Understanding Table saw blades _ Always find the perfect one

Understanding Table saw blades | Always find the perfect one


Any kind of wood cutting tool is useless without an appropriate saw blade.
But that is no rocket science, and I guess you already knew that.

When you think about a table saw blade, you want one with which you can make smooth, safe cuts.
You want a saw blade that gives you clean edges, so you can build quality stuff. But the offer is that big that finding an appropriate table saw blade is hard to find.

To help you in finding the perfect saw blade, and to clarify the wide range of table saw blades, I have made this handy guide that go over all the differences in table saw blades. That way you can make a selection of what you exactly need for that particular piece of wood you want to cut.

To give you an overview, here are the most important things you need to look for in finding the best table saw blade:

  • Select the right blade for the type of saw you use
  • Think about what type of cut you want to make
  • What material do you want to cut

Once you know this you can start making a selection to find the right saw blade by going over the features like the number of teeth, tooth configuration, and hook angle of the tooth. After making that selection, you can select even further by choosing the kerf width, blade material and teeth quality.

This can be overwhelming, but I promise you, after reading this article, you will be able to find the perfect saw blade time after time to make the perfect cuts. Above that, selecting the right table saw blade can be the solution to many table saw problems.

How To Find The Right Saw Blade

Step 1: What Type of Saw Do You Use?

Not every saw blade is designed for the type of saw you use (table saw, miter saw, circular saw, …).
If you use the wrong type of blade for the table saw, chances are you will get poor results, but much worse, this can be dangerous.

So before you buy, it’s a good idea to know your table saw well in order to find the appropriate saw blade for it. To know all about the table saw, I suggest you take a look at the main article about table saws here and come back after reading it to find the saw blade you actually need.

Step 2: What Kind of Cuts Do You Want to Make?

The most made cuts with a table saw are crosscuts (cutting across the grain) or ripping cuts (cutting with the grain). If you want to see all the cuts a table saw can make, check out this article.
You can choose a saw blade exclusively for crosscutting, a saw blade only for ripping, or a table saw blade that can do both cuts.

A saw blade that is suitable for crosscutting is a saw blade with many teeth. A saw blade that is used for rip cuts, on the other hand, has a lot fewer teeth. I will tell you more about the number of teeth later in the section “number of teeth on a table saw”.

Because the number of teeth is larger or smaller, the depth of the gullet will also change. Shallow gullets (with blades with many teeth) will be able to remove fewer wood chips and are therefore better for finer cutting work.

Low-toothed blades have deeper gullets that allow them to remove more wood chips when making rip cuts.

Don’t worry if it all seems a bit vague, by reading the article in its entirety, everything will become clear to you.

Many do not know, but cutting aluminum can also be done with a table saw. However, you need a suitable saw blade for this. In this article, you will discover everything when you want to cut aluminum with a table saw.

Step 3: What Material Do You Want to Cut?

Not only the type of cut but also the type of material to be cut will affect your choice.
Blades with few teeth are recommended when cutting a wide variety of materials, or when you want to make rough cuts in a very fast way.

Are you going to cut a lot of one type of material? Then you can go for a specialized magazine. Melamine, plywood, or hardwoods that require high-quality cuts are types of materials for which it is recommended to use saw blades with many teeth.

So you can choose to build a full collection of specialized blades, where each type of cut or material is cut with a separate blade, or you can buy one blade that can make all kinds of cuts. These are called combination saw blades.
Both will have pros and cons.
A specialized table saw blade will always give better results, but are you willing to change the blade when switching between cuts?

Combination saw blades are good for novice woodworkers or those who want to keep their budget low. I have to admit that I also started that way myself. But I soon realized that the quality was not what I wanted with this type of saw blade. That’s why I switched to specialized saw blades, and believe me this is not as bad as you might think. You can go a long way with just a few blades.

I have a fine-toothed saw blade for crosscuts and plywood, and a coarse-toothed saw blade for rough cuts and rip cuts. In addition, I have a combination saw blade for when I often have to cut different materials, but where the finish is not as high, but still higher than with rip cuts.

I never saw melamine, but if it were necessary, I would definitely invest in it.

If you think it’s harder to fit into your budget, you’re right in the short term. You have to buy multiple sheets. However, in the long run, the price is evenly matched because the blades are only used half the time and for the type of cut and material they are suitable for.
In addition, you will have better cuts that will raise the quality of your work.

Parts of The Saw Blade

In order to fully understand what is being said in this article, it is recommended that you know all the parts of a saw blade. That is why I go over the most important parts on the basis of the instruction photo.

