What Saw Blade to Use…

There are many different types of saw blades for many different types of applications.  Choosing the right saw blade for your specific application can seem daunting.  Here is a guide for choosing what saw blade to use for various applications and materials. 

When deciding what saw blade to use, you need to first know what type of material you are cutting, and what type of cut you will be making.  Different types of Saw Blades are better for making different types of cuts primarily because of the configuration of the saw blade teeth (or the grind).  There are four basic Saw blade grinds or Saw blade teeth configurations.  These saw blade grinds are: FTG (flat top grind), ATB (Alternate Top Bevel), ATBR (Combination), and TCG (triple-chip grind). 

With FTG saw blade the teeth are aligned so that the tops are flat and square with the blade.  FTG saw blades are typically used for ripping because they can cut fast and at higher feed rates, but do not make smooth cuts.  They basically just chip away at the wood leaving a rough finish.  Usually saw blades that have this grind are considered rip blades and are great for making initial cuts.  Both Popular tools and Tenryu make a great Rip blade at a very affordable price.

For smoother cuts you may want to go with an ATB grind saw blade.  With an ATB grind saw blade the teeth are not flat on top, but instead have an angled bevel.  Every other Tooth is angled in the opposite direction.  This allows the teeth have more of a slicing effect when it cuts through the wood and yields much cleaner cuts.  Also keep in mind that the more teeth there are the cleaner the cut will be.  With ATB grind the teeth also dull faster and cut slower, so if smooth cuts are not necessary and you are simply just ripping then an FTG grind rip blade would probably be more beneficial.  Saw blades with an ATB grind are typically used for crosscutting to cut down on the amount of tear out caused by cutting against the grain.  The professional Contractor blade from Popular tools is a great example of an ATB grind blade and makes incredibly smooth cuts.

A combination or ATBR grind is exactly what it sounds like- a combination of the two grinds previously mentioned.  Typically these grinds are configured in a 5 tooth pattern where there will be 4 alternating beveled teeth followed by 1 flat top tooth.  The Flat top tooth aids in ripping the wood and the alternating bevel teeth help to keep a smooth cut.  These blades are usually called general purpose saw blades, or Combination blades because they are great for both ripping or cross cutting and give a fairly clean cut. 

The TCG saw blades alternate a flat top tooth and a chamfered tooth.  The chamfered tooth roughs out the cut and the flat top tooth cleans it up.  TCG saw blades are typically used for cutting denser materials like plastics, laminates, and non ferrous metals, and materials that would dull the alternating bevel teeth too quickly.  If you are ever going to have to make cuts in these materials then getting a great TCG blade like Tenryu’s Pro Series Non ferrous saw blade is a must have.

It is best to have a few different types of blades for different applications.  Having a FTG saw blade for ripping, and ATB saw blade for making smooth cuts and cross cutting, or having a really good quality Combination saw blade or ATBR grind saw blade for making cross cuts and ripping, and keeping a TCG saw blade for cuts in more dense materials will significantly help increase your tool life, and ensure that you end up with the best possible results on your projects.



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