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Cutting versatility, today's crop of combination blades can produce good to excellent cuts in solid wood and sheet goods.

ouldn't it be great if you could buy just one carbide blade and leave it on the tablesaw all the time? The perfect all-purpose blade would make glass-smooth crosscuts and glue-line rips in solid wood, and also produce clean, chip-free edges in plywood and other sheet materials. Docs such a blade exist?

Not quite. But the steady improvement in the quality of carbide-tooth "combo" blades over the past 15 years shows that manufacturers are pushing hard to develop that ideal all-purpose tablesaw blade. For this buyer's guide, we tested a total of 19 10-in. blades priced from $45 to $119. Our findings will help you decide which blade is best for your budget and the kind of woodworking you do.

Combo vs. All-Purpose

There are two kinds of carbide-tooth combination blades on the market today: the traditional 50-tooth combo blade and the newer 40-tooth "all-purpose" blade. (See sidebar, opposite.) Don't be confused by the terminology. Combination and all-purpose blades are meant to do the same thing: make smooth, accurate cuts in solid wood and most sheet materials. How well they deliver is the subject of our performance tests.

Tune First, Then Test

To get the best results from any tablesaw blade, your saw needs to be fine-tuned. Before we tested the blades, we super-tuned a 3-HP Jet cabinet saw. We measured the runout of the arbor flange at less than 0.001 in. (We consider less than 0.003 in. runout acceptable.) Then we adjusted the tablctop's position on its base to get the blade perfectly parallel with the miter slots, and we made sure that the rip fence was straight and exactly parallel with the miter slots. (For more on super-tuning a tablesaw, see AW #43.)

Most of our performance tests involved cutting into three species of solid wood—pine, oak, and hard maple—and two different sheet materials, birch plywood and mclaminc-coatcd particleboard (MCP). But before we started slicing through those materials, we chcckcd out two other important factors. First, we measured each blade's arbor hole to make sure that the diameter was exactly Vg in. If you can feel slop between the blade and the arbor when installing the blade, or if the blade fits too tightly on the arbor, this will adversely affect the cut. None of our test blades had either of these problems.

Second, we measured each blade's noise level. Noise originates primarily from blade vibration and air turbulence in the w

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