How do I choose a good quality blade?

by The Saw Doctor

Now the new year is here, what project ideas are you considering this year? 
Here are some that have made it onto my list:

  1. I'm going to replace the timber stairs out the back...
  2. I could spruce up the back deck that's looking a bit sad...
  3. Maybe I could freshen up the front verandah too!...

Most timber decking is made from either hardwood and more recently composite decking.  

 Both of these are pretty hard materials that can affect the way  the saw blade cuts the material.

 So it’s important to use a good quality blade as this will stay sharper longer and will also give you superior cutting results.

How do I choose a good quality saw blade?

If you're going to be cutting some pretty hard material, it’s a wise decision to spend extra money on a good quality blade.

A good quality blade:

  • won't burn the material
  • will stay straight whilst cutting, and
  • won't flex when the saw teeth become blunt.

Another advantage of the good quality blade?  It will last you a very long time before it has to be thrown away - that’s if you don’t cut through a load of nails or screws!

How do you know if a saw blade is any good? 

The best way is to look at the price. The cheaper the price the poorer the quality. The more expensive the blade the better the quality.
As most cutting of decking boards is cut using a drop saw I will explain the difference between the cheap blade and the more expensive blade.

  A cheap blade like in the picture with 60 teeth can be purchased for around $60 -     they're made to a  price. What makes this a cheap blade is it has a coarse grade tungsten tip.

 This means there's less particles of tungsten mixed in with the carbide when  manufacturing the tungsten carbide tip.

Having a coarse grit tip means the cutting edge will dull very quickly especially when cutting hard timber. 

The saw steel is of a lesser quality so the blade doesn't handle heat when cutting, and this can cause the blade to wobble.

And once the tips become blunt you're left with a wobbly blade that's struggles to cut straight. 

These cheaper mass produced saw blades are also sharpened using coarse grit diamond sharpening wheels. 

Using these types of wheels means faster grinding speeds can be achieved to produce more blades per hour. This method of grinding doesn't produce a very sharp cutting edge. Which means that even though the blade is new it cuts as though the blade is blunt.

You may have experienced this yourself when you bought a new blade and after a couple of cuts you think to yourself..."what's going on? This blade seems blunt but I just bought it?"

The blade to the left is more expensive because of the quality of the tungsten   carbide tip - it's a micro fine grade tungsten carbide tip. 

 There are many smaller particles of tungsten mixed with the carbide which means the  cutting edge will stay sharper much longer than the cheaper blade. 

 This blade also has a higher quality saw steel which means more tension can be put into the steel. The tension in the blade is what keeps the saw blade cutting straight.

Cutting tips get hot when they cut, but the tension in this blade gets drawn up towards the teeth. This stops the blade from wobbling as it's cutting.

The cost of this blade in a 250mm x 60 teeth is around $140. As this a high quality saw blade only a small amount of the tungsten tip has to be removed when sharpening. 

This blade would last you many years as long a you don’t cut through too many foreign objects other than timber.

A cheap blade does have it’s purpose though.

Cutting out old damaged decking? Using a cheap blade (where the saw tips are guaranteed to break) makes sense if you've got those dreaded nails and deck screws that can ruin a saw blade when you cut through them. 

I hope this helps you a bit more to understand the difference between cheap and expensive blades, and will stand you in good stead when you're deciding on what blade to choose for your new projects.

Until next time ……….. Happy Cutting!! 😃


November 17, 2016
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