No matter what kind your automatic saw is, the right saw blade is crucial in achieving smooth and precise cuts.
The woodworkers of today are able to choose from a large and varied number of options when it comes to saw blades. Each of these blades helps to achieve different kinds of cuts.
But with all the different types of saws out there, how do you know which one is right for you? Well, you have to start by acquainting yourself with all the types before you can decide, right?
So, here are the different types of saw blades explained!
Table of Contents
- Saw Blades Types and Their Uses
- Choosing The Right Saw Blade For Your Project (Buying Guide)
Saw Blades Types and Their Uses
The versatility of circular saws knows no bounds. Be it with wood, plastic, or even metal, a good saw can produce the right cuts for you with no hassle. Here is a brief overview of the different types of saw blades you need to know about.
1. Ripping Blade
A ripping blade allows you to make rip cuts along the grain of your workpiece. Such a blade can be identified by its flat teeth and a prominent hook angle, and 3-5 TPI (teeth per inch).
Because ripping blades have larger gullets and a smaller number of TPI, it's easier to clean dust and shavings out of them. However, the faster the ripping blades can produce cuts, the rougher the cuts become.
Ripping blades are preferable to many as they are able to achieve smooth finishes in both softwood and hardwood. A good-quality ripping blade needs to be sharpened infrequently, so that's another plus.
2. Crosscutting Blade
A crosscut blade is able to make cuts perpendicular to the natural grain of the workpiece. The teeth in a crosscut blade are spaced closely together, and its gullet is shallower. Such blades have a lower feed rate as well, and tearing and splintering are kept to a minimum.
Although crosscut blades are not as fast as ripping blades, the cuts they produce are ultra-smooth. So, if your woodworking project is one that requires fine finishes, a crosscut blade will be well-suited to your needs.
3. Combination Blade (General /All Purpose Blade)
The best way to understand a combination saw blade is to think of a combination of crosscut and ripping blades. Such a blade comes with groups of five teeth with a large, shallow gullet at each interval.
Combination blades and general-purpose blades are similar, with the latter type usually having 40 teeth. And if the name wasn’t indication enough, a blade like this will be helpful for lots of different uses. However, being suited to various purposes means compromising a little bit of performance.
4. Dado Cutting Blade
As the name suggests, a dado blade not only allows you to cut dados but also grooves and rabbet cuts. So, if there are any interlocking joints you need to make, e.g., for a drawer or a bookshelf, then a dado blade is what you need.
Dado blades come in two main types: wobble and stacked. The former is defined by its offset rotation, and it gets its name from the slight swaying motion it creates.
A series of blades together to make a wider blade is called a stack dado blade. They're great for making precise, versatile cuts with the help of spacers. You can add and remove chipper blades to their outer blades.
The best thing about a dado blade is that its width can be manipulated, either by changing the number of cutters or adjusting the blade.
5. Finishing /Paneling Blade
A finishing blade, true to its name, allows you to make very smooth cuts that are appropriate for finishing purposes. This type of blade has a large number of very fine teeth–up to 40 TPI (teeth per inch). And this allows the blade to make refined, smooth cuts without damaging the workpiece.
If you’re working with lighter materials such as paneling or plywood, there’s a finishing blade for that too; these are typically called paneling blades. However, this is a very specialized type of finishing blade, so it’s only suitable for serious woodworking finishing tasks.
6. Diamond /Masonry Blade
The name sounds imposing, doesn't it? That makes sense, since this type of blade can do what no other blade can: cutting through the hardest, toughest materials such as concrete, stone, asphalt, ceramics, and glass (among others).
Unless you're professionally employed in the construction industry, it seems unlikely you'll have much need for a masonry blade. If you work in the gem/jewels industry, you might have need for a special kind of masonry blade called a diamond blade.
We're sorry to disappoint, but these blades don't have real diamonds in them, although they do have particles of synthetic diamond in the blade's cutting edge. The cheapest diamond blades can last as low as 12 hours while those of higher quality have a life of up to 120 hours.
7. Plywood Blade
You can probably already tell from the name of this saw blade that it's intended for cutting plywood. Why do you need a special blade? Well, plywood is liable to splinter or chip more easily than other materials.
Keeping that in mind, it makes sense why plywood blades come with a larger number of teeth; about 40 to 60 TPI. This means, you can use a plywood blade for smooth cuts on other fine materials such as sheet plastic as well.
8. Fine-tooth Finish Blade
Similar to the finishing blades we discussed above, fine-tooth finish blades are characterized by a high TPI. This allows the blade to make very smooth and fine cuts that leave little to no splinters, allowing you to make seamless, fine finishes.
