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Tool Lab | Understanding Saw Blades | Ask This Old House

In this Tool Lab, Ask This Old House carpenter Nathan Gilbert explains how table saw blades work and the different blade types used.

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In Tool Lab, Nathan Gilbert talks all about saw blades. Having the right blade can significantly impact the table saw’s performance, quality of the cut, and safety.

He explains that the stock blades on a table saw are for general use and not the best quality. Table saw blades come in three categories: ripping, cross-cutting, and combination. Nathan then goes into the blade anatomy, explaining the difference in teeth, kerf thickness, and coatings are designed to impact the cut. He describes the variations in tooth geometry and how the teeth are cut in various patterns for specific types of cuts and materials.

Nathan shares his advice on picking the best table saw blade while sticking to your budget.
Table saw blades are broken down into three categories: ripping, cross-cutting, and combination.

Blade Anatomy
Table saws are comprised of the following:

Steel Plate—the main body.
Throughout the plate are various cuts to reduce noise and vibrations or expand the blade as it heats.

Carbide teeth
1. Pricier blades have large, thick teeth made of the hardest carbide and can be re-sharpened multiple times.
2. Less-expensive blades have thinner teeth and softer carbide and don’t typically do well with sharpening.
3. The space between the teeth is called the gullet. This area helps remove chips and shavings as material moves throughout the cut.
4. Ripping blades typically have fewer teeth and larger gullets. Cross-cut blades have more teeth and smaller gullets.

Arbor hole—the hole in the center of the blade, where it connects to the arbor.

Kerf thickness—the line of material taken away as the blade cuts through the stock.
1. If you’re running a portable saw, thin-kerf blades are a great option, especially if you’re often finding the saw bogs down.

Coating—coatings like Teflon are added to the blade to help keep the heat down and make the blade run through the material easier.

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From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. Ask This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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Tool Lab | Understanding Saw Blades | Ask This Old House
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