A zero clearance insert (ZCI) is a one of the most beneficial accessories you can use with a table saw. It’s a replacement for the throat plate that comes with your table saw. The purpose of a zero clearance insert is to bring the distance between the saw blade and the nearest supporting surface down to zero. As in zero clearance. In other words, there is no gap between the table saw top and the saw blade. The insert is as close as it can to the saw blade without physically touching it.
Ripping, or cutting with the grain is an easy cut. Before there were motorized saws, you had hand saws with 10 or less large teeth for ripping plywood sheets as fast and straight as possible. The saw “rips” the wood apart. It is easier than a crosscut because you are cutting with the grain of the wood.
Picture swinging an axe into the top of a log that is standing up. When you hit the log, the axe is ripping the wood apart through sheer force. But you can hit the log without much force and still split the wood. In this example, you’re splitting the wood with the grain. You can pull off fibers of wood where the axe has split it. It’s possible to pull off a single wood fiber that is the entire length of the wood. That is the idea behind rip cuts- you cut with the grain to minimize effort.
Rip blades are optimized to cut through wood with, or along the grain. Typically used for initial cuts, they clear long fibers of wood where there is less resistance than when cutting across the grain. Using a flat top grind (FTG) tooth pattern, low tooth count (10T- 24T), and a hook angle of at least 20 degrees, a ripping blade cuts through wood along the grain quickly and efficiently with a high feed rate.
Determining When it’s Time to Sharpen or Replace a Dull Saw Blade
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
Using the right saw blade is like having the right set of tires on your car. If you’re driving a Corvette, you want to have high-performance tires on the car. You want to take turns hard, and go fast. That fits the purpose of a sports car. Performance is what you’re looking for. If you live in Minnesota, you want snow tires on your car in the winter. You want a better grip on the road when it snows and gets slippery. Traction in bad conditions is your goal on snowy roads. Here are some tips for picking saw blades that will help you choose which is right for you.
Just like cars and tires, all saw blades are not created equal. You get what you pay for when it comes to saw blades, and all tools in general. Better saw blades use better materials. Better steel, better manufacturing, better quality control are all things you are paying for. You also have to take the kerf of the blade, and the tooth design into consideration when you put the blade to work. Both of which affect the quality of the blade and the quality of the cut it will make.
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.