When choosing a blade, here are a few things to consider:

1 Diameter: This is measured from the furthest edge of one tip to the furthest edge of the tip directly opposite. Use the saw diameter the machine was designed for. Even if the material being cut doesn’t require the depth of cut you will get from the proper size blade, you want the rim speed attained by a full diameter blade.

2 Tooth count: The basic rule is the more teeth the finer the cut, but you also have to consider the thickness of the cut and the feed rate. Fine tooth saws tend to leave a smoother finish because each tooth takes a smaller bite, however, if the material is too thick, or if it is being fed at a high rate, the gullet capacity of fine-tooth blades is too small. (The gullet is the open space between the teeth and inadequate gullet capacity will cause burning, poor quality cut, and possibly heat damage to the blade.) Conversely, not enough teeth will cut aggressively, at lower feed, or on thinner materials and leave a rougher finish.

If you are cutting material that is finished on two sides, the tooth count may have to be higher and/or the feed rate lower, unless there is a scoring blade. Pre-scoring will allow a coarser tooth count and therefore a higher feed.

3 Tooth style: These generally fall into three categories: Square Top style – rip saw, for downgrain cutting of solid wood; Alternate Top Bevel (ATB) style – cut-off saw, for crossgrain cutting; and Triple Chip style – primarily for composite panel.

There also are specialty blades for specific applications, including: thin kerf/thin rim saws, chip limiter rip saws, double-end tenon saws, negative hook saws, hollow ground/face saws, high ATB (Alternate Top Bevel) and Alternate Face Bevel Blades, used in composite board applications where surface chipping is a problem.

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