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two circular saws

Overview

A circular saw is an important tool to own. Even if you are not a woodworker, a circular saw can be helpful. These electric tools are used to cut a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, and metal, tile and even masonry. 

But, all saw blades are circular, right? That’s true. However, the name circular saw is given to a specific type. These saws are handheld and come in two types: sidewinders and worm-drive. Sidewinder circular saws have the handle to one side of the blades. You can purchase either a right- or left-side sidewinder saw. Worm-drive circular saws place the handle behind the blade. They are less common than their sidewinder cousins. 

No matter what type of circular saw you purchase, you will need to find the correct blade. There is actually a huge variation in the size and style of circular saw blades available. Blades can range from 4.5 inches to 10.25 inches in diameter. Each type of blade—as we will discuss below—is designed to cut a specific material. A big part of using a circular saw properly is purchasing the right blade for your project. 

One thing to keep in mind is that many saw blades are interchangeable. For example, tile saws are technically a type of circular saw but are not often referred to as a circular saw. Tile saw blades are smaller and can be used in wet or dry conditions. You can occasionally use tile saw blades on some circular saws. However, traditional circular saws cannot be used in wet conditions. So, although there is some interchangeability, you need to be careful when using tile saw blades in your standard circular saw. 

Confused yet? Don’t worry we will break down everything you need to know about standard circular saw blades in the rest of this post. We will discuss the different standard blade types, their uses, and some features to keep in mind when choosing a blade for your project. 

Let’s get started . . . 

A Quick Overview to Blade Types and Uses 

Before looking at each of these blade types in exhaustive detail, we are going to introduce them here. These blades are for circular saws, not tile saws or miter saws. Consider this section a quick overview of the most important take-aways for each type of circular saw blade. 

  • Abrasive 
    • Abrasive blades are best for hard materials like brick and concrete. Abrasive blades do not have teeth on their edge.  
  • Continuous-Rim 
    • Continuous-Rim blades also cut hard materials. They are most commonly used on tile and slate. Often continuous-rim blades are called diamond-edged blades because diamonds are put on their edge to facilitate the cutting. There are no teeth on this type of circular saw blade. 
  • Dado 
    • Dado blades always come as either a single or double set. They are used to cut grooves (called dadoes) in wood. There are two types of dado blades: stacked sets and wobble blades. 
  • Standard
    • We use “standard blades” to refer to any circular saw blade commonly used for cutting wood. These blades can vary in the number of teeth and gullet types. All of these variations determine the speed, finish, and type of cut performed by the circular saw. 
  • Segmented
    • Segmented blades are nearly identical to continuous-rim blades, except for one aspect. These blades have gullets on their rim, instead of the smooth edge of a continuous-rim blade. Segmented blades are ideal for cutting brick and concrete. 
  • Turbo-Rim
    • Turbo-Rim blades cut brick and concrete. They have the diamond edge of continuous-rim blades, but the edge includes serrations. These serrations allow for a more intense cut, and a rougher finish. 

Circular Saw Blade Types

Now that you have a basic overview of each of the most important types of circular saw blades, let’s go into more detail. In the rest of this section, we will give you all the information you need to pick the right circular saw blade for the job.  

Abrasive Blades

Abrasive blades are designed to cut extremely hard masonry materials. They are most often used to cut things like marble, concrete, stone, tile, and brick. You can also use abrasive blades on metal. Abrasive blades typically range from 4.5-7.5 inches in diameter.

There are no teeth on an abrasive circular blade. Instead, they use an abrasive material such as aluminum oxide and/or silicon carbide on their edges. The coating is designed to last a long-time. It also cuts through masonry materials smoothly and quickly. When you need a quick, efficient cut, try an abrasive blade. 

Teeth Configuration: No teeth

Materials Cut: Marble, Concrete, Stone, Tile, Brick, Metal

Dry or Wet Cut: Dry

Uses: Cutting masonry materials. 

Benefits: They cut quickly and are designed for a long life. 

Continuous-Rim Blades

Continuous-Rim blades also do not have teeth on their rim. They don’t need teeth because diamonds are encrusted on the edge. Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substance on earth. Their inclusion in the continuous-rim circular saw blade means that it will cut hard materials. Because of the inclusion of the diamonds, you will sometimes hear these blades called diamond-edged blades. 

When we said way back in the introduction that some circular saw blades are interchangeable with tile saws, we were thinking about this type. They are primarily used to cut tile because of their super clean and chip-free cutting. Any tile can be cut using a continuous-rim blade: quarry, ceramic, porcelain, etc. Most blades can cut in both wet and dry conditions. The blade itself will range from 4 inches to 10 inches. 

Teeth Configuration:

Materials Cut: Tile, Granite, Marble

Dry or Wet Cut: Wet, Dry, and Both

Uses: Cutting tile, granite, and marble, and cleaning grout. 

