Understanding saw blades.

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Forum topic by Micah Muzny posted 12-18-2013 05:33 AM 2526 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Micah Muzny

185 posts in 1904 days

12-18-2013 05:33 AM

I am looking at some table saw blades and I see all the different types. Can some one explain to me when I would use each one. I know the difference in rip blades, crosscut, dado blades etc., but when do you want a lot of teeth and when do you want few teeth? I know rip blades are fewer teeth than crosscut. I see crosscut blades that are 40 tooth, 60 tooth, and 80 tooth. When do use each or is it just a preference? Pros and cons of tooth count?

16 replies so far

View dawsonbob's profile


3061 posts in 1927 days

#1 posted 12-18-2013 05:37 AM

I’ll be watching this myself. I’m new at this and could use a little educating, too.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3820 days

#2 posted 12-18-2013 05:40 AM

Do you work in hardwood ply and melamine? if so you’ll
get the best outcomes using a blade with lot of teeth
on it. Lots of teeth take tiny cuts so splintering
and chip-out in cross-cuts is less of an issue.

Ripping blades with 40 or fewer teeth on a 10” saw
plate have big gullets in front of the teeth and that
helps make fast clean cuts when ripping. If you
rip with a high tooth-count blade, feed rate is
restricted. Cut quality is often ok but heat
can build up and cause burning of the stock.

Tooth grinds have an affect too. It gets a little
technical but as a rule of thumb I use a high quality
blade with a 40t (10” plate) spacing. If I’m doing
fussy crosscutting I might switch to another blade.

View TheGermanJoiner's profile


847 posts in 1809 days

#3 posted 12-18-2013 05:43 AM

You’re right about the rip and crosscut blades. More teeth is usually for clean finish cuts. Plywoods, laminates, melamines. You’ll get little to no tearout especially when paired with a zero clearance insert. But as you can imagine with more teeth there is less space in the gullet to allow the swarf to get ejected. If you use a blade with a lot of teeth, like an 80 tooth and try ripping the gullets will get clogged, create friction and give you very pretty dark swirl marks on your finished cut. Not fun to sand out.

It’s usually a good idea to have at least 2 blades a combo blade and a plywood blade. If not 3 a rip a crosscut and a plywood blade. Hope it helped. I’m sure you’ll get much more experienced LJs to give you more info on it.

-- Greg - Ferdinand and Son Construction: Do it right the first time. Like us on Facebook

View knotscott's profile


8137 posts in 3547 days

#4 posted 12-18-2013 10:25 AM

Here’s my take – The ABCs of Saw Blades

There’s never a free lunch…..assuming high quality as a given, more teeth tends to equal a cleaner cut, but it also means more resistance to the saw and more tendency to burn. The thicker and denser the material, the more resistance to the saw and more tendency to burn. Wood moisture, flatness, natural tendency toward burning, and the saw’s setup are also factors….blade sharpness and cleanliness are also factors. The tooth grind is also a significant factor….the blog above spells it out in detail.

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

View jonah's profile


1866 posts in 3470 days

#5 posted 12-18-2013 06:58 PM

It’s talked about in Knotscott’s excellent guide (read it, seriously), but I wanted to stress that proper blade alignment and sharpness are very, very important in getting smooth cuts. One time not long after I got my table saw I was having a terrible time with burning some maple I was cutting, and it was because the blade and fence were not even close to properly aligned. It was aligned when I setup the saw, but at some point had come out of alignment. That’s now the first place I look when I have poor results on the table saw.

A dull blade will also struggle to cut pretty much anything.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5783 posts in 2985 days

#6 posted 12-18-2013 07:11 PM

Underpowered saws less than 2 h.p. need thin kerf blades (most portable and contractor style saws ).
Freud Diablo makes a 24 tooth ripping blade that has amazed me. It will rip 8/4 oak with no burning or stalling. I have some pretty fancy industrial Freud blades that don’t get used much because the 1024 has been so good.
The kicker is that it is cheap, and widely available at Home Depot.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Planeman40's profile


1272 posts in 2933 days

#7 posted 12-19-2013 06:18 AM

Here is a surprise for you. It is a long story why I did this that I won’t go into, but I have been using a 96 tooth 12” Harbor Freight table saw blade ( on my $4,000 Hammer sliding saw and find it to be a superb blade! I had to send it to Forrest Blades in New Jersey to have the arbor hole re-punched to accommodate the European-style arbor hole. The blade gives extremely smooth cuts and runs true. I’ve had it on the saw for a year and love it! And they are 2/3 less expensive than other similar blades.

Here is their 10”, 80 Tooth Carbide Tipped Circular Saw Blade at $28.00:


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View jonah's profile


1866 posts in 3470 days

#8 posted 12-19-2013 01:02 PM

I’m trying to wrap my head around sending a $25 Harbor Freight blade to Forrest (maker of top-quality saw blades) to get it re-punched for a $4000 saw. You probably spent more than the cost of the blade to get it there, get it punched, and get it back.

I wonder if the guys at Forrest laughed when they opened the box and saw that thing in there…

View dusty2's profile


323 posts in 3601 days

#9 posted 12-19-2013 01:55 PM

jonah, you are being blind sided by name recognition. Planeman40 reports that the blade works well. The fact that it came from HF and did not cost him a $100 bill does not change that.

