Choosing the right saw blade for your DIY project can save you a lot of money. Here are some guidelines and tips for picking the blade that is right for the flooring you are working with.
Expansion Slots– laser cuts in saw blade sides designed to dissipate heat when cutting. Also allows expansion, reducing warping.
Kerf -blade thickness
Gullets– the space cut out from blade plate between the teeth of a saw blade. The gullets provide room for chips and waste to safely exit the cut.
High-Speed Steel blades (HSS)- Less expensive, harder than steel blades and stays sharp longer.
Carbide-Tipped Blades – more expensive than steel and HSS blades, but they stay sharp much longer than steel or (HSS).
Steel blades – Basic economy, works well for cutting softwood, dulls quickly.
Basic Blade Styles:
- Plywood blade– a very popular blade usually made from High-Speed Steel with 100 or more fine teeth. Recommended for clean cutting paneling, moldings and engineered floorings. $30-$40
- Combination blade– usually made up of 80 to 100 teeth. This versatile blade cuts a variety of materials very quickly and smoothly, with a minimal amount of splintering. Recommended for cutting Laminates, hardwood the harder exotics and precision miter cutting. $30-$50
- All-purpose steel blade– is the most commonly used blade. These blades can do a little of everything and normally have about 40 teeth, inexpensive and tends to warp quicker. $20-$30
- Cut-off blade– is recognized by its 60 and 80 spaced teeth and 10 degrees of hook or angle. The tooth count allows for making quick rough cuts of plywood and 2x4s. Recommended for fast rough cutting. $8-$15
In the image below, each of the four blade styles are shown in order from 1-4.
As a general rule, the more teeth there are, the smoother the cuts. However, more teeth always means slower cutting and more load stress on the saw motor. Fewer teeth means faster cutting speed, a reduction in force required and more chance for wood tear-out or splintering.
The Right Saw Blade:
Carbide-tipped blades are best when cutting Laminates and harder exotics.
Quality blades can be re-edged or sharpened several times saving money.
Blades having expansion slots are designed to greatly reduce heat-warping allowing the metal to cool thereby extending the life of the blade.
There are many blade versions each designed for cutting different materials.
10″ table saw– will complete about 90% of flooring cuts, “rips or fill-ins”? around the walls.
10″ – 12″ miter or chop saw– quick straight cuts or mitering (crosscuts at 45 degrees)
Jigsaw– cuts special shapes
Getting the Most:
Dedicate one blade for Laminates, another for hardwood
Old blades can be saved and used to cut through nail heads when removing existing plywood.
Get money back from worn-out blades at your local scrap yard
With Laminate, it’s not the hardness of the high density fiber core (HDFC) that causes saw blades to wear down but actually the abrasion and heat from repeated cutting of the aluminum oxide micro-chips applied to the wear-layer. Interestingly the same aluminum oxide is used to make industrial grade sandpaper! In view of this, a thin kerf 80 to 100 tooth carbide-tipped blade is most effective for cutting laminates and will last for about 1000 sft before needing re-sharpened.
With Hardwood, blade dulling is common with the denser exotics, especially prefinished aluminum oxide coated floorings.
Always cut flooring OUTSIDE! Blade sparks are common and can ignite a build-up of gas fumes. Do what the pros do. Set up a fan next to your saw to blow dust away from your body, so you’re cleaner and safer.