As any good remodeler knows, timeliness and quality are key to thriving in a competitive market. Miter and table saws need to make quality cuts that don’t need rework or waste material—be it hardwood, softwood, fiber cement, specialty material, and anything in between. Maximizing these cuts is easier said than done, but here are a few key tips every remodeler should know:
Avoid Errors with the Right Blade
Standard saw blades that come with most miter saws and table saws are the result of convenience and cost-cutting from manufacturers. In other words, the blades leave poor finish quality and can fail quickly. This leaves remodelers with a blade to replace, and probably a chipped, scarred, or unusable piece of material. This low-cost component has an outsized effect on the performance of an expensive tool.
When ripping or cross-cutting in wood, a great General Purpose blade with 40 or 50 teeth offers quality cuts that are cleanly finished. Real pros should opt for a combo blade that can do both, unless working in thick stock lumber, a dedicated ripping blade is a better choice.
For trim work, it’s wise to step up to a blade with 60 or 80 teeth, typically for smooth cuts in crown molding and similar fixtures. When working with veneered plywood or melamine, it’s best to use even higher tooth count (90T) finish blades. These blades produce a finish similar to 220-grit sandpaper and eliminate touch-up work.
Using a blade designed for fiber cement siding or other specialty materials such as laminate flooring will protect your tools from harm and malfunction. With some materials, you would not even finish a single job or room with a standard blade. Specialty brands such as Trex and Pergo continue to grow in popularity and require dedicated blades to turn a generalist into a specialist.
The Long-Term Rewards from High Quality Blades
Pinching pennies when buying a miter saw or table saw blade will only result in faster failure, more downtime, and lower quality cuts. When also taking into account the rise in material cost and expense of wasted material it’s crucial to keep an eye out for saw blades offering these key features:
Cutting teeth are where the blade meets the work surface so it is essential to buy blades featuring teeth made with a specialized carbide blend. Look specifically for hi-density carbide because not all carbide blends are the same. This element will extend cutting life by staying sharper longer and absorbing more impacts. It is a must have feature for any professional.
A functional coating that reduces heat and friction can also extend life and improve cut quality. Heat can often scar, burn or ruin material due to gumming. Identify blades that are not just painted but highlight a formulated coating.
“Laser cut” isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a sign of quality. Laser-cut blades mean each blade is individually crafted. Standard blades are often “stamped cut” or “punched,” which means they’re made in bulk with softer steel. Premium blades will also have stabilizer vents that prevent chatter and keep a straight cutline. These two features enhance the cut of a saw to require less amp draw and maximize cuts per charge in cordless tools.
Lastly, buy blades from companies that specialize in high-quality accessories specifically designed for certain applications. Generalist companies manufacture blades that may work well for a short time, but specialists will help projects stay on time and deliver the quality expected. They dedicate research and resources into improving technology, making them a true “cut” above the rest.