Smooth, clean cuts with your saw is always the goal. Successfully reaching that goal, however, depends on whether or not you have chosen the right blade for the tool you are using and the type of cut you are trying to make.
One quick glance down the blade aisle at the hardware store and an overwhelming sense of confusion sets in quickly. Let’s take a look at some of the criteria that go into making an educated blade selection.
Answering the following questions will help narrow down the choices and get you on the right track quickly:
- What type of saw are you using?
- What materials will you be cutting?
- What types of cuts will you be making?
- Do you want a collection of specialized blades or are you trying to find “one blade to rule them all?”
- How powerful is your saw?
- What size blade does the manufacturer of your saw recommend?
Most blades perform certain cutting operations better than others, and there are, of course, general purpose blades that have been designed to perform more than one type of cut. Understanding the different types of cuts will assist you in your decision. (i.e. crosscutting or ripping).
So what makes one blade different from the next? A variety of things differentiate one blade from the other. The main points to look at are:
- Tooth count
- Tooth Configuration
- Hook Angle
Here’s a pretty simple rule to remember:
More teeth = smoother cut
Fewer teeth = faster cut
There is a space in front of each tooth on your blade. The purpose of this is to allow for chip removal. The larger this space is the faster the removal.
Besides the number of teeth on your saw blade, the shape and grouping of them play a part in the selection process.
There are a number of configurations/styles to look at. Here is a short list and description:
- Alternating Top Bevel – Used for cutting solid wood, plywood, and particle board
- Flat Top Grind – Used for cutting wood with the grain
- Triple Chip Grind – Used for cutting hard materials such as aluminum, laminate, and hardwoods
- High Alternate Top Bevel – Used for cutting through Melamine or fine veneers
Hook angle is based on the direction that the faces of the teeth are tipped. If they are tipped forward (toward the direction of the blade’s rotation) they are considered positive. If they are tipped to the back then they are considered negative.
Hook angle comes into play based more on the type of saw you are using. Generally speaking, you will choose a positive hook when using a radial saw, while a miter saw works best with a negative hook angle.
So which blade is the right choice?
Go back through the questions asked in this article. Take your answers with you to your local Ritter Lumber store and ask one of the trained professionals on staff. Coming in prepared with these answers will help them guide you in selecting the perfect blade for your next project.