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Selecting The Right Saw Blade

 
   

Without a doubt, the most important part of any saw is the blade. Just like tires on a car, the right saw blade on your saw can make dramatic improvements in performance. These days there are a number of different types of blades available so that you can opt for the best blade to suit the work-at-hand; some are general purpose while many are designed for specific materials or types of cuts. But with the myriad of blades from which to choose how do you select the best blade for the job? Once you understand the basics of how saw blades function selecting the best blade for the job is easy.

 

Today’s sawblades are remarkable testaments to engineering. But you don’t need to be an engineer to understand the basics and choose the right blade. Here’s a rundown of the essential terms:
  
--The steel plate or body of the blade is ground flat and smooth in order to achieve the truest possible cut. Standard blades have thicker plates and provide smoother cuts than comparable thin-kerf blades. However, generally speaking, thin-kerf blades require less horsepower.

AGE Saw Blade

--Saw Blade bodies heat up and expand during cutting. Slots in the plate help dissipate heat and provide for expansion so that the blade remains flat and cuts true.

--The large gullets on rip blades are designed to efficiently pull the sawdust from the kerf. The teeth have a positive rake angle for aggressive cutting. The tops of the teeth are flat or slightly beveled to efficiently remove the sawdust from the kerf.

--Crosscut blades have a high tooth count for a smooth cut across the grain. The top of each tooth is sharply beveled to shear the wood cleanly.

--Radial-arm blades and sliding miter saw blades have a negative tooth angle to help prevent these types of saws from self-feeding.

Saw Blade Types
Today, there are more specialty saw blades to choose from than ever before. Although the most common sawblades are designed for ripping and crosscutting solid wood there are a number of specialty blades for cutting man-made sheet stock such as MDF and plywood, plastic coated materials such as melamine, and even demolition blades that are designed for cutting through an occasional nail.

Like a lot of woodworkers, I keep a combination blade, such as the AGE MD10-500, on my tablesaw much of the time. With its time-tested combination blade design, four alternate top bevel teeth with one flat-top raker, it effectively rips and crosscuts both solid wood as well as sheet stock, although not as effectively or efficiently as specialty blades. However, in many cases, the small tradeoff is worth it. I save a lot of time by not continually switching back and forth between rip and crosscut blades. So you’re probably thinking “why not just mount a combination blade on your tablesaw and leave it there?” The answer? It depends.

For example, if I’m ripping a few boards for a drawer, the combination blade works fine. But when ripping a large stack of hardwood stock, I switch to a rip blade. The large gullets and aggressive tooth angle will smoothly and effortlessly rip all day long without bogging down the saw. And for silky-smooth miters, I use 80 tooth miter blade. The sharp 20 degree top bevel easily shears tough end-grain for gap-free miter joints. The bottom-line? You’ll often be more productive by taking a minute and switching to a specialty blade.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the most popular styles of specialty blades and discuss how they may be put to use in your shop.


Rip Saw Blades
Ripping a stack of hardwood can push your saw to its limits. But a great rip blade, such as the AGE MD10-240 will reduce the load on both you and your saw. That’s because rip saw blades are specifically designed for smooth, efficient cuts while reducing the feed resistance normally associated with ripping.

Rip saw blades have a fewer number of teeth than crosscut or combination blades, typically twenty-four on a ten inch blade. The low tooth count combined with large gullets and a 20 degree hook angle makes the MD10-240 fast and aggressive. And the laser-cut expansion slots help keep the plate flat to virtually eliminate vibration and lower the noise.

Glue-line rip blades use a special triple-chip tooth grind and an extra high hook angle. The unique tooth grind allows aggressive feed rates while at the same time producing a cut so smooth that the surface is ready for gluing—no jointing required!

