Miter saws are the versatile workhorse of the construction site. Easy to setup, quick to use, these saws are sought after for their reliable, fast cutting.
When you see a miter saw setup, you know that the economy is strong and that America is moving forward.
For the Homeowner, and DIY remodeler, buying your first miter saw is easy. You look at your budget, and then try to buy the biggest saw you can. Preferably with lasers. There are a lot of review sites out there to make the buying process easier. Zachary Drumm Of Tool Tally says that the Miter saw should be the “third saw” someone should buy after a circular saw and table saw.
Using the saw is even easier. One button unlocks the saw and the other one activates the blade. A quick plunge and you are done.
The only thing that can slow you down is if you have the wrong blade. If you match the wrong blade for the task you can end up with burn marks on your board and cuts that take longer to achieve and are ragged.
This guide will help cover some of the basics of blade types and then also provide you with a handy cheat sheet for getting the right blade.
Checklist for Buying The Right Blade The First Time:
- What are you cutting? We’ll discuss blade types and teeth types below.
- What Size Saw do you have? 10-inch and 12-inch are the most common size, but 7 ¼” miter saws do exist, especially for cordless saws.
- What is the Arbor Size? The arbor is the round center of the blade where you attach the blade to the saw. Most 10-inch Miter saws have a 5/8-inch arbor and the 12-inch saws have a 1-inch arbor.
Definitions of Common Blade Terms
The Number of Teeth. The number of teeth is one of the most important considerations. A blade with more teeth will take smaller bites and can give you a better finish on your cut. The trade-off is that these saws take longer to perform the cuts. For faster cuts, go with a blade that has fewer teeth.
About the smallest recommended teeth count for a miter saw is the 60 tooth 12-inch blade or 50 tooth 10-inch blade. If you go much below that, you might find the saw to be more “grabby” with the cut and to tear the wood as much as it cuts it.
One thing to understand – and a fact that some woodworking sites gloss over – is that the super low teeth count blades like the 24-tooth blades that table saws and radial arm saws use are great for ripping lumber. You don’t do much ripping with a miter saw.
Gullet. The gullet isn’t quite as big of a consideration when shopping, but, it is good to understand what it does. The gullet is the space at the front of each tooth. It serves the purpose of helping to shed the little chips of the wood as you cut. If the gullet is too small, it will force you to feed the wood more slowly.
Teeth Type. There are a lot of variations of teeth type. The combination tooth blades are some of the most popular. They work great for both crosscutting and ripping. Sometimes you are going to see blades that combine the different types of teeth to get the best performance.
Go With The Manufacturer’s Recommendation. This article is going to help you get some key terms to search for. For example, if you are doing laminate, you might look for a triple chip grind blade. Now that you know what you are looking for, you can hop over to Amazon and see what is cheap.
What Miter Saw Blade To Use For Trim
If you are doing trim work such as baseboards and crown molding, you’ll want more teeth. Something with about 80-90 teeth range would be absolutely ideal. You could go down to a 70 tooth on a 10-inch blade. Makita makes a thin-kerf that could work really well for trim work.
What Miter Saw Blade To use For Hardwood
Hardwood always takes a little more care. You don’t want to damage the more expensive wood, and yet you are aware that it is harder for the saw to cut. This is especially true in flooring. Hardwood flooring is absolutely beautiful and resilient. However, you need the right blade.
Consider going with a carbide tipped blade. Carbide tipped blades tend to last longer and can be re-sharpened. Combination blade patterns with 80 to 100 teeth can work really well on hard wood. Considering how hot your blade is likely to get, it would make sense to get one with an expansion slots. These expansion slots allow the heat to dissipate around the blade, cooling it and preventing warping.
What Miter Saw Blade To Use For Plastic
Look for a “no melt” blade. These no melt blades tend to have specialized coatings to help keep the plastic from sticking to the saw blade. And, as you might expect, they tend to have a higher tooth count.
What Miter Saw Blade To Use For Laminate
Laminate is unique in that the is has a layer of aluminum oxide in the applied to the wear layer of the laminate flooring. These aluminum oxide particles act as sandpaper and wear down your blade more quickly.
You’ll either want a blade that you can easily sharpen, or you will want to go with a cheap blade that doesn’t cost much to replace. A thin kerf is a good idea, as the blade will expose less surface area to the abrasive material.
A triple chip grind blade can work well if you can find one.
What Miter Saw Blade To Use For Vinyl Plank Flooring
This is another scenario where an extremely high tooth count comes in handy. Go with an 80 tooth or better. A basic steel carbide tipped blade should work pretty well. Just go slowly to make sure you don’t “burn” any of the edges.