Thin-Kerf Blades Are for Everyone
Today's blades make cleaner cuts while saving motor life
Synopsis: Roland Johnson set out to test two widely held beliefs about thin-kerf tablesaw blades: 1) that they make it easier to cut thick stock, and 2) that they are more prone to deflection and vibration, and so make rougher cuts. He tested within brands to see how well a thin-kerf blade cut compared to its standard-kerf sibling, looking at blades from CMT, Freud, Forrest, Irwin, and Oldham. He tested the quality of both ripcuts and crosscuts, both in the center and at the ends of boards, and measured the power required to make each cut. What he discovered may surprise you.
From Fine Woodworking #204
If you have anything short of a full-size cabinet saw, you know your tablesaw can get bogged down, or even stopped cold, when cutting hardwoods much thicker than 1 1⁄2 in. And I’m sure you’ve heard that a thin-kerf blade will make it easier to cut thick stock. The thinner blade cuts less wood and so requires less power. At least that’s the theory. The trade-off, some say, is that thinner blades are more prone to deflection and vibration, and so make a rougher cut, especially on shave cuts on the end of a board.
We decided to test whether thin-kerf blades can handle the rigors of everyday use. I didn’t compare across the brands—this wasn’t a head-to-head test—but within brands to see how well a thin-kerf combination blade did in comparison to its standard-kerf sibling, looking at blades from CMT, Freud, Forrest, Irwin, and Oldham. The blades I chose are widely available and run the price gamut from low to high.
I ran thick lumber past the blades and used an amp meter to read the power needed to make the cuts. But I also looked at how well the thin-kerf…