Old Methane Gas Cloud
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Huntington Beach, California
More Important Than Brand
What are you cutting? How are you cutting? Are your blades clean and sharp?
Are all your cuts rip cuts? Are you in a production environment? Then probably a rip blade with 24 raker teeth and large gullets is the best way to go.
Are all of your cuts cross grain? Then a cross cut blade would be the best.
If you are like most of us your answer to the two above questions is "ALL of my cuts are not. . . . ."
What you need is a combination or general purpose blade. We're not going to cut any reclaimed wood with either of these blades. (The nail finder blade discussion is below.)
Most people assume that a combination and a general purpose blade are the same thing. These blades provide similar results but they are not the same.
A general purpose blade (Like a Forrest Woodworker) looks like a cross cut blade but there are subtle differences. The GP blade has an Alternating Top Bevel tooth configuration. When looking at the blade the teeth sort of point away and over the side of the blade in an alternating pattern. Just like a cross cut blade you say. Well, almost. The ATB teeth of a GP blade point a bit more away and over the side of the blade. The outside edge of the tooth is angled a bit more than a cross cut tooth. The top of the ATB tooth has a more acute angle than most cross cut blades AND the angle of the face of the tooth has a more acute angle. This tooth geometry helps to clear the sawdust from the kerf and makes for a very clean cut. (The complexity of this tooth geometry almost always requires that the blade be returned to the manufacturer for sharpening.) Unfortunately as the thickness of the wood increases, the effort to cut increases significantly. After trying to cut a 2 inch thick piece of oak with this type of blade for the first time, you will wax your table saw before the next cut. And then discover that the saw did not need to be waxed. It's just the way that this type of blade works. The thicker the wood being cut, the more difficult the cutting process. (Note that at some of the woodworking shows, this blade is called a combination blade, which it is not.)
A combination blade has two different styles of teeth, ATB and Raker. The raker tooth is a flat top tooth AND has a much larger gullet in the blade disk. The purpose of the larger gullet is to clean out the longer strands of saw dust during a rip cut. This blade works very well even as the thickness of the wood increases. For a 10" saw blade, combination blades are generally 40 or 50 teeth. The teeth are in 8 or 10 groups of 5 with each group containing 4 ATB and 1 Raker. Sometimes these blades are called ATB-R tooth configuration.
Both types of blades give excellent cuts with a slight edge given to the more expensive brands of the general purpose blades.
Because I do cut thicker lumber, I prefer a combination blade. I have tried to use a good general purpose to cut 10/4 lumber and had the contractor saw stop in the middle of the cut due to thermal overload.
There are other blades that can be used for special purposes.
If you are cutting a lot of plywood, by all means use a plywood blade. (ATB with a lot to teeth)
If you are cutting laminate (Formica etc.) by itself or on a substrate use a triple tooth grind blade. Although a good (Sharp and clean) general purpose blade will work very well.
If you are cutting melamine on a particle board substrate, the triple chip grind, general purpose or combination blades are very good to good in that order.
As for blade brands, most of my more recent blade purchases are not branded and are what my sharpening service sells. I trust the sharpening service more than the sales people at the woodworking show. The blades from the sharpening service are superior to most of the blades I've purchased at any of the shows.
I think that it is more important to select a blade based upon how you intend to use the blade rather than by brand.
Finally, cutting recycled or reclaimed wood or back yard cut down wood.
The blade doesn't matter, only cost is important. Buy the cheapest blades that you can find. Then rough cut your wood. When you cut through the nail, screw, spike or bullet you'll just laugh. A $10 blade from Harbor Freight will cut the nails just as good a that $150 special blade from a woodworking show. After rough cutting your recycled lumber and half the teeth on the cheap blade are destroyed, you'll laugh as you throw the $10 blade in the trash.
Use the right tool for the job.
Rich (Tilting right)
Huntington Beach, California
Remember that when we have the "BIG ONE" everything east of the Rockies falls into the ocean.