How to choose saw blades

Written by marie louise
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How to choose saw blades
Choose the correct blade for the material you need to saw. (prapann/iStock/Getty Images)

Choosing the right saw blade can seem like a daunting task. Saw blades have a wide variety of different features, including the number of teeth and their configuration. Choosing the wrong saw blade can mean the difference between a nicely finished project and ending up with wasted materials and possibly a damaged blade. To help narrow down the choices, decide what material you will use the blade on.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Consider what kind of saw blade is needed for the task. There are blades made for specific cuts and angles, as well as saw blades that are made for general work.

  2. 2

    Decide which type of saw blade is needed based on the equipment you use. Rip blades are made to be used only on table saws. Crosscut and combination saw blades can be used on table, mitre or radial arm saws.

  3. 3

    Choose a full or thin kerf blade depending on the horsepower of the saw. Full kerf blades are best for saws with more than three horsepower, and thin kerf blades should be used for saws that have less than that.

  4. 4

    Choose a saw blade with more teeth for smoother, cleaner cuts and a blade with fewer teeth to cut a lot of material in a short amount of time.

  5. 5

    Check the configuration of the saw blade teeth. Different saw blade teeth cut certain materials better than others. They are made to cut with the grain, across the grain or both.

  6. 6

    Select a saw blade with an appropriate gullet space to allow easy removal of the material. Large amounts of material being produced need large gullets, while smaller gullets slow down the rate as the material is cut.

  7. 7

    Choose a steel or carbide saw blade depending on your budget and how much the blade will be used. Carbide-tipped saw teeth are the most expensive, but they will cut many hard woods and stay sharper longer than a steel saw blade.

Tips and warnings

  • Buy at least two task-specific saw blades.
  • The three basic saw blades are combination blades, rip blades and crosscut blades.
  • The term "kerf" refers to the saw blade's teeth at its widest point. Kerf width is the width of the cut being made.
  • Look at the side, face and top of each saw blade tooth for imperfections that could damage your material.
  • Check the hole in the centre of the saw blade for roundness. A hole that is less than perfectly round could cause the blade to wobble during use and become dangerous.
  • Saw blade tooth configurations come in three basic types -- flat-top grind, alternating top bevel and triple chip grind.
  • Using a full kerf blade in a saw under three horsepower could result in warping of the saw blade and burns on the surface of the material.

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