No matter how good your table saw is, if you don’t have the right kind of table saw blade for the job, then you’re going to be left with subpar results.
Most saws from leading manufacturers come with a basic general purpose blade, but this is only really enough to provide average results, and any professional will tell you that you’ll need to upgrade if you want to maximize the performance of your table saw.
Although it can be logically deduced that more teeth equal better performance, this is only half of the story. Sometimes, fewer teeth are more appropriate, and the design of the teeth will also have a significant impact on performance.
Whether you’re ripping or crosscutting, working with ply, or if you need table saw blades for hardwood, this simple guide will introduce you to the different blade types and why they’re suited (or not suited) to a variety of different jobs.
Table Saw Blades for Ripping
If you’re going to be ripping through large pieces of material that will be reworked to accurate dimensions later in the process, then it’s a good idea to use a 24-tooth blade with flat top grind teeth (FTG).
FTG blades are highly durable and can make quick work of rough material. The downside is that because the blade teeth feature flat tops that are parallel to the table surface, this type of blade doesn’t provide smooth cuts.
A great rough ripping blade using FTG teeth is the Freud 10 in. 24 Tooth Blade.
This blade features a coating on both flat sides of the blade, helping to prevent corrosion and assist in cleaning. Carbide tips are used for durability of the teeth.
Table Saw Blades for Crosscuts
If you’re using a miter gauge to perform crosscuts or compound cuts, then you’re going to be working across the wood grain.
This can create the problem of tear out, which will leave you with rough work or wasted material in the worst case scenario.
The best way to avoid this is to use blades that have been specifically designed for cross cutting.
Alternate Top Bevel (ATB) blades use angles cut across each individual tooth of the blade.
With each alternating tooth, the angle also slants in the opposite direction. This allows for clean cuts that are finish-quality in many cases. Because ATB blades are versatile, they are sometimes used for ripping of softer materials, and most blades marketed as general purpose are made with the ATB tooth design.
If you want to go with an ATB blade for ripping, then you’ll need one that features fewer teeth, such as a 24 tooth blade. For fine finishing cross cuts, go for at least a 60 inch ATB blade, such as this Freud 10 in. ATB Fine Finish Blade.
Finding the Right Table Saw Blades for Hardwood Varieties
When your project calls for you to be working with hardwood such as maple or oak, then you’re going to need a high quality blade that is suitable for your purpose.
In addition to the blade itself, you should check that your table saw has an adequate power rating to be able to work with harder wood species’.
Most 15 AMP table saws will be able to cut hard wood, providing that the wood thickness doesn’t exceed the limitations outlined in the user manual of your particular tool.
Remember that more teeth on a blade mean higher quality finishing work, but blades with fewer teeth are able to work through material more quickly.
Flat top blades for hardwood varieties are recommended, especially when ripping. The same ATB blade can then be used for crosscuts on hardwood.
It is recommended that hardwood ripping be performed with a 24 tooth blade, this is because the wider spacing and larger blade gullet will allow for better displacement of the stock.
Using the Right Table Saw Blades for Plywood and Similar Stock
At times you will need to cut through sheet goods like plywood, composite particle board, MDF, or maybe even certain types of plastic.
When working on a layered, laminate, or composite piece of stock, there will be more risk of tear off that results in finished products that look less than ideal.
This problem isn’t quite as apparent when working with hardwood varieties, so you’ll need to take care to adjust your cutting and ripping technique and speed, and you will likely need to change the blade in your table saw if it has previously been used for hardwood.
To avoid tear out, you’re going to need to use a fine blade with a high tooth count. Because sheet stock is much softer and easier to move through when compared to hard wood, you won’t need to worry about using a low tooth count FTG blade.
It is advisable that you use anything ranging from a 40 tooth ATB blade, right up to an 80 tooth blade.
Alternatively, you could also use a combination blade with a tooth count that sits somewhere between 40 and 80 tooth. This DeWALT 80 Tooth Precision Trim Blade is a good option when you need table saw blades for trim, plywood, and soft stock.
Diamond and Continuous Rim Blades: Can You Cut Tiles On Your Table Saw?
Have you ever seen a blade that doesn’t appear to have teeth at all?
This is what is known by professionals as a diamond or continuous rim blade.
These blades are designed for cutting through tiles, and are widely used by flooring contractors. There are a number of options that can be fitted to 10-inch table saws, including this Diamond Tile Blade from Concord Blades.
While table saws can be used to cut tile in some scenarios, they are not recommended for complete flooring jobs.
This is because tile dust and the difficulty of cutting tile can damage a table saw.
Instead, it is recommended that you purchase a specialized wet saw tile cutter for any significant tile work. These power tools are highly affordable, and there are plenty of options, such as this SKIL Wet Tile Saw.
Simplest Table Saw Blade Guide for Absolute Beginners
If you’re just starting out in woodworking, or if you’re experienced but it’s your first time using a table saw, then you’ll likely want to have a quick reference guide that allows you to get all of the right blades for your inventory.
You won’t generally need any more than four different types of blade in your collection, and you may even be able to omit some of these if you are only working with certain types of material.
- A combination blade is an excellent workhorse blade that will get you through the majority of your crosscutting and ripping jobs.
Don’t skimp out on the price when you’re buying this blade, because quality will mean that you have less cleanup work on the material that you’re cutting.
This Freud 10-Inch Combination Blade is an excellent starting point and is highly rated by home DIY enthusiasts and professional users.
- Remember that for hardwoods, you’re going to need a blade with a low tooth count, so that you can make effective rips and crosscuts without burning the wood or jamming the blade.
For a ten-inch table saw, you should be aiming for a 24 tooth blade.
Because hardwood rips are going to be fairly rough, you don’t need to pay a price premium for this blade. Aim for midrange pricing from brands like DeWALT and Freud.
- For trim, plywood, and other light materials, a 40 tooth blade will get the job done, but as previously mentioned, a higher tooth count will allow for better finished work on light woods.
An 80 tooth precision blade can be a great investment for when you want fine finishing work, and will round out your blade collection.
Take Note of What Works, and What Doesn’t
There will be times that you work with certain materials without the results that you expected.
Always keep in mind that fewer teeth will be better for ripping and will provide rough results, while more teeth allow for finer cuts, but won’t be appropriate for every type of material.
As you become more experienced with your table saw, you will be able to gain a firm understanding of what will and won’t work with certain woods and composite materials.
Using these tips as a starting point, you’ll be able to stock up on the best table saw blades for your typical use case scenario, and you can expand or consolidate your collection as your needs evolve.
Most importantly, always be sure to keep your blades clean, check for damage before use, and always follow all manufacturer installation and safety instructions before using a new blade in your table saw.
To help you get an even better idea of what you need to consider, here’s an excellent video I found on youtube, I hope you find it useful: