Choosing a blade for a table saw is never easy especially today where you find all kinds and brands in the market. Although the blade may perfectly fit on the table saw, it may produce rough cuts or even split wood. Another blade may be perfect when cutting along wood grain but will struggle when sawing crosswise (against the grain). Some saws are designed to provide fine cuts while others although faster will produce rough cuts. The goal of using a table saw is to work efficiently, minimize effort, reduce wastage or damage and get the desired cuts. In order to achieve these and more, it’s vital to look at the following aspects:
The type of blade will determine how fast and efficient you work and also the quality of the job. The blade is categorized according to the angle, shape and grind of the teeth. Generally, there are four types of saw blades in the market. FTG (flat top grind) also known as rakers work in a similar fashion as chisels and are fast but don’t leave a clean cut. ATB (Alternate top bevel) have slightly angled teeth and cut wood in a slicing motion. They produce a fine cut but tend to get dull rather quickly. Combination or ATBR blends the ABR and FTG saw and is more suited for crosscutting. TCG (triple chip grind) looks like a raker blade with chamfered teeth and produces clean cuts.
Before purchasing any saw blade, it’s critical to first understand its anatomy. Here we are talking about the angle, direction, size and gaps between the teeth. A saw that has large and widely-spaced teeth will cut fast but will leave a rough finish. Blades with teeth that are pointing forwards are suited for rough cutting along the grain while those with small teeth pointing upwards and with minimal spaces in between are ideal for sawing across the grain. The teeth range from as little as 24 to as high 80 and the lower the number the rougher the cut.
Blade size is critical when choosing a saw blade for your table saw. While a large-diameter saw of 10 or 12 inches may look cool, it may stress the under-powered motor. Its heavy weight and large size may also cause it to wobble and this affects its effectiveness and your safety as well. A small diameter blade of 4- 1 /2 inch will be too small for a powerful motor and this leads to poor efficiency, energy wastage and will cause the blade to run faster or even overheat. It is paramount to stick to the diameter sizes as recommended by the manufacturer.
Blades are rated according to the speed recommended by the manufacturer. Exceeding the RPM (rotations per minute) not only produces poor work quality but is also risky. The faster a blade rotates the faster it will saw through the wood. However, it also increases the chances of messing the work if the wrong blade is fitted. For instance, a higher speed blade with many small teeth will produce smoother cuts compared to the same blade working at lower speed. Blades rated at higher speeds are also more tolerate to heat but may split the wood when starting. Trying to saw wood across its grain is more challenging compared to along the grain.
When searching for the perfect saw blade for your table saw, you need to be sure about the task at hand. Are you going to be cutting rough logs and timber or you are looking for finesse? Will you be sawing along the wood grain or across it? Is your sawing specific or its general? Saws with large or fewer teeth produce rough cuts while those with many small teeth leave a finer cut. Teeth facing forward are designed for sawing horizontally to the grain while those with rip teeth cut vertical /across the grain. Low teeth counts start from 24 to 40 and provide rough cuts while higher counts from 50 to 80 leave smoother cuts.
Finding the right blade for your table saw shouldn’t be a matter of chance or driven by trial and error. You also shouldn’t settle for any blade simply because of the vendor, or marketer sys so. Choosing a blade for a table saw is as easy as following the above guideline. Not only do you get the best cut right from the start but are also assured of your safety.