blog Saw Blades



So you have this nice table saw but are still not getting the quality of cut that you want. Very likely, the blade that came with it might be the reason for the annoying kerf marks. Or, it might be a conspiracy with sandpaper manufacturers to sell more sandpaper! It’s probably easier to try a new blade.

When you start to look at saw blades it gets confusing in a hurry. So here’s some helpful guidelines for selecting a blade. First some vocabulary:

ATB (Alternate Top Bevel): Tooth grind with alternating left and right top bevels.

Bore: Hole in the center of the blade where the arbor bolt passes thru for installation.

Expansion Slot: Slot on the blade designed to disperse heat and prevent blade deformation.

Carbide Metal: compound used to make saw teeth with wear resistance greater than high speed steel.

Chisel Tooth: Flat top tooth grind primarily use for ripping, this is kind of an outdated tooth design.

Combination Blade: A general purpose blade designed to do both cross cuts & rips, solid stock & plywood.

Cross Cut: Cutting a board across the grain, including miter and bevels done with a miter gauge.

Grind Tooth Geometry: ATB, Triple Chip, Chisel Tooth, Raker.

Gullet: Dip in plate between teeth designed to help clear out saw dust.

High Speed Steel (HSS): Hardened steel with high wear resistance and high heat resistance.

Hook: The angle of the leading edge of a tooth compared to a straight line drawn outward from blade center. When the tip is forward of the line it is a positive hook, when the tip is behind the line it is a negative hook.

Kerf: Width of a tooth, and the path removed from a board by the saw blade, see Thin Kerf below.

Kerf Marks: Scratch marks on a board made by side of a saw blade tooth.

Plate: Body of a circular saw blade.

Raker or Raker Tooth: Tooth designed to clear sawdust from the kerf, primarily used in combination blades and triple chip blades. Raker teeth are usually a little lower than other teeth.

Relief Cuts: Thin cuts in the plate to relieve heat build up.

Rip: Cutting a board along the grain, including bevels done with a rip fence.

Runout: A measurement of flatness of the plate, the body of the blade.

Thin Kerf: Circular saw blade that has a thinner plate and reduced width teeth compared to a full kerf blade.

Triple Chip: Tooth grind that has left & right bevel and a flat top, tooth sequence may also include a raker tooth.



To start with, the plate has to be and stay flat and have minimal runout. The quality of the steel and the tensioning built into the blade will determine this. You will not likely have a way to measure this, but your local sharpening shop will. Ask them what brand blades tend to stay flat and what brands to avoid. Next there is the power of your saw. A high horse power motor can handle higher tooth count and regular kerf. Low horse power machines do better with lower tooth count and thin kerf, TK, blades. Next is the primary type of wood you will be cutting, softwood, hardwood, plywood, melamine, etc. 8/4 Oak would require a different blade than 3/4 AC plywood. Next determine the hook, positive hooks are for aggressive cutting, ripping on a table saw would be a good example. Negative hooks help eliminate chip out, cross cuts on a miter saw would be a good example. Next is grind, Use ATB for solid stock, use triple chip for sheet goods. Use combination blades, 4 ATB Teeth followed by a raker tooth followed by a gullet, for general purpose & AC plywood, and to help reduce the amount of times you will need to change the blade during a work day. Triple chip blades are a good choice for melamine because they help reduce bottom surface chip out.

A favorite blade used on my 3 HP table saw is a standard kerf, 40 Tooth, ATB, 10 degree positive hook blade. The low tooth count allows for ripping without bogging down and standard kerf provides a reasonably good cross cut because the thicker plate equates to minimal runout

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