One of the most frustrating things I’ve ever had to deal with in woodworking is using blunt table saw blades.
Besides its work hazards, using them could be so time-consuming and stressful.
As a woodworker, from a safety and practical standpoint, it is imperative that you use a clean sharp blade.
So, how do you sharpen table saw blades? Let’s take a look at our step-by-step guide so you can save on the cost of replacing your saw blade.
I’ll also share a few maintenance tips and tricks on how to spot an unsharpened table saw blade.
Let’s dive in!
Table Saw Blades: How to Know When They Need Sharpening
One of the best skills you can have as a woodworker is knowing when your table saw needs sharpening.
So, to make things easy, I highlighted four signs:.
1. Blunt/Rough Wood Cuts
One of the signs you may spot easily is the type of cut your blade produces. If your cuts are not looking clean or are void of fine edges, your blade probably needs sharpening.
2. Wood Has Burn Marks
If you find burn marks on the face of wood you have just cut , check your blade as it may require sharpening.
Other factors can also cause burn marks, however, it’s generally the result of a blunt blade.
3. Increased Resistance
Cutting through any wood stock shouldn’t be a problem for a sharp table saw blade. But if your blade starts facing resistance, you should either sharpen or replace the blade.
You should never have to force a rip cut if a blade is sharp.
If you do force the cut, you have an increased risk of recoiling or jamming your saw blade, which equally poses a high risk of injury.
4. Blade Easily Slides on Your Fingers
Does your table saw use carbide? If the answer is yes, then it could help you confirm your blade’s sharpness.
How do you go about it?
1. Pinch the carbide tips with your forefinger and thumb
2. Gently slide down the blade with both fingers
If you feel a grab on your skin, then your blade is still sharp. But if you slide down easily without a grab, the blade is dull. In other words, the easier your fingers slide, the duller the blade.
5. Noisy Or Unusual Vibration
Has your table saw become noisier than usual? Do you experience a lot of vibrations when you’re cutting wooden material? Then, it’s probably time to check your blade.
Though, other factors can cause your table saw to get noisy or vibrate. But I advise that you confirm your blade’s sharpness first.
A Complete Step-by-Step Guide On How to Sharpen Your Table Saw Blades
Now that you can spot a blunt table saw blade the next thing to do is to sharpen your table saw blade.
But, before proceeding, ask yourself the following questions:
- What kind of blade are you dealing with?
- Is your table saw old?
- Does it have a curved or straight-edged blade?
Your answers will help you determine the steps to follow.
Also, you need to check if your blade teeth have enough carbide.
If it doesn’t, it may be daunting or even impossible to sharpen your table saw blade. In such a scenario, you may have to replace the saw blade.
Now, moving on…
Step 1- Get Your Tools Ready
These are the tools needed to sharpen your saw blade:
- Flat file
- Set of pliers
- Triangular file
- Ring spanner
- Screw clamps
Step 2- Observe Safety Precautions
This step involves you taking all safety precautions before starting. I can’t over-emphasize this fact. I almost lost my hand once because I was being careless. Luckily for me, I only sustained a minor injury.
So, you can start by choosing a flat surface to work on. Then, detach the blade from the table saw and place it somewhere safe, especially if you’ve got kids running in and out of your workshop.
Also, it’s vital to turn off your electrical outlet switch and unplug your saw’s cord. That way, you’ll be reducing the risks of having an electric shock while working.
The sharpening process is messy, so consider putting a tarp on the floor before kicking-off.
It’s ideal to use eye protection (safety goggles)—since shards of metal and dust may fly around. Suitable earmuffs are essential as well. Hand gloves are also a must to protect your hands.
Step 3 – Position And Sharpen Your Saw Blade
With everything in place, you can clamp your table saw blade with a vice or filing clip. Also, ensure that you stick a piece of wood between the table saw blade and vice—to avoid blade damage.
While you’re at it, ensure you make the teeth face up as far as possible to ensure it gets sharpened. Then, start honing your table saw blade with the sharpening file.
The rule of thumb here is to use strong back and forth strokes transversely. Continue until you get your desired result.
Afterwards, begin with the dressing.
So, what does that mean?
It means to level the teeth of the table saw blade—to form a horizontal line.
How do you achieve this?
Use a flat file to rub the blade’s teeth evenly until they are flat. When this happens, use your triangular file to sharpen the teeth again. That way, you can make clean cuts with the blade.
Repeat the process until the flat surface disappears.
If you notice uneven protrusions at this point, use your set of pliers to cut the teeth. But if you’re working on a fine saw, skip this process as the pliers may damage the teeth.
Now, you can use the triangular file to sharpen the saw teeth. But, you have to consider the type of table saw you’re working with.
For instance, you can place the file horizontally and at right angles—if you’re working with rip saws. Or place the file diagonally and horizontally with the saw blade in the tooth gaps—if you’re dealing with a cross-sectional saw.
Step 5 – Oiling Your Blade
Get some lubricating oil and spread it all over your freshly sharpened blade. The oil helps to prevent rust and keep your blades sharp.
Step 6 – Test Away
All you need at this point is wood to test the sharpness of your table saw blade. So, cut the wood into several pieces, and if the blade cutting isn’t good enough—repeat the preceding steps.
How to Prevent Your Table Saw Blade from Getting Blunt Easily?
It’s important to keep your blades sharpened.
Maintenance helps to extend the saw blade’s life overall.
How do you go about it?
You can start by:
1. Choosing a Dry Storage Area for Your Blade
It’s always ideal that you detach the blade from the tool. Then, kindly place it in a dry place to avoid corrosion.
What if you wash your blade?
You can use clean paper towels to pat the blade dry.
2. Stick Only to the Right Task
If you don’t want damaged or blunt blades, use them for only the task it can handle. So, avoid using a small 6-inch blade to cut a 12-inch sized wood.
3. Let The Blade Relax
Do you want to enjoy longevity with your blade? Then, give it a break sometimes, especially when it’s heating up.
4. Use Nylon Brush and Solvent to Clean Your Blade
Grime will always accumulate on your blade. And it could cause burning or even affect your blade’s performance.
However, you can handle this problem using a nylon brush or plastic bristle and solvent regularly—to ensure the carbide teeth are in good shape.
Also, it’s important to avoid harsh chemicals—as they tend to strip your blade’s coating.
Sharpening table saw blades might be an old-fashioned way of doing things in woodworking—nowadays as most items are replaceable
However, if you’re using a non-replaceable table saw like the foxtail, you have to ensure you maintain the blade well. Most of the models are wide, thick, and used for heavy woodcuts.
It’s NOT rocket science. Just follow the step-by-step guide I’ve discussed here, and you’ll be fine.
Don’t forget to read the rest of my table saw guide here as well.
Are all table saws suitable for sharpening?
No! It’s impossible for saws with hardened teeth, except you’re using a unique sharpening tool.
When is it impossible to sharpen a saw blade?
Sharpening your saw razor gets thorny when you’re using an old model with hardened blades that rarely wear out. If such blades get blunt, you can only replace them.