I still have a radial arm saw in my workshop. When my friends see it, they ask me why bother when their sliding miter saw can do just about everything my radial arm saw can do. Well, what can I say, some of us like the old stuff. I will say if I was in the market for one, miter saws on the market today (especially the sliding miter saws), really make my radial arm look old fashioned in comparison.
Power miter saws started out as a replacement for the old wooden miter box and back saw. They were essentially used just for cutting moldings on houses and maybe the occasional molding in a cabinet shop. Modern miter saws have gone way beyond, allowing precision double angle cuts in much larger and thicker material than ever before.
Since miter saws are used for crosscutting a variety of types of wood, a blade which can handle a variety of materials is important. You need to buy a blade which cuts your toughest material thus ensuring easier materials are a cinch.
It’s a shame to see someone spend hundreds of dollars on a high quality miter saw and use the cheap blade which came with it. The blade handles the actual cutting and ultimately decides the quality, and especially the smoothness, of your final cut. I’d rather have a cheap saw with a good blade than a good saw with a cheap blade any day.
Lower quality blades will cause three basic problems:
- Make a more uneven cut with visible blade marks visible.
- Cause more splintering especially as a blade gets older and duller.
- Cheap blades dull faster, damaging material and requiring frequent changes.
So, what’s going to give you the best quality cut in all kinds of woods? Let’s look at these basics:
- You definitively want a carbide-tipped blade. Since wood is highly fibrous, it’s abrasive
on saw blades. A carbide-tipped saw blade will last way longer than a steel blade.
- The more teeth on a blade will ensure a smooth cut. While you might be able to get by with a lower number of teeth, a higher tooth count will really show in cases where extra-smooth cuts are necessary.
- The blade is designed to avoid vibration either through the use of extra-rigid materials to avoid flexing or by laser-cut reliefs in the blade which dissipate vibrations.
- Adequate tooth design to avoid splitting. Manufacturers experiment with different designs in order to come up with a blade which isn’t going to damage your material.
There are a lot of miter saw blades available to choose from, so this was a difficult choice. While most of these probably aren’t available in your local hardware store, they’re worth the wait to order online. I’ve mostly stuck to 12” saw blades with a 5/8 inch arbor for this review, but you should know that the same blades are available in smaller sizes or for 1 inch arbors if you need them.
This 12 inch, 100 tooth blade is designed for the smoothest cleanest cuts from a thicker plate to hand checking for runout. A combination of 4 point and flat teeth eliminate bottom splintering. Read Full Review
For over 50 years Forrest has put all their of their efforts into making popular blades for fine woodworking of all types . This is a 12 inch, 100 tooth blade, with a 5/8 arbor with a saw kerf at only .105 inches, making for less material waste. The blade plate is heavier than normal to insure maximum stability and a negative face hook helps with rigidity reducing the possibility of the blade grabbing the workpiece. These blades are hand checked for runout, making them less than .002 off, the best in the industry while the teeth are a combination of 4 point and flat to eliminate bottom splintering. This blade will give the best cuts your miter saw has ever seen.
This blade sports 80 teeth on a 1 inch arbor. The thick plate and 5 degree negative tooth rake make this a very stable blade, ensuring smooth cuts and no material grabbing. Read Full Review
This is a 12 inch, 80 tooth blade with a one inch arbor and a saw kerf which is slightly larger than our number one at .122 inches; however, the plate is even thicker than the number one at .110 inch. The five degree negative rake on the teeth is the biggest negative rake of any of our picks, ensuring smooth cuts and won’t grab at your workpiece. Teeth are a combination of 4 point and flat to avoid splitting making this blade an excellent choice for plywood and soft wood moldings.
The unique tooth design on this blade cuts the center of the saw kerf first, cleaning out the corners afterwards. There are five laser cut spots around the blade plate, to eliminate vibration. Read Full Review
The heavy duty polished blade plate on this high quality saw blade is fully hardened to insure minimum vibration. This 12 blade has 100 teeth designed to maintain both sharpness and flatness. It’s also laser cut in five spots around the perimeter for vibration elimination. The unique tooth design cuts the center of the saw kerf first, cleaning the corners of the cut out afterwards.
Although this blade as only 72 teeth, the incredibly thin .090 kerf more than makes up for it. Freud is clearly counting on the laser cuts in this blade to eliminate vibration which they do quite well in fact. Read Full Review
Of all the saw blades on this review, Freud blades are the ones you are most likely to find in your local hardware store or lumberyard. While not considered in the same league as the more expensive blades I’ve mentioned, they’re still very high quality blades great for saving costly materials. This 12 inch blade has 72 teeth, an incredibly thin .090 kerf and the blade is laser cut both on the edge and in the body of the plate. Freud is clearly counting on the laser cuts more than stiffness to eliminate vibration but with this thin of a blade you can’t base it on stiffness.
Oshlun SBNF-100100 10-Inch 100 Tooth TCG Saw Blade with 5/8-Inch Arbor for Aluminum and Non Ferrous Metals
This blade is specifically designed for cutting aluminum and other soft metals. The special design of the teeth prevents the cut metal from sticking to the teeth and extends the life of the blade. Read Full Review
Even though this blade is a 10 inch blade, I wanted to add it to this review for the simple reason that it’s specifically designed for cutting aluminum and other non-ferrous metals. While carbide-tipped blades will cut aluminum, the soft metal tends to stick to the teeth of the blade. This blade has 100 teeth with a negative hook angle and a triple chip tooth grind around its 10 inch diameter plate. It will last longer for cutting aluminum than other carbide blades and leave a clean cut, without burrs. The expansion slots are copper plugged for reduced noise and vibration.