I often hear woodworkers say something like "I always buy good quality 60 tooth blades", or something to that effect. When I hear things like that I know that they really don't know how to select blades for the table saw, radial arm saw, sliding mitre or chop saw, because arbitrarily selecting a 60 tooth blade could in fact be the worst choice they could make, depending on what they are cutting.

Cutting Natural Woods - There are only 2 blades you need if you are working with natural wood, a ripping blade and a cross cut blade. That's it - 2 blades.
Ripping blades are used on table saws to cut along the grain of the wood. These blades will have fewer teeth ususally between 20 and 30 with 24 being the most common in 10 inch diameter blades. The other feature on ripping blades will be large gullets (the deep space between the teeth), these are used to clear out the long fibers of the wood as the saw blade moves through the wood.
Cross Cutting Blades are used on table saws, sliding mitres, chop saws and radial arm saws and are often 60 to 80 teeth in a 10 inch diameter blades. The reason a cross cut blade can get away with more teeth is because cutting across the grain doesn't require moving much wood fibre out of the way so the blade can do a better job.


Of course with all so-called rules there is always an exception and with natural woods the exception is Combination or General Purpose blades. These blades are designed to rip and cross cut, and they do a pretty good job of both but they still cannot rip as good as a dedicated ripping blade and they don't cross cut quite as good as a dedicated cross cut blade. If you have a budget and can only purchase one blade, or if you are constantly ripping and cross cutting, get yourself an excellent combination blade.
Freud had recently introduced a new multi-purpose blade that gives extraordinary results ... especially for a general purpose blade. It's called ther Freud Premier Fusion and uses a special tooth design employed by Freud. It's a bit of an expensive blade compared to others, but when you see the results that are obtainable from a general purpose blade, you will see why - they are extraordinary.


Cutting man-made woods like plywood, hardboard, Medium Density Fibre Board (MDF) Particle Board and chip boards, all require a different types of blade, depending on the materials. 

All of these man made woods have one thing in common, all the fibres of the wood are random. There is no "grain" of the wood you are always cross cutting and ripping at the same time. One would guess that a general purpose or combination blade would fit the bill nicely here and in some cases it will, depending on the quality of cut you are looking for.

If you are making cabinets and using dual sided melamine (melamine coating on both sides of the board), the one thing you will trying to avoid is the "tear-out" that often occurs one the underside of the board being cut. The tear-out is where wood fibres or in the case of melamine coated woods, the melamine is chipped away at the edge of the cut. This tear out means that any joints where the melamine is exposed will show a less that desirable wood cut.

Some specialty plywoods are also available with very thin coating of veneers on one or both sides, again with these woods you will want a blade that will reduce or even eliminate the tear-out.

For man made woods, a general guideline is to select blades that are 60 teeth or more for 10 inch diameter blades. These blades may be a bit slower cutting but the results when you are finished will be time saving. For special materials look for specialty blades such as the Freud Laminate/Melamine blade for cutting melamine coated plywoods.

There is quite a science to selecting saw blades for they type of material you are cutting and what you are cutting it with and it's worth taking the time to learn all the aspects of selecting saw blades.

Click on any of the image below to order your own Freud Blades from Rockler

Freud Thin Kerf 24 tooth Ripping Blade

freud thin kerf glue line rip blade

Freud Glue Line Rip Blade 30 teeth,
finer edge on
natural woods

freud cross cut blade

Freud Thin Kerf Crosscut Blade
suitable for Table Saws

Freud Cross Cut Blade for Sliding Mitre

Freud Thin Kerf Sliding Mitre Crosscut
Blade, also suitable for
Radial Arm
Saws and Chop Saws

Freud Combination Blade

Freud 50 Tooth Combinatioin Blade,
this is a
very good combinatioin blade

Freud Premier Fusion Blade

Freud Preimer Fusion Blade, this is an
  general purpose blade

Freud Laminate Melamine Blade

Freud Double Side Laminate / Melamine

Freud Plywood Blade

Freud Thin Kerf Plywood and Melamine


Copyright Colin Knecht