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Making A Really Good Saw Blade

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Making A Really Good Saw Blade

A good saw blade is whatever the customer likes.

Here is what I like:

1.  Personally I think the very best saw blades come from a very few, really top-end custom shops. 

2.  In this case it starts with the saw plate and the type of steel used in saw plate.

3.  The saw tips are an advanced material which is a blend of traditional tungsten carbide with other carbides added and the binder is an alloy such as cobalt / chrome or nickel / chrome. 

4.  The braze alloy contains manganese.

5.  The grinding is done so that each tooth is ground plus or minus 0.0005 inches from spec. 

6.  The total runout of a ten inch saw blade is 0.002 inches to 0.0025 inches.

7.  The tips are large enough to provide many re-sharpenings  

8.  The gullets are slightly oversize.

9.  I have never seen any evidence that one shape of stress relief (expansion) notch was clearly superior to another to the point where it made a significant difference. It may be the case that one shape is better than another but I've just never seen any evidence.

10.  I understand that laser cut scrollwork on a saw blade can reduce the noise level especially if it is epoxy filled. However this can make it very difficult to service the saw. A think in many cases the fancy scrollwork is more marketing than performance oriented.

11.  I like a gullet that is designed to prevent work hardening.

12.  I like the bore that is just a wee tad bit larger than nominal all of this can be very machine dependent at some machines shafts which are just a wee tad bit smaller than nominal. Of course some machines have shafts that are considerably smaller than nominal, with bumps or dips and that may be bent at a strange angle.

13.  600 grit seems to give a good finish. I do know of grinders who achieve excellent grinds in a variety of different ways. As long as the grinding is smooth, straight, centered and does not overly stressed the tip I think it is satisfactory.

14.  I will admit that the coatings put on the saw body can give an advantage in certain cuts at extreme angles. Again I think that the coatings are typically much more marketing related than performance related. Again there's nothing wrong with the coatings in terms of performance but they can provide a real problem when servicing the saw.

Example. 1

I spent a lot of time and money developing ceramic saw tips and ceramic tipped saws. They cut faster, they took a sharper edge and they lasted many, many times longer than carbide. However they needed to be fed faster than carbide, about twice as fast. They needed to be ground with special diamond wheels, with many small passes and they and they needed to have a bevel put on all three edges when you roll through.

These were really great blades if, and this is a big if, you are willing to make those changes. Obviously the changes were a real pain for the people sharpening the saws.

Example 2

One of the woodworking magazines that runs tool tests developed a sled to automatically  feed the material to the test saws. This sounded like a good idea but one of their major advertisers went from number one to the bottom and complained loudly. So the magazine ran the tests again but this time they hand fed the material.     

One of the conclusions to come from this is the fact that people adjust their feed rate to the saw blade they are using. If they switch from one saw blade to another and do not adjust the way they feed the material they may not like the new blade as well as the old blade.  Personally, I think this situation is more prevalent than generally recognized.

Example 3

We sell a lot of our Super C tips to saw mills. In many mills they appreciate the extra life. Even if they still run the saws for hours and service them, many mills appreciate the fact that they just have to do a touchup rather than regrind the saws. Occasionally we get a mill that feels that they have to change the saws every four hours anyway and the grinding is automatic so there is no advantage in tips that last a lot longer.   

Example 4

Everyone is familiar with the operation that has very poorly maintained equipment and, for all practical purposes, abuses saw blades.