Choosing Band Saw Blades for Your Woodworking Project

When it comes to choosing the right band saw blade, there are 5 aspects you need to take into consideration: the tooth shape, tooth set, blade width, teeth per inch and thickness all need to be contemplated. First, you will need to figure out what material you are going to be cutting for you project.  

Tooth Shape

There are 4 different teeth shapes to choose from:

  • Regular tooth blades are ideal for cutting metals.
  • Hook tooth blades are great for nonferrous materials, harder woods and plastics.
  • Skip tooth blades are best for soft nonferrous materials and woodworking.
  • Variable tooth blades are all-purpose blades, superb for cut-off and contouring jobs.

Tooth Sets

There are 4 different tooth sets to choose from. The raker tooth set has one tooth to the right, one to the center, and one to the left and repeats in that pattern. This cuts thick metals with ease and is recommended for just that.

Straight tooth sets have all of the teeth pointing in the same direction. For fast, smooth cuts when woodworking, this is going to be the blade of choice.

The straight tooth set is interchangeable with the alternating tooth blade. Both will work well for fluid wood cuts. The alternating tooth blade has one tooth to the right, one to the left and continues on in that fashion.

Finally, there is the wavy tooth set. This blade has teeth flowing from the left to right and back and is offset at different angles, giving it the look of a wave. This blade is perfect for cutting pipe or small sheets of metal. Thus, when it comes to woodworking, you are going to want either a straight tooth or alternating tooth blade.

Blade Width

If you will be cutting circles, you will need to pay close attention to selecting blade width since the blade width determines the radius of the circle that you will be able to cut. Please refer to the “Band Saw Blade Radius Guide” here on to determine the correct width for the circle you wish to cut. 

For other types of cuts, keep in mind that the wider the blade is, the straighter your cut must be.  If you are simply going to be doing straight cuts, choose the blade that is as thick as the machine will allow.  You will not be able to round out corners smoothly with a wide blade. For contour cutting, you should choose a blade that is narrow enough to allow cutting any angles you may need to make.

Teeth Per Inch (TPI)

When it comes to teeth per inch, the more teeth you have per inch, the slower and smoother your cut will be.  When cutting thick materials, you are going to want a low TPI to get the job done faster.  When looking for a smooth finish to your cut, you will want a higher TPI.

Blade Thickness

First you will need to determine the diameter of your band saw’s wheels.  Keep in mind that thicker blades suffer more fatigue than thinner ones.  For lightweight material, a lighter blade should be used.  Follow these guidelines based on the diameter of your wheels to determine blade thickness:

  • 4-6 inches: .014 inch
  • 6-8 inches: .018 inch
  • 8-11 inches: .020 inch
  • 11-18 inches: .025 inch
  • 18-24 inches: .032 inch
  • 24-30 inches: .035 inch
  • 30 inches and over: .042 inch, .050 inch, .063 inch