Selecting the right blades for cutting hardwood flooring is essential to getting the best results. With the different types of saw blades available in stores such as the pointed tooth saw blade, ripsaw blade, chisel tooth saw blade, fine tooth saw blade, and carbide-tipped universal saw blade, it can be a bit daunting for a first-timer to choose which one would be perfect for a particular project. You should be familiar with the features of the saw blade so that you know what they are good for to help you decide.
How Saw Teeth Count & Blade Type Affect The Hardwood Flooring Cutting Quality
In choosing the saw blade, you have to consider not just the material of the blade but also the types of teeth and tooth count. Blades can cut through or handle various materials, but if you want the best results, you should go for the blade optimized for a specific operation.
As the teeth gouge out or cut through the wood fiber, the number of teeth-per-inch (TPI) affects the cutting action and, therefore, the cut’s quality. A blade with more teeth would result in a smoother cut. The cutting action is less aggressive as each tooth cuts a smaller amount or portion of the wood to get that fine finish. Given that it has a high TPI count, the gullets or spaces in between teeth are naturally smaller, so the sawdust does not clear out fast. It takes longer to cut when using this blade, so the friction could cause the wood to burn, leaving you with burn marks on your wood.
On the other hand, a saw blade with a low TPI count or lesser teeth has wider gullets. Its cutting action would be faster and more aggressive, resulting in bigger chunks of wood being chopped out, giving a rough finish with more “tearout.”
The shape of the teeth also affects the performance of the blade. The flat-top (FT) is ideal for ripping, the alternate top bevel (ATB) is best for crosscutting, and the combination tooth (CT), which has both types of teeth, is used for general purpose cutting.
Other factors that should be considered are the hook angle and kerf width. The hook angle refers to the angle of the tooth in relation to the blade’s centerline so that it can be tilting forward (positive hook angle) or backward (negative hook angle). A rip blade has the highest hook angles that cut aggressively with a faster feed rate, while a crosscut blade has low to negative hook angles with a slower feed rate but produces better quality cut. The kerf width refers to the width of the material that is removed during the cutting process.
Of course, the sharpness of the blade is vital to the quality of the cut. Using a dull and worn out saw blade would produce a poor cut. Make sure that the blade is always clean and sharp.
You also have to check the arbor hole of the blade (the one at the center) to see if it would fit the arbor of your table saw. Look into the maximum revolutions per minute (RPM) rating of the blade as it must be compatible with the tool you are using.
Basic Types of Saw Blades
The two types of saw blades are the crosscut and rip blades. The former usually has a higher TPI count and smaller teeth, the tips of which are alternating bevels – the right-facing bevels are alternated with left-facing bevels; it is so designed for cutting perpendicular to the wood grain for a clean, smooth finish. The latter has a lower TPI count and larger teeth that are flat-topped and is designed for cutting parallel to the wood grain that would give a rough finish.
There is also the combination blade that is designed for both ripping and crosscutting, and it is generally used for those not requiring much precision in their carpentry.
Saw Blades That Are Suitable For Cutting Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood flooring is made of planks from a single timber, and it can be cut in different ways such as rift-sawn, flat-sawn, and quarter-sawn depending on the dimensions that you prefer. The quality of the cut would depend highly on the saw blade used. Here are several blades that are ideal for cutting your hardware flooring:
Plywood Saw Blade
It has about 100 fine teeth that would give you a finish with minimal splintering or tearing; it is typically used for clean cutting paneling, moldings, and engineered flooring.
All-Purpose Steel Saw Blade
It has 40 to 60 teeth and would work on various types of wood, including hardwood, and it can be used for both crosscutting and ripping. The resulting cut would not be as smooth and clean as the crosscut blade cut, but it is much better than the rip blade cut.
This blade has around 80 to 100 teeth, and it is highly recommended for exotic hardwood, laminates, and precision miter cutting as it works fast no matter the material being cut.
With a low number of teeth that ranges from 20 to 30 teeth, it works best with cutting hardwood along the grain of the wood.
Glue-line Rip Blade
A standard rip blade usually has 24 flat‑ground teeth that produce a rough cut. On the other hand, the glue-line rip blade has 30 teeth with a triple chip grind (TCG) on every other tooth, and the rest are flat top grind (FTG). TCG teeth have no scoring bevels, which make them more durable. This would give you a much smoother cut, making your wood ready for glue-up.
A Hi-ATB (High Alternate Top Bevel) blade, also labeled as High ATB, HIATB, or HATB, is a modified version of the ATB blade that would yield an ultra-smooth cut. What makes it different from the regular ATB is that the bevel angle of the teeth is increased, ranging from 30 to 40 degrees. The typical number of teeth it has ranged from 34 to 98 teeth with alternating right and left bevels. It has zero to a negatively slanted hook angle that prevents self-feeding. The downside in using this blade is that it is easily damaged, and it dulls faster due to its high effectivity.