Small-diameter Blades

When I slice packs of shop-made inlay or work with material that’s expensive, I generally install a 7-1/4”-diameter, thin saw blade on my table saw. The smaller-diameter blades produce less waste and the material with which I’m working stays around longer. That’s a good thing.

This past week I discovered another good thing about using smaller diameter, thin blades. As I turned off my saw I noticed that the spin-down time was significantly less. To the engineer types out there, this is probably not a revolution. It could easily be explained on a white board, I’m sure. But to a woodworker settled deep in his rut, it was eye opening.

Could this be an advantage? Table saws in Europe are required to stop in 10 seconds or less from the time the stop button is punched. And I remember seeing antique saws spin down for what could have been measured in days! With some machines you can turn off the switch and later still return to make through cuts.

How much quicker was the spin down? In my Delta table saw the 7-1/4”-diameter blade stopped fully in 4.89 seconds. My 10”, full-kerf table saw blade stopped in 12.47 seconds. That’s a substantial savings in stop time, and presents less of a chance that something that shouldn’t finds its way into a spinning blade does – think hands, fingers or tape measures. (By the way, there was nothing scientific in my measurements, and I very much like the Infinity blade that’s on my saw at this time. Yes, I know it needs to be cleaned.)

All of this, of course, is insignificant if the cut is compromised. I had 3/4” x 9’-0” sapele to rip, so I made a few cuts using the smaller blade. If anything, the cut was easier. Nothing sacrificed that I could see, but my guess is that differences would be found if I were cutting thicker stock. Using the smaller blade only allows me to cut to a thickness of 1-7/8″. If your stock is thicker, you need to bump up in blade diameter if you’re working with a standard 10″ table saw.

With a smaller blade you have little if any difference when cutting the majority of the stock used in most wood shops, you have a quicker spin-down down leaving less exposure to problems after cuts and you have less wear and tear on your machine. This all sounds OK by me.

Am I advocating changing to smaller-diameter blades at a table saw? Nope. Am I going to look into the idea a bit more? Yes.

What’s you’re opinion?

— Glen D. Huey


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One thought on “Small-diameter Blades

  1. I have noticed the same thing as you Glen.
    My smaller blade is used for the majority of my break-down cuts, and then I used my good blade (Woodworker II full Kerf 10″) for final cuts or if I want a very clean edge.
    The smaller blade also bogs down less on my R4512 Ridgid (1 3/4HP) when cutting thicker hard maple.
    I have yet to find a really “good” 7 1/4″ blade though.

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