Types of Table Saw Blades
Much like every single power tool for woodworking out there, the table saw can save a significant amount of time and effort if used properly. However, if you thought that you could cut everything with just one type of table saw blade, then you’re sadly mistaken. But don’t worry, you are about to discover the main types of table saw blades that every serious woodworker should have by their side.
Lucky for all of us, there is a special blade for all types of cuts in woodworking, whether it may be rip cuts, crosscuts, a little bit of both, and a few more. So, let’s dive in and learn all about the most used types of table saw blades. They are categorized based on the cuts they can make, even though the number of teeth, kerf size, bevel angle, and a few other features also come into play.
First up, one of the most popular table saw blade types – the ripping blade. The name itself already suggests what types of cuts this blade specializes in. This is the perfect blade for making cuts alongside the grain of the wood, otherwise known as making rip cuts. However, let’s elaborate on why that is and why it is best for that sort of work.
One of the best things about the ripping blade is that it cuts rather fast, however, there also has to be a downside as well. The bad side of this feature is that, although the cuts are fast, they can be pretty rough. Now, it’s nothing that a little bit of sanding can’t fix, however, it’s important to know.
The truth about ripping blades is that they save a lot of time when cutting a large quantity of lumber alongside the grain. This will make you go through a lot of wood faster and then simply sand the edges and you’re done. In fact, if the wood isn’t for a really delicate indoor job, you don’t even have to sand it, saving even more time.
Ripping Blade Features
Ripping blades are known for the lower number of teeth compared to other table saw blades such as a crosscut blade. Usually, you will find a perfect rip blade featuring 24 teeth. The more space between the teeth is what allows the blade to cut faster and the wood chips to exit with more ease. It also lessens the chance of scorching the wood, which is a huge plus when cutting wood that fast.
The hook of the table saw blade is also called a rake, and it has to do with the angle of the tooth face with reference to the center of the blade. When it comes to blades made specifically for ripping, the hook angle is usually around 20 degrees.
Tip: The smaller the hook angle is, the more pressure it takes to push the piece of wood through!
To simplify things, you can think of crosscut blades as the opposite of ripping ones. If the ripping blade cuts with the grain of the workpiece, the crosscut blade goes across it. These blades provide much smoother cuts than the ripping ones, as they have a lot more teeth than them as well. You are definitely going to enjoy working with a crosscut table saw blade when the task requires a fine and smooth cut, as they are great for more delicate jobs.
You can rarely expect any splintering or tearing of the wood when using a crosscut blade. Unlike the ripping blades, where they would cut longer pieces of wood with the grain, the crosscut blade usually works better for shorter wood pieces. On the other hand, tasks like that are better suited for a miter saw rather than a table saw.
Crosscut Blade Features
Another feature that the rip blade and the crosscut blade differ a lot is in the number of teeth that they have. It’s normal that different types of table saw blades will have their differences, it’s what makes them special for certain types of cuts. The teeth count in crosscut blades can usually be anywhere from 40 teeth and up to 80 teeth. Despite that, you will most commonly see them with ranges between 60 and 80 teeth.
What’s also important to know in this area is that the higher number of teeth means that there is less spacing between them. This allows the cuts to be smoother, as there are fewer chunks of material to remove between the teeth but it also makes the process slower.
When we talked about the ripping blade hook angle, you may have noticed that in that type of blade the angle is a positive one. Well, when it comes to crosscutting blade hook angle, it tends to be negative, usually between -2 and -10 degrees. This is why crosscut blades are much slower when cutting than rip blades. As we said, positive hook angles cut faster but produce more rough results, and negative ones are way slower but less aggressive and smoother.
Tip: Blades with fewer teeth cut faster but make rougher cuts. However, blades with more teeth cut slower but make much smoother cuts!
Combination blades or all-purpose table saw blades, combine the main features of the rip and crosscut blade into one single blade. What does this mean? It means that they can both rip and crosscut any piece of wood thrown their way. The way this is possible is by having two different sets of teeth, one set with the main features of the ripping blade and the other with the features of a crosscutting blade.
So, when can you use this type of blade? As mentioned, they’re great when you have to do a lot of rip cuts and crosscuts in short intervals. This makes it a lot easier, as you don’t have to change the table saw blade every 5 minutes. Even if you have the best table saw in the world you will still waste a lot of time changing blades that often.
But you might say, “why can’t I just use this type of table saw blade all the time?” Well, even though they make the job a lot easier, there will be a decrease in quality as they aren’t dedicated specifically for ripping or crosscutting, as it is a mix of both.
Combination Blade Features
Combination blades almost always feature 50 teeth and usually in sets of 5. What this means is that the way the teeth are arranged is 4 ATB (alternate top bevel) teeth next to each other and the fifth one will be a raker tooth, which leads to these blades to also being known as ATBR. The 4 ATB teeth will make sure the cuts are smooth such as a crosscut blade would, and the raker teeth that come in after help with the ripping process. For that reason, these blades are also known as all-purpose table saw blades.
The hook angle on combination blades might seem confusing if you consider the fact that it has both teeth for ripping and crosscutting. However, you will almost always find that combination table blades have hook angles of either 10 or 15 degrees. These are the most commonly used options and the best around.
Tip: Blades with a thin kerf have a much easier time going through many types of wood!
The last variety of different table saw blade types we’re going to talk about here is the TCG, or Triple Chip Grind blade. Unlike all of the rest we’ve reviewed here, these blades are specifically intended for most non-ferrous metals and various composite materials such as MDF, laminated particleboard, plastics, and similar.
TCG blades are designed differently than the rest of the blades seen here. Their structures are some of the most durable out there, thanks to characteristics like balanced cutting force, free chip flow, and low tooth drag. Because of their teeth design and layout, they produce very little chip out, making them perfect for decorative materials like the laminated particleboard.
Triple Chip Grind Blade Features
TCG table saw blades are some of the most heavily teeth-populated blades of the bunch. They usually feature no less than 80 teeth, often appearing with 84, 96, and similar numbers. Regarding teeth layout, your typical TCG table saw blade will have two types of teeth next to each other across the entire plate. This includes a leading tooth in the form of a trapezoid with chamfered corners, and a following raker tooth that is flat and sits a bit lower. This combination makes it possible for the blade to produce ultra-fine cuts with very little chip out.
If you learned anything about hook angles from this article, you would know that in order to produce fine and smooth cuts as the TCG blade is intended to do, it has to have a negative hook angle. This is nicely explained in the crosscut blade hook section and so is the case here. TCG blades have negative hook angles, resulting in slower cutting speeds but much smoother and finer cuts.
Tip: Having these four main types of table saw blades in your arsenal will come in handy for almost all the usual table saw tasks!
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