Thin kerf vs. "standard" kerf

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Forum topic by Budk posted 02-25-2013 01:34 PM 12645 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 1904 days

02-25-2013 01:34 PM

New member here with a old, but new to me table saw. I bought a Powermatic 65 cabinet saw (as well as a 50 jointer) and I need to get a few things for it. A miter gauge, a blade guard are on the list but I also need to get a good ripping, crosscut and dado blade. I noticed that there are a lot of thin kerf blades available, so my obvious question is how do you choose between thin or standard width? Common sense tells me the least amount of wood removed the better but there must be other factors that I don’t know about. Can you shed some light on this and make a few recommendations? Thanks. Bud

16 replies so far

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2210 days

#1 posted 02-25-2013 01:40 PM

Thin kerf blades do remove less wood, which is an obvious benefit. They also work much better on underpowered (less than 3hp). The blade lighter and you are not removing as much material as a standard kerf blade so it is much easier on the saw.

The downside is they can deflect more than a thicker standard kerf blade. Personally I primarily use thin kerf blades and do not have issues with deflection.


View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2072 days

#2 posted 02-25-2013 02:01 PM

I use a standard kerf blade (0.125”) on my underpowered saw. I do this because I cut a lot of thin strips on the “off” side of the blade (“off side” blade wood fence). Since each strip is of a different width I need to be able to do the math (current fence setting – (strip width + kerf width)) and it is easier to do with a 1/8” kerf blade than a 3/32 kerf.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View Woodbum's profile


806 posts in 3027 days

#3 posted 02-25-2013 02:16 PM

I have both and prefer the full (1/8”) kerf. Your saw is not underpowered and can handle the full kerf blade. The downside of the 3/32” “thin kerf” is that you really need to use a blade stiffener with it, as lumberjoe mentioned due to the deflection; and that reduces your overall cutting capacity. Also for some of us, it is easier to calculate complex settings with a 1/8” blade. ( Old brains-math challenged). My personal recommendation is the 1/8’ x 10” 40t Forrest Woodworker II blade. It is a great combo blade. A little pricey to some upfront, but IMHO, well worth the money. Long term, it is a better VALUE as it has thicker and stronger carbide and is American made by a family owned company. The Forrest Dado King 8” dado set is superb, but pricey too; but again, to me a great value in a set. Forrest also makes dedicated rip blades too, and this is an area that I would consider a thin kerf blade, but again depth of cut is an issue with the blade stiffener.

Look at the Incra miter gauges. Very precise, repeatable and very versatile. These are my opinions based on personal experience only, since I am not a tool tester.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2408 days

#4 posted 02-25-2013 02:20 PM

I have an “under powered ” Rockwell Beaver 34050 saw and use both thin kerf and thick kerf blades on it,the saw is 1 HP and runs slightly better with the Thin Kerf blades but the down side is one blade warped when I was cutting a twisted 2×4 .The next blade I buy will be a thick kerf .

As far as miter gauge goes ,I recently bought an INCRA V27 and I just love it, it’s the most basic of the Incra line of miter gauges but it’s well made and does all I need it to do accurately.for under $55 I’m very happy with it.
Dado blades? I have a FREUD SD 206 which Has 2 outside 6” blades with 3- 2 wing chippers & 3 spacers,This is where an under power saw becomes important ,my saw can easily handle the full stack of the 6” set,the dado grooves are nice and clean.very happy with it also.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3120 days

#5 posted 02-25-2013 02:21 PM

Jesse nailed it for me. The thin kerf blades cut better to me and they save lumber during a cut. However, I routinely cut my work to fall off the outside of the blade, and the 1/8” blade simply makes the math much easier.

-- jay,

View Budk's profile


8 posts in 1904 days

#6 posted 02-25-2013 02:33 PM

Thanks for all the great replies. I like the idea of keeping it simple at 1/8” for calculations.

I’ll look at the Invcra V27 for a miter gauge.. thanks. I’m open to suggestions for specific blades. I’m not looking to buy the most expensive but I want a quality cut. My first project is building plywood cabinets for our laundry room.

