Professionals and Amateurs Together

TableSaw Blades


Is a combination blade the best choice as a table saw blade or would dedicated rip, crosscut and solid surface blades make more sense? – Anon


Brooks Tanner replies: Combination blades that I am familiar with usually give a poor cut and are usually relegated to carpentry, not cabinet or furniture work. They do have a purpose on the construction site, and I actually have one in my Skill saw. A general-purpose blade, however, is a different matter all together. A good general-purpose blade is the #1 blade used in my shop. But additional blades should be added for specific work.

The primary blades in my shop are as follows:

  1. Forest 40 tooth Woodworker II, ATB (alternate tooth bevel), thin kerf. General Purpose. I use this for a majority of my solid wood cuts. Rips are clean and almost too clean for a glue joint. Little clean up is necessary for a finish edge. On cross cuts, pores are left open and are not crushed, as they should be. The negative is that feed rates are slower than a dedicated rip. But the cut is finer and time is saved in sanding.
  2. Royce 80 tooth Melamine, high ATB, thin kerf. This is used for veneer covered sheet goods. High tooth count together with very pointy teeth minimize splintering and tear out of the veneer and also leaves a smooth finish cut.
  3. Wood Crafter 40 tooth, ATB, 0.125 kerf. Used for solid wood cuts in thick stock (6/4 +). A thicker blade will take and dissipate more heat and also will not distort as readily under high load. This blade also has a larger gullet below the tooth for removal of a larger amount of chips.
  4. CMT 24 tooth, FTG (flat tooth grind), thin kerf. Rips are faster and noise is lower than with the Woodworker II. Cut quality is acceptable, but not quite a nice as with a 40 tooth.

Good quality blades will give better performance and longer life. A cheap blade will cost time in sanding and will most likely dull faster. Cheaper blades also usually have smaller teeth which cannot be sharpened as many times.

Jon Siegel replies: No one likes changing blades. Manufacturers play on this fact, and advertise that their “combination” or “multi purpose” blades work well in every situation. Don’t believe it! Dedicated blades work best. Many woodworkers tell me they have trouble ripping thick stock, but they don’t own a rip blade. On a rip blade, every tooth is the same, perfectly flat (square) on the top, and there are a small number of teeth on the blade.

Bob LaCivita replies: I think having dedicated rip and crosscut blades is the better way to go in an idle world. I have worked in shops that use this system and the amount of time lost makes it inefficient. I use Forrest combination blades and they work well. If you have time, rip and crosscut blades is great. If not, go with a high quality combination blade.

Tags: Tablesaw, Tools