Which Saw Blades Do I Buy?

Circular saw blades

Equipped with the right blade, a portable circular saw can cut tough jobs down to size in a hurry. The following recommendations are for a 7-1/4-inch saw -- the most popular size. For rough cutting and framing jobs, choose a carbide-tipped blade with 18 to 24 teeth. For demolition jobs in which you may encounter embedded fasteners, select a blade that is rated for nail cutting. For finish cuts in both solid wood and plywood, reach for a 36-tooth blade. Inexpensive steel blades are useful for rough carpentry work.

For your table saw, the 10-inch blade is the most common. Today you can find nearly a dozen different categories of blades to cut everything from ferrous and nonferrous metals to wood and plastics.

Reciprocating saw blades

This tough saw can be a remodeler's best friend, rapidly chewing through demanding demolition tasks. A 6-inch blade with six teeth per inch (TPI) is a good choice for most jobs because it combines ample capacity with fast cutting and ample rigidity. For demolition jobs, it pays to buy good-quality blades that will slice through nails without complaint. For jobs where you're attacking thicker material, move to a longer blade such as a 9-incher. Like the shorter version, this blade also has six teeth per inch.

A blade with 10 TPI will yield a smoother surface, but you'll rarely use a reciprocating saw for finished cuts. For metal cutting, select a blade that's engineered to handle the job. Choose a blade with 18 to 24 TPI, depending on the thickness of the metal -- the thinner the stock, the more teeth.

Jigsaw blades

Recommendations for jigsaw blades closely follow the advice for the reciprocating saw: 6 TPI for rough cuts and 10 TPI for smoother cuts. For cutting a tight radius, choose a blade that has a narrower body. Typically this is called a scrolling blade.

If your jigsaw has a provision for switching from reciprocating to orbital action, you'll gain greater control over your cut. A reciprocating (straight up and down) motion yields a smoother surface but requires more time. Orbital action gives a faster but rougher cut.

Coping saw blades

The most-used coping saw blade has 15 TPI and gives a fast cut. Because the cut surface is usually not seen, its smoothness is not a concern in blade selection.

But if you need to cope intricate small moldings, choose a finer blade (18 to 20 TPI), not for the smoothness but because its narrower body will turn a tighter corner.

Recommended table saw blades

It's challenging to recommend ideal blades for every shop, but many woodworkers would list these as their favorite 10-inch carbide-tipped table saw blades:

  • 40T ATB (alternate top bevel) General Purpose -- crosscuts and rips lumber and sheet materials
  • 24T FT (flat top) Rip -- ideal for ripping hardwoods and thick softwood stock
  • 80T ATB Finish -- a blade for finish cuts through your best hardwoods

Switch to a new blade

Trying to coax additional cuts out of a dull blade is false economy. It wastes your time, wears out your arms, stresses your saw's motor bearings, and overheats your patience. In addition, a burned surface is nearly worthless from a gluing standpoint. Switch to a new blade as soon as you sense that a cut requires additional effort.

 

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