Tool Review: General-purpose Tablesaw Blades
Changing tablesaw blades ranks right up there with changing speeds on a drill press or lathe: We know certain cuts call for specific blades for peak performance, but still, we don't always take the time to make a switch. Now you don't have to sweat those changes -- if you have a proven general-purpose blade on your tablesaw. In previous tests we found that 40-tooth general-purpose blades typically outperform 50-tooth combination blades with less scoring and quicker feed rates on rip cuts. So we rounded up 28 general-purpose blades (16 thin-kerf, 12 full-kerf) from 19 manufacturers and tested them in crosscuts and rip cuts in hard maple, melamine-coated particleboard, and birch plywood using 10" contractor- and cabinet-style tablesaws.
- Even the best blade will not perform well in a saw that's not properly adjusted. So take the time to remove any runout from your saw's arbor. Align the miter slots and blade precisely parallel with each other. Err on toeing out the back end of the fence .001" or .002" away from the blade -- that will reduce the likelihood of the workpiece binding between the blade and fence.
- Many of the tested saw blades yield clean cuts on the top face of melamine-coated particleboard, but only one produced chip-free cuts on both the top and bottom faces of melamine (using a standard tablesaw throat plate and a slow feed rate). About half the blades improved noticeably on their bottom-cut performance when we used a zero-clearance insert. We got even better results in birch plywood crosscuts, where a zero-clearance insert eliminated bottom tear-out with nearly every blade. To learn how to make an insert go to woodmagazine.com/zeroclearance.
- Thick carbide saw teeth give you more resharpenings. Some of the blades have teeth with complicated grinds, so have your blades sharpened by a service with up-to-date computer-controlled grinding equipment that will duplicate the manufacturer's original grind. To be on the safe side, check the manufacturer's Web site for recommended sharpening services.
- Ease of feed depends primarily on whether a blade has thin-kerf teeth (.118" or narrower ) or full-kerf teeth (.125" thick or thicker). A 3-hp tablesaw on a 220-volt circuit has enough muscle to power a full-kerf blade through nearly any cut. But if you're using a 110-volt saw, you'll find that a thin-kerf blade plows more easily through tough cuts. Of course, either type will struggle if dull.
Full-kerf Top Blades: Freud Premier-Fusion P410, Forrest Woodworker II WW10407125, and Infinity 010-044
Full-kerf Top Values: Amana 610400 and Systimatic 51821
Thin-kerf Top Blade: Tenryu Gold Medal GM-25540
Thin-kerf Top Values: Craftsman 32808 and Freud Diablo D1040X
Learn the complete results of our testing of all 28 blades in the May 2008 issue of WOOD magazine.