Dedicated Blades on a Tablesaw

Can I do everything with a good combination blade, or am I better off with a few dedicated blades on my tablesaw?

Let me start off by saying this is a hotly debated subject and this is just my opinion.

I've always believed that dedicated blades are better in the long run than combination blades.  The physics of cutting wood are very different when you are cutting along the grain compared to cutting across the grain.    If you don't believe me take an ordinary handsaw and try cutting a 2"x4" stud along and then across the grain.   Or take an ordinary ax and cut a few logs, both along and then along the grain.

I've used a bunch of blades.  I have used a MasterCraft (it's a Canadian thing) and several Freud blades, both thin and regular kerf.  I've used combination blades, rip blades and crosscut blades.  I use a combination blade on all man-made sheetgoods, and also on softwoods and hardwoods when I just want to make a fast cut and don't care about perfect quality. I have a couple of 50-tooth regular kerf comination blades (Freud LU84M011).

When I'm ripping hardwoods I use a Freud rip blade.  I used a thin kerf rip blade (Freud TK206) when I had my contractors saw and now with my Unisaw I use a red teflon 24-tooth regular kerf rip blade (Freud LM72R010). I also used a thin kerf cross blade (Freud TK806) and now I use an 80-tooth regular kerf crosscut blade (Freud LU85R010).

Also, if you use a combination blade for everything, it's going to wear out faster, so you might as well have more than one blade.  And if you have more than one blade why not make them dedicated blades? The only downside is the time it takes to change them.

Now, I too have heard plenty of people swear their Forrest combination blade produces a perfect cut in both ripping and crosscutting operations.  Nine out of ten owners say that, so there must be some truth to it.  I'll admit that I haven't tried one.  I just can't get over the fact that the physics of the cutting are so different.  With everything else being equal, a blade dedicated to one operation should do a better job.

© 2008 Mark Goodall