In wood cutting you have a handful of blades and types. I'll talk about common ones for beginners like myself. A beginner would be someone with maybe a year or less experience. It's worth mentioning you can cut more than wood with many blade types too! I typically stick to wood and often use the same blade for PVC pipe.
Common with All Blades
This doesn't only apply to table saws and miter saws, but even a skill saw (the free hand saw for straight or curved edges which replaces a band saw from the old days). We apply the same principal on the blade types even though a skill saw is a straight blade versus a round one
All blades have different teeth counts. They also have different depths (gullet) between each blade "spitting" the wood out from the cut.
Proper Saw Blade Terms:
- Teeth: The total count of sharp pointy tips across the outside of the blade. This will affect the smoothness of the cut.
- Gullet: The depth of how deep it goes between each tooth. This has to do with spitting wood out.
- Kerf: This is the thickness of the blade. All blades are not terribly thick at roughly 1/8". The thinner the blade, or kerf would assume less saw dust.
- Size: This is the size in either length for a Skill Saw, which are tiny by default. For a table or miter saw its simply the maximum circle height from top to bottom. You'll pretty much always see 7", 10" and 12" blades. The larger the blade can lower the RPM speed. However, you won't really notice 4500 vs 5000 RPM.
My advice is to not worry a whole lot about these details unless you are cutting metals.
Blade Tooth Count and Gullet Depths
If your goal is to rip through lumber like a mad man you would want a blade with few teeth such as 40, and deep gullets to spit out the excess wood fibers. This will make it fast and heavy duty. An example of a ripping blade not only for speed but for harder wood would be to cut something like Cedar.
For smooth fine cuts you would want more teeth such as 80 with shallow gullets. An example of when to use a blade like this is for cutting plywood because it splits easy.
For cutting Plastic, PVC Plumbing, Veneer, and Laminates a 140-200 blade with extremely shallow gullets will work very well and cut very smooth on said materials.
Specific Blades and Blade Tips
It's common to see Carbide tipped blades and I recommend it for any wood cutting, not that I've seen many without it. They add a massive lifetime to your blade and make it extremely stronger. Carbide is a man-made material that is extremely hard. Most blades you find will have carbide tips for a longer blade life.
- Popular Blade Tip Types
- Hardened Steel
- Carbide Tip - Recommended
The main benefit to Hardened Steel blades is that there is no extra part to the tip and it will have a finer cut in terms of kerf, or width. Otherwise, go with Carbide.
Carbide blades are sturdy, reliable, and the most popular. This is the go to blade if you ask me. I used to work for a carbide company, it's extremely strong and durable. It can cut an enormous amount of extremely hard metals as well depend on the application you use.
I would not recommend using this to cut metal on a table saw because it's far better to use a bit and CNC machine for that!
Dado blades are usually more than one blade at 1/8", 1/4", and 5/8". These are illegal in the UK because you have to remove a protective blade cover on a table saw know as the "Arbor Knife" which is a covering over the rear side of the blade that has to be removed in order to fit.
It's not uncommon to see people pair up of two of the same 1/8" blade making it a 1/4" dual blade for Dado cuts. It's true, you can have more than one blade on a table saw rather than making more passes through it.
Blades that have Laminate/Non-Ferrous tips are said to last around 60 times longer life than carbide, it's a form of fiber cement which I've never used. This is ideal for cutting laminate, brass, copper, aluminum, plastic, and fiberglass.
Diamond blades frequent a 4" to 7" blade size. These also differ heavily from wood cutting blades. They feel like metal with sandpaper glued on them. Common mediums for diamond blades concrete, brick, block, stone and stucco. These are commonly used in Angle Grinders which are handheld tools. However, full standard blades exist for your table and miter saws.
PCD blades (Polycrystalline Diamond) are an iteration of Diamond Blades which have a very strange shape and don't appear to be blades with teeth. They may have as little as 10 teeth. It's said to cut over 70 times faster through all material mentioned above. I wouldn't use this myself at the time being.
Mesh Rim blades are diamond coated These do not have teeth and gullets as you'd expect. They are good for cutting: porcelain, granite, marble, and ceramic.
What Should You Get?
You are fine with an all purpose blade or sometimes called a combination blade. somewhere in the middle. A 60 tooth medium gullet will take care of you just fine. Anything that doesn't cut perfect can be sanded easily. Your main concern should always be a straight cut.
You probably won't change blades very often, at least, it shouldn't be done weekly because that's a hassle and probably not necessary. Your blade will last a long time.