How To Choose the Right Saw Blade For Your Flooring Project

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As a general rule, the more teeth on the blade, 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. Here are a few tips in choosing the right saw blade for the job.  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.

Blades for Laminate Flooring

With laminates, 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 sqft before needing to be re-sharpened.

Blades for Hardwood Flooring

Blade dulling is common with the denser exotics, especially prefinished aluminum oxide coated floorings.

Professionals often use paper patterns to trace or transfer special shapes and angles onto the new flooring for cutting.

  1. The Plywood Blade is a very popular blade usually made from High-Speed Steel with 100 or more fine teeth.  Recommended for clean cutting paneling, moldings, and engineered flooring. Usually costs between $30-$40.
  2. The Combination Blade is 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, harder exotic hardwood, and precision miter cutting.  Usually costs between $30-$50.
  3. The All-Purpose Steel Blade is the most commonly used blade.  These blades can do a little of everything and normally have about 40 teeth, are inexpensive, and tend to warp quicker.  Usually costs between $20-$30.
  4. A 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.  Usually costs between $8-$15.

saw blades

Tips to Get the Most From Your Blades

  • Carbide blades last 30% longer and can be re-sharpened for about $10
  • 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

Blade Anatomy

  • Expansion Slots – Laser cuts in saw blade sides designed to dissipate heat when cutting.  Also allows expansion and reduces warping.
  • Kerf – Blade thickness
  • Gullets – The space cut out from blade plates between the teeth of the saw blade.  The gullets provide room for chips and waste to safely exit the cut.
  • High-Speed Steel Blades – Less expensive than Carbide-Tipped, harder than steel blades and stays sharp longer.
  • Carbide-Tipped Blades – More expensive than steel and High-Speed Steel blades, but they stay sharp much longer than steel or High-Speed Steel blades.
  • Steel Blades – Basic economy, works well for cutting softwood, dulls quickly.

Power Saw Tips

  • A 10″ table saw will complete about 90% of flooring cuts, “rips or fill-ins” around the walls.
  • 10″ to 12″ miter or chop saw is used for quick straight cuts or mitering
  • A Jigsaw fitted with a tine toothed blade is used to cut special shapes (vents, support beams, etc.)

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.  You will be cleaner and safer with each cut.

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5 Comments

  1. I have found your article very informative and interesting. I appreciate your points of view and I agree with so many. You’ve done a great job with making this clear enough for anyone to understand.

  2. Yoffey, Thanks for your inquiry. You can use a standard circular saw and set it for the depth of the hardwood you are cutting. Another option would be to rent a stripping machine. This is the best way to remove the majority of the floor and will be much easier than scraping the floor up. Hope this helps!

  3. Thanks for the good read, I had no idea that the amount of teeth would positively or negatively affect how well the quality of my cut is. My question is what happens when you need to cut into smaller areas? I feel like I would be breaking band saw blades if I was attempting to cut a tougher exotic. Should I stick with a hand saw? Or an electric reciprocating saw?

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