When you’re looking for a table saw blade, it pays to buy a good one. Also, it pays to know what you’re looking for. Not all table saw blades are created equal! This article will help you buy the right kind and quality of table saw blade.
Saw Blades 101
To begin with saw blades are specialized. There are blades designed to rip lumber (cut with the grain), crosscut lumber (cut against the grain), cut plywood and verneer, cut plastics and various types of laminates, and cutting everything else that could possibly be cut. Each type of cut needs a different blade.
What makes the difference between blades (and what they can be used for) is the number of teeth, the size of the space between the teeth (called the gullet), the configuration of the teeth, and the angle of the tooth. Let’s look at each of these in detail.
Number of Teeth
For the most part, blades with more teeth make a smoother cut. But the downside of this is the more teeth you have the slower you can cut the material. A blade designed for ripping lumber faster would have fewer teeth. It will also yield a rougher cut.
A crosscut blade, on the other hand, is designed to give you a smoother cut. Hopefully, without tearing the wood, or other material. So, crosscut blades naturally have more teeth then blades designed for ripping.
Since a blade with more teeth cuts more slowly, it also doesn’t have to dispose of the cut material as fast as a blade with fewer teeth. The size of the gullet is what determines a blades ability to get rid of excess material. Blades that cut more slowly have smaller gullets.
There are blades that are combination rip and crosscutting blades. These have extra design features so that they can cut smoothly and also dispose of the cut material when ripping.
The shape of the teeth and also how they are grouped together also determine how a blade cuts. For instance, a flat-top blade is best for ripping soft woods. Blades for crosscutting often are not flat-tops. They have beveled tops. The bevels go in opposite directions from blade to blade. This helps the blade give a smoother cut.
The teeth on a blade are tipped either towards or away from the rotation of the saw. Blades have positive and negative hook angles. This means they are either tipped toward the roation of the saw, or away from it.
Hook angle affects how “aggressively” a blade cuts. This essentially affects the rate at which you can cut. A more positive hook angle will create a blade that cuts faster than a less positive angle.
Finally, you need to consider the “plate” of the saw itself. The saw needs to be perfectly flat. It also needs to stay completely flat during cutting. Cheap saw blades will wobble slightly and this will result poor cutting action.
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