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Saw Blades
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Saw Blades

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Figure 2-3. An all-purpose blade can be used for crosscutting, ripping, and mitering. It is a good “sizing” blade, but it will not cut as smoothly as some other special blades.

There are several types of saw blades available for the table saw. Each of them are ground and/or set to accomplish specific wood-working operations. The following are the most common blades and what they do:

All-Purpose Blade--This blade (Figure 2-3) is the sawing work-horse of most woodworking shops. The deep gullets between the teeth provide plenty of room for waste removal on ripping operations and the sharp tooth points do a reasonably good job when crosscutting. An all-purpose blade enables you to start with basic operations like crosscutting, ripping, and mitering, but it is not the only blade you can use. You'll get better results on particular types of sawing when you use a blade that was specially designed for the work you are doing.

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Figure 2-4. A crosscut blade has many small teeth that cleanly cut wood fibers. The blade does a fair job on miter cuts and sawing plywood. It should never be used for ripping.

Crosscut Blade--A crosscut blade has many small teeth ground with alternating top bevels, sharp points and shallow gullets (Figure 2-4). The teeth cut cleanly across wood fibers, and since the waste that is produced is a fine sawdust, the blade functions efficiently with shallow gullets. However, small teeth and shallow gullets can cause the blade to “choke” if you try to force the cut. Here, even more than with other blade designs, feed pressure should be slow and steady--only enough so the teeth will cut as they were designed to cut.

The crosscut blade does a respectable job on miter cuts, may be used on plywood, but should never be used for ripping.

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Figure 2-5. Each tooth of the ripping blade works like a tiny chisel to chip out its own bit of wood. Deep gullets collect and spew out the heavy waste. This blade should never be used for general-purpose sawing.

Ripping Blade--A ripping blade (Figure 2-5) has large teeth ground with a square chisel tooth, large gullets and is designed for sawing with the grain of the wood. There is considerable support metal to back up the cutting edges, and generous gullets catch and disperse the sawdust.

Because it has a special design, the ripping blade should never be used for general sawing.


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Figure 2-6. A hollow-ground blade does not have set teeth. Kerf clearance is provided by gauge reduction from the tips of the teeth to the center core that is indicated by the arrow. The blade requires more projection than other designs.

Hollow-Ground Blade--A hollow-ground blade (Figure 2-6), or “planer blade” as it is sometimes called, produces a cut nearly as smooth as a planed edge. Most blades have set teeth; that is, alternate teeth are bent a bit in opposite directions This forms a kert that is wider than the blade thickness so the blade has clearance in the cut. The hollow-ground blade is reduced in thickness from the points of its teeth to the full-gauge center area that is indicated by the arrow in the photograph. Since this design, rather than set teeth, gives it clearance in the cut, it produces smoother cuts than other blades. The blade can function without binding or burning itself or the wood by using it with the correct projection.

In a strict sense, it is a combination blade, but it is not one to leave on the machine for general sizing cuts. It does fine on plywood, but may not be tempered to stay sharp for an extended period of time under the abrasive action of the plywood glue. Additional uses for the hollow-ground blade include smooth crosscuts or miter cuts, trimming moldings, and other advanced cutting techniques.

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Figure 2-7. A plywood blade has many small teeth and ve,y little set. It is used for trimming and cutting plywood and laminates, and for finish crosscuts in soft woods. It produces a smooth and near splinter-free cut.

Plywood Blade--A plywood blade has many small teeth and very little set (Figure 2-7). This blade trims and cuts plywood and other laminates. Because of the very small teeth, it produces a smooth cut and also reduces splintering along the kerf. The plywood blade can also be used for crosscutting soft woods, preferably finish cuts only. General use will dull the teeth quickly, as will certain types of plywood cores (particle and fibre). For cutting particle or fibre core plywood and other sheet stock, it would be better to use a carbide-tipped blade.

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Figure 2-8. Carbide-tipped saw blades are smooth cutters used for many operations and different materials: (A) combination, (B) crosscut, and (C) rip.

Carbide-Tipped Blade--Carbide-tipped blades (Figure 2-8) are more expensive than conventional blades; but, since they stay sharp for much longer periods of time, they can prove to be more economical in the long run. They are high-quality saw blades specially designed for splinter-free results in hardwoods, softwoods, and materials like hardboard and plywood, whether you are cross-cutting, ripping, or mitering.

Carbide is a tough material, but it is also brittle. Be careful when handling such blades; store them so they can't contact another blade or object. Never use a car-bide blade to saw second-hand lumber that could contain nails.

Cutting Tips--With any table saw blade, remember that the teeth above the table's surface rotate in the direction of the operator and enter the top surface of the workpiece first; therefore, place the wood with the finished side upward. This applies to plain plywood, veneers, and any form of plywood with laminates attached. When both sides of the wood are finished, use a fine-tooth blade with minimum set or a hollow-ground blade. Also keep in mind that the kerf is the slot formed by the blade. Its width will differ depending on the style, the gauge, and the amount of set on the teeth of the blade. The kerf should always be on the waste side of the cutline.

Saw Blade Maintenance
Any saw blade will work more efficiently when it is clean and free of deposits that sawing wood can leave. Don't remove deposits by working with a sharp instrument like a knife. Some woodworkers use a commercial pitch remover or work on the tooth areas with a solvent and old toothbrush. An easy method to try is simply to soak the entire blade in warm water and detergent. Wipe the blade with a cloth while it is in the soapy water, rinse, then thoroughly dry it. Apply a very light film of paste wax and buff.

Sharp blades are, of course, a must. They cut more efficiently and are safer to use since the operator doesn't have to utilize excessive force to feed the stock-a situation that could cause hands to slip.

Some woodworkers sharpen their own blades, but it isn't recommended. A less than perfect job will do more harm than good and can even ruin the blade. The cost of sharpening is small, and the professional's experience and special equipment will ensure that the blade will be returned in like-new condition.

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Figure 2-9. A specialstorage case will protect your saw blades. Add a handle and you'll have a tote for cariying blades.

Storing Blades
The simplest way to store blades is to place them on hooks that are spaced so the blades won't touch each other. This, however, requires much space. To minimize space requirements, use a hook long enough to hold several blades, and use heavy cardboard or some other soft material as spacers between the blades.

A blade storage case like the one shown in Figure 2-9 will hold six blades and, when fitted with a handle, will serve as a tote for a full assortment of blades. Layers of 1/4" plywood (Figure 2-10), some solid and some with a semi-circular cutout, are laminated to make up the storage area.


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Figure 2-10. Construction details of a saw blade storage case. You can widen it for more blades by adding layers of plywood to create more slots. Click on image for larger view.

You can provide for more blades by adding more plywood layers, but you must adjust the dimensions of the hinged cover if you do. To hold the blades steady and keep them from moving about, cement a piece of thick foam rubber to the underside of the cover's top piece.





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