Take a bow Mr. Freud!
Apr 12, 2006 (Updated Apr 14, 2007)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Excellent performance and quality, good versatility, good value, lifetime warranty. 1st blade I reach for.
Cons:Won't rip efficiently over 1.5"
The Bottom Line: A terrific, versatile, high quality, clean cutting thin kerf crosscut blade that can handle some ripping and many general purpose duties too. Definitely recommended.
Freud lists the LU88R010 as a 60T thin kerf (TK) crosscut blade. It has laser cut anti-vibration slots and a Permashield coating to reduce friction. It also features very hard C4 micrograin carbide that can be sharpened to a very fine edge and should hold that edge well. The teeth are fairly large and should withstand multiple sharpenings. The alternate top bevel (ATB) teeth are shaped to score the wood and slice through fibers very cleanly with minimal tearout. The LU88 is part of Freud's better "L" series of blades which are a step above their "Diablo" and "TK/Avanti" series that are typically sold through home centers. It comes with Freud's standard lifetime warranty and is readily available from many retailers who cater to the woodworking community.
Recommend this product?
As far as high quality crosscut blades go, the teeth on this one have a fairly aggressive 15 degree hook angle to help increase the feedrate and give this blade some ripping capabilities in addition to it's primary crosscutting tasks. The hook angle is the pitch that the teeth lean forward at. A higher hook angle generally signals a more aggressive bite from each tooth. The LU88 is not really considered a general purpose blade, but it does offer some functionality that many crosscut blades don't have, enabling it to "step out of it's comfort zone" more readily and assist with non-crosscutting duties. The hook angle and tooth grind, combined with the fact that it has a thin kerf body, is what makes this blade very appealing for my needs....that, and it's excellent performance! Blade technology has evolved alot in recent years. My experience has been that good quality 3/32" thin kerf blades cut as cleanly as good quality 1/8" full kerf blades now. Even without the aid of a stiffener or dampener there is no detectable deflection that the older designs and poor quality TK's are known for. TK's also have the benefit of not taxing the motor as much because they remove less material. Recent magazine articles from Wood and American Woodworker (issue #118) back that claim with similar findings, and many of the top manufacturers suggest TK's with saws that are less than a full 3 horsepower. Cheaper TK's and ultra TK's should be avoided for precision applications. I'm not convinced that the Permashield coating is worth paying much extra for. It looks good and makes it easy to clean, but very few of the top blades on the market offer this coating, including Freud's own premier F410 and F810....the Forrest, Tenryu Gold Medal, Ridge Carbide, Leitz, Schumacher & Sohn, Everlast, and DeWalt 7657 don't have it either...it's interesting that many companies put it on their lesser models though, but not their top line.
Good quality blades that are designed to be used primarily for dedicated crosscutting typically cut very cleanly in sheetgoods and crosscutting of hard and soft woods, but most fall short in their ability to rip and handle thick stock. They're more prone to burning from slower feedrates and aren't design for ripping thick stock without added strain on the saw motor. Common logic says that a higher tooth count offers a cleaner cut but slower feedrate, and a lower tooth count cuts faster but not as cleanly. The actual science of blade design is much more involved than the general rules of thumb, and most blades offer unique compromises depending on the intended application. By varying the many design aspects like tooth count, hook angle, relief angles, grind type, body stiffness, etc., excellent results can still be achieved that seem to defy common logic. Freud and Oldham both offer excellent explanations of modern blade design on their respective websites.
Most blades that are designed as dedicated crosscut blades have a low to negative hook angle and high tooth count for a clean, highly polished edge that comes at the expense of poor ripping performance, and hence poor versatility....they do one job well. The LU88's tooth count is fairly high, but the tooth geometry is more similar to a highend general purpose blade like the Forrest or Freud F410, in that it has a steep hook angle and an ATB tooth grind. Note that a steep hook angle does not lend itself well for use in a power miter saw or radial arm saw, but is excellent for many table saw applications. Time will tell how long the teeth stay sharp...an area where the WWII really shines.
The LU88 is somewhat of an exception for a crosscut blade. The aggressive hook angle gives it the ability to rip respectably well on stock < 1" thick with minimal burning, minimal tearout, and at a surprisingly fast feedrate. Moderately thick pine, hard maple, cherry, black walnut, and oak were all handled with similar ease....I've even ripped 6/4" elm with it. It's difficult to detect blade marks and tearout on any cut I've made with the LU88. Most of the other good quality general purpose, combination, or crosscut blades that I've tried did not cut better than my trusty 40T Forrest WWII general purpose blade. Of the blades I've tried (see list below*), only the premier Freud F810, DW7657, and Ridge Carbide TS2000 held their own or bested the Forrest. The F810 is an impressive thoroughbred 80T Hi-ATB crosscut blade that leaves an amazingly smooth polished splinter free finish....it's hard to imagine a better cut. It worked beautifully in hardwoods and should be an outstanding choice for ply and many sheetgoods. However, like other pure crosscut blades, it's tooth configuration does not lend itself well for ripping tasks or thick material, and the steep bevel of the Hi-ATB grind will dull more quickly than others, so it's nowhere near as versatile as the WWII or the LU88. The Ridge Carbide and DW7657 are similar enough to the Forrest, that I consider them all roughly interchangeable. The LU88 offers a nice balance between a pure crosscutting blade and a typical general purpose blade. It's cut quality is ever so slightly cleaner than the Forrest's, but not quite as polished as the F810's. It will rip considerably better than the F810 and rips well compared to the Forrest in cut quality but bogs down sooner in thick stock. The Forrest and the LU88 both fall short of the aggressive ripping efficiency that a 24T dedicated ripping blade will offer, although both leave a cleaner cut....there's always a tradeoff of some sort. Keep in mind these are the unscientific findings and opinions of a weekend wood butcher, and are subject to a myriad of variables.
I like this blade alot ... it's the first dedicated crosscut blade that I've liked well to enough to actually keep long term. I've used several others that I liked and that were very good, but I essentially couldn't justify keeping them around because they just didn't offer any capabilities that I needed that my current blades didn't already have. The LU88R010 isn't quite as versatile as my Forrest and isn't likely to replace it as my primary blade, but there are definitely applications where it will be gainfully employed and appreciated for what it can do. It's versatile enough that if it happens to be in the saw, I won't feel an urgent need to change it for most of the types of cuts I do. While it's true that a high quality purebred crosscut and ripper will do their respective jobs better in the extreme ranges than general purpose blades designed with versatility in mind, the difference is often minor in my opinion. I've not yet found justification for an expensive fine dedicated blade like the F810...perhaps use of fine veneered sheetgoods would justify it, but I get the results I need without one. The WWII, and now the LU88, will offer as clean of a cut as I'm likely to need, but I'll continue to use a dedicated rip blade for very heavy ripping operations to spare my saw's motor and the teeth of the finer blades. At ~ $50, the LU88R010 offers decent versatility from a very nice crosscut blade at a price that I consider a good value. It'll also do a decent job of pretending to be a general purpose blade for most applications...it far exceeded my expectations!
* (Freud 50T LU84R011, Leitz 40T, Leitz 50T combo, Leitz 60T, Freud LU82M010 60T, DeWalt DW7646 60T, Oldham 60T finishing, Freud F810 80T, Ridge Carbide TS2000 40T, Freud 40T LU86R010, Tenryu Gold Medal 40T, Tenryu RS25550 50T & RS25540 40T, DW7647 80T, Freud LU74R010 80T, Infinity Combomax 50T, Ridgid 1060 60T)
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