Benefits: The cut is clean, smooth, and chip-free. 

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Dado Blade 

Dado blades come in sets of two or as a single blade. This type is used to cut grooves or dadoes in wood. If you are a woodworker, you will be extremely familiar with dado blades. There are two types of dado blade: stacked dado and the wobble blade. Dado sets are always used with fixed saws as a table saw or a radial arm saw. For specific details on which blades to buy head over to www.handyman.guide for their top recommended blades.

Freud SD206: 6" Pro Dado Set
Price: $87.64
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We’ve discussed both types of dado blades separately below. 

Stacked Dado Set

A stacked dado set has a number of parts. It is set up as two blades separated by chippers. The two blades spin in tandem to cut the sides of the groove. The chippers remove the debris and make the bottom of the groove smooth. Stacked dado sets come in a variety of widths. You can add and remove the chippers as well as add spacers to fine-tune the width to your specifications. 

Most experts recommend used stacked dado sets with carbide tips. These are more expensive, but last longer and create a cleaner cut.

Teeth Configuration: Beveled teeth alternate with flat-raker teeth. The number of teeth varies. 

Materials Cut: Wood 

Dry or Wet Cut: Dry

Uses: Cutting grooves of varying widths. 

Benefits: Can cut grooves of varying widths and depths. 

Wobble Blade 

Wobble dado blades are the second type of dado blade. They have somewhat fallen out of favor but are still worth describing here. A wobble dado blade is a single blade that is mounted on a multi-piece hub. The hub is adjustable. It holds the blade at an angle to the piece of wood. As you adjust the angle to be great or smaller, the size of the groove is changed. 

Wobble blades today are less popular than stacked dado sets. The wobble blade is hard to adjust. It also provides greater opportunities for injury, especially if you try to adjust it while the saw is on. Yet, the wobble dado is less expensive than a stacked dado set, so it may be a better option for some people. 

Teeth Configuration: Varies

Materials Cut: Wood

Dry or Wet Cut: Dry

Uses: Cut grooves in wood. 

Benefits: Less expensive than stacked dado sets. 

Standard

The standard circular saw blade category is more of a catch-all than a single type of blade. These are woodcutting blades of many different varieties. They may make various cuts (rip-cuts, crosscuts, etc.) and have a different number of teeth. What makes these blades a unified category is they’re being the standard blades that woodworkers use in their projects. You should have no problem finding standard blades for your circular saw in every hardware or box store. 

Standard circular saw blades range from 4 to 10.5 inches. In addition to the number of teeth and type of cut, standard blades are distinguished by a few other descriptors. You may notice designations like framing blades (these have 24 teeth), plywood blades (these have 100 or more teeth), thin-kerf blades (we discuss kerf in detail at the end of the article), and hollow-ground blades (the body of the blade is thinner than the teeth).

Teeth Configuration: Varies

Materials Cut: Wood

Dry or Wet Cut: Wood

Uses: Cuts wood. 

Benefits: Many options available. 

Segmented Blades

Segmented circular saw blades use a diamond edge like continuous-rim blades. Unlike continuous-rim blades, though, segmented blades have gullets. Gullets are typically described as the spaces between the teeth on a saw blade. Segmented blades turn this definition on their head. The edge is still smooth, but there are grooves cut throughout the blade. These gullets help produce a quick and powerful cut with excellent debris removal. 

Typically, segmented blades are used for dry cuts. They can cut all of the same material as a continuous-cut blade. Cuts from a segmented blade will be rough. But, no other blade removes debris so well.

Teeth Configuration: No teeth 

Materials Cut: Concrete, Tile, Brick, Brick blocks, Marble, Granite, Stone

Dry or Wet Cut: Dry

Uses: Cut hard materials. 

Benefits: Best at removing debris. 

Turbo-Rim Blades

The final type of circular saw blade we are going to discuss today is the Turbo-Rim blade. Turbo-rim is another type of diamond-edged blade. Instead of the smooth edge of the continuous-rim blade, though, they are serrated. Turbo-Rim blades are very aggressive and cut brick and concrete easily. Yet, like the segmented blade, the turbo-rim blade will not produce as smooth a cut as the continuous-rim blade. 

You can find turbo-rim blades in all standard sizes. Four-seven inches in diameter are the most common. In terms of cut quality, the turbo-rim blade is in between continuous-rim and segmented blades. The turbo-rim blade will give you an aggressive cut that’s smoother than a segmented blade but less smooth than a cut from a continuous-rim blade. 

Teeth Configuration: Varies

Materials Cut: Block, Brick, Concrete

Dry or Wet Cut: Wet, Dry, and Both 

Uses: Grinding, sanding, and polishing hard materials. 

Benefits: Provide an aggressive cut with a smoother finish than segmented blades. 

