Types of Circular Saw Blades & Glossary

Circular Saw Blade

Any saw is only as good as the blade you put on it. The blade you’re using can often make or break your project. All the variable speeds and power in the world won’t help you much if you don’t have an appropriate blade. Because selecting the correct blade is so important, it is vital that you gather all the information you can before choosing one. 

To help you on this mission, we’ve put together this complete guide to woodworking circular saw blades. Everything you need to consider is included in this handy guide. 

Learn how to choose the best power saw for your projects:

Circular Saw Blades Types


There are several types of woodworking circular saw blades out there. Each blade has a different design to make certain cuts and get through certain materials. Because each blade has a specific purpose, it is vital that you choose a blade designed to do what your project demands. A blade designed for rip cuts should not be used to make crosscuts, for example. Not only will using the wrong blade result in an unsatisfactory cut, but it can even be dangerous. Using the wrong type of blade can cause it to snap while in use, which can be a safety hazard. 

Combination Blades

allpurposeblade

This blade is designed to be as multi-purpose as possible. This is often the type of blade included with most saws. It can be used to cut across or parallel to the wood grain. Often, this blade is suitable for home DIYers who need a blade they can use for a variety of different projects. However, because of its general design, this blade is often not the best choice for any project – just an okay option. It is definitely a jack-of-all-trades but a master-of-none. 

Crosscutting Blades

crosscuttingblade

This blade is designed to do exactly what the name suggests – cut across the wood grain. They typically have more teeth and a small gullet, which helps them achieve smoother cuts. They are used mostly for cutting short grain wood while ripping blades are used for long grain woods.

Dado Blades

dadoblade

A dado blade is designed to cut dados, or grooves, into wooden materials. There are two main types of dado blades – stacked blades and wobble blades. Stacked blades consist of two saw blades and a chipper blade put together. The saw blades cut out the groove and the chipper removes the waste material and smooths the bottom. A wobble blade is simply a circular blade mounted onto an adjustable hub. This allows you to change the depth of the cut, though usually not very accurately. 

Fine-Tooth Finish Blades

finetoothfinishblade

These blades are designed for extra-smooth cuts. They have very small teeth and do not cut very quickly. However, the cuts they leave behind are very smooth and splinter-free.

Hollow Ground Blades

hollowgroundblade

These blades are designed for making ultra-smooth cuts on coated boards and extra-fine crosscutting. They are specifically designed for cutting coated boards, such as plywood. Because an extremely sharp blade is required to cut these materials successfully, carbide tipped blades are often used. 

Paneling Blade

finishpanelingblade

For all your woodworking needs that don’t exactly involve wood, this is the blade you need. It is designed to cut through laminates, soft plastics, paneling, and other not-exactly-wood materials. While this type of blade isn’t usually used to cut wood, it is needed enough in woodworking projects that we decided to include it. 

Plywood Blades

plywoodblade

As the name suggests, these blades are designed to cut through plywood. Plywood can be a troublesome material to cut, which is why a particular type of blade is required. Typically, these blades have a lot of teeth and are designed to perform general cuts on plywood. 

Ripping Blade

rippingblade

This blade is made with very large teeth that allow it to cut parallel to the wood grain. They are specifically designed to be used with long-grain woods, while crosscutting blades should be used with short-grain woods. 

Thin Kerf Blade

thinkerfblade

Thin kerf blades are, simply put, thin. This makes it possible to get more cuts out of a single piece of wood. For this reason, they are often used by pencil manufacturers and other companies who make small, wooden objects. These thinner blades can also allow an underpowered saw to work better since the available power is focused on a smaller area. 

Glossary


Alternate Top Bevel

This is a particular type of tooth that alternates between a right-handed and left-handed bevel. Normally, they are used for making smooth cuts while crosscutting. 

Combination Tooth

This type of blade tooth is designed to both crosscut and rip. They are usually found on combination blades. 

Crosscutting

A cut made across the wood in the direction of the wood grain.

Expansion Slot

A grooved area that is cut into the blade to give built-up heat a place to go. This is usually found on larger blades. 

Flat Top

This type of tooth is used for ripping both hard and soft woods.

Gullet

This is the part of the blade that is between the teeth. Besides just separating the teeth, this area helps with chip removal while you’re cutting. Blades that are designed to rip typically have bigger gullets since they produce bigger chips. Crosscutting blades have smaller gullets because they produce smaller chips. 

High Alternate Top Bevel

This type of blade tooth is designed for extra-fine crosscutting. 

Hook Tooth

This is how the sawtooth is angled in relation to the center of the blade. This controls the feed rate for the blade. 

Kerf

The “kerf” of a blade is simply how wide it is. A thicker blade will last longer because you can resharpen it more; there is simply more material to work with. However, thinner blades are sharper and can cut faster. They are a particularly good choice for saws that don’t produce much power. But, they cut rougher edges than thicker blades. 

Negative Hook Angle 

A blade with a negative hook angle has teeth that tip away from the direction the blade rotates. This causes the feed rate to slow down. 

Positive Hook Angle

A blade with a positive hook angle has teeth that tip towards the direction the blade rotates. This causes the feed rate to speed up. 

Shoulder

This is the section of the blade directly behind the teeth. It helps strengthen the teeth and prevent the blade from breaking. 

Teeth

These are the sharp points of the blade that do the actual cutting. Blades have varying numbers of teeth depending on the design and purpose. Fewer, larger teeth make rougher cuts but cut faster. Smaller teeth cut slower but also produce a smoother cut. 

Zero Degree Hook Angle

This describes saw teeth that are in line with the center of the blade. It does not have a positive or negative effect on the feed rate. 

FAQ‘s


What kind of saw blade should I use?

This depends largely on what you’re going to be using the blade for. You should first consider the material you’re going to cut. Not all blades are going to be able to cut all materials. Even woodworking blades are designed to cut different types of wood. Natural wood is going to require a different blade than plywood, for example.

Next, consider what types of cuts you’re going to be making. Are you going to be crosscutting or ripping? Or both? This will give you a good clue as to what type of blade you need to buy.

Finally, you should also consider whether you’re in the market for a specialty blade or whether it is in your best interest to buy one or two versatile blades. If you’re a homeowner who just occasionally needs to cut something, a combination blade is probably what you want. Professional woodworkers will likely need to invest in a variety of different blades, however. 

The sort of saw you’re using is also important. An underpowered saw works best when equipped with thinner blades, for example. You should also carefully check what size blade your saw is designed to use. You can only use blades that match the capacity of your saw. A 12” blade simply won’t fit on a saw designed for 10” blades.

Are coated blades worth the money?

The main purpose of a coating is to reduce the amount of friction and heat produced when cutting. This helps prevent burn marks on the wood. If you’re concerned with how the finished product looks as-is, then a coated blade might be worth it for you. If you don’t care how the finished wood looks or are planning on painting over it anyway, a coated blade isn’t necessary.

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About the Author David Vieria

David Vieira has been a woodworker for most of his life — in his dad’s cabinet shop. After using the tools himself, he decided to share it his woodworking and power tools knowledge with DIYers.

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