A Guide to Table Saw Blades
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A Guide to Table Saw Blades

There are a wide variety of saw blades available to the woodworker today and knowing which one to select for a given task is the key to quality woodworking. All table saws come with a general purpose blades which is designed for fast ripping and cross cutting of all materials but it’s not the best blade to use in every case. To get the best results with your table saw you need to have a variety of specialty blades on hand, blades designed specifically for plywood paneling blades, plastic laminate blades, Melanite blades, glue line blades dado blades, miter cut blades, thin kerf blades, etc.

Before we get into selecting the right blade for the job at hand, let’s take a minute to explore the ways that saw blades differ.

The number of teeth

A 10” blade designed for ripping rough lumber usually has around 24 teeth. This type of blade is made for ripping dimensional lumber, like 2X4s, 2X6s, 2X10s, 2X12s etc quickly and efficiently but it’s not designed to produce mirror smooth cuts. A 10” crosscut blade, on the other hand, usually has 60 to 80 teeth and is designed to produce smooth, polished finished cuts. The rule here is that the more teeth a blade has the smoother the finished cut will be.


The “gullet” is the space in front of each tooth. A blade designed for ripping has very wide gullets to allow for the easy removal of large chips whereas the gullets on blades designed for crosscutting have very small gullets. General purpose blades, blades designed for both ripping and crosscutting have a combination of both wide gullets and narrow gullets. A combination blades usually has four narrow gullets for every one wide gullet, the reason for this is to prevent too fast a feed speed when using the blade in the crosscutting mode.

Tooth configurations1.

Flat Top (TP). Flat top teeth are used on blades designed for ripping hard wood and soft wood. Flat top teeth are the most efficient design for rapid cutting and for clearing material from the cut.

2. Alternate Top Bevel (ATB). The beveled edges of Alternate Top Beveled teeth alternate between angling to the right and to the left. These blades produce a much smoother, knife like cut.

3. Combination Tooth (Comb). Combination tooth blades combine ATB tooth patterns with a FT tooth pattern in a 4-to-1 ratio. This tooth pattern is basically used on combination blades.

4. High Alternate Top Bevel (HiATB). This tooth design is used on blades designed for making extra fine crosscuts.

5. Triple Chip Grind (TCG). The TCG tooth configuration is designed for crosscutting extra hard materials like MDF, laminates and plastics. This tooth configuration is also used on blades designed for cutting nonferrous metals.

Hook angle

On a saw blade the teeth are either tipped in the direction of blade rotation, positive hook, or away from the direction of rotation, a negative hook. The more positive the hook the more aggressive the blade will be in making a cut. Blades with a neutral or negative hook produce less climb out or kick back.

Kerf width and plate thickness

This is a very important consideration when buying saw blades. A full-kerf blade produces a kerf of around 1/8” which is fine for a full powered saw but for an underpowered saw, any saw having a motor rated under 3HP, it takes too much power from the blade. For table saws with less than a 3HP motor, a thin kerf blade should be chosen.

Selecting the right blade for the job

Instead of listing all the most common blades available here, here’s a link to a handy chart provided by Rockler


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