I received the Forrest Woodworker II (WWII) 40 tooth 10" blade as a gift for my new table saw.....what a gift! In a recent survey on one of the more advanced woodworking sites, this blade is the choice of about 62% of well equipped woodworker's shops. It's well known for it's versatility, smoothness of cuts, sharpness and durability. It does an excellent job of the vast majority of cuts. With 40 teeth, it's not intended to be a primary ripping blade for thick stock, yet given enough power it will do a very respectable job of even tough ripping. Also with 40 teeth, it defies conventional wisdom of making clean cross cuts even when compared to many 60-80 tooth finishing blades. It will also do a nice job on plywood and melamine.
The WWII is available in a 30 or 40 tooth configuration, and as a thin kerf or full kerf blade. It's considered a general purpose blade that will handle the vast majority of cuts without requiring changing to a specialized blade. Forrest doesn't offer alot of technical hype or use the latest buzz terms....they just seem to quietly go about the task of making really good blades. What makes a Mercedes nicer than a Buick? Whatever they've done, they've done it right. Like most top blade manufactures, Forrest uses the highest grade C4 carbide for it's teeth. Forrest is renowned for their ability to sharpen (and resharpen) a blade....both their own models and those of other manufacturers. It's not surprising that the teeth on the WWII are razor sharp. Extreme caution is needed when peeling off the protective rubber coating from the teeth and mounting the blade for the first time. Also like most top blades, the teeth are very large meaning they will tolerate multiple sharpenings should the need arise. To achieve the combination of smooth cutting and good ripping, Forrest uses relatively few teeth compared to a finishing blade, an alternate top bevel grind (ATB) for clean cuts, and a fairly aggressive rake angle similar to a ripping blade. My blade was a thin kerf version which Forrest recommends for saws below 3hp. Their website will guide you through the best choice for your needs, recommending the TK for saws with less than a 3hp motor. Some thin kerf blades suffer from deflection due to having a thinner body, and can require a blade stiffener or stabilizer. Forrest will suggest using a stabilizer, but keep in mind that they also sell them. A stabiliser isn't a bad idea, but so far I haven't noticed any problems due to deflection and have not felt the need for one.
This blade is truly a pleasure to use. The more I use it, the more impressed I am with it. After about 15 months of average hobby use it's still extremely sharp....even though I've been cutting alot of hard maple lately, and accidentally clipped through a metal brad (lengthwise). Cuts are so smooth and clean. Many times it's difficult to detect any saw makes at all....almost always, detection of saw marks requires holding the edge of a board up to a light. Splintering and tearout is minimal to non-existant depending on the wood, type of cut, and feed rate. True to it's general purpose design, it's extremely versatile. It cuts cleanly on rip cuts, cross cuts, dados/rabbets, plywood/melamine/MDF, soft pine or hard wood of many varities. A top quality 80T blade of comparable quality to the Forrest, will likely make cleaner crosscut and cuts in fine plywoods or melamine, but will offer very poor versatility on other types of cuts. Inversely, a top ripper will likely have an easier time in thick hardwoods, albeit at the expense of a rougher cut than the WWII. It isn't until I got into 8/4" and 10/4" hard maple that I began to think a dedicated ripping blade would be a better choice. Even with the really thick maple, the power of my saw is the biggest drawback. I have no doubt the WWII would do an admirable job with these cuts on a 3hp cabinet saw.....it's just not what it's recommended for, and may not be the best use of an expensive blade. The WWII cuts so cleanly, I've heard of many woodworkers who get the 30T version and use it for general purpose duty and for heavy ripping. They claim extremely clean cuts also.
At ~ $100, this is an expensive blade. Had I not received it as a gift, I'd have a tough time parting with a "C-Note" for a saw blade, but knowing what I know now, I'll heartily recommend it and would buy another one the next time I need a general purpose blade. A few months prior to receiving the Forrest, I bought a Freud LU84R011 that I think is a fine blade....the Forrest WWII outperforms the Freud LU84 on every cut. At twice the price it should. Freud makes a model F410 that is designed and priced more comparably to the WWII, and is a more fair comparison. The Forrest is the only true top shelf blade I've used on a regular basis so I can't compare it's performance to comparably priced blades from Freud, CMT, Systimatic, Ridge Carbide, Amana, or Tenryu. If you're the least bit demanding of your woodworking, I highly recommend the Forrest WWII 40T blade.
Since writing this review I've added a Ridge Carbide TS2000 to the collection. It's very similar in design and construction to the WWII...a 40T thin kerf general purpose blade with similar tooth grind and geometry. The RC does include a raker tooth every 5th tooth to leave a flat bottom...a feature that the WWII has supposedly just introduced. It's one of the few blades on the market that might be considered a true equal to the WWII. It's the only other blade that I've ever handled that felt as sharp out of the package as the Forrest. Ridge Carbide was formed by former employees of Forrest. Retail is $120, it has a very limited distribution, and rarely goes on sale. (It's available primarily through Ridgecarbide.com) The carbide is noticeably thicker on the RC than the Forrest...maybe 30-40% thicker. Initial test cuts were pretty much inconclusive, meaning that so far it has a comparable cut quality as far as I can tell with my non-scientific experiment to the Forrest. It's difficult to tell the cuts apart.
The last time I used the TS2000 was to cut black walnut and it burned badly. I haven't experimented with the same piece of wood using the WWII yet, so I can't yet attribute the burning specifically to the TS2000...it could very easily have been the wood. Bottom line is this blade appears to be stiff competition for any blade on the market and is extraordinarily well made.
I've also since tried a comparable Tenry Gold Medal and DeWalt DW7657. Both are fine blades with a similar design and similar cut to the WWII. It'd likely take a more scientific comparison than I'm capable of to really determine which blade is best. I still lean toward the WWII b/c of it's stellar performance, it's American made, competively priced, offers both full and thin kerf widths, and commands higher resale value than the others.
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