When Cheap and Great Go Together
Jan 4, 2003 (Updated Jan 4, 2003)
Review by Larry Carpenter
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Inexpensive, excellent finish, great cut, smooth operation.
The Bottom Line: Dollar for dollar, cut for cut, the Oldham Signature blade is the one to use.
Why the Oldham 10 in. x 40T Saw Blade, Combination/Table Saw 1007740T when there are so many of the type to choose from? Ill get to the detailed answer a little later, but, for those who dont like mysteries, the answer is best bang for the buck
Recommend this product?
The 40 tooth, 10 inch blade is the blade you will most often find packaged with a new table saw. It is also the one you will most frequently find mounted on a table saw ready for use. Heres why. This blade is generally called a general purpose or combination blade. For purists it is a general purpose blade. The carbide teeth are set in a pattern of four ATB (alternate tooth bevel) teeth in each set of ten sets around the rim of the blank. Each set is divided by a deep gullet. In case you are looking at the picture of the blade, it is actually a picture of Oldham's 50 tooth planer/combination blade with an ATBR tooth pattern.
This configuration, over the years, has been found to be the best compromise in obtaining smooth cuts with a reasonable feed speed both across the grain of wood (crosscutting) and parallel to the grain (ripping). So, the draw of this blade type is convenience. You dont have to change blades to rip and then again to crosscut. Each tooth has a carbide tip that comes to a sharp point. It is beveled toward the inside of the tooth. Every other tooth has the bevel on the alternate side of the blade, thus ATB.
It has two weaknesses. One, since it is a compromise, it cuts slower than a dedicated blade and leaves more tear-out on the edge of the board in some wood types. And two, if you are using the blade to plough a groove in wood, rather than cutting all the way through, the top of the cut is left as a V instead of flat.
Oldham has been in the business of making saw blades since 1857. It was run by the family in North Carolina until October of 2002. Pentair, parent company of Delta and Porter-Cable, now owns the company. All its blades are made in its factory by skilled workmen. They use state-of-the-art tools to produce their blades and are highly regarded in the professional industry. The Signature series of blades, aimed at the home woodworker market, is a relatively new branding, but their line of similar blades goes well back in their history.
Why buy this blade?
Earlier, I said I would get to the detail. Here it comes.
This particular blade is a ten-inch standard-kerf blade. Standard-kerf normally means 0.125 inches or 1/8 inch of thickness at the widest point of the teeth. The Oldham is actually 0.120. It has a 5/8 hole which will fit just about any 10 inch table saw made today, except for Shopsmith. You will need a special adaptor, available from Shopsmith, for that one.
Some of the features of this blade include: heat treated body; Teflon coated body; super hard micro-grain carbide teeth; shallow side clearance angles; and sharpening to a 600 grit finish. The heat-treatment guarantees run-out of no more than .002 inches on Oldhams top-of-the-line blade. The Teflon powder coating reduces heat generated through friction and helps combat pitch and gum buildup. The micro-grain hard carbide tips allow a steeper bevel angle which reduces the tear-out by making the tip narrower. The shallow side clearance angles take extra work but give less machining marks to the cut edges. The sharpening leaves the cutting edges of each blade polished to both allow smoother cuts and less tear-out.
The hook angle of the teeth is 18 degrees. That is pretty aggressive. It can only be done because of the previously discussed features of this blade. Hook angle is the tilt of each tooth toward (positive hook angle) or away (negative hook angle) the cutting direction of the blade. A high positive hook angle (most blades of this type have hook angles of less than 15 degrees) allows the blade to slice through the wood faster. The blade has deeper gullets to accommodate the extra material removed.
Blades tend to expand when heated. The Oldham Signature blades have relief slots to allow the expansion without distorting the blade. They work well.
But how well does it work?
When I first got this blade, I tested it against my Forrest Woodworker II, arguably the best woodworking blade made today, and also against both my Freud 40 tooth and my Systimatic 40 tooth.
The Woodworker II came in first for speed of cut and smoothness of edge in both rip and crosscut operations. The Oldham was second and the other two both got a close third place tie. The test was done with maple, red oak, fir, white pine, and ¾ inch birch plywood.
For the last six months or so, the Oldham stays on my Jet Contractors Saw, with the Woodworker II used occasionally for special cuts. I havent had the Systimatic on since although I still occasionally grab the Freud.
What do you get?
When you pick up an Oldham package at your favorite big box store, you get a nice heavy cardboard pack that can be used to store the blade, the blade itself, and (heres the real surprise) a blade stabilizer. The blade stabilizer is installed over the arbor of the saw between the blade and the arbor nut and works to reduce vibration. Bought separately this item cost over ten dollars. It also works.
I got my blade at Home Depot for under $30.00. That makes the blade by itself cost about $20.00. Wander the aisles of any big box store and price their carbide blades in this configuration. If I remember right, the Freud took around $40.00 to get and the Systimatic took nearly $70.00. The Forrest blade will take a $20.00 bill added to a $100.00 bill to own.
So I will end this review like I started it. There is no better blade, dollar for dollar, on the market today. It will do a credible job for any serious woodworker for a good, long time.
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