the large volume of readily available blades might mystify even a seasoned woodworker.
How Do I Select The Right Saw Blade?
A great way to narrow your alternatives as well as concentrate your search is to answer a few key questions:
In what type of saw will the blade be used? Some blades are designed to be used in particular saws, so you'll want to be sure to get the right blade for the tool. Using the wrong type of blade for the saw is likely to produce poor results and might in some cases be dangerous.
What materials will the blade be used to cut? If you need to cut a wide range of materials, that will affect your choice. If you cut a lot of a single type of material (melamine, for example) that specialization also might affect your choice.
What types of cuts will the blade be used to make? Will it be used exclusively for crosscutting (cutting across the woodgrain)? Will it be used only for ripping (cutting with the grain)? Will it need to produce good results in all types of cuts?
Do you want to build a collection of specialized blades, or do you want one blade that can make all kinds of cuts? Are you willing to change the blade every time you switch from one cut to another?
How powerful is the saw on which the blade will be used, and what size blade does the manufacturer recommend? Is it a 3 hp cabinet table saw or a portable job-site saw? Is it a 10" saw or 12"?
Answering these questions will go a long way toward clarifying your best options. Understanding a little about the anatomy of a saw blade can help further narrow your search.Saw Blade Essentials Many saw blades are designed to provide their best results in a particular cutting operation.
Saw Blade Essentials
Many saw blades are designed to provide their best results in a particular cutting operation. You can get specialized blades for ripping lumber, crosscutting lumber, cutting veneered plywood and panels, cutting laminates and plastics, cutting melamine and cutting non-ferrous metals. There also are general purpose and combination blades, which are designed to work well in two or more types of cuts. (Combination blades are designed to crosscut and rip.
General-purpose blades are designed to make all types of cuts, including in plywood, laminated wood and melamine.) What a blade does best is determined, in part, by the number of teeth, the size of gullet, the tooth configuration and the hook angle (angle of the tooth).
Number Of Teeth
In general, blades with more teeth yield a smoother cut, and blades with fewer teeth remove material faster. A 10" blade designed for ripping lumber, for example, usually has as few as 24 teeth and is designed to quickly remove material along the length of the grain. A rip blade isn't designed to yield a mirror-smooth cut, but a good rip blade will move through hardwood with little effort and leave a clean cut with minimal scoring.
A crosscut blade, on the other hand, is designed to produce a smooth cut across the grain of the wood, without splintering or tearing. This type of blade will usually have 60 to 80 teeth, and the higher tooth count means that each tooth has to remove less material. A crosscut blade makes many more individual cuts as it moves through the stock than a ripping blade and, as a result, requires a slower feed rate. The result is a cleaner cut on edges and a smoother cut surface. With a top-quality crosscut blade, the cut surface will appear polished.
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