When you buy a table saw, the blade it comes with is usually a lower-quality generic blade. These blades might do you well for a few months, but before long you’ll realize you need a better blade.
Poor quality blades show both in the finish of the cut and how smoothly the stock feeds through the saw.
Chances are, you’re here because you’re not satisfied with your current blade. So, we’ll walk you through our preferences when it comes to choosing a table saw blade.
Overall, we think a 40-60 Tooth combination blade is the go-to choice for most people. Combination blades are designed to get the best features of both crosscutting and rip cutting blades. They usually do a good job for most jobs and on most woods. So, they’re great for the workman who just wants one “jack of all trades” table saw blade.
The major exception is if you’re cutting non-ferrous metals and plastics. Then, you’re probably going to want to step across to a high tooth count TCG blade.
Some of the terms and abbreviations might be a little confusing for table saw beginners. So we’ve put together a full guide and glossary at the end of this piece. But first, we’ll show you our review and analysis of the best table saw blades for various purposes.
Select the best blade based on your purpose below.
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Best Table Saw Blades
|1.||General All Purpose Carpentry||ATB-R Combination Blade|
|2.||Non-ferrous metals, Aluminum and Some Plastics||Triple Chip Grind Blade|
|3.||Plywood and Melamine||High Alternate Top Bevel (hi-ATB), High Tooth Count Blade|
|4.||Hardwoods and Laminates||High Alternate Top Bevel (hi-ATB), Low Tooth Count Blade|
|5.||Rip Cutting||Flat Top Grind (FTG), Low Tooth Count Blade|
|6.||Cross Cutting||Alternate Top Bevel (ATB), High Tooth Count Blade|
|7.||Joinery||Full Kerf FTG blade (Also consider: A dado set).|
|8.||Weak Table Saws||Thin Kerf Combination Blade|
1. Best for All Purpose Carpentry
This is our suggestion for 90% of woodworkers – including hobbyists, enthusiasts and professionals.
A combination blade has the benefits of both rip cutting and crosscutting blades. You can see that the teeth are split into groups in the image to the right. This is because there is a ‘combination’ of teeth so you have the benefits of both deep gulleted Flat Top Grind (FTG) teeth that are good for ripping, as well as Alternate Top Bevel (ATB) blades that are best for crosscuts.
You end up with what’s called an ATB-R combination blade, designed to be useful for a wide range of different types of cuts.
Some very enthusiastic purists might argue you can get a better cross-cut finish with a dedicated crosscutting blade; and a better rip-cut finish with a dedicated rip cutting blade. And sure, you might get slightly better cuts. But do you really want to be swapping out your blades every time you swap between a rip cut and a cross cut? This is especially true if you’re running a portable jobsite table saw and don’t have the time or space to swap out your blades whilst on the job.
Most woodworkers just want a set and forget blade that’s a jack of all trades. They want a blade that will do 90% of jobs perfectly well.
If you’re like this, it’s worth doing some research into a combination blade.
But take note, you can’t use this blade for non-ferrous metals or plastics. For that, consider the next blade on this list (below).
2. Best for Non-Ferrous Metals, Aluminum and Plastics
When it comes to cutting non-ferrous metals and plastics, you can’t use a normal table saw blade. You need one specialized for this purpose. Specialized blades for non-ferrous metals have what’s called a triple chip grind (TCG) tooth shape. Essentially, teeth on these blades have the corners shaved off them to allow them to work their way through plastics and non-ferrous metals more effectively. The shape prevents chipping on the surface of the plastics and metals. You may find that these blades also alternate between a TCG tooth and a flat top grind tooth.
You’ll also notice that the gullets on these blades are quite shallow and there are a lot of teeth on these blades. If you notice your table saw struggling under the load when cutting, consider feeding the materials through at a slower rate so these teeth take smaller ‘bites’ on each rotation.
It’s recommended that you only use this blade when working on Non-Ferrous metals, MDF and plastics (read the blade instructions for what is recommended and what isn’t). Return to your regular woodworking blade when you’re just working on wood so you don’t unnecessarily wear this blade; and so you get the cleanest cuts possible.
