Understanding Saw Blade Tooth Count

If you purchase a product through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Details

If you are a woodworker, you will know that saw blades are an important part of the work you do. Most saw blades have teeth, and it is useful to know about the different blades, the number of teeth, their configuration, and so on.

The saw blade tooth count of a saw is an important factor that determines how the saw performs. Whether we consider a straight saw blade or a circular saw blade, the number of teeth determines the type of cut you get. The higher the number of teeth per inch, the finer the cut and vice-versa. The thickness of the material is also related to the number of teeth required.



Whether straight or circular, a saw blade typically has uniform teeth. But the number of teeth may vary, as well as their configuration, shape, and so on. Many factors decide on these variables, depending on the purpose of the saw blade.

You may use a saw blade for various functions such as ripping, crosscutting, or bevel cutting. The number of teeth will vary according to what you want to do with the saw blade. For instance, for ripping jobs the number of teeth will be less.

On the other hand, if you want to cut across the grain, we call that action crosscutting. In such a scenario, you would have more teeth on your saw. Then, if you aren’t sure what you’ll be doing with your saw blade, a general-purpose blade would be a suitable choice, which allows you to perform ripping, crosscutting, and a host of other cutting tasks.

Categories of Saw Blades

Although several types of saw blades exist, there are two broad categories – circular and straight. Both categories of saw blades play a crucial role in woodworking.

Circular Saw Blades

Circular saw blades — Vector

As the name suggests this category of saw blades is circular with teeth on its outer circumference and it spins on an axis to facilitate cutting. The number of teeth will be the total number in the entire unit. For example, we allude to a circular saw blade containing 24 teeth or one with 40 teeth.

You can get a wide variety of circular saw blades on the market. The experienced woodworker knows how to select the most suitable type of circular saw blade for the particular job at hand.

Straight Saw Blades

Workshop wall with tools in rows alongside a drill press

Here, the total number of teeth will not be considered, and it would be a challenging task to count all of them. Instead, we count the number of teeth for a fixed length, typically an inch. So, you would get a blade with 10 teeth per inch or 10 TPI, and so on.

Advantages of Different Tooth Counts for Different Tasks

The difference in tooth count configuration helps you get the most out of your saw blades. If you are alternating between cutting lumber along the grain and across the grain, you can use a combination saw blade. It saves you from having to frequently change your blade.

If you are only cutting along the grain, you would be best off with a rip saw blade. The number of teeth will be more, and you will get a rougher cut, but the blade will move faster.

If your task involves cutting across the grain (perpendicular to the wood grain direction) then you should use a crosscut saw blade. The number of teeth will be more, and you’ll get a finer cut, but the blade will move slower than if you were using a rip saw blade.

By selecting a suitable saw blade for the specific job at hand (crosscut saw blade or rip saw blade) you can get the best results from your saw blade. You will also get the smoothest and fastest cut from the particular blades you use. Your saw blades will also have a longer life.

For example, if you are doing a repetitive job like cutting 2X4s for the framing of a house, then you can get your job done quickly and efficiently by using a crosscut saw blade. But if your project entails both ripping and cutting, then you would be better off with a combination saw blade, to save you time frequently changing blades.

Number of Teeth on a Saw Blade

A frequently asked question by newbies and experienced woodworkers alike is “how many teeth are there on a saw blade?” We determine the number of teeth based on our choice of the blade if you use a straight blade. The typical configurations that you may come across are as follows:

Number of Teeth for Different Types and Lengths of Blades

Type of Blade Length No. of Teeth
Combination 10 Inches 50
Combination 12 Inches 60
Ripping 10 Inches 24-30
Ripping 12 Inches 40 or less
Crosscutting 10 Inches 60
Crosscutting 12 Inches 80

Choosing the Right Number of Teeth in the Thickness of the Material

So much for the different types of circular saw blades, the number of teeth, configuration, and so on. When you have a substrate ready to cut, you need to get your saw blade ready to cut it.

Let’s assume that you know the type of circular blade you are going to use and its diameter. For a smooth cut, you need to know the number of teeth required that will cover the thickness of the material that you are cutting. So, your choice of blade depends on the material thickness.

As a rule of thumb, the number of teeth in the material that you are cutting should be no more than four and no less than two.

How to Test Your Circular Blade for Suitability

For example, you want to cut a ½” thick piece of wood. Hold your blade flat against the thickness of the workpiece. If the thickness covers less than two teeth, say, one-and-a-half teeth, then you will get a rough cut. The blade may tear the material.

If the number of teeth against the thickness is more than 4, say, 8 or 10 teeth, you will get a fine but slow cut. But the blade might burn the material due to the high friction caused.

The ideal blade would have perhaps 3 teeth covered by the thickness of the material which would produce a smooth cut with minimal tear-out.


Knowing about the saw blade tooth count of different types of saw blades is important for any woodworker to know. The number of teeth will vary according to the type of saw blade you are using. And, the type of saw blade you use depends on the task at hand.

So, as you can see, all the factors that we have discussed and the information about saw blades are interrelated. This information should put you on the right track when you need to perform cutting operations. You also find our discussion on the number of teeth vs material thickness most interesting.

Considering that cutting wood is a major part of what a woodworker does, you will find this information useful to enable you to cut wood fast and efficiently in your woodworking projects.