Is it the thin kerf blade, or is it me?

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Forum topic by RusticFurnitureGuy posted 12-24-2009 06:52 PM 5903 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 3075 days

12-24-2009 06:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: thin kerf blades distort distortion warp diverge divert

Since the advent of thin kerf blades I’ve developed an aversion to them, especially when ripping on a circular saw and tablesaw. My experience has been that they distort in use and yield very undesirable variances in the cut. The only way I’ve discovered to get a true cut from them, especially when cutting thicker material, say 1 1/2”, is to make multiple passes. I’ve found that using a slower feed rate does help to some degree, but the cut with this type of blade is still not true.

I’d be interested to know your experiences with these blades, with my underlying question being “Are thin kerf blades just a poor idea, or am I missing something, and if so, what is necessary to get a true cut from these blades, especially when ripping?”

Thanks in advance,

-- Bryan, "The key to quality is simplicity."

10 replies so far

View lew's profile


12062 posts in 3755 days

#1 posted 12-24-2009 07:01 PM

I agree. They seem to deflect too easily and tend to “vibrate”. I was tempted to try a blade stabilizer to see if that helped but haven’t gotten around to it, yet.

My saw is underpowered so using the thin kerf does reduce the strain- especially on thicker/harder materials. When possible, I try to clean up rip cuts on the jointer.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View 747DRVR's profile


199 posts in 3357 days

#2 posted 12-24-2009 07:05 PM

I have 2 TK blades and 1 full kerf blade all made by Freud.I find no difference in the cut.

View ondablade's profile


105 posts in 3198 days

#3 posted 12-24-2009 10:56 PM

I guess that while thin kerf blades may by definition be more prone to flutter that the specifics of the saw must be a factor too – even presuming correct alignment and all of that.

It seems reasonable to presume that well designed blades are set up so that the teeth don’t induce resonance, but perhaps if you are a bit unlucky with the particular frequency and type of vibe your saw feeds in that it may induce more vibration than others.

Resonance occurs when the natural frequency at which something vibrates (e.g. a bell when it’s rung) matches the frequency at which the item is being driven. So if your blade happens to vibrate at a given frequency, and the vibration in your saw so happens to vibrate it at or near that frequency then it’s likely resonance will occur. i.e. the amplitude of the vibration will very greatly increase.

It could be that full thickness (stiffer) blades naturally vibrate at a sufficiently high frequency to avoid this effect more often. If this is what is happening then adding a stabilisation disc might just ‘re-tune’ your blade enough to stop it happening…..


-- Late awakener....

View patron's profile


13604 posts in 3341 days

#4 posted 12-24-2009 11:00 PM

i use 1/8” blades only ,
as i can measure better with them .
do have thin ,
but use them for splines from door-skin .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3480 days

#5 posted 12-24-2009 11:04 PM

I have a CMT thin kerf blade. I use the stabilizer with it and its been great. I prefer the thin kerf to the regular blade.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4006 days

#6 posted 12-25-2009 12:25 AM

I like a blade with meat to it myself.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View EricRFP's profile


106 posts in 3094 days

#7 posted 12-25-2009 11:58 AM

I have 2 big bandsaws. With my Laguna Resawmaster, for me is has been a very precise machine, the thin kerf blade($300 per blade)makes a big difference. My other bandsaw is not as precise so the thin kerf blades don’t really help.

My 2cents.

-- Eric, NorCal

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 3957 days

#8 posted 12-25-2009 01:48 PM

I recently was using a TK blade in my Unisaw to rip some 1 1/2” thick maple and walnut. I wasn’t using a stiffener plate with it and I experienced some serious deflection affecting the cut. I have since installed the stiffener plate and it seems to be better…but as soon as I get some Xmas money I am going to buy a full kerf blade(s)!


View knotscott's profile


8017 posts in 3376 days

#9 posted 12-25-2009 11:06 PM

My experience with high quality thin kerf blades has been excellent….Infinity, Forrest, Freud (Industrial, Diablo, Avanti, Ridgid, Craftsman Pro…all by Freud), CMT, Leitz, DeWalt…I’ve tried in the neighborhood of 30 to 35 10” TK’s. Like anything else, you really can’t lump all quality levels together and draw any useful conclusions. Crappy blades are just that regardless of kerf. While it’s true that a thinner body is more prone to flexing than full kerf of comparable quality, that doesn’t mean that they’re actually prone to flexing….they’re not in my experience, and there have been several recent articles in magazines that touted their use. If it’s a well made blade on a saw that’s running true cutting lumber that’s been dimensioned flat and straight, you should have very few problems. Even without a stabilizer, I got excellent results and lower resistance to the saw. A good thin kerf blade can be a Godsend on a small underpowered saw because they require less power….a full kerf blade is 33% thicker than a TK blade. There’s less incentive to use one of a full 3hp or 5hp saw, and I wouldn’t suggest using one in a commercial or high volume application where heat buildup is a concern. It should require some lateral force to get a TK blade to deflect, barring that, they should perform well.

It’s also worth noting that what’s dubbed a “thin kerf” blade may be a different kerf width than another “thin kerf” blade. There’s really not a standard. For a 10” blade most TK’s are in the 3/32” range. There are ultra “TKs” in the 0.080 range that would be more prone to flexing, and there are blades as thick as 0.111” that Wood Mag dubbed as thin kerf. Also, as the diameter increases, the strength across the span decreases… meaning that if all else is equal, a 3/32” kerf width on a 12” isn’t as stable as a 10” blade, and 10” isn’t as stable as 8”, etc. I’m less likely to recommend a TK on a 12” miter saw….crosscutting is easier than ripping anyway, so there’s little gained for the tradeoff in that situation.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View RusticFurnitureGuy's profile


4 posts in 3075 days

#10 posted 12-27-2009 11:29 PM

Thank you all for your thoughts and experiences on this topic. My main frustration has been with the circular saw blades and it seems difficult to find the wider kerf blades anymore. In any event, I think I will buy the thicker blades when available and invest in a stiffener for the unavoidable times in which I must use the TKs.

I just purchased a meaty, full .13” width, 10” DML 60 tooth ATB for my tablesaw that has substantial carbide in it, and also a .11” width, 48 tooth Milwaukee Endurance for the circ-saw that seems promising. I’ll likely post a follow-up on those when I get a few boards run past them.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences. :o)

-- Bryan, "The key to quality is simplicity."

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