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Saw Blade Glossary

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Saw Blade Glossary

Below is a compilation on common saw blade terms and their meanings. We also have many articles on Industrial Saw Blades in our Saw Blade Index.

Alternate Top Bevel (ATB): (Carbide tipped circular saw)

The tops of alternating teeth are beveled to one side of the blade or the other at approximately 15 degrees. This tooth configuration bears a sharp pointed tip that provides a neat clipping action for very fine finishes. Two teeth will span the entire width of the kerf. Alternate Top Bevel Design shear cuts the material for clean cutting without chipping or splintering. For use on cutting wood, plywood, veneer, hardboard, fiberboard and particle board.

Advantages: 1. It produces very low cutting pressures that almost eliminate the tendency to tear out. 2. The chips fall free in the chip spaces created by the large side clearance angles.

Disadvantages: 1. The leading point is susceptible to wear and damage from shock loads. 2. Cutting forces perpendicular to the beveled edge result in semi-lateral thrusts on the saw body. 3. In Sharpening it is difficult to maintain an equal bevel and equal diameter across the points of the teeth around the saw.

Anti-Kick Saw Blades

Saw Blades with anti-kickback shoulders that limit the amount of material that can safely be cut by each tooth. This virtually eliminates the kickback caused by overfeeding. Also called safety saw blades.

Anti-Kickback Limitator (Also Limiter)

The Projection at the back of the shoulder which limits the maximum tooth bite to the safe limit for that blade design. Buy safety rip saw blades.

Anti-Stick Coatings

As used on saw blades, these coatings decrease friction and heat buildup and help provide cleaner, smoother and quieter cutting action. Anti-stick coatings also resist resin and pitch buildup and improve safety conditions.


The shaft, driven by the saw's motor, which turns the saw blade. Also called a mandrel.

Arbor Hole

The center bore or center hole.

ATB (Alternate Top Bevel)

Tooth configuration where the top bevel alternates from right to left. Top bevel generallyranges from 10° to 20°. Used for crosscutting hardwood and soft wood, and general purpose cutting.

Back (handsaw)

The part opposite the teeth that faces up in normal use.

Backsaw (handsaw)

A saw with a thick steel or brass spine, used for joinery or with a miterbox for accurate cutting.

Baseline of Teeth (handsaw)

An imaginary line connecting the points at the bottom of each saw tooth, parallel to the front of the saw.


Arbor Hole Diameter.


The method used to attach the carbide tips to the blade body. Both the carbide saw tip and the saw body are heated above the melt point of the brazing compound, which thenforms a bond between the parts.

Breasted Saw (handsaw)

The teeth on some saws are in a slightly convex arc instead of a flat plane. This may have been done to reduce friction as the teeth run through the wood. Many saws don't have breasting, so the practice may have been discontinued. The breasting effect is quite obvious on a one- or two-man crosscut saw for felling trees. On a hand saw it is much less, the blade is wider by about the height of saw tooth in the center of the blade.

Carbide Tips

A carbide tipped blade will stay sharp up to 50 times longer than an ordinary steel blade. The reason is that tungsten carbide, a man made substance, is one of the hardest materials known to man.

Carbide Tooth

Carbide is an alloy composed of Cobalt and Tungsten. This alloy gives longer lasting tips, sharper cutting edges, and greater impact resistance.

Cast Steel (handsaw)

A name used in the 19th and early 20th century for the carbon steel that was used in saws. It can be hardened and tempered with heat. It came in various grades with names like silver steel, crucible steel, refined crucible steel, spring steel, London spring steel, extra refined London spring steel, et al.


In dado sets, small cutting tools with varying widths. Chippers are places between the cutters, or the outside blades, of the dado set to adjust the width of the cut. Buy Dado sets from Tenryu.


The condition caused when the saw blade lifts and tears the wood fibers as it exits the material. This causes the edge of the cut to be ragged.

Clearance Angle

The angle between the lower face of a saw blade and the material being cut.

Close-Up or Let-In Handle (handsaw)

The handle placement and shape that was developed by Disston in the 19th century, distinguishing their saws from traditional English patterns. The hand is above the heel of the saw rather than behind it, putting the hand closer to the work.

Comb (Combination Grind)

Carbide tipped sawswith a mixture of ATB and Flat top grinds where each group of 5 teeth are lead by a flat top raker tooth and followed by top bevel teeth alternating from left to right. General purpose use. Buy combination saw blades from Popular Tools and Tenryu.

