The 14 Point Checklist for Proper Blade Selection


Blade Selection is not as easy as just saying, “Give me a Concrete Blade” because I’m cutting concrete, etc. There are many factors to consider when a blade is selected for what you are about to cut.

  1. The Material being cut?
  2. Will the blade be used on Multiple Materials as a Combo Blade, Intentionally or because your cutters don’t care?
  3. The Aggregate Involved in the material?
  4. The Region where the material is or originated?
  5. The Hardness of the Material?
  6. The Abrasiveness of the Material?
  7. The Type of Saw being used and its horsepower?
  8. Is it for Wet or Dry Cutting?
  9. Is there Steel or Rebar in the Material?
  10.  Time of Year?
  11.  What’s more important, Speed or Life?
  12.  How much life do you need to make it cost effective?
  13.  What is the blade Cost?
  14.  What is the Ultimate Cutting Cost – Production time and footage/life?

 

  1. It is best to consult with an expert diamond blade supplier who fully understands how to meet your needs in the safest and most efficient way.
  2. In most cases, when purchasing blades from a construction supply house where blades are just a part of the products offered, you will get a blade designed for the material you are about to cut, but the sales person will not be able to tell you much about the performance expectations.  Construction supply places are told what to sell by blade companies and are usually stocked with blades designed more with general-purpose in mind so they can sell them all over the country.  Even on designated blades it’s rare that a supply store will have a full understanding of how that blade will make you money.  Therefore, there is no guarantee you will be getting the most efficient blades.
  3. Diamond Blades and Saw Blades in general are designed to cut Specific Applications and crossing over or using them on the wrong application might work but most likely will cause problems.  For Example:  Using a Concrete Blade on Asphalt could wear it out very fast since it is designed to cut hard, dense materials not abrasive materials.  On the opposite, using an Asphalt Blade to cut concrete will most likely result in the blade becoming hard cutting, which will cause it to rise up out of the cut, create a vibration, start to overheat, crack in the keyholes and ultimately into the core of the blade.  Segments could start popping off and flying in unknown directions at high rpm’s.  The blade core could loose tension and start to flex and waffle.  The same could happen if you use a Masonry Blade to cut Concrete or hard stone or granite.  In addition, this puts extra stress on the saw, its belts and drive system, etc., causing the equipment to fatigue and break down faster.
  4. With many end users, the workers are known for picking up the saw and cutting whatever is in front of them with whatever blade is on the saw.  Therefore, I have found these companies want a combo-blade and usually want a cheap combo-blade.  This is when you need a stupid-proof blade that will hold up to a variety of materials and the abuse.  Good Combo-blades are hard to develop and guarantee, but in some regions they are the best way to go.  It is also common to find the combo-blade isn’t going to be the best cutter or the best on life against the materials it’s subjected to.  Once again it’s best to consult an expert who has proven specific blades to hold up against all the factors the workers will subject it to.
  5. Aggregates vary from region to region, city to city and state to state.  Aggregate is the rock, sand and ash used in the materials such as concrete, asphalt, masonry block, brick and stone.  Blades are designed to hold up against aggregates and are not always going to perform as expected, especially when the blades are purchased from out-of-state dealers.  Most of the time these dealers are fast pitching to get a sale and will sell a blade they got great feedback on in one area of the country.  However, they are usually more concerned with getting the sale than selecting the most efficient blade designed specifically to conquer the elements within your realm.
  6. Materials used in concrete, asphalt and masonry, are not always produced from the aggregates within that region.  Therefore, the aggregate is not native to that area and blades that are sold in a specific area may not be the best performers.
  7. Material Hardness, varies based on psi requirements, aggregates used and the age of the material.  Soft bonded blades are best for harder materials and medium to hard bonded blades are better for soft or abrasive materials.
  8. Abrasiveness is usually caused by the aggregate and sand.  Sandstone which is abrasive by nature can vary in its abrasiveness based on how hard or soft the material is and what region of the world it is derived from.  Usually the aggregate that generated the sand, the sharpness of the sand and the density are the major factors in abrasion.  In masonry block, the volcanic ash is also a factor.
