A circular saw blade is one of the most indispensable cutting tools around. We use it not only in woodworking but in several different fields. There is a variety of different types of circular blades, so it’s worthwhile to know about the most popular types in use.
Types of circular blades are important to know about if you are a woodworker with a well-equipped woodworking shop. Among the various tools and machinery of a woodworking workshop, a circular saw is probably the most used piece of equipment. But each type of circular blade has a specific purpose to be used for a particular project.
- Factors That Determine Your Choice of Circular Saw Blade
- Parts of a Circular Saw Blade
- Types of Circular Saw Blades
A circular saw is among the commonest power tools you are likely to use as a woodworker. We can use these machines to not only work on wood, but also masonry, steel, plastic, and a variety of other materials.
It is important to know about different types of circular saw blades to get the best results while using them. You can cut straight along the width of a board (crosscuts) or along the length which we call rip cuts. Then you can also cut at an angle which we call bevel cuts.
Factors That Determine Your Choice of Circular Saw Blade
Certain factors determine your choice of a circular saw blade. Here are the primary considerations you need to make to choose the type of blade you use:
This is perhaps the most important factor. You can get multipurpose circular saws like worm drive saws and sidewinders that cut different materials. But let’s assume you pick up a saw meant for cutting plywood. You won’t be able to cut masonry with it.
Type of Job
Sometimes you can get away with rough cutting. Other times, you need to execute fine and precision cuts, as that part of the wood will be visible at all times. You can get a blade for each type of cut, depending on the job at hand.
Type of Cut
Types of cuts are not just divided into rough and fine. Other than ripping, crosscutting and bevel cuts, you can get circular saws that cut dados, thin kerfs, and many other types of cuts.
Parts of a Circular Saw Blade
Knowing about the different types of circular saw blades is important. But to distinguish one from another, it is imperative to know the parts of a saw blade. There are four elements of a saw blade as follows:
· Number of teeth
· Gullet size
· Tooth configuration
· Hook angle
Number of Teeth
Different saw blades have varying numbers of teeth depending on the purpose of the blade. A blade with a high number of teeth will cut more smoothly than one with fewer teeth. However, a blade with more teeth will take longer to cut.
We call the space at the front of each tooth the gullet. The gullet is the part of the blade that removes the material that is being cut. A circular saw blade with fewer teeth will have a larger gullet size and will remove wood faster. The cutting speed will also be higher and the cut will be rougher than a blade with a smaller gullet.
There are different tooth configurations in line with the different purposes of each type of blade. Here are the major tooth configurations of circular saw blades:
1. Flat-top tooth configuration: These teeth are square in profile and you can use blades with this tooth configuration for quick ripping.
2. Alternate top bevels: Here, the teeth have top bevels which are angled to give the blade a sharper cutting edge. Each consecutive tooth has a bevel in an opposite direction.
3. Combination teeth: A blade with combination teeth is a cross between circular saw blades with flat-top teeth and alternative top bevels. You will find this type of blade useful for ripping and crosscutting.
4. Triple-chip grind: The teeth in this type of circular saw blade perform the function of chewing up the material and then removing the debris as it spins.
The hook angle of a circular saw blade is the angle that the tool makes against the vertical. A “positive” hook angle alludes to a tooth that leans forward, into the cut. In the same way, a “negative” hook angle leans backward.
While a positive hook angle provides a rough cut a negative one will cut more smoothly but at a slower feed rate.
Types of Circular Saw Blades
As we mentioned above, different types of circular saw blades exist for different jobs and materials. Here are some of the major types of circular blades:
Ripping blades cut in the direction of the wood grain across the length of the board. As the name suggests, the cut is rough, “ripping” the wood as it goes along. This type of blade has a fewer number of teeth, typically between 14 to 24. The ripping blade moves fast across the workpiece.
We use this type of circular saw blade to cut perpendicular to the wood grain, and across the breadth of the planks. Due to the added friction, a crosscutting blade has more teeth and will have a shallower gullet.
Plywood is a material prone to splintering. Therefore, the blades meant for cutting plywood have far more teeth than most other blades. Typically, a plywood blade will have at least 40 teeth. You can use plywood blades to cut fine material.
The combination teeth that we mentioned above are those that we use in combination blades. If you need a one-size-fits-all solution, you can use a combination blade. You can use this type of blade for ripping, crosscutting, and in a variety of other types of jobs.
There are some locations on a woodworking project that need extra-smooth cuts. These are usually placed where the cut part of the wood will be visible after completion of the job. A finishing blade has a larger number of teeth.
The dado blade helps you to cut dados, rabbet cuts, and different types of slots and grooves for specialized projects.
Thin Kerf Blade
Similar to a finishing blade, a thin kerf blade leaves a thin kerf (width of the cut) on the wood. We use it for cutting dimensional lumber where precision is paramount. You cannot use a thin kerf blade on tough wood as it may flex and cut crookedly.
Plastic Cutting Blades
You can use the same blades that you use for cutting wood to cut plastic. However, some of the blades might prove too rough for the soft plastic material. You also have to get the speed right to rule out the possibility of melting the plastic.
These blades are different from those that we use to cut wood. The primary difference between woodcutting blades and masonry blades is that the latter is devoid of teeth.
Masonry blades are mostly non-metallic and are made of fiberglass-reinforced silicon carbide abrasive material. Rather than cut the wood, they wear away the material they cut. This is the only type of blade you can use to cut masonry work.
Metal Cutting Blades
Metal cutting blades are made of a combination of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. These blades are also toothless and expansion slots are provided for heat expansion. There is a huge variety of metal cutting blades in the market. Your choice of the blade will depend on the type of metal, thickness, hardness, and so on.
Here we have covered all the major types of woodworking circular saw blades that are commonly used by woodworkers. As a woodworker, your work may not only be restricted to cutting wood. With the possibility of having to cut different materials, it is good to know about the different types of circular saw blades that you may have to use.
We hope that with the useful information we have provided here, you can choose and use suitable blades for your next woodworking project. So, when you go shopping for circular saw blades, you can confidently choose the right ones for the job at hand.