Some background –
The recent “Box Swap” activity here gave me an opportunity to review some of my box making jigs and techniques. I upgraded my miter slot jig but longed for a better method of cutting the slots for the keys.
I had used a Flat Top Grind 24 tooth rip blade with mixed results. Better results were achieved with a router bit and the router table but, an 1/8” bit is delicate and I sometimes wanted more capacity than I could find readily available. The circular saw blade gave me the depth I was after but had drawbacks.
Despite jigs and backer boards, the 24 tooth rip blade could still cause a bit of unpredictable tear out. The miter-key-slot cutting step is just a step or two prior to adding the finish on a box. This hands you the opportunity to ruin all your work that led up to this point. Thus began my quest . . .
After a bit of casting around I decided that what I needed was a Flat Top Grind blade for the table saw with a higher tooth count to provide a cleaner cut. This product was not easily located. As a matter of fact, I could not locate one currently available. Enter Tom Walz of Carbide Processors (http://www.carbideprocessors.com/).
I contacted Tom about one of their existing blades to see if it would meet my needs. The blade I was asking about was close but, would not leave a true flat bottomed groove. Not to worry, Tom said he knew someone who was a wizard with cutter geometries and loved a new challenge; Jerrimy Snook of Snook’s Saw in Oregon. After Jerrimy went through 7 different tooth/pattern variations . . . a 50 tooth Flat Top Grind blade arrived at my door.
The Review –
The blade arrived well packed and with a protective coating on the teeth. The coating was secure but easily removed. Although the blade looked and felt clean, I gave it a wipe down prior to use just to be sure I didn’t introduce any unwanted elements.
Attachment 54768 Attachment 54769
The positive tooth pattern consists of a Flat Top Grind tooth followed by four Alternate Top Bevel teeth. Each five tooth pattern is followed by a deep gullet. The blank has no expansion slots or noise- cancellation plugs. The arbor hole fit perfectly and the blade did not introduce any detectable run-out.
My saw is a 1-3/4HP machine built by Orion prior to the appearance of Steel City Tool Works. This machine is well aligned and has never lacked for power with thin kerf blades. This would be the first full kerf blade (specifically 1/8” by design) I have run on the machine. I slipped the blade on the saw and confirmed alignment and perpendicularity to the table.
Using my newly designed miter-key jig and a scrapped box off the pile that had not passed my previous inspection, I made the first cut. The blade cut so quietly and so smoothly, it was a bit eerie. The cut came out clean at the entrance and exit points and left a beautifully flat bottomed groove ready to accept a key. I ran a similar cut on a scrap of mahogany.
The bad miter joint on the "throw away" box in the middle picture makes it obvious why this box was on the scrap pile. Please ignore the poor joint and and pay attention to the slot . The white key next to the new cut fills a slot made by a router bit for comparison.
Attachment 54771 Attachment 54772 Attachment 54773
The blade worked so well that the subsequent tests were almost anti-climactic; . . . yep, that one looks perfect too . . . , yep so does that one . . . , etc. Not willing to have the review be so highly focused (and therefor so short) I performed some cuts for which the blade was not specifically designed.
I grabbed a piece of quarter sawn white oak out of the scrap bin and performed a cross cut. Now, granting that the blade is brand new, the cut was still excellent without any tear out, fray or milling marks.
The crosscut came out so well, I performed a rip cut in the same 4/4 material. I also did some stopped and through grooves as you might use for spline based joinery. The result was clean with no sign of burning, mill marks or even heat buildup.
At the end of the reviewing efforts I would give the blade 5 stars. The quality is equal to or better than any of the high quality blades I have used. It performs the task it was designed for very well. It also does remarkably well on common through cuts as shown.
My experience with this blade and dealing with Tom in general will certainly have me looking to Carbide Processors to fulfill my needs for blades and other cutters in the future. I can recommend this blade to anyone performing these types of cuts and looking for top notch performance.