  9. The Type of Saw and its Horsepower are huge when it comes to blade selection, specifically when using a flat saw otherwise known as a walk-behind saw.  A large flat saw has a lot more torque to crank the blade.  As a rule, higher hp gas and diesel saws have more torque.  This usually means the blade has to be designed to hold up longer against this much power and the specs are pushed higher to increase performance.  For example, the bonds can be harder and the blade width will need to be wider to give more core stability from flexing and tension loss.  Harder bonds, more diamond concentration, thicker cores and taller segment heights all contribute to higher performance expectations as well as higher costs.  Flat Saws are generally divided into four categories, Low hp, Higher hp and Gas vs Diesel.  Blades are more specific to meet the needs of these types of saws than any other saws.  Low hp saws are classified as 25hp down to 8hp.  Higher hp saws are 35hp and up.  Low hp saws can run handsaw blades or what we refer to as Semi-Pro blades.  Higher hp saws should only run wet cutting Pro-Blades.  In most cases, they will eat up and spit out anything designed for low hp saws or hand saws and results could be dangerous to the safety of the cutter and all in the vicinity of the cut.  However, there are exceptions where Pro Blades can be run on hand saws.  Pro cutters tend to do it in certain situations and while it is definitely not recommended and usually isn’t as fast cutting, it can work.
  10. Wet or Dry Cutting.  This is pretty simple.  A Dry blade can be run wet and should be whenever possible.  A Wet Blade can only be run wet and is a danger when water is not applied.  Water is used to cool the blade and prevent overheating, core cracking, tension loss and segment loss.  Water is also used as a lubricant to help the blade cut faster and extend the life of the blade.  Water also minimizes the dust which is extremely harmful to human lungs.  Most handsaw blades are designed to be run dry or wet, but all walk-behind blades are designed to be run wet.  The only exception is when a handsaw blade also works on a low hp saw and water is not an option.  Extreme caution should be used under these circumstances and dry use on harder aggregates is risky.
  11. Most Concrete has Steel or Rebar in it.  Masonry walls almost always have steel as well.  All concrete blades are designed with steel in mind.  Most sidewalks, curb and gutters do not have steel and their PSI is usually lower than structural or slab concrete.  Rebar and steel will affect the life of a blade as well as the cutting speed when cutting into it.  It definitely affects the cutting speed of core drill bits.
  12. Time of year can affect a blade’s performance.  In the winter months the materials are colder and may require softening the bonds to allow a faster speed of cut.  In the summer months the materials such as asphalt tend to soften, therefore allowing harder bonds which can extend the life of the blade and not compromise the speed of cut.  Not many blade dealers know or pay attention to this factor.
  13. Speed or Life?  As a rule, more speed means less life and vice-versa.  We all know time is money and production is everything.  This is especially true when a crew is on your ass, waiting to rip out the material being cut.  Every cutter has a preference and so does the foreman, supervisor and owner of the company or job.  So, this is where “Performance Balanced” comes into play.  Harder bond specs mean more life and less speed.  Softer bond specs mean more speed and less life.  This lends to the meeting of a compromise to assure efficient production.  Each cutter’s demands are different and there can easily be multiple specs used in the same region for the same materials and cutting conditions.  Varying specs offered are up to the blade expert to select in order to meet the individual needs of each cutter.  This is not always easy and involves the knowledge of all factors involved to make the right blade selection.  This includes manufacturing knowledge from the engineers who design the blades.
  14. Making sure a blade is cost effective comes down to balancing out all of the above; mainly speed and life divided into the cost of the blade.  Most handsaw blade users have no idea what the footage results are against the materials being cut, but they know if the blade’s speed is good or not.  The also have a pretty good feel for how long a blade should last considering the conditions.  However, on Pro-blades it is much easier to track the footage and cutting speed.  The cutting costs of a blade are determined by Inch Footage.  This is 1” depth by 1’ length.  2” depth by 1 foot equals 2 inch feet.  The total footage is then divided into the cost of the blade.  However, there are also other factors such as the time it took to make the cut, the cutter’s wages, helper’s wages, and all other associated equipment costs.  Ultimately it is up to the blade expert to maximize the efficiency of the blade for each cutter’s demands in order to make sure the company can accomplish the job safely and with profit.

 


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