Choosing a Table Saw

These table saw blade basics will keep you in tune with your building projects and guide you on what blades to buy to get the most out of your table saw work.

Table saw blade basics for operating your power tool. For general cutting of solid wood, along (ripping) and across (cross-cutting) the grain, plus some rough cutting in plywood, select a combination blade.

Table saw blade basics for operating your power tool. For general cutting of solid wood, along (ripping) and across (cross-cutting) the grain, plus some rough cutting in plywood, select a combination blade.

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Table Saw Blade Basics

Many otherwise great saws come from the factory with second-rate blades. Part of your commitment to getting excellent table-saw performance means buying a high quality, carbide blade that's designed for the work you intend to do. Any blade worth owning includes small blocks of extra-hard carbide metal that form the cutting teeth around the blade's circumference. These wear-resistant carbide blades outperform older all-steel equivalents by more than 10 to 1.

For general cutting of solid wood, along (ripping) and across (cross-cutting) the grain, plus some rough cutting in plywood, select a combination blade. Typical 10-inch-diameter combination designs have 50 teeth around the edge of the blade, gathered in groups of five, with a large space between each group to accommodate sawdust.

Heavy cutting of solid wood along the grain is best done with a dedicated ripping blade. These include a couple of dozen coarse teeth arranged evenly around the blade, with lots of space for sawdust dispersal between each tooth. Fine cutting of veneered plywood, melamine-coated particleboard and thin sheet materials is best done with an extra-fine blade, sold exclusively for the job. Blades of this sort usually have 80 teeth evenly spaced around the 10inch-diameter disc. All carbide blades can be resharpened professionally, yielding an extremely long working life.

Buy anti-kickback blades whenever you can. "Kickback" describes a sudden and dangerous event where the blade grabs the work piece and hurls it back at the table saw operator. The anti-kickback blade design includes a small ridge of metal in front of each tooth (or each group of teeth in the case of a combination blade). These ridges limit the amount of wood each tooth can bite off, yielding much safer operation. Anti-kickback designs don't interfere with normal saw-blade action or performance; they just reduce the chances that a work piece will be caught and flung back at you by the blade.