Combination Saw Blade

Saw blades used for both ripping (cutting with the grain of the wood) and crosscutting (cutting across the grain). Buy combination saw blades from Popular Tools and Tenryu.


Conical tooth grind. Tooth has a negative radial relief angle. Used for scoring blades where the width of the slot is controlled by the height of the scoring blade.


A cut made across the grain of the wood.

Crosscut blade

A crosscut blade has teeth oriented in an "alternate-top bevel" (ATB) pattern. ATBs have the teeth points beveled to the outside of the blade, alternating sides with every other tooth. This pattern is designed to slice wood fibers like a knife, separating them cleanly. A rip blade has teeth with flat tops (rakers) to plow through the wood like a chisel, pulling with the direction of the fibers and making a clean cut.

Crosscut Saw (handsaw)

In this context, a handsaw used to cut a board through its width (across the grain). The name is also used for manual saws designed to cut down trees.


Refers to the smooth cutting of wood, plywood, chipboard, paneling, pressboard, etc.


In dado sets, the two larger, outside blades. Buy dado sets from Popular Tools and Tenryu.

Cutting Angle

The angle between the upper face of the saw blade and the material being cut. Also known as a rake angle.


A flat-bottomed recessed cut made across the grain of a board. (2) A set of blades used to produce precision grooves. Buy dado sets from Popular Tools and Tenryu.


Used to improve saw blade performance by stiffening the saw blade plate and dampening sound and vibration caused by the saw's belt, motor, and bearings. Dampeners are mounted on the saw's arbor directly next to the blade. Also called a saw blade stabilizer.


The diameter is measured from the furthest edge of one tip to the furthest edge of the tip directly opposite. Generally speaking, the larger diameter blades are thought of as industrial quality for two reasons:1) a larger diameter can facilitate more teeth for a smoother cut and 2) with a larger diameter, each tooth will have to work less and the blade will last longer as a result. We manufacture blades which range in diameter from 3-3/8inch up to 18inch.

Dovetail Saw (handsaw)

A small backsaw used for fine joints, particularly dovetails for drawers.

Etch and medallion (handsaw)

Identifying badgeson the left side of the saw.

Expansion Slots

Slots cut radially into the blade body which control the expansion of the blade due to heat and centrifugal forces.

Expansion Slots: (Carbide tipped circular saw)

The basic function of the expansion slots, which are used primarily on larger diameter blades is to create an outlet for heat buildup created during cutting. For example, imagine a 10" piece of steel with 60 or 80 carbide teeth turning at a speed of 6,000 RPM entering a piece of hard wood such as oak. A great deal of heat is built up by a combination of factors; including friction, contrifical force and the cutting material itself. Even the very best steel blade will heat up to a point where the heat is great enough to force the steel to expand. When this happens the heat (or forced expansion) must have an outlet. The expansion slots allow the steel to do just that, expand and contract without warping the steel or destroying the tension of the blade.

Expansion Slot Base Holes: (Carbide tipped circular saw)

The expansion slot base hole is a round geometric shape with no sharp or square corners. A round geometric figure will take the stress of initial impact pressure from the carbide tip entering the material and disburse the pressure evenly throughout the body of the saw, otherwise the blade may crack on that stress line.


Of or containing iron.

Finishing Saw Blade

A saw blade with higher tooth counts to provide smoother cuts. Typically refers to 7 1/4 inch blades with more than 40 teeth and 10 inch blades with more than 60 teeth. Buy finishing saw blades from Popular Tools and Ternyu.

Flat or Flat Top Grind

Teeth are ground flat on top with 0° of top bevel angle. Durable and long lasting . Used for ripping or general purpose when combined with thin kerf.General purposesaw bladesfrom Popular Tools and Tenryu.

Fleam Or Bevel: (handsaw)

The angle that is filed into a crosscut saw's teeth, creating a knife edge that slices wood fibers when cutting. It is the angle of the intersection between an imaginary line perpendicular to the saw blade and the plane of the saw tooth, seen when viewing the saw's teeth face-on. On crosscut saws, fleam typically ranges from 15 to 25 degrees, depending on the saw's number of points (PPI) and whether the saw is used mostly in softwoods or hardwoods. Fleam can also be a compound angle, accomplished by tilting the file from its horizontal plane. This reduces fleam on the back of the saw teeth, and is far too complicated to explain here. Rip saws have zero fleam because the file is used perpendicular to the blade while sharpening.

