Circular Saw Blades: How to Change Them and Which Blade to Use

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This post about circular saw blades is sponsored by The Home Depot.

When I first started using circular saws, what I knew about the circular saw blades was this: how many teeth the blade has and the size of the blade. Changing the blade was easy…or so I thought….until the day when I couldn’t figure out which way to put the blade in and felt like a fool.

(Sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know….and then you feel like the biggest idiot. Ammi right??)

In my level of experience, I knew that the number of teeth a blade had made a huge difference in the quality of the cut. Need a rough cut?? Use a 24-teeth framing circular saw blade to cut quickly. Want a smooth cut for your wood? Try a 40-teeth finish blade for fine cuts with less tear-out.

Those two wood circular saw blades were sufficient for my woodworking, DIY, and home improvement needs. I never looked into the huge assortment of blades because I simply didn’t need them. As a carpentry student and now a new Crew Leader with Habitat for Humanity, however, I’m venturing into needing more circular saw blades for different projects and materials. 

Back in the spring, I had the opportunity to peer over the shoulder of a demo guy at a Diablo circular saw blades booth at a Home Depot event and was mind-blown at how he was slicing through thick metal like the circular saw blade was a hot knife through butter.

That’s when it became obvious that I had a lot more to learn about circular saw blades!

Here are some questions and answers down below that you might have about circular saw blades, too!

 

Circular Saw Blades - Which Blade You Should Use and How to Change Them - Learn all about circular saw blades and which places is best for your project. - Thrift Diving

 

What Circular Saw Blade is the Best?

It’s easy to ask the “what is best?” question when researching anything: What’s the best paint for furniture? What’s the best vinyl flooring? What’s the best power drill? However, the question isn’t about what the best is, but rather, what is best based on my needs?

The same is true for circular saw blades. The question isn’t, “What’s the best circular saw blade?” but rather, “What is the best circular saw blade based on what I need to cut?”

For example, did you know that there are blades specially formulated for cutting composite decking material….cement backer board….and laminate flooring? I’ll be honest with you–I didn’t know that.

Diablo, of course, is one of the most widely used and trusted brands in the industry, offering circular saw blades, miter saw blades, etc., and for a variety of materials and finishes: wood only, wood and metal combined, metal only, aluminum, plastic, composite decking, fiber cement, and laminate flooring. So get out of the habit of asking which circular saw blade is best and rephrase the question, “What is the best type of blade for this type of material?” 

What’s the Best Size Circular Saw to Own?

Did you know that circular saws are sized based on the size of the blade? That’s right. They are as small as 5-3/8″ sizes (that use 5-3/8″ blades) all the way up to 7-1/4″ circular saws. The standard size is 7-1/4″. (FYI…Diablo does make smaller blades but I’m not sure they’re used on the circular saws or another tool). 

 

Circular Saw Blades - Which size circular saw is best? Circular saws come in various sizes but 7-1/4" is standard and can handle many jobs that a smaller 6-1/2" may not be able to handle. - Thrift Diving
(Left) A 7-1/4″ circular saw is standard; (Right) Circular saws also come in smaller 6-1/2″.

 

A standard 7-1/4″ circular saw is on the left; a smaller 6-1/2″ circular saw is on the right. If you’re in the market for a new circular saw, I’d definitely recommend you buy the standard 7-1/4″ circular saw. If you’re cutting wood; thin, medium, or thick metal; medium or thick aluminum; or a variety of wood applications, the 7-1/4″ circular saw has blades that can fit to cut all of these types of materials. However, if you buy a smaller circular saw, you may not be able to buy smaller blades that can handle cutting those materials. You have more cutting options with the 7-1/4″ sized circular saw.  

Here are a few types of blades that you’ll want to consider adding to your DIY toolbox. You can check them all out on Diablo.com

 

Wood & Metal

These 7-1/4″ circular saw blades have 36 teeth per inch and can slice through wood and wood that has nails in it! Think about cutting up pallets. If you’re doing any DIY pallet projects, and you need to quickly cut through the wood without worrying about hitting a nail, this blade provides impact resistance for cutting wood with nails, as well as the durability for creating clean, burr-free cuts in metal.

