Circular and Table Saw Blade Types

Blades for circular saws and table saws are available in both all-steel and carbide-tipped versions. All-steel blades are economical, but carbide-tipped will last longer, and can be re-sharpened more times. Also available are diamond blades, but these are considered specialty tools (typically used for tile and masonry) and they can be frightfully expensive.

Though most saw blades are designed for wood (and some for ferrous and non-ferrous metals), many can also be used with 1/8" and thicker plastic sheets. Typically, however, the better blades for plastics are those with so-called "thin kerf" and "thin rim" designs, which limits the heating -- and therefore melting -- of the plastic.

As a general rule, the harder the plastic, the more teeth there should be on the blade. For example, acrylic and polycarbonate are best cut with a 60-80 tooth blade (for a 10" diameter blade; the number of teeth decrease when using a smaller diameter blade). When cutting plastic, it's best to use the largest diameter blade possible, to minimize blade heating.

Note that the blade profile illustrations that follow are representative only, and can vary by manufacturer.

General purpose

General use blade when others are not available, or the type of work is too varied to make blade changes practical.


Fast-cut combination

For smooth cuts in softwoods and hardwoods (such as oak), in any direction, including miter cuts. Can also be used as a general-purpose blade for many plastics.


Hollow-ground plywood

Special tooth design for construction (softwood) plywoods. When used properly, the finish side of the plywood does not splinter. Can also be used for some plastics. In general, this is a good all-around blade for cutting light sheet materials of wood and plastic.


Fine crosscut/rip

Most used for crosscuts or rips in all types of wood; a common choice for general-purpose sawing.


Finishing

Smooth cuts in wood and other soft materials of all thicknesses.


Paneling

Smooth cuts in thin materials, like paneling, without splintering. This saw is recommended for Masonite and similar resin-based fiber woods.


Ferrous metals (iron & steel)

Cuts iron-based metal. Lubricating the blade during cutting is usually required.


Non-ferrous metals (aluminum, brass, zinc, etc.)

Cuts non iron-based metal. Lubricating the blade during cutting is usually required.


Aluminum

Specialty blade for aluminum. Lubricating the blade during cutting is usually required.