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  1. #1
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    06-15-2010
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    Blades for a table saw

    This post expects the reader to KNOW what material is going to be cut using what machine.

    A table saw can use just about any blade that is round, has an arbor hole that matches your saw and does not exceed the size allowed by you saw.

    Yes, really!

    You can use a 6" dado blade or an 8" dado blade or a 7 circular saw blade in your 10 inch table saw provided that the arbor hole matches your saw. So we can say that size or diameter it not terribly important.

    There is one other feature that is not important on a table saw but critical on a RAS, SCMS or somewhat less so on a chop saw. This feature is hook angle. On the RAS, SCMS or chop a negative hook angle is best. What is a negative hook angle? Hold the saw blade at arms length in both hands. Look at the teeth. Do the teeth lean into the cut or lean away from the cut? If the teeth lean into the cut it is a positive hook angle. If the teeth lean away from the cut it is a negative hook angle.

    The negative hook angle blade is a must for a RAS, SCMS or chop saw. A negative hook angle will give a slightly smoother cut in a table saw at the expense of slower cutting. If a positive hook angle blade is used in a RAS or SCMS the cutting action is too aggressive. The saw blade will tend to walk toward the operator. With a positive hook angle in these saws an accident is more likely.

    Now we know what blades and what blades not to use. We need to consider tooth configurations. There are three basic geometric types of teeth on saw blades and with about a zillion different angles of grind.

    The triple chip tooth sort of looks like a smaller grave marker on top of a grave marker. This blade is best used on Melamine and solid surface materials. Since we don't do much of that we'll just let it go at that.

    The remaining two tooth geometry styles are ATB or R. i.e. Alternating Top Bevel and Raker.

    The Raker tooth is more like a garden hoe. The hoe can scrape out a nice square bottom trench. The raker tooth is used to scrape out the long grains during a rip cut. Because the raker tooth just hogs out the long grains it doesn't make a very smooth cut when cutting across grain. Because the raker tooth is removing long grain, the tooth requires a larger gullet.

    The Alternating Top Bevel tooth has a sharp point that cuts through the grain rather than scraping it out. The ATB tooth works exceptionally well cutting across grain and requires a smaller gullet. The smaller gullet because the tooth is removing more dust rather than long grain. The alternating tips of the teeth slice through the grain giving a very smooth edge to the cut.

    There you have it, a rip blade and a cross cut blade. BTW - A plywood blade is an ATB blade with a steeper angle on the top bevels.

    But wait! You don't want to change blades for every cut! There is a solution! It is called a "Combination Blade". The combination blade has both ATB and Raker teeth. This blade is easily recognizable in the 10 inch size. The blade will have either 8 or 10 large gullets with groups of four teeth or 40 or 50 teeth per blade. In theory the 50 tooth blade should cut smoother but I don't think that you'll notice the difference, except maybe when cutting cheap plywood.

    Some manufacturers will sell a "General Purpose" blade and call it a combination blade. These blades are configured with all ATB teeth with a special grind. These blades work well up to a cut depth of inch. Anything more than a inch deep cut the blade starts to struggle.

    There is something called a "Thin Kerf" blade. These should be avoided in the shop. Yeah, yeah I've heard all the arguments about less wood lost in the cut and less motor horse power needed in the saw. You should avoid them because your riving knife or splitter is designed for a 1/8" cut and things bind up with a 3/32" saw blade. A left tilt saw tends to really bind up on a long cut while a right tilt saw tends to pull the stock away from the fence. Neither situation is good nor safe.
    Rich
    Huntington Beach, California

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    06-21-2010
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    Camden, South Carolina
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    Re: Blades for a table saw

    This is great. Thank you. In effect then, one does have to change blades for rip and cross cuts for material thicker than 3/4". That's a real pain because for each blade change the splitter has to be adjusted. Rats!!!!
    Elizabeth
    I think, therefore I'm more confused than when I began.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Blades for a table saw

    Quote Originally Posted by Elizabeth View Post
    This is great. Thank you. In effect then, one does have to change blades for rip and cross cuts for material thicker than 3/4". That's a real pain because for each blade change the splitter has to be adjusted. Rats!!!!
    Our table saws (10" variety) will cut to a bit more than 12/4 or 3 inches. Obviously, the thicker the wood the slower the cut.

    If one is planning to do several hours of rip cutting 12/4 stock, I would recommend a rip blade. However for cutting some table legs the combination blade would be perfect.

    BTW - Generally, 10" combination blades come in two tooth configurations, 40 or 50 teeth. The teeth are grouped in sets of 5 teeth consisting of 1 raker and 4 ATB teeth. If you KNOW that you are going to be doing a lot of rip cuts in thick wood, get the 40 tooth version. However for 99% of what we do the 50 tooth version would be best.

    In this day and age of everything computer, the world is a yes or no. Woodworking is everything between the yes or no. In woodworking there is no one tool that is the best for everything. We're not in a commercial high speed and high production environment. We can afford to slow down and take a few extra seconds for a particular cut. Yes, there are blades that would be perfect for that cut and save 10 seconds per cut. We could also install a dedicated rip saw with a power feed to save a minute or two.
    Rich
    Huntington Beach, California

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    06-19-2010
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    Pearland, Tx
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    Re: Blades for a table saw

    Great explanation Rich.
    This should be tagged and placed somewhere for easy reference.
    Mannie
    www.woodenwonderstx.com
    I hate it when people steal my ideas before I think of them.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    06-21-2010
    Location
    Southern Maryland
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    Re: Blades for a table saw

    I have an old belt drive Craftsman 10" table saw. My dad bought it new back in 1985 or so.
    Not a lot of use on it. I cleaned it up, changed the belt & it still works fine AFAIK.

    I have probably a dozen different blades for it. Since it's only 1.5 hp, I have a thin kerf Freud blade I use for ripping 2 X stock. I tried using a carbide toothed blade on it, all it did was bog down & smoke the wood. I changed the blade to the thin kerf, sliced right thru it like butter.

    My saw doesn't have a riving knife on it, and it's not too powerful motor wise, so a thin kerf blade is the only option for ripping stock.
    Now, for cross cut, I use a 80 tooth carbide tipped blade which leave very little tear out to sand later on.

    As long as you are familiar with your own saw's limitations & abilities, you should be fine.

    Good saw blades are not cheap, then again neither is good wood stock. I paid about $115 each or so for my Freud blades.

    So, to answer Elizabeth's question. If you know you're going to be ripping down a lot of stock or cross cutting a lot of plywood, it will pay off to change the blade for the proper job.
    Last edited by Herb G; 07-15-2015 at 9:52 am.
    "Be happy in your work"...Colonel Saito
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