 

Circular Saw Blades - Circular saws are sized by the size of their blades. Circular saws come in various sizes but 7-1/4" is standard and can handle many jobs. Circular saw blades from Diablo can cut wood and metal, wood only, and metal only. - Thrift Diving

 

Framing Blade

Every toolbox should have a general circular saw blade for cutting 2 x 4 wood, which is commonly used for framing in rough carpentry (but many DIY furniture builds use 2 x 4 wood, too). Since this has 24 teeth, it’s not for smooth cuts; it’s best for quick cuts where appearance won’t necessarily matter. 

Diablo Steel Demon

Now, this circular saw blade cuts through metal as you’ve never seen before!! I had the chance to see a demo of this metal cutting circular saw blade in action and what is different about using it is that is has:

  • Cermet teeth (ceramic and metallic blend) provide high heat tolerances.
  • Increased hardiness so it will last up to 40X longer than a standard carbide-tipped metal cutting saw blade.
  • Triple chip tooth design provides burr-free finishes that require no-rework and longer cutting life
  • Advanced laser-cut stabilizer vents trap noise and vibration for maximum stability, keeping the blade cool for straight, accurate cuts in metal cutting applications

 

Diablo Steel Demon cuts through thick 1/4" metal quickly and easily without any burrs on the metal. - Thrift Diving

 

The last thing you’d want when cutting metal are sharp burrs that could slice your finger or hot metal that will burn. The Steel Demon blades will cut cleanly without burrs, keeps the metal much cooler than a traditional metal cutting blade, and does the job faster without as much effort (even in a battery-powered circular saw). If you’re cutting any of the following metals, definitely consider the Steel Demon metal cutting circular saw blade:

  • Studs/channels – 1/16″ – 1/4″
  • Pipes/tubes – 1/16″ – 1/4″
  • Angle iron – 1/16″ – 1/4″
  • EMT Conduit – 1/16″ – 1/4″
  • Plates/bars – 1/8″ – 1/2″
  • Threaded Rod – 1/4″ – 1-1/2″

  Diablo Steel Demon cuts through thick 1/4" metal quickly and easily without any burrs on the metal. The metal also is cool to the touch after cutting. - Thrift Diving

 

What Circular Saw Blade to Use?

Now that you understand you’re looking for the best type of circular saw blade, check out the infographic below to see which metal cutting blade or wood cutting blade is best, based on your project.  Using the right blade for the right project saves you time, cost (since you’re not wasting materials), and saves you frustration!

Click here to SAVE this on Pinterest!

 

Which circular saw blade should you use? What circular saw blade is best? Learn how to select which blade to use based on the project and material you're doing. Materials, number of teeth, and type of blade must be considered. Use this handy guide. - Thrift Diving

 

And don’t forget that there are specialty blades for materials such as composite decking, cement backer board, and laminate flooring. Diablo makes these blades, as well.

 

Diablo specialty blades can cut composite decking, cement backer board, and PERGO laminate flooring. - Thrift Diving

 

Which Way to Change a Circular Saw Blade?

Now that you know which blade is best to use for which material and project you’re working on, let’s talk about how you actually change those blades! If it would be perfect if there was one blade that cut everything…or if you had multiple circular saws with separate blades for each of the types of materials it cuts, but that’s not the case for the everyday DIYer (maybe for professionals!)

Before jumping into which way to insert a circular saw blade when changing the blade, let’s first talk about which direction the blade of the saw actually cuts.

Circular saws cut on the upward stroke, which means that they rotate in a clockwise fashion, cutting from the bottom up. This is why when you’re using a circular saw, the side of the wood that will be your “good” side should be facing down.  It’s going to be the cleanest edge (although if you put painter’s tape on the right-side-up side of the wood where it’s being cut, you can help prevent tear-out and you’ll get a great cut).