Understanding Table saw blades - Parts of a saw blade
Understanding Table saw blades – Parts of a saw blade
  • Blade diameter: Each type of saw uses a different diameter, so it is important to know what diameter the blade of your saw has.
  • Bore: just like the diameter, the different brands of saws also use a different bore. Keep this in mind when purchasing a leaf.
  • Tooth: These are the parts that will cut the wood, there is a lot to say about this as there are many types. After reading this article, everything will be clear.
  • Gullet: The gullet takes care of the removal of the chips. Saw blades with many teeth have smaller gullets, which means that they are less able to remove large wood chips and are therefore better suited for finer work
  • Dimensions of the saw blade: These are the dimensions of the saw blade. I show you what you can read about it in the detailed photo below. This is the direction in which the saw blade should be turned. When installing the saw blade, pay close attention to this.
Understanding Table saw blades - Blade information
Understanding Table saw blades – Blade information

The Differences in Table Saw Blades Explained

As you could already read in this article, for every cutting operation, a blade for table saws has been designed that will give you the best results.

The number of teeth is the most important factor. These will determine not only how fast you can cut, but also how your cut will look.

The importance of the number of teeth does not end there.
That is why I created a list of all the important characteristics from which you can choose the best saw blade. Continue reading to find out everything there is to know about saw blade differences. This knowledge will assist you in better understanding and selecting saw blades.

Number Of Teeth On The Table Saw Blade

There is one important rule about the number of teeth you need to remember: table saw blades with more teeth will give a smoother and finer cut, and blades with fewer teeth will remove material faster and are better for fast and rougher cuts. The number of teeth is always expressed in TPI (Tooth Per Inch).

A ripping blade is designed to quickly rip through wood along the length of the grain.
Therefore, a ripping blade will have fewer teeth.
Depending on the brand, rip blades will have an average of 24 teeth.
With little effort, a ripping blade moves well through hardwood.

A crosscut saw blade is designed to make cuts across the grain of the wood.
Due to the increased number of teeth, starting from 80TPI to 120TPI ore more, each tooth has to remove less material.
That means cuts made with this type of saw blade are smooth with a minimal chance of splintering or tearing.

Understanding Table saw blades _ Always find the perfect one
Ripping blade
Understanding Table saw blades _ Always find the perfect one
Crosscut blade

The Tooth Configuration

The way the table saw blade cuts is affected by the shape of the blade tooth and the way the teeth are grouped.
Changing the shape of the tooth or re-grouping the teeth can determine whether the blade will work best for ripping, crosscutting, or other applications.
Below, I explain the most common tooth configurations and their applications.

Alternate top bevel (ATB)

Understanding Table saw blades _ Always find the perfect one

With this type of saw blade, the teeth of the blade will alternately have a right and left bevel.
The alternate top beveled teeth form a knife-like edge on the outside of the blade and will therefore give a smoother cut.
This is the best table saw blade for plywood or when you want to cut natural wood.

If this is the type of tooth you are looking for, I made a selection of both a crosscut blade and ripping blade on Amazon below. Just click the buttons to check the prices.

High alternate top bevel (Hi-ATB)

The Hi-ATB configuration is a variant of the ATB teeth.
The difference is that the Hi-ATB tines have a higher bevel angle.
This increases the blade-like effect of the side of the saw blade so that even smoother cuts can be made.

This type of saw blade is ideal for extra-fine crosscutting or cutting materials that are sensitive to chipping, such as melamine.

Flat top (FT)

Understanding Table saw blades _ Always find the perfect one

When looking for the best ripping blade for table saws for ripping hardwoods and softwoods, you will need saw blades with flat-top teeth.
A ripping blade is designed to remove material quickly and efficiently when cut with the grain.

Because of this tooth, wood flakes and splinters much less quickly.
If you need to cut a lot of dados or grooves with a flat bottom, this is the type of blade you need.

Combination Tooth (Comb)

Understanding Table saw blades _ Always find the perfect one

The word Combination blades say it all.
These saw blades are designed to be used for ripping as well as for cross-cutting.
The teeth on this blade are arranged in groups of five and, between each group, there is a large gullet.
If you look closely, you will see that there are four ATB teeth and one FT per group of 5 teeth.

Triple chip grind (TCG)

Understanding Table saw blades _ Always find the perfect one

If you need to cut hard materials such as MDF or laminates, you need a TCG saw blade.
With a TCG saw blade, the teeth will alternate between a flat tooth and a higher trapeze-shaped tooth.
This combination is also used for non-ferrous metal blades.

Hook Angle

Another important factor is the hook angle. By changing the angle of the hook, the saw blade can have a completely different effect on the cutting.

A table saw blade with a high positive hook angle, where the tooth leans slightly forward at an angle of about 20°, will produce a very aggressive cut and a high feed rate.
This type of hook is used on ripping blades. So If you are looking for the best ripping blade for table saws, you need to look out for this.

