Miter Saw Owners: How Science Put the Carbide on Your Saw Blade - Physics Industry

Physics in Industry Days – From Science to Tools

Miter Saw Owners: How Science Put the Carbide on Your Saw Blade

tough saw blade

Why take the miter saw as an example in advanced tool making?

Whenever you want accurate and clean crosscuts on your wood or other materials, the first tool that comes to mind is a miter saw. It’s a rather common tool, but it’s also a marvel of science and engineering, starting with the platform itself and ending with the blade.

What’s a miter saw anyway?

The most common miter saw is the manual model and it’s actually a saw suspended on rollers or slides in a metal guide that works with a miter box, giving you precise and clean crosscuts and miter cuts. Contractors use them all the time, and some people use them at home from time to time, when picture framing or manually wood working.

In case you want more power than that, you may use a power miter saw (also known as a drop saw), which is a strong tool used to make fast a precise crosscut in a work piece, at a specific angle. The miter saw makes a cut by pulling a circular saw blade down onto a work piece in a short, controlled motion. You hold the work piece against a fence which gives you accurate cutting angle between the plane of the blade and the plane of the longest work piece edge. Most commonly, we’re talking about a 90-degree angle.

The miter saw stands out from others with its miter index that gives you the ability to change the angle relative to the fence. Most miter saws give you accurate one-degree incremental changes to the miter index and even “stops” that let you set the miter index to common angles (15, 22.5, 30 or 45 degrees).

Typically, you use a miter saw for framing or cutting molding. Most of the miter saws out there are small and easy to carry around and feature common blade sizes, from 8 to 12 inches. For more on miter saws visit

How about the carbide on your saw blade?

Carbide comes out of the chemistry labs and is in fact a compound made of carbon and other less electronegative elements. In plain English, carbide is a material commonly found on most cutting tools out there: saw blades, drill bits, router bits, dental drills, and so on.

Carbide became popular as it stays sharper longer than other materials and, as surprising this might be for you, some ball-point pens use carbide balls for a longer life span.

Any carbide-tipped saw blade requires a main body of the blade made of steel. The small tips of carbide get brazed on the body.

What’s great about a high quality carbide tip is that it’s able to hold an edge ten to twenty times longer than a tool with a steel tip.

The carbide-tipped circular blades are actually low priced and this is why they have become one of the most popular choices of the do-it-yourselfers. On a plus, they give high performance for a very long time, along the table saws and radial-arm saws.

Some manufacturers are determined to sustain that carbide-tipped blades remain sharp up to 50 times as long as steel blades.

In order to get best performances though, you still need to select and use carefully the carbide tipped circular blades as not all of them are equal when it comes to cutting ability.

It’s not a rule, but a low priced carbide circular blade gives you poor cutting ability and it’s an unfortunate investment in the end.

A carbide-tipped blade for a portable circular saw is versatile and may be used in all kinds of situations, cutting all kinds of wood, from plywood to hardboard, wallboard and even plastics. The more teeth on the blade, the smoother the cut is.

As it figures, the market also gives you special-purpose blade in portable-saws sizes. Try not to mix it though, just to play it on the safe side.

The main rule when using a carbide-tipped blade is to always stay safe and handle it carefully as little chips on tungsten carbide that form the tooth tips are sharp enough to easily scratch your skin. Get some help from protective face mask and blade guards when using one.


  • Community Events

    May 2019
    M T W T F S S
    « Jun    
  • Categories