Saw Blades 101

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Making smooth, safe cuts with your table saw, radial-arm saw, chop saw or sliding compound miter saw depends on having the right blade for the tool and for the type of cut you want to make.

There’s no shortage of quality options, and the sheer volume of available blades could bewilder even an experienced woodworker. That’s why we’ve put together this article. It’s part glossary and part guide, with important basic information to help you make the right selection for your shop.

How do I choose the right saw blade?

A good way to narrow your options and focus your search is to answer a few key questions:

In what type of saw will the blade be used? Table saw? Compound miter saw? Sliding compound miter saw? Radial-arm saw?
Some blades are designed to be used in particular saws, so you’ll want to be sure to get the right blade for the tool. Using the wrong type of blade for the saw is likely to produce poor results and might in some cases be dangerous.

What materials will the blade be used to cut?
If you need to cut a wide range of materials, that will affect your choice. If you cut a lot of a single type of material - melamine, for example - that specialization also might affect your choice.

What types of cuts will the blade be used to make?
Will it be used exclusively for crosscutting (cutting across the woodgrain)?
Will it be used only for ripping (cutting with the grain)? Will it need to produce good results in all types of cuts?

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