Framing Saw Blades

Carbide tipped saw blades used to make fast sizing cuts in all types of wood. (the fastest cutting is achieved with thin kerf saw blades.)

Front (handsaw)

of the saw is the part where the teeth are found.

Gauge (Carbide tipped circular saw)

The measurement of the plate thickness. Generally, a heavier plate will be stronger and more durable. The gauge goes hand in hand with the steel saw body in that a heavier plate will absorb the initial impact of the cutting edge better than a thinner plate. CAUTION:Too heavy of a plate must also be considered, as some saw machines have reduced horsepower for economical purposes and a heavy plate may tend to drag on the motor.

General Purpose Saw Blades

Saw blades with low tooth counts used for fast crosscutting and ripping in most woods and wood-related materials. This designation is commonly used with opening price point carbide blades. General purposesaw bladesfrom Popular Tools and Tenryu.


A recessed cut made across the grain of the wood. A groove has two straight sides that are at a 90 degree angle with a flat bottom. See also Plough.


The cut out area in the body in front of each tooth for chip removal. The higher the ratio of teeth to size, the smaller the chip size and the smaller the gullet.

Gullet (handsaw)

The space between a saw's teeth, where the saw dust is carried out. It is an equilateral triangle, just like the file that shapes the teeth.

Gullet (Carbide tipped circular saw)

The gullet is a relief area cut in front of the tooth which provides a temporary place to store the material cut away by the tooth on each revolution of the blade.

Gullets (Carbide tipped circular saw)

The main purpose of a gullet is to provide clearance for the material being removed. The design of the gullet must be done keeping in mind such factors as material being cut, type of cut (rip or crosscut and smooth or rough), speed of the cut, type of tooth design and pitch or hook angle of the teeth. For example, a Rip saw blade is designed to cut very quickly along the grain of the wood. It has fewer teeth and a large gullet to aid in the removal of sawdust. By contrast, a Crosscut saw will have a smoother, slower cut against the grain, therefore having more teeth and a smaller gullet design. The major issue to consider in design is to have no sharp or square corners as they will lend themselves as a natural stress or fault line in the saw blade.


A frameless saw, as opposed to a bowsaw or other framesaw, used to cut wood.

Heel (handsaw)

is the end near the handle on a handsaw.

Hollow Ground

A concave bevel edge on a tool.

Hook Angle

The angle the face of the tooth makes with a line projecting radially from the center of the bore and comes into contact with the tooth. Ranges from 20° to:7°.

Hook Angle (Carbide tipped circular saw)

The hook angle is the amount of forward or backward lean each tooth has. The angle is measured by the intersection of two imaginary lines. The first line is drawn flush with the face of the carbide tip and the second is drawn vertically while going through the center of the arbor hole. Basically, the greater the hook angle a blade has, the more pull or grab the blade will have on the material being cut. A rip blade has a large positive hook angle so it will cut very quickly. As the hook angle approaches zero degrees and even exceeds zero (negative hook angle), the blade exhibits no grabbing at all. This is important when cutting metals, where total control over the feed is needed.

Hook Angle Advantages (Carbide tipped circular saw)

Aggressive 20 degree positive hook angles found on rip blades pull the wood into the blade. Standard hook angles range from 5 to 15 degrees positive. Negative hook angles, usually -5 degrees, are used to prevent self-feeding of materials and give the operator maximum control over the feed of cut.


1. Techncially the width of the saw cut. 2. Kerf is the width of cut the blade makes under ideal conditions and does not account for equipment arbor run out. The wider the kerf, the harder the saw is to push while cutting.3. The area removed from a board by a saw, determined by the thickness of the blade plus the amount of set to the teeth plus the wobble caused by use.

Kerf (Carbide tipped circular saw)

1. When describing a blade for sale it is the width of the carbide tip measured from the two widest points of the top of the carbide tip. 2. Technically it is the width of the cut which is rhe width of the teeth plus blade and amachine wobble. The kerf on a carbide tipped saw blade acts as the set in the blade giving it the clearance it needs to cut through the material.

Kerf and Plate Thickness (Carbide tipped circular saw)

Kerf determines the with of the cut and plate thickness determines the amount of relief between the material and the blade.

Medallion (handsaw)

The proper name for the enlarged face of one of the saw nuts that holds the handle. It typically gives the brand name of the manufacturer or says Warranted Superior, which was common on what today would be called a generic brand saw.


