The Battle of the Blades has begun

Had an opportunity over the weekend to start running the sawblades though their paces.  There were some unexpected, and rather surprising results from the tests.  I certainly haven’t gotten through all the blades yet, but already there were some definite stand-out blades, and some that fell rather short of expectation.

Had a couple of other woodworkers around to help (and I think they were interested in seeing what the various blades could do as well), so it was a good shed day.  (It was also the fomal commissioning of the saw :) )

To start off, we replaced the standard insert with a zero clearance one.  There are two reasons for this.  Firstly, it minimises tearout, and secondly (and more importantly for this session), we wanted easy access to the riving knife quick release. It’s how the original insert should have been designed.  No so much the zero clearance (because the blade cannot be tilted with one – you need a different insert for each blade angle), but the opening at the back to allow the riving knife and guard to be added and removed without having to lift the insert and reach underneath each time.

Zero Clearance Insert

Riving Quick Release

Closeup view showing the riving knife quick release

Creating the hole was made significantly easier with the addition of the Pro Drill Table on the drill press.  Might sound like a bit of a sell, but I found that it really did make the drill press more functional, and particularly for this job, having the fence to keep the individual holes lined up, and of course the superior holddowns.  Ok, enough of that, I just wanted to say that it really is a good upgrade!

DrillPress Table

Of the blades themselves, I won’t do a blow-by-blow (as yet), but one surprising result was the Linbide 24 tooth ripping blade.  We were all standing back when it came to cutting the melamine sheet.  The teeth, we thought, was going to literally eat and spit out this sheet, but instead it was “I can’t believe it’s not butter” (or in this case “I can’t believe it isn’t a dedicated melamine cutting blade”) as it was the cleanest of all the blades so far (and that includes the 100 tooth ones), on both the top and bottom surfaces.  Where it came to its actual forte, ripping, it was butter (and what it was cutting went as easy as if it was butter too!)  Quite outstanding.

***Update*** btw, I also discovered why pine isn’t typically used for zero clearance inserts when there are anti-kickback pawls.  Trying to lower the sawblade (which carries the riving knife and attached anti-kickback pawls) causes the pawls to dig into the surface of the zero-clearance plate, and stops the blade from being able to be lowered.  This isn’t true for all saws obviously, as many don’t have an attached riving knife, or anti-kickback pawls either.  In my case, I will look at getting some appropriately thicknessed UHMD plastic, or in the interum some MDF cored melamine.***

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