If you’re searching for miter saw blades, you’re in luck – the market has such a vast range of options for you to choose from. Knowing how to pick the right one out of all the possibilities, however, can turn into a challenge. There are so many things to consider. What materials are you likely to be working on? Ferrous and non-ferrous metals, veneer plywoods, other woods or plastics? Then there are the blades themselves. General purpose blades, specialty blades, carbide blades, kerf blades, crosscut blades, carbide-tipped blades... the list is seemingly endless.
Increasing the longevity of your miter saw and ensuring the quality of the cuts will both be dependent on the type of circular saw blade that you opt for. This is why you have to consider the most important selection criteria and compare products side by side before making a purchase. The following guide will take you through the process.
Before moving on to more complex aspects of saw blade selection, you’ll have to take a look at the size.
Take a look at your machine or the manual that it came with. You should have some information about the size of the bore. This way, you’ll make sure that the miter saw blade you’re buying is the right one for your machine.
The next measurement to take a look at is the diameter of the blade. Make sure that the diameter is compatible with the guard that your saw has. For safety purposes, it’s very important to stick to the diameter recommended by the manufacturer.
Finally, you may want to take a look at the thickness of the blade. This metric will determine the width of the cut. If you’re about to do very fine and precise cutting, you’ll have to look for the narrowest blade out there.
Manufacturers should provide information about all three of these metrics. The information will have to be printed or etched on the blade itself, as well.
The number of teeth that a saw blade has is another important characteristic. Taking a look at the readings may get somewhat confusing so here’s the breakdown. A general rule of thumb is that a bigger number of blade teeth will result in a smoother cut.
The smallest number of blade teeth is 24 and this count is typical for a ripping blade. Thus, the type of job you’re intending to do will determine the appropriate number of miter saw blade teeth. The ripping blade is most suitable for doing natural wood rip cutting. Having a smaller number of teeth will allow for the effortless cutting of a large volume of wood.
Blades that have anywhere between 60 and 80 teeth are called cross-cutting blades. Once again, this type of blade is ideal for cutting natural wood. The main difference between a cross cutting and a ripping blade is that the first one offers a finer cut.
A cross cutting blade is an ideal pick for plywood, chipboards and medium-density fiberboard. Some of these blades could also be suitable for cutting through aluminum.
The final possibility is a combination blade and it usually has between 40 and 50 teeth. As the name suggests, the combination blade can be used either as a ripping or a cross-cutting blade. The only problem with this product is that it’s not going to deliver the same high-quality as a ripping or a cross-cutting blade. If you want the best possible outcome, it will be best to get both of these options rather than relying on a combined one that can be expected to do a mediocre job.
While the tooth count is one of the most important specifications, there are several other crucial blade parameters to examine.
The design of the teeth is the next technical spec to take a look at. There are approximately five types of tooth cuts and while experts find it difficult to reach a consensus about the best one, triple-chip grind (TCG) is considered a wonderful possibility.
TCG tooth geometry is among the ones that can guarantee the smoothest cut possible. The design is particularly suitable for working with hardwood and aluminum.
Other common tooth designs include flat-top grind (mostly used on rip blades for fast and efficient cutting), alternating top bevel (ensures excellent cutting quality without splinters or chipping), alternating top alternating face bevel (sharper cutting and a more pointed edge, ideal for working on brittle materials) and high or steep alternating top bevel.
Stamped or Laser Cut Blade?
The manufacturing processes used to make miter saw blades vary. The most common approaches include stamping and laser cutting.
Stamped blades feature metal that is molded and then stamped out of the circular mold. Such blades are suitable for coarse cutting and large work volumes. If you want to get a fine cut out of your miter saw, a stamped blade is not going to be the best pick.
Laser cut blades obviously involve the use of laser light for the cutting of the circular blades. The laser cut can produce a much finer cut than the stamped blade and it’s usually characterized by smaller thickness than the first blade variety.
On top of the base features, some blades may have additional features that increase their practical appeal and lifespan.
Take a look at the blade’s expansion slots. These allow the metal to expand during the execution of the project without warping because of the heat that’s generated. Expansion slots are pretty much a standard thing in the world of miter saw blades.
Some of the blades may also feature some kind of coating. It will typically serve a protective role and protect the blade from friction and corrosion. While they tend to be a bit more expensive, coated miter saw blades also have a longer lifespan.
Finally, if you need to do specialized jobs, you may want to consider the acquisition of a few additional blades. A fine-tooth finish blade is perfect for very fine and precise jobs. Dry-diamond blades can be used for cutting tile. Abrasive wheels are also available and these can cut through different types of metal, as well as through masonry.