The process of cutting material for anangle joint. Buy miter saw blades from Popular Tools and Tenryu.

Nib (handsaw)

The bump on the back of many older saws, near the toe. It serves no purpose other than decoration.


Materials and metals not of or containing iron, such as aluminum, copper, brass and lead. Buy non ferrous cutting saw blades from Popular Tools and Tenryu.

Number of Teeth (Carbide tipped circular saw)

This is one variable that will have the most noticeable effect on the cutting action of the saw blade.. As the number of teeth increases, the blade will have a tendency to cut very smooth but slower than a blade with fewer teeth. Also, as the number of teeth increases, the distance between each tooth is decreased therefore reducing the size of the gullets making chip ejection from the gullet more difficult. This is where the design of the gullet, shoulder, tooth style and hook angles become of the utmost importance. Placing more teeth in the same amount of space can only be successful if everything matches perfectly. See our article on determining the number of Saw Teeth needed using our Saw Tooth Quantity formula.

Panel Saw (handsaw)

A handsaw 24 inches in length or less.


In woodworking, to make a surface smooth or even. A "planer" or "planing" saw blade leves a very smooth cut.

Planer-Combination (Carbide tipped circular saw)

Planer Combination combines 4 Alternate Top Bevel Teeth with 1 raker.The raker tooth is lower and narrower than the tips of the scoring teether. (Carbide tipped circular saw) The basic function of the raker tooth is to remove the V-shaped piece of material left in the center of the cut by the alternating top bevel teeth. This tooth configuration provides a very smooth cut.

Advantages: 1. It produces very low cutting pressures that almost eliminate the tendency to tear out. 2. The chips fall free in the chip spaces created by the large side clearance angles. 3. A balanced cutting force.

Disadvantages: 1. The leading point is susceptible to wear and damage from shock loads. 2.In sharpening it is difficult to maintain an equal bevel diameter across the points of the teeth around the saw.

Plate (Carbide tipped circular saw)

1. The steel part without the tips. 2. The body of the saw or saw body. 3.The thickness of the saw body.


A recessed cut made with the grain of the wood. A plough cut has two straight sides that are at a 90 degree angle to a flat bottom. See also Groove.

Points Per Inch or PPI (handsaw)

The measurement of tooth pitch traditionally used by saw manufacturers. The number of PPI is always one more than the number of teeth per inch. To determine the number, line up the point of one tooth with an inch mark on a ruler. Include that point and count all additional points until you reach the next inch mark on your ruler. The number of points was stamped at the heel of the saw blade on most saws. That number is not the model number of the saw.

Precision Finishing Saw Blade

Precision sharpened saw blades with a high tooth count and thicker kerf. These blades provide very smooth cuts in hardwood, softwood, plywood, chipboard, paneling, and Marlite. Buy finishing saw blades from Popular Tools and Tenryu.


An open-ended cut made along the edge of a workpiece that receives or interlocks with another piece to form a joint.

Radial Side Clearance

The clearance angle on the side of the tooth.

Rake Angle (handsaw)

The angle between the face of a saw tooth and an imaginary line perpendicular to the baseline of the saw teeth or front of the saw, seen when viewing a saw from the side. It is generally 12 to 15 degrees on a crosscut saw, and zero to eight degrees on a rip saw.

Relief Angle

The angle the top of the tooth makes away from the cutting edge to a line tangent to the blades circumference.

Rip blade (Carbide tipped circular saw)

A true rip blade is less common today because many woodworkers opt for a combination blade with both ATB and raker teeth, usually in sets of five with the raker tooth preceding the four ATB teeth. Buy rip blades from Popular Tools and Tenryu.

Rip Saw (handsaw)

A saw with rip teeth meant for cutting a board along its length (with the grain).


The process of sawing a board in the direction of the grain of the board. Buy rip blades from Popular Tools and Tenryu.


The amount of wobble in a saw blade, or how much the blade moves from left to right during use. Also called wobble or warp. Oldham saw blades have very little or no runout.

Saw Plate (Carbide tipped circular saw)

The body of the blade is made from a high carbon, chrome, nickel and special moly-alloy steel. The steel shouldadd durability by preventing warping during heat buildup and strength by absorbing initial shock pressure when cutting hard materials.Plate tolerance (side to side wobble) or "run out" of the saw blade is a key test of quality. If the plate tolerance is not kept within certain specifications, it may affect the grinding of the carbide tip or "high speed flutter" more commonly known as saw blade noise. Plate tolerance is a key factor to extremely smooth cutting in a very quiet environment.


