Why is my saw blade chipping?

by The Saw Doctor

Why is my saw blade chipping?

I quite often get asked the question, Why is my saw blade chipping?

Chipping usually refers to the small chips being broken out of the material along the cutting edge. If you’re cutting melamine, it shows up as small chips out of the material along the cutting edge. But if you’re cutting timber, the timber will splinter. This is also known as “tear out”, something that happens when the saw teeth are too coarse for the timber. The bigger tooth bite chomps through the timber instead of cutting it, tearing the bottom edge. 

If your saw blade’s chipping or splintering the material that’s being sawn it could be because:

  1. The saw blade’s blunt, chipped or has broken tungsten tips,
  2. The number of teeth in the saw blade is too coarse,
  3. There’s a bent tooth or teeth,
  4. The wrong type of tooth design on the tungsten tip,
  5. The body of the saw blade isn’t straight – if the blade tension is out alignment it will wobble, or
  6. The collars gripping the saw blade have a small burr or dust on them – causing the saw to wobble. 

I go through the above points when I’m diagnosing a saw blade chipping problem. But I also like to look at the timber or melamine sample because it helps me see where the saw blade’s feeling sick – it shows me the cause of the problem.



Here’s the sample of melamine board that arrived with the offending saw blade from a customer of mine. Looking at the sample chips in the melamine I immediately ruled out that the body of the saw was out of alignment. The saw blade was in good condition and it didn’t show any signs that it was working under stress which can indicate the tension is out of alignment.

I also noticed the chips in the melamine were too deep to indicate the saw tension was out of alignment. Plus, the saw teeth were in good condition and had the right number of teeth for the thickness of melamine board being sawn.

Dirty collars weren’t the cause either because there wasn’t any saw dust compacted around the collar area.

Having ruled out the most common reasons why the saw blade chipped, I checked the teeth and found two bent teeth. Surprising because you’d normally expect to only find one bent tooth most of the time.

So why did the saw blade chip? It turned out that the blade had been used to cut 3mm thick aluminium and had grabbed the aluminium, causing the teeth to bend.  

And this is why it’s so important to use the correct blade saw for the material you’re cutting! If you use a timber blade to cut aluminium it will always end in tears as you’ll need to replace the saw blade. 

It’s funny that everyone had noticed this saw blade wasn’t cutting too well, but no one knew who’d damaged it – one of life’s little mysteries!

Until next time…happy cutting!



September 20, 2015

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