How to Select Saw Blades for Different Materials

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As a woodworker, a major part of your work will involve working with saw blades. There is a vast collection of saw blades for every imaginable purpose. It’s easy to get confused, but it is possible to learn and know how to select the right blade and get the best out of it.

Knowing how to select saw blades is an important aspect of woodworking. The factors that determine your choice of blade are many, like the thickness of the material to cut, the structure of the material, and the type of material that you are cutting. With the right saw blade, you can cut your material quickly and efficiently.

Types of Teeth

Circular saw blades — Vector

We use all types of blades for cutting operations. Typically, your blades may have differently-shaped teeth to cut different materials. The geometry of each tooth in a blade depends on the sectional geometry, toughness, hardness, and type of material that you need to cut.

Here are the commonest types of teeth that you may come across:

Regular Tooth

Blades with regular teeth are typically used to cut ferrous materials and a few general tasks. A regular blade has a smooth, rounded gullet at the base of the tooth.

Hook Tooth

A hook-toothed blade cuts ferrous and softer metals. We also use it to cut wood and plastics. It has a positive rake and the angle is roughly 10°. The cut material and swarf get cleared more effectively by the deeper gullet.

Skip Tooth

A blade with a skip tooth configuration has an almost flat gullet. It produces a larger chip and makes it suitable to cut soft materials like non-ferrous metals, wood, and plastic. Skip tooth blades typically run at higher speeds.

Variable Pitch

You will find this pitch in all-purpose blades where you need to cut in different shapes and contours. The pitch between the teeth is not uniform. The purpose of the erratic pitch between different teeth is to minimize vibration and chatter while cutting hollow sections.

Selection of Saw Blades According to Material

There is no “all-size-fits-all” with cutting blades. While some cut wood, others cut plastic, masonry, or metal. It is good to have a deeper understanding of the different characteristics of blades to make the right selection. The selection of a saw blade depends on many factors.

A critical consideration for selecting the type of blade required for a particular job is the material you need to cut. Here are a few major types of saw blades you may use according to material:

Diamond Saw Blades

Circular diamond saw blades for stone isolated on white

Diamond saw blades are specialized blades for cutting extremely hard material. These blades have a steel core and contain diamonds. The diamond content is usually located on the outer part of the blade on its teeth.

A diamond blade doesn’t cut but grinds. The metal bonds the diamond in place and the outer surface of the diamonds grind the material, rendering it into fine powder.

Metal Cutting Saw Blade

This is the blade that you need if you have to cut different types of metals. It is part of a family of saw blades that include band saws and cold saws. Metal cutting blades usually come with attachments like guards to offer protection against shards and sparks.

Table Saw Blade

The table saw is a big cutting machine usually used in a woodworking workshop. It contains a circular blade that sits on an arbor. The entire structure sits on a table that offers support as you cut. You will find different configurations of table saws on the market.

Tile Saw

You get two types of tile saws – dry and wet. The function of each type is essentially the same. You should not allow wet tile saw blades to become dry as the water cools the site of the cut. Tile saws are normally diamond coated.

Crosscut Saw Blade

Close view of cross-cut saw teeth
Image Credit: Blue tooth7 via Creative Commons

We typically use this type of blade for cutting wood. It cuts across the wood grain at a slow rate. Crosscut blades provide smoother cuts with a better finish. The downside is restricted space for removing the waste chips due to the fine teeth.

Diamond Saw Blade

Very hard materials like concrete, ceramics, and stone will be cut by diamond saw blades. These circular cutting blades are encrusted with minute diamonds at their outer edges. The diamonds grind the material into fine powder as the cutter progresses.

Reciprocating Saw Blade

Here’s a saw blade that you can use on both wood and metal. The tooth per inch count (TPI) varies according to the material and its thickness. Typically, you will use lower TPIs for wood at a higher speed and lower TPIs for metals at lower speeds.

Rolling Saw

We use a rolling saw for cutting thin materials like drywall. You don’t need to drill a pilot hole to guide your saw. It’s essentially a seek-and-destroy operation!

Saw Blades According to Material Hardness of Softness

The hardness or softness of the material also has an important bearing on your blade selection. Let’s consider the different blades we use for soft materials and those we use for hard materials:

Saw Blades for Soft Materials

We even extremely need to cut soft materials like polystyrene, carpeting, leather, rubber, and cardboard accurately. As compared with harder materials such as metals, stone, wood, or ceramics, we have to take special care when we cut softer materials. Here are a few saws explicitly we use for cutting softer materials:

Jigsaw Blades

An image of jig saw blades. Macro — Photo

These blades have extremely hard blades made of steel with high carbon content. We use jigsaw blades to cut in various shapes. The blade is very thin which enables us to move it in multiple directions.

Band Saw Blades

These blades are typically made of stainless steel and we use them to cut meat and other similar soft materials. These blades have heat-treated tips.

Saw Blades For Hard Materials

There is a wide variety of saw blades you can get to cut hard materials. We use these blades to cut concrete, metals, wood, tiles, stones, and so on. Here are a few of the commonest ones you might come across:

Coping Saw Blade

We use this type of saw blade for cutting wood and metal. The coping saw has the unique characteristic of a removable blade. It can cut a profile in any shape or direction, maneuvering through tight curves and corners.

Miter Saw

If you need to cut materials at an angle, you can use a miter saw. It is particularly useful for cutting trim and moldings. Another common application for this type of saw is to cut sections for picture frames.

Circular Saw

The circular saw is one of the most commonly used saw blades. You get two types – the worm drive and the sidewinder. The work drive saw generates high torque. You can use it to cut high-friction material like concrete or wet lumber. The sidewinder saw connects to a motor. The torque generated by this type of saw is less.


There is a huge variety of saw blades that you can get for different applications. You need a bit of prior knowledge to select the right saw blade for a particular job. With the information we have provided here, you should now be able to select blades according to the job at hand, and get the best results in your woodworking projects.