(1) A thin, often tapered piece of material such as metal or wood used to fill in space between things. (2) A round, sometimesmagnetic, disc used with a dado blade to provide a wider cut.


The part of the blade body directly behind each tooth which provides support for the tooth.

Shoulder (Carbide tipped circular saw)

The shoulder's major functions are to add strength and support to the carbide tip. A well-designed shoulder will help strengthen and guide the carbide tip through the material being cut. Its design must be considered in conjunction with the number of teeth, hook angle, and gullet. A larger diameter blade can easily facilitate 60 to 100 teeth without sacrificing a strong shoulder design.

Skewback Saw (handsaw)

The back of the saw is concave to save weight. After it was patented, saws without the shape were marketed as "straightback" saws.

Square Top Tooth (Carbide tipped circular saw)

The square top tooth configuration, the top of each tooth is ground square, perpendicular to the sides of the blade. Square Top Grinds are designed for heavy duty cutting.

Advantages: 1. It cuts both sides of the kerf simultaneously, making it twice as effective as teeth in a staggered tooth saw in which each tooth cuts only one side at a time. 2. Its balanced cutting forces reduce saw body stresses. 3. It has large included angles between cutting edges that strengthen the tooth form and keep it sharp for longer periods of time. 4. The tooth form is relatively easy to maintain.

Disadvantages: 1. The tooth form generates relatively large cutting pressure and this contributes greatly to chip out or tear out at the exit point on the material. 2. Low side clearance angles inhibit the freedom of chip flow. The chips generated in the cut drag on the side of the cut causing a buildup.

Stopped Groove

A cut made along the grain that stops short of one or both ends of the workpiece.

TCG or Triple Chip Grind (Carbide tipped circular saw)

Tooth grind where one flat top tooth is followed by a trapezoidal tooth which is slightly higher. The higher tooth cuts material narrower than final kerf, helping to eliminate chipping in brittle materials such as chip board, and laminates.


A condition in which the saw blades tears out the grain of a workpiece.

Teeth Per Inch or TPI (handsaw)

Method often used to measure saws today. See points per inch.

Tensioning Ring (Carbide tipped circular saw)

The area in the blade where it is pretensioned for maximum flatness over a broad temperature range and operational speed. Can be seen on most blades as a faint ring approximately 3/4 the diameter the blade.

Thin Kerf Blades

There is no exact definition other than that they are narrower than standard blades. They are cost effective in large scale cutting because they remove less material than standard kerf blades. Thin kerf blades use less power than standard kerf blades. This makes them very effective for cordless tools, under-powered tools and jobsites with overused generators and under-powered, temporary electrical service.

Thin kerf blades require much greater care at the tensioning stage of production. A thin blade with improper tensioning will be prone to wobble under stressful cutting conditions and will actually cut a wider kerf than a standard blade. Buy thin kerf saw blades from SystiMatic and Tenryu.

Taper Grinding (handsaw)

A process during the manufacturing of good-quality saws in which the back of the saw is ground thinner than the front, where the teeth are. The difference is tapered across the width of the saw. Double tapering is the additional thinning toward the saw's toe, along the length of the blade. Ideally the blade should not taper from heel to toe along the teeth, only along the area of the blade near its back.

Toe (handsaw)

The end of the saw away from the handle on a handsaw.

Top Bevel Angle

The angle the top of the tooth makes from side to side.

Worm Drive Saw

A saw that has a diamond-shaped arbor instead of a round arbor.

Triple Chip or TCG (Carbide tipped circular saw)

The first tooth, or lead tooth, has a doubleangle corner bevel. This is followed by a flat topped raker tooth ground lower than the lead tooth. The raker tooth removes the corners left on both sides by the beveled lead tooth. Triple Chip Grinds combines a balanced cutting force, low tooth drag and free chip flow. For use on cutting hard wood, plastics, and plastic laminated to wood. See our article on Saw Blade Grinidng Codes.

Advantages: 1. Large included angles in the cutting edges give the triple chip form good wear resistance. 2. A balanced cutting force. 3. Low tooth drag. 4. Free chip flow.

Disadvantages: 1. The triple chip tooth form requires extra maintenance care to avoid the risk of changing tooth forms during sharpening. Alterations can lead to deteriorated cutting action. 2.This triple chip tooth form has strong blunt edges, there is a relatively low shear generating high cutting pressures which tend to produce chip outs.