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I have heard that the stock blades that come with miter saws are "crap" and that you should replace the blade. I recently bought a normal consumer grade 10" miter saw (a Dewalt DW713) which I plan to use for cabinetry. Should I replace the blade or just go ahead and use the stock blade?

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3 Answers 3

While I can't speak to the quality of all manufacturers blades, in general the blade that comes with the saw is of no lower quality than any other blade offered by the manufacturer.

Most miter saws come with a 24 tooth FTG (Flat Top Grind) blade, which is good for fast course cuts. If you're looking to chop 2x lumber, this blade will work fine for you. If you're planning to use the saw to make fine cuts, you'll want to upgrade to a blade with more teeth and a grind that reduces tear out.


More About Circular Saw Blades.

Number of teeth

In general, the more teeth a blade has, the finer the cut it will produce. A blade with 24 teeth; for example, will remove more material with each blade than say a 40 tooth blade. because more material is removed more quickly, the quality of the cut is lower.

Grind

The grind of the blade, describes the shape of the tips of the teeth.

Flat Top (FT)

As the name describes, the tips of these teeth are flat, or straight across. These blades produce the courses cut, and often result in lots of chip out.

FT Blade

Alternate Top Bevel (ATB)

The teeth of these blades alternate between a right, and left handed bevels. If you look at the teeth, you'll see that one is beveled one way, while the next is beveled the opposite way. These blades produce a finer cut that FT blades, and result in less chip out.

ATB Blade

Combination (COMB)

These blades consist of groups of teeth, where one will be FT with the rest being ATB. Typically there will be a group or 5 teeth (1 FT, 4 ATB), where each group is separated gap (gullet). These are more general use blades, and do fairly well at both ripping (cutting along the grain) and crosscutting (cutting across the grain).

COMB Blade

Triple Chip Grind (TCG)

The teeth of these blades alternate between a FT tooth, and a double beveled tooth (bevel on left and right, with a flat top). They are good for cutting hard materials, so are often used to cut MDF, plastics, and laminates.

TCG Blade

High Alternate Top Bevel (HiATB)

These blades have alternating beveled teeth like an ATB blade, except that the bevel angle is much greater. An ATB tooth is typically beveled at 10-20°, a HiATB tooth will be beveled at 25-40°. These blades are good for extra fine crosscutting, and reduce chip out to a minimum.

HiATB

freud blades used for example purposes only, because they show the tooth configuration on the blade. I have no affinity towards freud.

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I don't know if I'd go as far as to call the stock blades "crap", but most of the stock ones are going to be basically all-purpose blades. I use mine mainly for framing, and the stock blade was actually a little nicer than I need for what I'm using it for. If you're going to use it for cabinetry, you'll likely want to get a blade for it geared toward that specific application. Look for 80 or higher tooth count, thin kerf, and a low or negative tooth angle. Just change it back to the stock one before you start chopping 2x4s with it.

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I am not a cabinet maker at all. I own a 12" Dewalt compound. I replace the blade once a year and it gets used a lot. I buy blades comparable to the stock. The saw has basically cut any object that you can imagine. It handles baseboards OK, and on some door trim. Mainly it is just used for framing and cutting odds and ends.

When I have a crew doing woodwork at a house, usually one of the guys will have a more appropriate blade (and better saw) - more teeth, thicker, sharper. Do I notice a difference? For sure. It is like taking your favorite steak knife out of the drawer to cut a ribeye, where mine maybe like using a sharp butter knife.

What are the issues with a bad blade? Mainly the finish and the kickback. Really you are weighing the extra time sanding and money wasted throwing out nicked pieces. If I were making cabinets I would upgrade.

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