Every workshop must be fitted with a wide variety of tools to accomplish any task thrown a craftsman’s way. One of the most widely used and common tools that can be found in almost any workspace is the abrasive circular saw. As time has progressed and technology has increased, the need to cut a multitude of materials has risen in response. Now, industry members have the ability to choose the exact saw and blade to give the operator the precise finish they desire.
In today’s market, there are over 47 different types of saws! Our personal favorite, the vertical panel saw offers a wide range of benefits that outshines others in terms of productivity, function, and overall versatility. Panel saws are a vital tool for Cabinet Makers, Sign Shops, Shipping and Crating Service Providers, Flooring Contractors, Builders, and any craftsman/operator needing to cut large sheets of a material into smaller pieces/sections. With a Saw Trax panel saw even small strips can be cut from the large sheet goods which is only one aspect of our panel saws that stands apart from the rest. Rest assured knowing your Saw Trax panel saw will arrive squared, and with our patented Accu-Square system you should never lose that perfect alignment. Our alignment system has been a shining star in terms of customer satisfaction.
With the Saw Trax Rotating Insert Plate, operators are able to set up multiple tools ahead of time. With the needed tools set and ready, the operator can take advantage of the 8 second tool change by quickly swapping out the tool plate with the tool attached, reducing the need to change the blade itself in-between cuts. The Rotating Insert Plate also allows the operator to cut their materials in both vertical AND horizontal directions, a feature that provides extreme convenience and a favorite among users.
But what about the blades!? It may seem like a daunting task when trying to decide which blade is right for the job. With the massive amounts of different types, different teeth, different material FOR different materials, it can become quit confusing to know exactly which blade is best suited for the task at hand. Let’s take a look at the four basic types of circular saw blades and learn which is the optimal choice for what applications! Reader stay tuned and be sure to check back later for an deeper dive when we break down these basic types of blades further in upcoming blog posts! But first, let’s define some basic vocabulary so the information below is as easy to absorb as possible…
Bore : The bore of the circular saw blade is the center circle that allows the blade to be attached to the saw via the saw’s arbor (the shaft that allows the blade to be secured in position and locked into place).
Kerf : refers to the thickness of the slot which the saw blade will cut. It is often used as well to define the thickness of the blade itself, or at least the widest point of the blade, as this will define the width of the cut made.
Teeth : The outside points of a blade that do the work cutting the material. There are many different types of teeth that give the user a different type of cut. Generally, the more teeth the blade has the smoother the cut will be, and likewise, the fewer teeth the blade has will cause the blade to remove more material giving a rougher cut.
Gullet : The curved area at the base of the tooth. The tooth tip to the bottom of the gullet is the gullet depth.
Expansion Slot : Used primarily on larger diameter blades and functions to create an outlet for heat buildup created during cutting. A steel blade will heat up to a point where the heat is great
Shoulder : The part of the blade body directly behind each tooth that provides support for each tooth. The shoulder’s major function is to provide strength and support to the tip of the tooth. A well designed blade allows the shoulder to provide extra strength and helps guide the tip through the material the operator is cutting.
Hook Tooth Angle : The amount of lean to the blades teeth, and the angle the teeth will engage with the material being cut.
Negative Hook Angle: Negative angles are blade teeth that have a backward lean. Negative hook angle blades are more appropriate for cross cutting cuts, and are better suited for plywood and non-wood materials such as plastics as well as metal.
Positive Hook Angle : In contrast to Negative Hook Angle, Positive Hook Angle refers to blade teeth that have a forward lean. Positive hook angles are generally used on rip blades to help pull the wood into the blade. For harder materials, the angle needs to be a smaller degree with less steepness. The higher the value the angle goes, corresponds to softer materials.
Crosscut : cuts that run across, perpendicular, the grain of the material such as wood.
Rip Cut : cuts that run along the grain, parallel, of the material such as wood.
Rake : another word for hook angle. The rake of the blades teeth affects the tendency of material to move during cutting. Positive rake helps move the material “into” the blade, in other words, helps the blade self feed. A negative rake is less aggressive and does not help force the material towards the blade.
The Four Basic Types of Circular Saw Blades:
FTG Blades – Flat Top Grind : FTG Blades have teeth with the top edges square to the saw plate. These flat top teeth work by attacking the wood like a chisel, chopping the wood. This blade style produces very fast cuts while the blade itself remains very durable; however, these types of blades do not produce a very clean cut, leaving the surface unsmooth. FTG blades are designed for Rip cuts, or cutting WITH the grain.
ATB Blades – Alternate Top Bevel : ATB blades have teeth that are angled across the top edge. Every other tooth is angled the opposite direction from the previous tooth. The shape of the teeth gives a clean tear through the material. The steeper the angle of the teeth, the cleaner the cut the blade produces, however; this allows the blade to dull faster the steeper the angle gets. Most ATB blades are considered “general purpose,” and usually have at least 40 teeth.
Combination ATBR : Standard combination blades are made up of sets of 5 teeth (4 ATB, or angled teeth, followed by a raker tooth (squared top). The ATB teeth are made to produce smooth, clean cuts while the Ranker tooth aids with Rip Cuts. Combination blades are also considered to be an “all-purpose” blade.
Tiple-Chip Grind (TCG) : TCG blades consists of alternating teeth. Each tooth alternates between angled and squared. Each ATB (angled or chamfered) tooth chisels the cut while the ranker tooth follows behind to clean the roughness. TCG type blades are primarily used on dense materials such as laminated plastic, Corian, and metals like brass and aluminum.
Don’t forget to check back in when we take a deeper dive into blade types and expand on what saw blades are best suited for different materials!