A table saw blade with a negative hook angle, where the hook will lean back slightly (about 6°) will cause the feed rate to be slower.
This type of saw blade is often used with radial arm saws and sliding miter saws.
These power tools require a less aggressive blade.
The slow feed rate ensures that the blade will not jam, or have a tendency to hook and “climb” into the material.

Understanding Table saw blades _ Always find the perfect one

Blade material

Circular saw blades can be made from different types of steel. It completely depends on the purpose and design of the blades.

HSS: The most commonly used is HSS, or high-speed steel. This high-speed tool steel is a set of tool steel alloys named for their ability to cut materials faster than traditional carbon steels previously used in cutting tools.

HW: Tungsten carbide-tipped saws are made of carbon steel. More about this in the section table saw blade teeth quality below.

CV: High carbon content and the addition of vanadium are used to make blades that are robust, large, and tear-resistant. Chrome vanadium is a material used to make friction saw blades. Depending on the application and the material to be cut, different types of steel can be used to construct hot saws.

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Kerf Width

The kerf is the width of the slot left by the saw blade when you cut into the material. The width of the kerf will depend on the type of table saw you own.

Table saws powered with a motor less than 3 hp require a table saw blade with a kerf less than 3.17 mm or 1/8 “.

A thinner table saw blade will have to remove less material and therefore requires less power from the saw.
With an adapted saw blade, you will not only put less stress on the table saw, but you also not risk that the saw blade will jam while sawing.
A kerf that is too wide can also cause slowing down the blade.
Blades that are too wide will cause friction to burn the wood, and heat up the blade.
This will result in curvature.

The disadvantage of thinner saw blades is that they are more sensitive to vibrations.
Vibration damping systems, such as those used in Freud saw blades, have been developed for this purpose.
This allows saw blades with a thin cut to compensate for the slight loss of stability.

If you have a table saw that is driven with a motor higher than 3 hp, you can choose to use a saw blade that is wider.
For this you can use saw blades with a kerf that is wider than 3.17 mm or 1/8 “.

Table Saw Blade Teeth Quality

How cleanly it cuts, the longer the blade stays sharp.
You can resharpen you saw blade, but that all depend on the quality of the material from which the cutting tips are made. More about resharpen your saw blade can be found here.

Most high-performance saw blades have teeth with thick tungsten carbide tips (HW). Those are fused onto the steel blade plate using a tri-metal brazing process.

When you are looking for a saw blade, look for table saw blades with at least C3 carbide teeth.
These types of teeth are thick enough to allow for a number of resharpening.

Size Of The Gullet

I’ve already mentioned the gullet several times in this article and will now delve into it a bit more, then you will soon realize the important role this plays in the use of the saw blade.
The gullet is the space or incision between two teeth.
The function of the gullet is to carry chips produced during cutting away from the cut.

When you make a ripping cut, the feed rate is higher and the chip size is also larger.
So, in order to be able to remove these large quantities of material in time, the gullet must be deep enough.

This is the other way around with a crosscut saw blade.
There, the chips are smaller and there are fewer chips per tooth.
That’s why the gullet will be much smaller.

The smaller gullets will prevent a fast feed rate when cutting and thus make it less aggressive. This will result in finer and cleaner cuts.

How To Choose The Best Blade For Table Saws

Ok, we are now through all the information out there about the differences in table saws. So if your table saw blade is dull or damaged, or you want to find the right saw blade for the material you are cutting, you now want to know which saw blade to get.

Well, there is no one-sided answer to this, however. You will have to work with the information from this article to make an elimination.
Start by looking at the number of teeth (do you want to make rip cuts or crosscuts) then add all the other information, and you will find the perfect blade, with the best result for your needs. You can use the recommended saw blades in the tooth configuration section as a base to start with.

A good piece of advice that you can apply with any saw blade you buy is to buy quality blades.
Don’t be tempted by cheap table saw blades.
In the long run, cheap table saw blades will be much more expensive than buying good quality table saw blades.
A solid table saw blade not only lasts longer but also gives sharper cuts.

Choosing a good sawblade is part of table saw maintenance. Please check out my main article about table saw maintenance here to keep your table saw in the best possible condition. Do not miss this article!

What About Dado Blades?

Dado blades are another type of saw blade. By placing several blades side by side in your table saw, you are able to make wider cuts. Another name for these wider cuts is dados.

However, there is a lot to tell about this type of blade. Not every country allows you to use dado blades, and not all table saws will be designed to install dado blades. To know all about what dado blades are and how to use them, I wrote the in-depth article, can I use dado blades on my table saw.
don’t miss that article.

Working With Your New Table Saw Blade

Ok, now you are able to find the right table saw blade for the type of wood you want to cut. But before you make your first cut, I recommend to read my article with 5 basic table saw tips. That way you are able to get the most out of your table saw an make cuts in the safest possible way.


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