What is the best miter saw blade for wood, plywood and cutting metal? Which miter saw blade should I get first?
Let me help you with the answers and more.
Although a lot of people focus exclusively on the kind of saw that they should buy, they often ignore a far more important factor, which is the saw blade itself. You can have the greatest saw on the market, but if you do not equip it with the right blade for the right job, then you are not going to attain the full value out of your saw. That is where I aim to help you.
In this article, I will tell you everything that you need to know about miter saw blades; including what kind of blade is best for each type of job.
Types of Miter Saw Blades
There are a variety of ways to categorize different kinds of saw blades. One way of doing so is by categorizing the blades is based on the material that they are made from. That is where I will start. There are three different kinds of materials that you need to be aware of when shopping for saw blades.
Carbon Steel Blades
Firstly, there are regular steel blades. These are your workhorses; they will do the vast majority of your cutting jobs. Regular steel miter saw blades are inexpensive and can easily cut through soft materials like various kinds of softwoods, plastics, and other similar materials.
High Speed Steel Blades (HSS)
Secondly, there are blades referred to as “high-speed” steel blades. HSS miter saw blades are harder, tougher, and can retain the cutting edges at a higher temperature. Because of this, they can run at higher speeds (you can guess where the name comes from) without the cutting edges getting dull. The hardness of HSS blades is typically in the range of 62-65 HRC and they can withstand up to 600°C.
Since these saw blades could run at a much higher speed, they can also cut through tougher materials. Are you doing a job or project that requires you to cut through hardwood? Well then, a high-speed saw blade is your best bet.
Carbide Tipped Miter Saw Blades
Finally, the last kind of saw blade that I want to talk about are the carbide-tipped miter saw blades. These are among the most expensive kind of saw blades that you can buy, but that is for a good reason. They are both the strongest and most durable type of saw blade out there. The carbide tips have a hardness of more than 65HRC (typically 70-80HRC). This enables them to cut through harder materials like metals (even steel).
If you equip your miter saw with these kinds of saw blades, then you will find that it cuts through tougher materials faster and more efficiently than before. Likewise, you will not have to replace them with new saw blades for quite a long time.
Diamond blades and Abrasive discs
How about these blades? I do not recommend the use of diamond blades or abrasive wheels on a miter saw. Mainly because the bearings on the miter saw spindle are not designed to withstand the loading of abrasive discs. Moreover, the sparks generated by the abrasive wheels can melt the plastic parts of your miter saw, including the blade guard.
You could use a carbide-tipped saw blade to cut metal. If you must use an abrasive disc, consider a chop saw or circular saw that can accept abrasive wheels. For masonry work, I suggest you go for a tile saw.
Hook angles and why they are important
Another thing that you need to consider when it comes to miter saw blades is the “hook angle.” The hook angle is the angle of the tooth at which the tooth enters into the wood or the workpiece material.
Hook angles generally range from anywhere negative 5 degrees to around 20 degrees. Blades with higher hook angles tend to pull the workpiece towards the blade resulting in self-feeding. When you need to cut through soft material like wood, use a blade with positive hook angle.
Lower hook angles bite less deep, into whatever it is that you are cutting and they do not “climb” the material. This is good for certain kinds of miter saws as it makes them less dangerous to use. For example, sliding compound miter saws benefit from lower hook angles on their blades. Higher hook angles are better for stationary miter saws as they allow the blade to cut through the material quicker. Similarly while cutting metals use a saw blade with a lower or even negative hook angle.
Saw blades come in a variety of thicknesses. Very often you will see the thickness of a blade referred to as its “kerf.” The kerf is the width of slot that is created by the saw blade during cutting. It is the thickness measured at the cutting edge. Generally, the body of the blade will be thinner than the kerf.
Typically a kerf width of 1/8″ is known as full kerf and about 3/32″ is known as thin kerf blades. Correspondingly, Full kerf is more durable, make bigger cuts, and can cut through tougher materials. However, they require a high-power motor. On the other hand, thin-kerf blades are able to make cuts that are more accurate and result in less wastage. However, they are also less durable since they may get damaged easily when compared to thicker blades.
Best Miter Saw Blades
With so many choices out there, it could be tough to choose the best blade for your miter saw. But I will guide you through the process.
Start with the number of teeth. The lower the number of teeth, the faster would be the cutting action. However, the resulting cut will have a poor finish. For example, a 24-tooth framing blade that is commonly used on table saws will rip through the lumber easily. On the other hand, crosscut blades need a higher number of teeth to get a clean finish.
Best miter saw blade for woodworking
If you are intending to cut wood with your miter saw, then you have to choose a blade that is good for cutting large amounts of it. A blade with 40 to 80 teeth is ideal for doing cross-cutting wood. In terms of materials, you should go for one of the cheaper materials, such as high-speed steel or regular steel. This is mainly because there is no reason to buy a higher quality saw blade for something as simple as cutting wood (unless you already own a carbide-tipped blade, in which case feel free to bring it out). Save those higher quality blades for tougher jobs.
Best Miter Saw blade for Plywood
Most major brands manufacture separate blades for plywood since the regular wood blade may cause damages to the cut edge. When buying a blade for cutting plywood, I recommend you to go for a 100 teeth blade.
Best miter saw blade for aluminum
Depending on what job you are doing, it may be necessary to use your miter saw to cut through tougher materials like aluminum. When it comes to cutting through tougher materials, you want a saw blade with a lot more teeth. For aluminum, you should aim to get a miter saw blade with around 60 to 80 teeth. The reason for this is that the more teeth that you have on a saw blade, the more precise and finer the cuts will be, which is useful when cutting through stubborn material like aluminum. Also, you will want a very durable saw blade with minimal chance of breaking; so it is recommended to use something like a carbide-tipped saw blade.
Best miter saw blade for metal
Finally, in some jobs, you may even find it necessary to use a miter saw to cut through other metal. The same logic used in the above section discussing cutting through aluminum also applies here. When cutting through non-ferrous metal you want to make sure that the saw blade that you are using has both a high number of teeth and that it is made out of very durable material.
I wouldn’t recommend using abrasive discs to cut steel on the miter saw. However if you must cut a pipe or something similar, you could use a carbide-tipped blade. You also want to make sure that the miter saw that you are using is powerful enough to cut through metal without being damaged.
Using this guide, you should be able to figure out what kind of miter saw blade you need for each kind of job. This will help you save money, keep your miter saw working at peak efficiency, and finally, it will save you time by allowing you to finish jobs faster.