3. Best for Plywood and Melamine
Plywood and melamine are cut most effectively by hi-ATB (alternate top bevel) blades, like this one by Freud.
A “top bevel” blade cuts like a right-angle triangle, meeting at an edge peak. These edge peaks ‘alternate’, so there are sharp edges on each side of the kerf. You can easily identify an ATB cut because they leave an X shape on the wood – just do a partial cut on some wood lying around your shop to get an idea of what this looks like.
But plywood and melamine blades have steeper teeth than regular, allowing them to slice very effectively through these woods. We call these ‘hi-ATB’ teeth. These blades also tend to have high tooth counts because plywood and melamine tend to be softer woods (but not always), meaning there’s less of a need for deep gullets.
As with all blades on this list, we’ve selected models where you can choose your blade size in the drop-downs when you follow the links in the orange buttons below the product images.
4. Best for Hardwoods and Laminates
Blades for hardwoods and laminates tend to have a low tooth count to bite through the harder stock. You can expect hardwoods to put more load on the motor, which is why you’ll find this lower tooth count. Most hardwood blades also have a less aggressive hook on them. This model, for example, has a 0 degree hook. All in all, this means you’ll find yourself feeding the stock through these blades more slowly, but also ending up with a better quality finish.
These blades sit somewhere between a combination blade and a rip cut blade. They’re not particularly aggressive and don’t pull on the wood, which can minimize both suction and kick-back (but that’s no guarantee!). The deeper gullets also allow the blade to more efficiently flush out sawdust on the go.
Because they’re such low tooth count, we wouldn’t recommend these blades for your everyday carpentry, but keep them on hand for hardwood.
Norske’s offering here has an impressive range of sizes and a regular 5/8 arbor, meaning there’s a blade for just about every size and table saw via the Norse link to the left.
5. Best for Rip Cutting
We’ve already established that, as a general rule, we think most carpenters, cabinet makers and DIYers will be more or less happy with a combination blade for both rip cutting and cross cutting.
But if you’re spending your days doing rip cut after rip cut, you might want to consider a dedicated rip cutting blade. These blades tend to have very low tooth counts and flat top grind teeth. The teeth are – as the name suggests – flat topped.
You’ll notice that these are almost exactly the opposite of crosscutting blades which have high tooth counts and sharp angled ATB teeth.
Rip cutting blades are also good for joinery work such as groove, half-cut and dado cuts. This is because they leave a nice square finish – so you’ll notice below that we recommend an FTG blade for joinery work. If you’ve already got a heavy duty rip FTG blade, this could probably pass for your joinery work as well.
6. Best for Crosscutting
Crosscutting table saw blades tend to have medium-to-high tooth counts, aggressive hook angles, and ATB Grind teeth. These aggressive razor-style teeth enables them to power through stock across the grain with ease.
This Freud Industrial ‘thin kerf crosscut’ ticks those boxes. Its hook angle is 15 degrees, which is very aggressive (in fact, it’s more aggressive than we’d like on a miter saw, but table saws tend to have more tolerably aggressive hooks).
You might be wondering about that concept of ‘thin kerf’ that is written on this blade. A thin kerf blade is literally just a thinner blade. because there’s less surface on the face of the teeth, it requires less load on the motor to cut through stock. It also tends to let off less sawdust as, simply, less wood is cut through.
But thin kerf blades can also warp more and tend to tolerate heat far less effectively. So, there are pros and cons.
In general, we think the concept of ‘think kerf’ vs ‘full kerf’ is really overblown. But overall, get a thin kerf you have a weaker (1 – 2 horsepower) table saw and you can feel it struggling under load. Otherwise, full kerf is probably a little better in our opinion. The one time when you want ‘full kerf’ is when doing joinery work. See below.
7. Best for Joinery
In general, we’d recommend a dado blade set for joinery work such as groove, half-cut and dado cuts. But you can get by with a full-kerf FTG blade.