This makes the blade ideal for use with materials like plywood, oak, or melamine. Be warned that such blades do tend to be a little bit more expensive.
9. Hollow Ground Blade
Hollow ground circular saw blades belong to a group of blades that are used specifically for cutting sheet goods such as laminate, plywood, particle boards and melamine. The name of this blade is derived from how its teeth are designed.
When laid horizontally to the ground, the teeth of a hollow ground blade appear to have a "hollow" face. The purpose of this is to create a sharper cutting surface which produces very clean, accurate cuts. One downside of this type of blade is that it can become dull sooner rather than later.
10. Thin Kerf Blade
We've discussed in the section below what the "kerf", or the width of the cut, has to do with a saw blade's abilities. Thin kerf blades are characterized by a thickness of less than 1/8". This allows them to smoothly make very narrow cuts.
A thin kerf blade requires much less machinery power to cut through wood than full kerf ones. Although this sounds good, it typically also means that less material is being removed. However, if you work with materials like dimensional lumber, you'll love thin kerf blades.
11. Metal Cutting Blade
Table saws are not only meant for cutting materials like wood and plastic; with the right blade, you can cut through metal, as well. Enter metal cutting blades, the ones that can cut through metals like stainless steel and aluminum, among other ferrous and non-ferrous metals.
This type of blade is quite similar to masonry blades, but their strength and abilities vary according to the material you cut. Metal cutting blades typically feature expansion slots, which are gaps in the blade plate that disperse heat. This allows the blade to have a longer life, so don't skip out on those expansion slots!
Choosing The Right Saw Blade For Your Project
So now you know of the different blade types. However, simply knowing about the kinds of saw blades isn't enough. There are a few more factors to keep in mind before choosing a right saw blade. If you don't feel like reading more, though, you can click on this video.
The performance and abilities of a saw blade are determined largely by its shape, its grind, and how its teeth are grouped. There are 4 main blade categorizations based on teeth configuration:
Let's have a closer look at each type.
- Triple Chin Grind (TCG)
The teeth of this blade are arranged with one raker tooth following one chamfered tooth. And the latter type makes a quick, rough cut as the raker tooth cleans it out for a smooth finish. Go for a TCG blade if you're working with high-density materials, e.g., aluminum.
- Flat Top Grind (FTG)
Also called rakers, FTG blades have teeth whose top edges are at a right angle to the saw's plate. These are great for ripping, so they won't give you smooth surfaces. However, they are fast and durable.
- Alternate Top Bevel (ATB)
The teeth of an ATB blade are spaced throughout the blade's top edge, with every other tooth leaning in the direction opposite to the one beside it. This shape allows the blade to slice through the wood in a smooth sweep.
ATB blades are the ideal choice for those seeking a general-purpose blade.
- Combination (ATBR)
As we discussed earlier, combination blades are able to perform both crosscutting and ripping operations. They typically have 50 teeth spaced out in groups of 5: four ATB teeth followed by one raker tooth (hence the abbreviation).
Number of Teeth
Blades with a smaller number of teeth are able to perform much faster, while more teeth mean a smoother cut. So, when deciding the right blade TPI (teeth per inch), ask yourself whether it's the smoothness or a quicker cut that you prioritize.
For example, a ripping blade might come with only 24 teeth, which would suit someone working with lumber. In contrast, a crosscut blade with 60-80 teeth can make smooth cuts free of tears and splinters; it will also yield more individual cuts.
The gullet is, simply put, the space between the teeth. When working with a large amount of material, you will require a blade with a deeper gullet; so, a ripping blade is ideal for you. In the case of crosscutting blades, you get smaller gullets that are able to adequately handle faster feed rates.
The type of hook angle your blade should have must be determined by what kind of feed rate you prefer. A high positive angle (teeth leaning forward) produces a powerful, strong cut with a faster feed rate.
A low hook angle (teeth leaning backward), in contrast, slows the feed rate down. So, the right hook angle depends on the type of cut you prefer.
The slots cut in the material by the blade are called the kerf. The width of the kerf decides how much material you’ll use up. The kerf width is affected by the blade plate’s thickness, so a solid blade plate is preferred. It is important as it equals the blade's cutting width. Two types of kerf should be considered.
Full kerf blades have the ability to cut 1/8" slots, making them perfect for heavy, tough materials. Thin kerf ones have a thickness less than 1/8", so they're perfect if you have a small workpiece.
Compared to thin kerfs, full kerfs offer more stability (due to the higher thickness and body mass), but they also use up more power.
With the all types of saw blades explained, along with all other important purchasing considerations, you hopefully now have a good idea of what kind of blade to get. May you get the perfect cuts every time. Good luck!