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Circular Saw Blade Tips
Maxi-Combo Every woodworker wants to get the most out of every tool, right? We all want to get the best price up front, we want the best possible performance, and we want the longest possible life. There's nothing profound in that statement -- but let's face it, wanting "the most", and actually achieving it are very different things.
Nobody has all the answers, but here are some guidelines that should help you attain peak performance from your circular saw blades.
Blade Selection Penny wise or pound foolish?

Sorry about the cliché, but let's face it, if you buy the cheapest blade on the shelf, you may get exactly what you pay for. All the care, adjustment, cleaning or what have you won't make an inferior blade deliver a superior cut. It's generally a good idea to stick with recognized manufacturers, but it's also important to look much closer than the name on the blade.

Take a good look at the teeth. They should be ground smooth, almost to a polished finish. The braze that holds the tooth to the blade body should also be smooth and free of pits and gaps. The size of the carbide tooth is important too. The more carbide, the more times the blade can be resharpened.

Choose the right blade for the task!

You won't get the most out of any blade if you try to use it for the wrong job. Chances are, there's no single blade that's ideal for every task you'll undertake, unless your woodworking is limited to one very specific operation. Here are some good rules to keep in mind when selecting a blade:

  • Ripping is best suited to blades with larger teeth and large gullets in between. The teeth usually have a flat grind on the top and an aggressive hook angle (Jesada Tools 110-240 Ultra-Smooth Ripping blade, for example).
  • Combination blades should have more & smaller teeth than rip blades. The tops of these teeth are beveled to cut the wood fibers cleanly (10" Maxi-Combo™ blade features a combination of beveled teeth and chamfered raker teeth for cleaner cuts across and with the grain).
  • Fine Cutting Blades are designed for delicate materials like melamine or fine veneer. A 10" diameter blade in this category should have 80 or more teeth with extremely sharp top bevel angles (Ultra-Cut™ blade features a 40º bevel for use in two-sided laminates).
Blade Operation

Feed Rate: – First off, you should never force any blade through any material under any circumstances. Going too fast is dangerous and usually delivers a much rougher cut. On the other hand, just about any high-speed cutting tool generates lots of extra frictional heat if you feed your work too slowly. The higher temperatures will burn your work and dull the teeth of your blade.

So what is the proper feed rate? That depends on the type and thickness of the material, the type of blade and whether you're ripping or crosscutting. Frankly, you'll have to experiment, but your goal should be to achieve a feed rate that delivers a clean cut without burn marks.

Stabilizers: – Sometimes called "stiffening collars", blade stabilizers look like giant washers that mount on the saw arbor next to the blade. Stabilizers limit vibration which in turn improves your cut while reducing noise and even carbide tip breakage (Jesada offers 5" stabilizers for 10" blades, 3" stabilizers for 8" blades). Blade Stabilizers should never be used on portable circular saws.

Blade Maintenance

Sharpening: – Even the best blade will lose its edge eventually, so watch for the warning signs. If you notice your stock tending to climb over the blade, if you smell smoke, if you have to push a lot harder to make the cut, or if your saw refuses to cut a straight line, you're probably working with a dull blade.

Resharpening is best left to a professional service. If you don't have a reliable local sharpening service, contact your blade dealer or manufacturer.

Cleaning: – Wood resin, or "Pitch" gradually accumulates on almost any blade, especially as the blade gets hot. If you leave the pitch on the blade it will help the steel retain heat and dull the blade more quickly. Keep some pitch remover (or oven cleaner) handy and use it often. Avoid abrasive cleaners that can scratch the blade, since a rough surface will make pitch even tougher to remove the next time.

Handling and Storage: – Have you ever walked into a shop and noticed a stack of blades left casually on a bench or on top of a table saw? If those blades aren't dull already, they probably will be soon. When sharp teeth rub across hard metal or against each other they can become dull or even break, so always hang your blades with spacers between them. If you need to carry blades from job to job, build a case to keep them safe.

Copyright © 1997, Jesada Tools™.
Any reproduction in whole or in part strictly prohibited.