The reason you should get a flat top grind saw is that it will leave a square, clean groove when doing groove and half-cuts. By contrast, an ATB will leave an ugly X-shaped groove.
The reason you should get a full-kerf blade is that they’re a universal thickness of 1/8 inch. This is a great universal size for leaving grooves. And if you need a 1/4 inch or even 1/2 inch groove, you can simply re-set your fence 1/8 of an inch back, do a cut, then re-set it back all over again, allowing you to do thicker grooves at 1/8 inch increments. You can’t do that with a thin-kerf blade, which is an awkward 3/32 of an inch wide.
But you might want to consider a dado blade set if you’re doing serious any amount of joinery. It’ll make your life a heck of a lot easier.
8. Best for Weak Table Saws (Thin Kerf)
Many people end up on our site seeking a new blade because it’s starting to feel like their blade struggling under load.
If that’s you, and your blade doesn’t seem all that blunt, then perhaps the issue is that you’ve got a particularly weak table saw.
If you’ve got a weaker or cordless table saw, you might want to consider a thin kerf blade. Essentially, these blades are thinner than regular full kerf blades, so there’s lest resistance when slicing through your stock. It also leads to significantly less sawdust.
Thin kerf blades do have their downsides though. They tend to generate more heat and warp under heat more easily than full kerf blades. You also can’t do joinery work nearly as well.
Essentially, there are two camps here: some people say thin kerf is an upgrade because it’s thinner, reduces sawdust, and causes less load on the motor. But the other camp see full kerf blades as more stable and durable. I guess there’s a third camp too: people who think the difference is so negligible that … well, who cares?
This thin kerf blade (pictured) is a combination blade designed as an all purpose blade for a regular or contractor table saw, so it can work as your jack of all trade blade.
Buyers Guide & Glossary of Terms
1. Thin Kerf – A thin kerf blade is a blade that is usually 3/32 of an inch wide. Thin-kerf blades cause less strain on your table saw’s motor and tend to cause about 25% less sawdust. Proponents of these blades swear by their improved efficiency compared to full-kerf blades.
2. Full Kerf – Full kerf blades are usually 1/8 of an inch wide. They are 25% wider than thin kerf blades, causing 25% more saw dust and a wider groove in the wood. Being wider, they cause more load on motors. However, they are liked for their propensity to be more heavy-duty and less likely to warp than thin kerf blades.
3. Flat Top Grind (FTG) – A flat top grind blade is simply a blade where the teeth have a flat top rather than meeting at a sharp point. They’re most effective for rip cuts. You will find an FTG blade will have less teeth and deeper gullets than ATB blades.
4. Alternate Top Bevel (ATB) – An alternate top bevel blade has teeth that come to a sharp tip. However, the tip rises on the edge of the blade rather than the middle. The edge on which the sharp tip rises alternates between teeth – i.e. one on the outside edge, then the next on the inside edge. These blades are generally used for crosscutting.
5. hi-ATB – The ‘hi’ in hi-ATB stands for ‘high’. The teeth on these blades meet a sharp point at a steeper angle than ATB blade teeth. They’re very effective for plywood and melamine but not recommended for joinery work.
6. Combination Blade – A combination blade is your regular blade that you can use for 90% of your tasks. It combine ATB and FTG teeth to work effectively on crosscut and rip cut tasks. This is what we use as our everyday blade so we don’t need to keep swapping out blades every 5 minutes. You may also find these labeled ATB-R blades.
7. Triple Chip Grind (TCG) – A triple chip grind blade has the edges on either side of the teeth shaved, while there is still a flat top. It looks a bit like the roof of a house. These blades are often used for plastics and non-ferrous metals. You may also find a TCG blade where every second tooth is TCG while the others are FTG.
Choosing the best table saw blade can cause headaches. And swapping out blades every five seconds is just as annoying. That’s why many people choose a combination blade for 90% of purposes. Unless we’ve got a specific need such as cutting non-wood materials, we’re inclined to stick with a combination blade for ourselves most days of the week.
We hope this review has been helpful and educational for you!
Chris & Simon