Rip Saw Blades



Crosscut Saw Blades
When the job requires the cleanest possible cut across the grain I use a crosscut blade such as the AGE MD10-600.  Crosscut blades have lots of teeth, usually 60 to 80, and an alternate top bevel (ATB) tooth design. The bevel angle is sharp, typically 15 degrees, in order to cleanly shear the tough end-grain fibers. Although a combination blade will effectively cut end grain, a crosscut blade will leave a much smoother surface. This is important when the end grain will be seen and touched, such as when making a table top.

If you own a sliding miter saw or a radial-arm saw you’ll want a crosscut blade that is specially designed for these machines. Sliding miter saws and radial-arm saws have a tendency to self-feed which leaves the wood torn and ragged and can sometime even grab the stock—a potentially dangerous situation. The negative hook angle of radial-arm and sliding miter saw blades pushes the stock downward and against the fence to provide an extra margin of safety.

Crosscut Saw Blades


Miter Saw Blades
With 80 teeth and a negative hook, miter blades are the blade to choose when you want glass-smooth miters that are ready for assembly. The best miter blades, such as the AGE
MD10-806, use a thick, carefully ground steel plate to ensure smooth, accurate cuts. Perfect gap free miters for picture framing industry.
Perfect Miter saw blade for picture framers

Miter Saw Blades


Miter Saw Blade Types Available
Thin Kerf Miter Saw Blades
Heavy Duty Miter/Double Miter Saw Blades
Thin Kerf Sliding Compound Miter Saw Blades

Plywood/Laminate Saw Blades
Plywood can be a bit of a challenge to cut without chipping or splintering the veneer on the back side; plastic laminates are also difficult to cut because the brittle plastic veneer tends to chip. Plywood and laminate saw blades, such as the AGE
MD10-601, eliminate the chipping and splintering by incorporating a triple-chip tooth grind along with a high tooth count and a 10 degree hook angle. The result is a smooth finish and minimal feed resistance on a variety of sheet stock from hardwood veneered plywood to MDF and TCG. These unique specialty blades are ideal for use in custom cabinet shops.



Plywood & Laminate Saw Blades


Melamine Saw Blades
One of the greatest challenges in any cabinet shop is to cut Melamine without chipping the brittle, fragile face. The answer is the AGE MD10-803 Melamine blade. The extra-sharp 30 degree top bevel combined with the high tooth count produces a flawless finish on Melamine and materials covered with plastic laminate.



Melamine Saw Blades


Non-Ferrous Saw Blades
As the name implies these specialty saw blades are specifically designed for cutting non-ferrous materials such
as brass, copper, and aluminum. The rugged design of this blade makes it specially suited for rough, abusive applications.

To help prevent grabbing and over-feeding the blade uses a chip limiting design. This blade can be used in tablesaws, radial-arm saws, and miter saws.



Non-Ferrous Saw Blades


Steel Saw Blades
Designed to easily cut through steel studs, steel sheets, metal rods, steel pipes, channels and rebar. Specially designed carbide grade resists breakage and lasts longer than standard carbide or abrasive discs. The ideal blade for cutting through all sorts of metal due to its unique tooth geometry, special carbide and its chip limiting steel support. To be used on special cut-off machines such as Jepson. Using the right RPM (Low) is critical.



Steel Saw Blades


Saw Blade Maintenance
You’ll get better results and a longer life from your sawblades if you follow a few simple guidelines for their care.

Protect the teeth—carbide teeth are brittle and can be chipped or broken if dropped or allowed to contact other tooling. Use care when installing blades and store them so that they are not in contact with other blades or bits.

Keep them clean—the teeth on a sawblade undergo a tremendous amount of heat and stress during cutting. As a result, gum and dirt will build up on the tooth surfaces. Use a blade cleaner to remove the crud.

Keep them sharp—when the feed resistance begins to increase or the quality of the cut suffers slightly it’s time for sharpening. Avoid touching up the tooth surfaces yourself; you’ll risk spoiling the cutting geometry. Instead, take the sawblade to a professional saw sharpening shop and have the teeth ground.

Amana Tool’s line of AGE sawblades is a great value. And the AGE line has a saw blade for every woodworker, from the production shop to the woodworking enthusiast.



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