Power Saw Blade Sense

By Bob Vila | Updated Nov 12, 2013 8:46 PM

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When you are cutting wood, one of the first decisions to make is what type of circular saw blade will give you the results you need.

Several circular saw blades are available to choose from, each designed for a specific purpose. A crosscut blade is designed for cutting wood against the grain. Rip blades are designed for cutting with the wood grain. Combination blades are available that can make both crosscut and rip cuts, however the results will not be as good as using a blade designed specifically for that cut.

The degree of desired smoothness will also determine blade choice. The more teeth a saw has, the smoother the cut. More teeth also increases the cost of the blade and the time it takes a saw to cut through a piece. If you’re looking for an attractive finished cut, the increase in time and cost will be worth it. If the smoothness is not a factor, the less expensive, faster combination blades should suit you nicely.

Proper Care
For a blade to be effective it needs to be sharp. Dull blades not only give poor results, they are dangerous as well. Once a blade becomes dull or damaged, it needs to be replaced.

Several maintenance steps will enable your blades to last longer: When not in use, keep blades stored between two pieces of thick cardboard. Cutting certain types of wood can cause a blade to become sticky and gummy. You can remove this build-up by soaking the blade in turpentine. This will soften the unwanted resin, enabling you to remove it with steel wool. After each cleaning, apply a light coating of machine oil to the blade to help it resist rusting.

An important reminder that should never be overlooked: Whenever you change or adjust blades, don’t take short cuts—make sure that the saw has been unplugged.

Quality Levels
Blades are available in materials with different quality levels, in varying price ranges to fit  your budget. Steel blades are the least expensive, but they will become dull faster. If you use your power saws only once in a while, this may be your best option. Carbide-tipped blades, on the other hand, are extremely durable and will last longer. If you perform a lot of sawing chores, the higher initial cost will be offset over the life of the blade.

Tips for Using Saw Blades
Cutting wood that is thicker than the blade. Say you are building a deck in your yard and have to cut a 10-inch- thick post in half. How do you do this with a circular saw with just an 8-inch blade? Make matching straight cuts on opposite sides of the timber. Set the thickness guide to just over half the wood’s width.

Proper height setting for a table saw blade. Before turning on your table saw, make sure that the height of the saw blade is no more than a half inch above the surface of the workpiece. The goal is to leave as little exposed blade as possible, to minimize friction and to reduce the chance of chipping.