circular saw blade buying guide - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 12-20-2016, 07:23 PM Thread Starter
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circular saw blade buying guide

Hi. I've been shopping for 12-inch blades for my sliding miter saw and 10-inch for my table saw. The places I've shopped online-- Amazon, Home Depot, other places don't have the information I need such as tooth type, hook angle. Is there a good place online that people know about where I can filter in/out these kind of blade criteria and get the blade(s) I want?

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post #2 of 7 Old 12-20-2016, 07:55 PM
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It mainly depends on what wood you are cutting. The more teeth a blade has the smoother the cut but using one with too many teeth on hardwood and it burns. A blade with more than 40 teeth is generally better suited for cutting plywood or trim. The thicker and harder hardwood you use the fewer teeth you want. I've had better luck using a fiber cement blade with only six teeth for cutting 8/4 maple. For the miter box you need a blade suited for cross cut. This means a blade with a negative hook which usually means the cutting edge of the teeth is inline with the center of the blade.
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post #3 of 7 Old 12-20-2016, 08:30 PM
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The info is right on the blade itself

Check out this blade on Amazon and use the magnifier scrolled across the blade's tooth count and it will show a 20 degree hook angle:

What you really need in addition, is a chart that shows which blade is best suited for each operation:

A PDF will show this in larger format:

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 12-20-2016 at 08:36 PM.
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post #4 of 7 Old 12-20-2016, 09:24 PM
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Tooth Style

Steve and wood both gave excellent advice, that chart particularly. Personally, i think that a lot of the stuff people throw around massively overcomplicates things, like those guys who insist that you need a 14 1/2 hook angle for cutting walnut but maple responds best to a hatb grind with a 5 degree hook angle sharpened under a full moon. Those are the guys you want to ignore. So, lets simplify some terms!

First, tooth type. Theres a few out there, the 3 big ones that ive seen the most are ATB, flat and triple chip grind. Theres more out there, but those 3 cover the majority. First, ATB blades; the acronym means 'alternating top bevel' which pretty well describes the way the teeth are formed. Each tooth is ground to a point thats biased either to the left or the right, and the direction of bias alternates between teeth, so left-right-left-right. This tooth style is used mostly on crosscut and general purpose blades, the points of the teeth do an excellent job severing wood fibers, leading to a finer cut across the grain. Subsets of the ATB grind also include Hi-ATB, which has a much finer point on the teeth, great for crosscutting at the expense of durability, and ATB-R, which breaks up the tooth pattern with a flat top tooth (l-r-l-r-raker usually), which generally leaves a flat bottom groove and helps the blade preform better in ripping. Incidentally, my favorite general-purpose blades are ATB-r, as they handle everything from ripping to cutting sheet good and leave a good cut, though they dont excel at anything.

Next up in tooth pattern is flat, commonly seen on blades as FTG (flat top grind). Again, the name is fairly descriptive, the top of the tooth is flat, without the points you see on the aforementioned ATB grind. You generally find this style grind on ripping blades, where tearout isnt as much of a concern as getting material out of the way. Excellent for ripping solid woods, not so much for most other tasks.

The third of the big 3 blade types is the triple chip grind. For this one, picture a flar top grind, only on every other tooth the corners have been clipped off, so the tip of the tooth looks a little like half an octagon. This is the blade style you want to reach for when cutting materials prone to chipout, like melamine, or brittle materials like OSB. Metal cutting blades also tend to use this tooth style. This style grind shares the same tearout issue as a FTG blade, so crosscuts in solid wood arent the best use, but if you use a lot of sheet good this is the blade style to look for

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post #5 of 7 Old 12-20-2016, 09:32 PM
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Hook Angle

The next big piece of confusing terminology is hook angle. Put simply, this is the angle that the tooth is entering the wood at, which determines how aggressively the blade will cut. Higher hook angles, 20 degrees and up, are used in ripping blades where you want the blade to aggressively feed through the wood. A more general purpose angle range is 5-15 degrees, and the lower the angle goes, the less aggressively the blade will want to feed itself into the wood. Generally, the lower the hook angle, the smoother the cut will be, so for fine crosscuts youll want to reach for a blade with a 5 degree hook angle, and the opposite for ripping.

Somewhat complicating this are neutral and negative hook angles. Both are exactly what they sound like, a neutral hook angle is 0 degrees, a negative hook angle is generally -5, though im sure higher negative angles exist. Generally blades with this style hook angle are used in materials that respond poorly to a blade self-feeding, like melamine, or on machines where you really dont want the blade to try to self feed. You want a negative hook angle blade for something like a radial arm saw or sliding miter saw, to prevent the blade from digging into the sood youre cutting and self-feeding its way up your fleshy bits.

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post #6 of 7 Old 12-20-2016, 09:40 PM
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Tooth count

The last major thing youll be looking at is tooth count. This is actually one of the simplest things to muddle your way through, as the explanation is pretty simple; Generally, the higher the tooth count, the cleaner the cut.

Lower tooth counts are used on blades where you want each tooth to take a pretty good bite out of the material and clear the chips quickly, think ripping. The higher the tooth count gets, the smaller the bite each tooth takes, and as the bite gets smaller so does the risk of tearing the wood fibers.

A good tooth count for a ripping blade is generally 24t, general purpose blades are usually 40-50t, and dedicated crosscut blades, as well as the blades that perform best in plywood, are generally 60t+ to leave the smoothest cut.

An important thing to note, as the blade diameter changes, so does the TPI. A 30 tooth 7 1/4" blade and a 30 tooth 12" blade are going to have a different TPI (tooth per inch) count, so a good rule of thumb is to do the same job with different sizes blades, as the diameter of the blade steps up the tooth count should too. For example, a dedicated crosscut blade would have 40t for a 7 1/4 blade, 60t for a 10 inch blade and 80 or 100t for a 12 inch blade

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post #7 of 7 Old 12-20-2016, 09:52 PM
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Recommendations and assorted musings

That covers the major blade buying points, the only one really left is thin- vs full-kerf. That ones pretty self explanatory, a full-kerf blade cuts a 1/8 kerf, a thin-kerf cuts less than that. Thin kerf blades waste less wood and need less power to make the cut, full-kerf blades are usually stiffer and lead to better cut quality.

As far as recommendations go, ill break this down to my personal choice by tool:

12 inch sliding compound miter - 80-100t blade, Hi-ATB or standard ATB grind with a low rake angle, negative rake if at all possible for crosscuts in solid wood or plywood, triple chip grind if most of the cuts are going to be in MDF or laminates

10 inch miter saw/sliding compound/radial arm/table saw crosscuts - 60-80t blade, Hi- or standard ATB grind, low to negative rake angle (negative for sure if on a RAS) for crosscuts in solid wood. Again, if most of the cuts are going to be in laminates or the like, go for a similar tooth count with a triple chip grind

10" table saw, general purpose - 40-50t combination blade, ATB-R tooth style is my favorite, and these are generally 5-10 rake angle. Excellent configuration for a jack-of-all-trades blade, itll work pretty well for everything

10" table saw, ripping - 24 tooth blade, FTG although it really doesnt matter for ripping, high hook angle

10' table saw, sheet goods - Depends on the sheet. Melamine, laminates and the fiberboard family all get a triple-chip grind blade in the 80t range, plywood gets an 80 tooth count blade with either an ATB or Hi-ATB grind

Sorry for the long-winded posts, hope this all helps de-mystify a few things!

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