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June 2008
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The Circular Saw and the Secrets of the Kerf

Last post I described Square and the Swanson Speed Square. There are other brands made from other materials and you can buy what you want, but the Speed Square is the best bang for your buck. Now that you have your speed square and are familiar with  its operation, how do we cut our  material?

The Circular Saw

For this discussion I am going out on a limb here and believe that you have an electric circular saw, also known as a skill saw, It is also called sidewinder by production carpenters and framers, who use worm drive saws.  No brand recommendations other than ask around and spend wisely.
Here is my latest  saw. Standard size weight and features. I had to replace my old saw I bought 10 years ago, after using it with a masonry blade for saw cutting some concrete. Just flat burned it out.

Saws get priced by Horse Power and Amperage. The more of each you have the better.  For more money, there are
some upgrades to the shoe and case, but these are not as important. This is a right handers saw. They do make left hand saws, but they are hard to find and usually more expensive. You do not need to go
crazy and buy the most expensive saw in the store. The vast majority of
you are remodeling your houses, not making a living as a framing

NOTE: Unplug your saw anytime you adjust the saw, or change blades.

This goes for any
electric tool. The pain in the butt this may represent is a gut
wrenching orgasm compared to the pain, suffering and cost of cutting
one of your fingers off.

If you are lucky
and I use lucky advisedly, you may have made a clean cut, can find the
missing finger, gotten to the hospital, have an Orthopedic surgeon able
to reattach your finger, hopefully reconnecting the nerves and tendons,
which may give you some feeling and movement back. Or you may be known
as ‘stumpy’.

What with costs,
therapy, you will be out around $60,000.00 bucks,(per) No this is not a
deal where you get to bargain a discount for multiple fingers.
You can buy a whole lot of remodeling for that money,

Unplug any electric tool anytime you adjust, or change tools.

When you buy your saw, buy new blades. The blade that comes with the
saw is like the starter cartridges you get when you buy a new printer.
For this discussion, we will focus on carbide blades for cutting wood. 2x
material and various panels like particle board and plywood.

Sawblades come in a  wide variety. For the purpose of  this  discussion  I will focus on  carbide blades for wood. They cut better, last longer, are quieter, and will give you the most value.

Secrets of the Kerf

This is the side view of a typical carbide blade. It has a number of teeth made out of carbide that act a chippers as the blade rotates. The more teeth, the smoother the cut. This is more important for cutting plywood, than cutting 2x material.

Looking at the business edge, note that the teeth are beveled and the bevels are angled. This is a double bevel blade. Every other tooth has the same bevel. This allows the blade to cut the material smoothly. Also notice that the teeth are wider than the body of the blade.

This is the kerf. This dictates how much material gets removed when you make your cuts.

This also creates a gap between the teeth and the body of the blade.
This is important because the blade heats up, and so does  the wood as
it cuts, causing the wood to expand. The kerf allows the blade to cut
without binding, Binding causes the saw to work harder, shortening its
life, and causing kickbacks, where the blade will kick the saw out of
your cuts, and may destroy your material and hurt you.

1 comment to The Circular Saw and the Secrets of the Kerf

  • Jim

    The saw kerf on an alternating offset tooth blade is the distance from outside of one tooth to the outside of the next tooth in either direction.