 

How to change a circular saw blade: circular saw blades rotate clockwise, cutting on the upstroke. - Thrift Diving

 

But before we get into the “how” on changing a blade, just know that each circular saw blade has some info that you can find on its face, including: 

  • Type of blade it is and the material is best cuts (Wood & Metal, Framing, for Metals & Stainless Steel).
  • The thickness of the material it cuts (min and max)
  • Number of teeth the blade has (e.g 24 teeth….48 teeth…)
  • The direction the blade should rotate
  • Speed of the rotation
  • Size of the blade (e.g. 7-1/4″ is standard)
  • A warning about reading the warnings included with the blade. 

 

Circular Saw Blades - Circular saws are sized by the size of their blades. Circular saws come in various sizes but 7-1/4" is standard and can handle many jobs. Circular saw blades from Diablo can cut wood and metal, wood only, and metal only. - Thrift Diving

 

My recommendation is to take a picture of your circular saw blades and file it away because, after repeated cuts, this helpful information wears away as if it’s written in crayons. 🙂 You’ll be left wondering what the blade is used for cutting. 

Anyhow, when you’re ready to change the blade, what you need to pay close attention to is which way the circular saw blade is supposed to be installed. 

5 Steps to Change a Circular Saw Blade

Here is how to change the blades pretty easily and quickly!

STEP 1: Unplug or Remove the Battery from the Circular Saw

It’s not a good idea to make adjustments to your tools when there is a battery or when it’s plugged in! Remove that battery and unplug that cord, my friend.

STEP 2: Push and Hold the Blade Lock.

That blade lock is everything when trying to change a circular saw blade. Without pushing it, the blade will keep spinning…and spinning. So make sure you press it down to lock the blade from moving.

 

How to change a circular saw blade: Push the blade lock button and hold in place, then use the on-board Allen wrench key to loosen the arbor to remove the blade. - Thrift Diving

 

STEP 3: Loosen the Arbor with the Allen wrench

Most circular saws come with an on-board Allen wrench (also called a hex key) that will allow you to loosen the arbor that is holding the blade in place. Remember that you’ll have to keep pushing in that blade lock in order to keep the blade from not spinning and spinning.

 

How to change a circular saw blade: Use the on-board Allen wrench key to loosen the arbor to remove the blade. - Thrift Diving

 

STEP 4: Figure out which way the blade should be installed.

This is the step that’s soooo easy to mess up! But after reading this, it will be hard to get it wrong. You see, there are two ways that you’re able to tell which way to insert a circular saw blade.

  1. The arrow on the blade. When changing circular saw blades, sometimes the writing will face towards you, and sometimes it will face inside, so all you can see if the blank side of the bade.  The arrow on the blade must match the clock-wise direction of the circular saw. In this example with Diablo’s Steel Demon blade, which cuts a variety of metals up to 1/2″, this blade is inserted “backwards” in my circular saw so that the arrow will be rotating in a clock-wise direction.
     
    Diablo's Steel Demon circular saw blade is a metal cutting blade for both metal and stainless steel. - Thrift Diving
  2. The teeth should be cutting UPWARDS, in a clock-wise direction. You’ll also notice that when your blade is installed correctly, the teeth will be pointing upward. Remember: circular saws (as most saws) cut on the upward stroke. So you should be able to see those teeth are clearly pointing upward, like this:

 
How to change a circular saw blade: Be sure that the blade is cutting in an upstroke manner and that the blade is rotating according to the arrow on the blade - Thrift Diving.

 

STEP 5: Tighten the arbor.

Once the blade is installed correctly, replace the arbor, and while pushing and holding the blade lock again, use the Allen wrench to tighten the arbor. Store it back on the circular saw. Now you’re ready to cut!

 

 

Why Do Circular Saw Blades Stop or Spin?

