October 26, 2009

Delta Premuim Saw Blades - Review

delta_blades.jpgWe're carpenters, not fine woodworkers, so we want our saw blades to simply work. From time to time, we need something special, like a thin kerf or a dado, but for the most part, we're ripping down plywood, trimming a quarter inch off a poplar 1x6 or putting an angle on a 2x4 for an oddly framed corner. Our needs aren't great, but we do want something that's going to give us a good cut and that's going to endure the drubbing that gets administered to the job site table saw. Delta was nice enough to send us a few of their new premium blades to test out for reviewing purposes. Of the three, one of them was immediately put on the abused communal saw and the other two we compared head to head.

delta_blades_saw.jpgBefore we get to the actual blades we want to mention that the catalog that Delta sent along with the blades is stuffed full of statistics and information on more available blade variations than you can possibly imagine, with differences between them being, at best, slight. Imagine a massive wine list but instead of Chardonnays and Merlots it's finish blades and cross-cut blades. For example the 35-7653 is identical to the 35-7657 except that the former has a hook angle of 10 degrees and the latter has a hook angle of 20 degrees. We've been working intimately with table saws for almost a decade now and we have no idea what a hook angle is, let alone how it alters our cut. But if you get excited about the difference between 'alternating top bevel' and 'high alternate top bevel' (and don't forget 'alternate top bevel with raker tooth') then the Delta website, with its blade selector, is a place where you want to spend some alone time. It's pure blade nerdery and although it's not really our bag, we can appreciate the nuances.

Along with the blade catalog, Delta provided us with some info describing how the blades are made. There's a lot to it, so instead of us rambling incoherently about something we know little about, we're going to direct you to this video, made by Delta, that explains the process. It's pretty interesting and if even if you're not into this sort of thing, you should watch it anyway and entertain yourself by pretending that they're making a Terminator instead of a saw blade.

The blades we tested out were the 35-1080HN5, the 35-1080T, and the 35-1050R. According to Delta the 35-1050R is best for rips so that's the one we plopped that in the table saw. The other two are better at cross cutting, so they each took turns in the miter saw making specific cuts.

delta_blades_edge.jpgThe 35-1050R (in the table saw) preformed great. Nice clean cuts with no problem going right through mahogany. So far it's spent about three weeks in the saw and there's no sign of it slowing down or doing anything other than what it's supposed to do. As for the other two blades, we took a photo to try to show the variation in the blades themselves (the image is mildly successful). The two blades, while they look quite different, each has 80 teeth and similar capabilities, so we sent each through a pine 1x and examined the cut. Situated right next to one another, the cuts were different, but had we seen each cut at random points during the same day, we probably wouldn't have thought too much about the difference. But again, we're just cutting pine 1x's not a laminated surface or some other specialty item. Both cuts were nice and clean, but one (35-1080HN5) was much smoother than the other.

delta_blades_cut.jpgIt strikes us that the bottom line here is that they're high quality blades and it's up to you how far you want to jump in the blade minutiae rabbit hole. Most people and even most carpenters will have no problem putting a general purpose blade in and abusing it until it dies or until some bozo comes to the job site and decides he's going to rip down a 1/4" piece of steel angle (we've seen it happen). But if you're a serious woodworker, or if your job puts you in constant contact with a specific material (a counter top installer, for example), then you have the option of getting the blade that is specific to your needs and it will make a difference too.

It looks like there is a wide variety of pricing for the wide variety of blades. The general purpose blades are at the lower end of the scale ($25-$40). Most of the other blades are somewhere in the $50-$80 range and the fine crosscuts are going to tiptoe up into the $100+ arena. There's also a great looking stacked dado set for about $150.

A good selection (but not all) of the blades is at Amazon.com. It looks like you should be able to find them at your local Lowe's as well.

Read More in: All Reviews | Bits and Blades

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