We are too often guided by price tag and name recognition.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

View jonah's profile


1866 posts in 3470 days

#10 posted 12-19-2013 02:18 PM

No I’m not. I have two HF saw blades (albeit 10” ones) and have used and discarded two others. Both are about what I’d expect for a $15-20 blade: they work acceptably well for rough stuff but I would not use them for hardwood or fine work of any kind.

I wasn’t speaking out of my behind. I have used them. I’m glad Planeman is happy with his – that just hasn’t been my experience with HF blades.

I do, however, have and use several other tools and accessories from HF. Some of their stuff are true “gems.” I just don’t think their saw blades are one of that group.

View Planeman40's profile


1272 posts in 2933 days

#11 posted 12-19-2013 04:54 PM

Well, since you ask . . .

I won the Hammer saw, a K3 winner 48” x 48” ( in Hammer’s drawing for a free saw last Fall. Being retired and on a tight budget as most retirees, when I encountered a one-time need for a 12” saw blade (I was using the 10” blade which came with the saw) in a project, I choked when I saw the price of good 12” saw blades. But a few days later when I was in a Harbor Freight store I passed the saw blade area and my eye caught a 12” saw blade on the shelf and it was only $36. It had 96 teeth and looked good. I knew Forrest could punch a blade arbor for me for a little over $30 as I had called them about the cost of their 12” blades. A quick calculation said even with postage, it would be cheaper for me to get this blade and have it punched than to buy a Forrest blade. And what the hell, I was only going to need it for this one cut. In 50 years of sawing I had never needed anything but a 10” blade. So I bought the Harbor Freight blade and sent it to Forrest to have it punched. They never said a word and were very nice.

This was nearly a year ago. I liked the Harbor Freight blade so much I never took it off the saw after that “one cut”!


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View jonah's profile


1866 posts in 3470 days

#12 posted 12-19-2013 08:24 PM

Glad it’s worked out for you. Perhaps that particular design/manufacturer is making a higher-quality product than the variety I have (at the moment, a 50-tooth and 24-tooth blade). Perhaps I’ll check one of those out once the blade in my 12” miter saw gets dull.

View RHaynes's profile


112 posts in 1792 days

#13 posted 12-19-2013 08:53 PM

I keep an 60T crosscut blade in my chop saw and a 40T combo blade in my table saw. I do rough crosscuts on the chop saw, and also use it for cutting trim. But precision crosscutting for furniture, picture frames, etc. is done on the table saw. Both blades are Freud, the table saw blade is a Premier Fusion and the chop saw blade is a LU91. I’ve cut a wide variety of woods on the table saw, include hard and soft species, thicknesses up to 8/4, crosscuts and rips. As long as the fence is truly parallel to the blade and the workpiece is moved past the blade at a consistent rate, I rarely have pieces burn. Use a dial indicator to check your fence, blade, mitre gauges, etc. I use my 40T combo blade on the table saw for cutting plywood too, including hardwood plywood. With a good ZCI and the good face down, no problem getting clean cuts on sheet goods with a 40T combo blade.

If you plan to use the table saw for just about everything, $100 for a combo blade is a good place to start, or you can spend a little more on the comparable Forrest. If there’s some specific task that this setup doesn’t handle well or that you think requires changing blades, THEN spend the money. Always cheaper to wait to buy something until you know you NEED it. When I buy stuff for the shop that I’m not sure I need, it usually turns out I didn’t need it and therefore won’t use it much. Besides, changing blades is a PITA. And if it’s a PITA, chances are, you’re going to think “well, I SHOULD change to my plywood blade to make this ONE cut, but it’s a PITA, so I’ll just use the blade that’s on there.” You can have the perfect blade for every application, but if you’d rather be cutting wood than changing blades, they’re going to hang on the wall . . . expensive decorations.

-- "Sometimes the creative process requires foul language." -- Charles Neil.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5101 posts in 4132 days

#14 posted 12-19-2013 10:26 PM

Kinda like askin’ which doctor to use for the flu.
My choices:
24 t glue line ripper thin kerf, 50 t full kerf combo, and 80 t full kerf or thin kerf for cross cut (depending on material).
My TS is a Grizz 0444Z contractor saw, the miter saw is a DeWalt 10” combo bevel.
Wanna get into the band saw blade discussion?
Sharp blades, well tuned machinery, and well prepped material will make all the difference.


View oldnovice's profile


7264 posts in 3540 days

#15 posted 12-20-2013 06:32 AM

Knotscott pointed you in the right direction! Now all you have to do is find which one(s) you want/need!

At one time I had over a dozen Craftsman 10” TS blades (non carbide tipped blades, each one cost $5 at sale time) because the local Sears store was clearing stock. I only have one of those blade left, I gave away all but the thin kerf plywood/veneer blade once I used the Forrest WWII blade.

I bought a Forrest WWII about 25 years ago and have had it sharpened twice; once just because I thought it was time and the other as I had hit some hardware in salvaged wood. I bought another about 10 years ago so when I send one for sharpening/tooth replacement I still have a blade available. The only issue I have is making box joints as the tooth grind on the Forrest WWII is not the best choice.

That’s my 2ยข worth on this topic!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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