The different features of a saw blade

In addition to choosing the right circular saw blade type, there are a few other features you need to keep in mind. 

Number of teeth

For the blade types that have teeth, often the number of teeth on the blade is variable. That means you get to choose how many teeth you want on the blade. This is great because it provides more choices. But, it is also just one more thing to consider when purchasing a circular saw blade. 

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They are a few general rules to keep in mind when considering the number of teeth. Most importantly, the fewer teeth there are, the faster the cut. If you need to get the job done fast, you should choose a blade with fewer teeth. On the other hand, blades with few teeth do not provide as clean of a cut. If the quality of the cut is more important than speed, choose a blade with more teeth. 

Gullet

The gullet is typically the space between the teeth on a blade. As we saw in our definition of the various circular saw blade types above, a segmented blade also uses gullets. The gullets push debris (chips from the material you are cutting) away from the blade. They are an important part of the blade, as they ensure it does not get jammed while cutting. 

Obviously, the number of gullets will change based on the number of teeth. In addition to the number, you should consider the depth of the gullet. Smaller gullets will remove finer particles of debris than larger gullets. The type of cutting you will be doing will determine what depth of gullet you need. 

Expansion slot

Some circular saw blades, especially those designed for masonry materials, have expansion slots. These are slits cut to allow the blade to expand as it cuts. A slight expansion of masonry cutting blades is important because it allows you to keep cutting efficiently. You won’t have to stop and wait for the blade to cool down. 

Size

Size here refers to the overall diameter of the blade. You will notice that we discussed a size range for some of the blade types. No matter what type of blade you need, there will be a similar size range. 

In general, most circular saw blades will be 7 ¼ inches in diameter. Mini blades of 4 or 4.5 inches in diameter are also common. If you are looking for a table saw blade, you will likely need a blade around 10 inches. The user’s manual on your specific saw will tell you what size, or size range, you need. 

Kerf

The final feature to consider is the kerf. This term is specific to saw blades. The kerf is the width of the slot the blade makes in the material it is cutting. Blade width will determine the kerf. The wider the circular saw blade, the wider the kerf, and vice versa. 

For contractor and portable saws, thin kerfs are most common. A thin-kerf blade is one with a width of less than 1/8 inch. Thin-kerf blades are less heavy than thick-kerf blades. They are easier and quicker to use as well. Thin-kerf blades are the most common type found on circular saws. 

The problem with thin-kerf blades is that they can vibrate more than full-kerf blades. Some of the best circle saws account for this problem. However, if you cannot afford those models, make sure to expect a little more vibration than normal from your thin-kerf blade. 

Types of Cuts 

Many different cuts can be performed with a circular saw. The type of cutting you will be doing determines not only the look and size of the cut but also the blade you need. Here are the most common types of cuts for circular saws and the blades that perform them.

Quick note: In the Circular Saw Blade Type section above we highlight blades that are best for non-wood materials. Thus, the cuts described below are to be done in wood only. 

Ripping

A rip is a cut that goes with the grain of the wood. This means you will be cutting the board length-wise.  

You need to do rip cuts with a ripping blade. These have a low number of teeth, no more than 24. The low number of teeth means that you will get a fast, but not very clean cut when you rip. 

Crosscutting

Crosscutting means cutting a piece of wood across the grain or cutting the board width-wise. This is one of the more common cuts made by a circular saw. 

Crosscutting blades are not hard to find. The blades will have many teeth with shallow gullets. The extra teeth mean that the cut will occur slower, but it will be cleaner than a rip. 

Miter

Miter cuts are another way of cutting across the width of a piece of wood. In this case, you will be cutting diagonally. The best way to make this cut is to cut along a sliding T-bevel or with the help of a protractor. 

For miter cuts, you should use a crosscutting blade. Miter cuts are a type of crosscut, so the same blade will work for both purposes. 

General-purpose

General-purpose blades are also called combination blades. Combination blades are in the middle in terms of the number of teeth and gullet depth. 

These products allow you to make a rip and crosscut. If you are doing a combination of crosscuts and rip-cuts in your project, a combination blade would be ideal. When you have to concentrate on a specific type of cut, we recommend a targeted blade. 

Finishing 

When you are finishing a project, you need the cut to be clean and exact. That is exactly what finishing blades do. 

Finishing blades have a lot of teeth. The many teeth create an extremely smooth cut that will not damage the wood. 

Conclusion

Everyone who likes to do their own projects should have a circular saw. These saws are portable, easy to use, and extremely convenient. But, to get the most out of your circular saw you need to use the correct blade. That is why we have written this article. Now, you should be familiar with the most common types of circular saw blades and when to use them. Come back to our article the next time you need to purchase a circular saw blade. Knowing all of your options ensures that you will be the perfect one for the job.