Is Your Saw Blade Dull? Find Out How to Tell

Determining When it’s Time to Sharpen or Replace a Dull Saw Blade

miter saw blade that was sharpened or replaced
DeWalt Miter Saw cutting trim

What can tell you that your saw blade is dull? You might wait for your car to tell you when it’s due for an oil change. Maybe you change the oil every 3,000 or 5,000 miles. But your saw will not send an alert to your cell phone to notify you that the blade is worn out. There aren’t automatic notifications, or a set number of uses to tell you when it’s time to replace your saw blade. You make that determination using your own good judgment.

It doesn’t matter if you use your saw every day, or only a few times a year; eventually the blade wears down to a point where it needs sharpening or replacement.

Factors That Determine a Saw Blade’s Lifespan

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The Types of Saw Blade Teeth Explained

What are the Different Types of Saw Blade Teeth?

If you look closely at different style saw blades, you will see the differences in how the blade’s teeth are positioned, and their tooth patterns. This page will explain what they are called, and what type of cutting they’re typically used for, so you can make the right choice for your project. Hopefully, you will save yourself some time and headaches. The 3 most common types of teeth design are the Alternate Top Bevel (ATB), Flat Top Grind (FTG) and Triple Chip Grind (TCG). These tooth designs are made in both thin kerf and full kerf blades.

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What is Saw Blade Kerf? Thin Kerf Versus Full Kerf

Kerf Width Explained

Here’s an example on how to measure for cuts taking the kerf of the blade into account.

Let’s say you have a baseball bat that’s 30 inches long. You want to cut the bat in half, so you end up with a 15-inch barrel (the thick half) and a 15-inch handle (the thin half). You cut the bat in half with your saw. It looks great! You cut the bat right in the middle. Now you have the thin handle and the thicker barrel that are the same length.

saw blade kerf baseball bat
When you cut the bat in half, you end up with the handle and the barrel.

Now you measure both to make sure they are both an equal 15” long. But they’re not. Both are a bit shorter than 15” now. Both are the same length of 14- 15/16”- a touch shorter than 15 inches. The reason for this is the kerf of the saw blade was 1/8 of an inch. The kerf is the width of the saw blade and the amount of material removed during a cut.

The saw blade removed 1/8 of an inch of wood when it was making the cut. Divide the 1/8″ in half to determine how much extra wood was removed each half of the bat, that is 1/16″ on each side. That is why both halves of the bat are 14- 15/16 inches and not 15 inches. The saw blade didn’t just cut the bat in half- it removed all the wood in the path of the saw blade. The width of the material removed is called the kerf.

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