Choosing the right precision saw blade for optimal results
Looking for a blade? The array of saw blades available in the market can be overwhelming! In New Zealand's bustling industry, savvy CNC operators, production managers, and other professionals are demanding nothing but the best. Today we take the guesswork out of saw blades and help you answer the burning question - how do I select the right blade? Let's go through it.
Question 1. Choose the range of blades. Industrial vs Pro Range
What makes a saw blade an industrial blade?
Visually, blades can be hard to differentiate since all are circular, have a hole in the centre, and have teeth around the circumference, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Consider your saw blade as on of the generators, the producers in your workshop.
With industrial blades, the quality of the saw plate is paramount. It starts with special grained saw steel, pre-hardened, flattened, laser cut and finish ground on all surfaces. These primary attributes, while just a beginning, ensure a blade is built to last.
The tensioning of the saw body, which keeps it flat and running true is essential to achieving a good finish and maintaining cut quality for the life of the blade. A premium industrial saw blade will feature laser cut expansion slots, often filled with thermoplastic material that reduces noise and vibration and often an electrostatically applied (not painted!) specialised coating as a shield against friction and heat, keeping your blade in the game with consistent, reliable performance, allowing the saw body to contract and expand as needed during the cutting cycle without distortion as well as reducing resin build up.
On the flip side, cheap, single use blades are commonly stamped or pressed out of soft steel sheet or strip. This low-quality steel cannot be straightened or tensioned, often the saws won’t cut straight from new! Once the plate is warped, dished, or bent, it needs skilled professional attention to restore the tension and flatness of an Industrial blade. It is impossible to restore a low-cost blade.
Features & benefits
Delving deeper, tooth geometry, tooth size, and carbide grade are important. The correct tooth geometry is crucial for achieving the desired quality finish on the product/material being cut. Tungsten carbide tip size dictates how many times a blade can be sharpened, with smaller tips commonly found on budget options. Additives such as Titanium, Chromium and Cobalt and grain size are used all play a pivotal role in the final cutting tip performance of a blade.
Pro range blades have smaller tungsten tips that are often made of a lower grade of tungsten. This makes them cheaper to purchase but they don’t stay sharp for a long and offer less sharpens.
Tailoring your blade to match specific materials is the key to optimal performance
The same applies to solid wood, softwood, veneered board etc. A general purpose wood blade is, as its name implies, designed to take on most wood cutting tasks and provide an average result…it is not designed to maximise performance or finish. The best generic blade will give you at best a generic finish.
Freud is well known worldwide brand for making premium saw blades. In fact, it is the biggest producer in the world! Here a few indicators you need to look for if a premium saw blade is what you are after:
For example, the Super Square Tooth design, can extend the life of the saw up to 25 sharpenings! For highest volume and demanding cutting applications, choosing the right blade will net a lower blade cost per panel cut, and will insure an accurate cut and good surface finish.
It's also important to remember noise is caused by vibration. A vibrating saw can't give a perfect finish. Thanks to special laser cut slots, their form, position and number is possible to reduce vibration and obtain a quieter finer cut.
Watch our video and learn how noise and anti-vibration technology make a difference:
Question 2. What tooth style is needed?
Here is a brief cover of the most popular saw blade tooth geometries in the market. There are many more variations for specialty applications that make additional improvements to cutting performance for very specific materials, such as modification of hook/rake angle, clearance angles, gullet size, chip limiters, adding wiper slots etc.
Flat Grind: Flat top teeth are excellent for ripping solid wood. A rip cut is simply a parting cut that is made parallel to the grain of the wood. This particular design, with the “safety hump” on the shoulder behind the tooth, (the technical term is “chip limiter”) is to help reduce the chances of material kick-back; this is when the cut portion of the timber closes on the back edge of the spinning blade, thereby propelling it straight back at the operator – a phenomenon called ‘kick back’. Therefore a riving knife is mandated by OSH on all circular saws to prevent injuries and fatalities.
ATB Grind: The very popular tooth design shown to the left is an alternate top bevel, ATB for short, and primarily used to cross-cut solid wood (hardwood and softwood), plywood, veneers, lattice and other homogeneous materials. The alternating tips, one left, one right around the entire blade circumference, provide the best surface when cutting wood in the opposite direction of the grain. Some specialty rip saw blades feature this ATB design as well, however, they will have deeper gullets (the “valley” between the teeth) to insure that the chips evacuate the cut and don’t generate heat.
TCG (Triple Chip Grind): This saw blade tip geometry is a triple chip grind, commonly used to cut non-ferrous metals like aluminium and sometime for composite materials such as laminated particleboard, MDF and other panel materials. If the material has a laminate both sides, then this design would not be the best choice unless your saw is factory equipped with a scoring saw unit that pre-cuts the bottom of the panel. Note that one tooth has the corners chamfered, and the next tooth is a little lower and flat. They alternate in this manner around the circumference of the blade. This grind is the most common geometry for sawing aluminium plate and extrusion.
Hollow Face Grind: This tooth style was developed specifically for cutting coated (laminated) panels on a table saw or vertical saw, to provide a clean cut on top and bottom of the panel when the machine it is used on does not have a scoring blade. The downside to a hollow face blade is that only very few saw sharpening companies have the ability to sharpen this blade properly. It requires special hollow face grinding to sharpen the blade or the performance will suffer.
WARNING! Hollow Face blades cut laminate and laminate only. Cut 1 piece of timber or board and the blade will need to be resharpened before it can be used to cut laminate again!
Hi-ATB (Steep Top Grind): The Hi-angle ATB was developed as an alternative to the hollow face blade due to difficulties in getting a hollow face blade sharpened properly. The HI-ATB grind provides the same clean cut on the bottom of the panel when the blade exits the material, but this design too, has a down side. Due to the very aggressive bevel angle at the tip, the blade does not stay sharp as long as a standard ATB or TCG blade, but is able to cut solid wood or plywood as well as veneered board – very versatile!
Need help selecting what saw blade you need for your job?
Visit our Technical Hub or a deeper dive into the world of saw blades and their applications. Check out our online tool product finder that will help you to select the best possible sawblade for different material and machining application:
In a realm brimming with options, selecting the right saw blade is an investment in performance, efficiency, and safety. For frequently used saws, the blade's significance cannot be overstated. It's not just about saving money, but also about enhancing quality, productivity, and minimising downtime.
Take the time to explore our extensive range of saw blades, tailored for virtually any material and application. Elevate your cutting experience today:
Is it economical and worthwhile to get your blades sharpened?
Absolutely! Unless your sawblades are very cheap, throwaway blades that have tiny tungsten tips or if the blade has a big number of missing tips, sharpening your blades is a good, economical option.
At Tungsten & Tool we offer a premium, speedy, accurate and freight free* sharpening service that keeps your operation working smoother and smarter wherever you are based in New Zealand.
We sharpen a huge range of tools including:
- Circular Sawblade
- Router Bits
- Planer & Thicknesser Blades
- Milling Blades
- CNC Spiral & Compression Cutters
- Bandsaw Blades
- Drilling & Boring Tools
- PCD Diamond Tooling
- Chipper Knives
- Granulator Knives
- Moulder Heads
- Stump Grinding Tips
- Annular Rotabroach Cutters
- Advanced Pulveriser Disks/Blades and more
The critical part of your operation is to have sharp tools! Watch our video and follow a few easy steps of how to get your tools sharpened back to the latest specifications on the up-to-date equipment by industry experts:
*Min. servicing value $100 + GST.
Do you have more questions?Feel free to contact us on 0800 488 647 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more information on premium saw blades.