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 2862 days

#7 posted 02-25-2013 02:38 PM

I agree with the positive comments about the Incra V27 miter gauge. I loved it so much that I got a second one for my backup saw. That way, the no slop miter slot bar could be customized to its respective saw.

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

View Mark's profile


900 posts in 1936 days

#8 posted 02-25-2013 03:57 PM

I just picked up a full kerf CMT combo blade to replace the stock thin kerf that came with the saw. What a difference. I realize the stock blades aren’t that great but the CMT is killer. Glue ready cuts. Big solid looking teeth. Got ti on sale for $55 at Canadian Woodworker.

-- Mark

View knotscott's profile (online now)


7980 posts in 3337 days

#9 posted 02-25-2013 09:37 PM

Tips for picking saw blades

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

View HoosierDude's profile


48 posts in 2977 days

#10 posted 02-25-2013 10:05 PM

Welcome aboard and congrats on your tablesaw & jointer!

Ditto on the INCRA Miter guages. I recently purchased the INCRA Miter 1000SE and absolutely love it.

On my 3HP table saw, I run a Forrest Woodworker II (full kerf) blade and it plows through everything like butter. I think your powermatic will handle a regular kerf blade just fine. For a dado blade, I’ve got an old 8” Freud safety stack dado set from the late 80’s. It’s like the energizer bunny, it just keeps going and going. I’ve never had the thing sharpened and it still cuts great.

-- Paul Lyons

View runswithscissors's profile


2724 posts in 1987 days

#11 posted 02-26-2013 04:47 AM

I like Freud Diablo TK blades, and that’s what I mostly use, though I also have several full kerf blades. I warped the heck out of the Diablo by trying to make a universal throat plate (able to handle from 90 deg. to 45 deg. tilt). There was so much friction as it tried to cut/burn its way through the tough, hard phenolic that it overheated and warped. Smoke all over the place. Didn’t even realize it was ruined at first, until I tried to line up my riving knife with it and couldn’t get a straight line. That blade is toast (so to speak), unless I can think of a use for a dish shaped blade.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View knotscott's profile (online now)


7980 posts in 3337 days

#12 posted 02-26-2013 11:03 AM

”That blade is toast (so to speak), unless I can think of a use for a dish shaped blade.”

Smear it with mud, see if you get it to rust a little, and put it on Craigslist for triple the retail price. Don’t forget to add some wordage about being heavy duty industrial grade and not the cheap Chinese junk ;-).

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

View dusty2's profile


323 posts in 3391 days

#13 posted 02-26-2013 12:18 PM

You guys that avoid the math need some practice. Get a thin kerf and learn to deal with it. Exercise is good for the soft matter.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

View dpjeansonne's profile


72 posts in 3175 days

#14 posted 02-26-2013 05:02 PM

The thinner blades can deflect if you push them too hard. I think it is less of an issue on a table saw. I found them to be a problem in a hand skill saw when you may drift off the mark. I have a panel saw with a 4 3/8” blade and thin blades just don’t work for me. In rough work it may not be a problem for you.
Another consideration is if you have a riving knife. The knife thickness must be consistent with the blade. My Grizzly table saw came with a knife that works with a standard 1/8” blade. That doesn’t mean you can’t get or make one to work with thin kerf blades.

-- Cajun Don, Louisiana

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3120 days

#15 posted 02-26-2013 05:49 PM

@Dusty – Check out this side-grain cutting board (on the left) I did for Christmas…

Click for details

There are a ton of thin strips varying by 1/32” per cut. With the Incra TSLS, I just reset each cut quickly and fall the keeper piece off the outside edge of the board. No need for a thin-strip jig.

That board was finished, start to end, in 3 hours.

While I am a math teacher by profession, it’s easier to do this keeping 1/8” in mind rather than 3/32”...and the regular kerf WWII blade assured glue-ready edges.

-- jay,

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