You’ve chosen your perfect circular saw, and now it’s time to expand to include the right saw blade for your project. Surprise! There are many different types of blades, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Building a collection of saw blades for different projects is necessary if you do more than simple cuts with wood. With this buying guide, you’ll learn the art of choosing the right circular saw blade every single time. Here’s what you need to know to select the right blade.
Different Types of Blade
Circular saw blades come in a few different edges designed to cut different things in different ways. The blades that typically come with circular saws are all-purpose, but you’ll still need other types to handle more complex cuts or cutting delicate materials. When it comes to choosing the right circular saw blade, you’ll start with the blade type.
Rip cut blades are a standard saw blade type. They feature fewer teeth and are designed to cut more aggressively along the wood grain. They’re best for solid woods and making standard cuts. Deep gullets within the teeth are efficient for removing chips as you move along the cut, keeping the area free and preventing clogs.
Crosscut blades are designed to cut across the grain of the wood and feature more teeth for a smoother cut. They aren’t as fast, but they produce a finer cut designed to preserve the natural look of the wood without splintering the grain. They have smaller gullets because of the finer cast-off.
Combination blades use groupings of four — four rip cut teeth and four crosscut teeth alternating with each other — to serve both types of cuts. These are great all-purpose woodworking blades if you don’t do much detail or intricate work.
Plywood blade is a special type of wood composite and requires ultra-fine teeth to ensure a smooth cut without tearing the boards. These blades have 100 or more teeth to make smooth cuts that don’t tear into the wood composite.
Standard Continuous Rim Blades
If you’re cutting delicate materials other than wood, say tile or slate, the presence of teeth will only shatter your material. Continuous edge blades use a diamond rim to provide smooth cuts that won’t shatter your material. They’re rated for dry cutting or dry/wet applications such as those required by stone tile.
Turbo Rim Blades
Turbo rim blades feature a continuous edge, but the rim of the blade is serrated. The serrated rim functions much like teeth for wood cutting blades but helps cut through brick or concrete without shattering. The fine rim makes the first cut, and the edge helps blast through the tough material. These are also categorized in dry and wet/dry applications.
Segmented blades belong in the masonry category but help prioritize speed where necessary. They feature a smooth edge with slots to make ultra rough cuts quickly. If you’re working in stone but don’t need a smooth, pretty finish, these are the blades you need.
Metal Cutting Blades
Metal cutting blades come in two types, segmented or continuous. Continuous blades are called “abrasive blades” and use a durable material like aluminum oxide or silicon carbide to work through metal. Slotted blades help disperse heat but still contain the abrasive material to work through metal.
Choosing The Right Blade For Your Job
Deciding on a blade is more than just looking at your material. It would help if you also asked yourself a few questions about your saw and your project.
What Type Of Material Do I Have?
The blade you choose must be compatible with the material. Rough wood cuts are fine with a simple rip blade, but plywood must have the fine teeth to prevent shattering.
If you’re cutting plastic, blades with at least 40 or more teeth will suffice, but you must remember to go slow. The more teeth, the better able you will be to cut through things like plastic piping.
Metal and masonry blades may look the same and belong in the same category, but the blades are not interchangeable. Your blade must be rated to cut metal, or you could cause yourself serious injury.
What Size Blade Does My Tool Need?
You’ll need to pay close attention to the size & blade your particular circular saw can accommodate. Choosing a blade that falls outside these recommended lines will cause potential damage to your tool at best and injury to you at worse.
Standard saws take blades of just over seven inches, with some able to accommodate much larger blades. If you have a handheld portable saw, it may only accommodate a four-inch or so blade. Stay within these guidelines.
How Often Do You Want To Change Your Blade?
Sure standard rip blades may be the most common in circular saws, but if you work almost exclusively in tile, that’s not going to help you. Take a look at the most common jobs you work with to decide on a blade.
Home DIYers will probably have the best luck with a combination blade designed to make rip and crosscuts with solid wood. Masons will want a blade that can cut through tough stone, prioritizing speed while preserving the material.
You can build a collection of specialized blades if you do a variety of projects or invest in one or two multipurpose blades to cover the spectrum of your typical jobs or projects.
Do I Need Smooth Cuts or Fast Speeds?
The number of teeth in standard circular saws will help determine your balance between smoothness and speed. If you’re making rough cuts for framing a building, for example, you’ll want fewer teeth to prioritize speed and efficiency.
Working with fast speeds will also require a deeper gullet to help clear away debris. These gullets ensure that you can move through wood without cast-off slowing you down, reducing visibility, or clogging your machine entirely.
If you’re doing woodworking projects for display, more teeth will create smoother, aesthetically pleasing cuts that require less sanding to finish off. You won’t be able to cut as quickly, but the result will preserve the natural look of the wood.
If you’re working with really delicate materials like plywood or plastic, you’ll need a very high tooth count capable of gently sawing the material without cracking or shattering it.
How Long Does My Blade Need To Last?
The answer to this should be “as long as possible,” but balancing materials with your budget could be on the table. Saw blades that use a high-quality material, such as carbide tips fused to a steel blade, will last longer without sharpening but could signal a more expensive blade.
Blades with carbide explicitly designed for the type of cutting will provide the best performance and the longest life. However, find a blade with at least a C3 grade to allow you multiple sharpenings before disposal while also keeping your budget in mind.
The Best Blades Balance Your Needs
Choose a blade that works best for your project, material, and circular saw, blending functionality and help provide long-lasting durability. Working through these questions will help ensure that you get the right blade for your needs.