How to Choose the Best Saw Blade

A Quality Blade Equals Quality Cuts

With so many saw blades on the market, even an experienced woodworker like myself can sometimes have difficulty choosing the right one. The saw blade that will work best for you depends on the type of material you’ll be cutting, the types of cuts you want to make, and the type of saw you’re going to use. I’ve put together this saw blade tutorial to give you all the information you’ll need to make the right choice.

Type of Saw

When deciding which saw blade to get, you must first consider the type of saw you’re going to be using. In addition to my miter saw, I also have a table saw and a circular saw. Sometimes you can use the same blade with more than one tool, but this is not always the case, even if the tools use the same size blade. The types of saw a blade can be used with are often indicated on the blade itself or it will be clearly marked on the packaging so you will know what tools it is ok for you to use it with.

I would just like to mention here that the disk of a high quality blade will normally have notches cut into it. These notches help prevent the blade from warping by allowing the disk to expand as the blade heats up while it is cutting. A warped blade won’t make the most accurate cuts and it can also be a potential safety hazard.

Type of Blade

Since this is a miter saw site, we’re going to assume the blades you look at indicate they are for use with a miter saw. The same tips can be used for other saw blades, but let’s just take is as a given that we’re looking at miter saw blades. Okay? Great.

Now, let’s have a look at 3 of the most popular types of blades. They are steel blades, high-speed steel blades, and carbide-tipped blades. Steel blades are the most affordable option and they’re good for cutting most softwoods, but they tend to get dull very quickly when used on hardwoods. High-speed steel blades are stronger than ordinary steel blades, so they can be used for a wider range of cutting tasks. And because they’re made to work at high speeds, they don’t dull as quickly. For fine woodworking jobs, a carbide-tipped blade is your best option. They are the most expensive of the three types mentioned here, but they stay sharper for much longer and produce very smooth, accurate cuts with very little tear out.

Type of Cuts

The saw blade you choose will also depend a lot on the type of cuts you want to make. You basically have coarse cuts and fine cuts, although there are specialized blades for very coarse cuts and very fine cuts as well. The manufacturer will normally specify on the blade the type of cut it is designed for. A blade designed for coarse cuts will be able to make rip cuts and cross cuts in materials like softwoods, plywood and hardwoods. For making cross cuts in materials like wood core plywood, parquet, and laminated chipboards, you will want to use a blade designed to make fine cuts.

Blade Teeth

Another important factor to look at when purchasing a blade for your saw is the teeth. It’s important to choose a blade with the right tooth type for the material and type of cuts you want to make. When it comes to the teeth on a saw blade, the rule of thumb is that the more teeth a blade has, the more accurate it will be, and the cuts will be finer as well. The Bosch 4310, for example, comes equipped with a premium quality 72-tooth, carbide-tipped, thin-kerf blade. This carbide-tipped blade is ideal for fine finish jobs like furniture making. Thin-kerf means that the teeth on the blade are only about 3/32″ thick, as opposed to the teeth on a standard blade which are about 1/8″ thick. For cutting thicker stock, especially if your saw doesn’t have a lot of power, you will want to consider getting a thin-kerf blade.

The Right Blade is a Beautiful Thing

If you’re going to be doing woodworking on a regular basis, I would suggest you get at least 2 different blades. Fortunately, one will usually come included with your saw. That blade will most likely be an all-purpose combination blade that you’lll be able to use for about 90% of your woodworking jobs. For doing fine woodwork, you’ll want to invest in a high quality blade. A premium quality 80-tooth, carbide-tipped blade would be a good choice. It might be a little spendy, but it will save some wear and tear on your all purpose blade, speed up your work, and most importantly, give you the precise, smooth cuts that are needed for a fine finish.