Since we’re on the topic of circular saw blades, I wanted to point out that occasionally you might notice a  problem with your blades–it may stop while cutting or it doesn’t rotate when you turn the saw on.

When I was changing one of my blades, I didn’t tighten it the arbor enough. This means I needed to remove the battery (or unplug if it’s cordless) and tighten the arbor with the Allen wrench (also called a hex key) . Be sure that blade lock is depressed so that the blade doesn’t spin when trying to tighten it.

If your circular saw blade stops while cutting, either your battery died (if you’re using a battery-powered saw, of course), or it means that you’re pinching the blades while cutting. If a blade is pinched, it will simply stop during operation, but watch out. You should NEVER cut a board in the middle that is supported only by the two ends, as shown below. This can result in dangerous kick-back.

 

Circular Saw Blades: Be sure to NEVER cut a board in the middle when supported by two ends. Otherwise, the blade will stop and be pinched, resulting in possible dangerous kick-back. learn more about how to use a circular saw and its blades. - Thrift Diving

 

To prevent circular saw blades from stopping and being pinched, which puts the saw at risk of kicking back, only cut the free-hanging side of your board, allowing the excess waste to fall away freely.  Also, another option for cutting and making sure the blade makes smooth cuts are to properly support the entire piece of wood with insulation foam and then making your cut. This will support your entire piece of wood, making sure that there is no pinching or stress on the blade.  Watch my tutorial on How to Use a Circular Saw for more info about using a circular saw and properly and accurately cutting it.

 

 

How Do You Clean Circular Saw Blades?

I’ll admit that I have not been great about cleaning my circular saw blades. Blades can get dirty with something called pitch, which I’ve learned is a thick resin that pine trees can produce. I don’t know much about it, but this explanation about what pitch wood is easy to understand. Blades can be expensive, at $25…$40…or more apiece. They should be taken care of and not allowed to have gunky build-up. I’ll need to be more mindful of this when taking care of my blades! 

Here’s an easy to follow tutorial that I found on YouTube that explains how to clean your blades (and your bits). 

 

 

How Do You Store Circular Saw Blades?

If you check out YouTube, there are a bunch of neat ideas on how to store saw blades. I don’t have enough blades to actually feel the need to make a neat little organizer. I have my blades up on my pegboard. But if you’ve got a collection growing, it may be helpful to check out these tutorials on storing your blades. You don’t want them to chip or rust, so make sure they’re not banging into each other or stored in really humid conditions. 

 

Circular Saw Blades: When cutting wood, Diabo wood and metal cutting blade can cut through clean wood as well as nails. - Thrift Diving

 

More Help With Learning About Tools

If you’re a newbie with using power tools and you want to learn more about them, definitely check out my tutorial on How to Use a Jigsaw. You can also watch the YouTube tutorial (29 minutes!) and learn everything you need to know about using this versatile tool to make a variety of projects (and I also cover my favorite jigsaw blades, too!)

 

 

Hopefully, this guide on circular saw blades, specifically, which blade to use for wood and metal (depending on your project), and how to change the blades, will be helpful for your next project!

Now let me know in the comments section: Do you already know how to change circular saw blades, and do you have multiple blades in your DIY toolbox? Leave a comment below and let’s chat about it!

 

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2 Comments

  1. JustSomeGuy says:

    Please be aware the direction of blade spin depends on brand of saw being used. As shown in the pictures, the author is working with a saw that has the motor on the right side (when holding the saw and moving forward). Other brands, such as black and decker, have the motor on the left side (again, when holding the saw and moving forward).

    Do not blindly assume the saw rotates clockwise, use the directional arrows on the blade and verify they spin in the direction indicated. If not, then reinstall with the blade flipped over.

    And if you do not have a blade lock button, look for the hole in the blade out towards the teeth. Drop a screwdriver down in there to stop the blade from spinning while removing/ installing.

  2. Great article! I’m reading up on how to use power tools and this is the easiest and most informative i’ve come across so far.

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