How to Choose the Right Saw Blades

How to Choose the Right Saw Blades

Choosing the right tools for your woodworking project could mean the difference between a project with clean cuts and sharp edges, and one that looks like you hacked at it with a bread knife. Not all saw blades are of equally high quality, so here are some easy-to-remember tips and tricks to help you choose the right blades for your upcoming projects.

What Type of Saw Do You Have?

First, what saws do you have? Do you use hand saws, or power saws or some combination of the two? There are 26 different types of saws, each with a different kind of blade and a different application. In this article, we’re going to focus on power saws.

Bandsaws, for example — either stationary or portable — use a thin saw blade, while jigsaws use a short, fine-toothed blade for cutting curves, and miter and circular saws use different types of circular blades. It’s essential to know what kind of saw you have because, with many of these, the blades are not interchangeable. You’ll look pretty silly trying to fit a miter saw blade on a bandsaw.

What Are You Cutting?

The next thing you need to consider is the material you’re cutting. If you’re seeking sawblades for woodworking, that will primarily be wood — but you still need to consider the different species of wood you might be working with and choose the right blade for each.

For wood, you have three tooth design possibilities — cross-cut, rip-cut and combination — that can appear on any of your saw blades. Cross-cut blades will cut across the grain of the wood, while rip-cut ones will rip along the grain. Combination blades do both.

What Size Blade Do You Need?

Next, what size blade do you need? The owner’s manual for your saw will likely tell you what size blades it can accommodate. If you’re buying off-market blades, make sure the arbor hole — or the hole at the center of the blade — is of the correct size to keep it from wobbling so it will cut smoothly. Arbor holes vary in size, depending on the circumference of the blade. Three-inch blades will have a quarter-inch arbor, while large blades between 12 and 16 inches will have a one-inch arbor.

What Are Teeth and Gullets on Saw Blades?

You’re probably already familiar with saw blade teeth, but what on Earth is a saw blade gullet? The number of teeth on your blade determines how fine your cut is — the more teeth you have, the smoother the cut. Cross-cut blades tend to have more teeth and are designed to make smoother cuts, while rip-cut blades are designed to tear out as much material as possible as quickly as possible.

The gullet refers to the space between each tooth. The larger the gullet, the more material the teeth can remove with each pass. The tooth configuration and gullet size you choose will depend on what you’re trying to create. If you’re only making quick, rough cuts that you plan to polish and refine as part of the finished piece, you don’t need a fine-cut saw. On the other side of the coin, if you’re trying to do detailed scrollwork or cut delicate angles, you’ll want a saw with more teeth and a smaller gullet.

Choosing the Right Saw Blades

Take your time when you’re choosing saw blades. You might be surprised how much of a difference it will make.

Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington

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