Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

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BHUser27
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Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by BHUser27 »

Greetings All -

I am looking for responses from Bogleheads with carpentry experience.
I am going to be re-building the stair railing (oak) and balusters (going from wood to iron) in our split-foyer.
I need to make precision angle cuts on the hardwood (oak) railings and to cut the decorative "bobble" off the top of the existing newel posts.
I have done some simple wood projects, but nothing this precision and with high quality (hard) oak before.
I am an engineer and capable of measuring & calculating angles and building jigs as needed.
I have already created a scale drawing of the project & ordered parts.
I have access to all the needed tools.

My question is a simple one. I will be using a quality handheld Dewalt 7-1/4" Pro circular saw to cut-off the post decorations (turning existing posts into craftsman style). I have a homemade jig in mind to help guide the cuts. What is the best blade for me to purchase to make sure I get very clean precise cuts through the oak without splintering? Any recommendations appreciated - number of teeth, blade type, where to purchase, blade brand, etc.

Thanks!
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Ged
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by Ged »

You want a miter saw blade. That means about 80 TPI to 100 TPI. Good brands are Tenryu, Forrest and Freud.

Also have you considered the depth of the cut you are going to need? Cutting at a compound angle will dramatically increase the depth you need. I would not be surprised that the angles you are going to need will result in needing cuts too deep for your hand held saw. Professionals often bring 10"-12" miter saws to a job like you plan.
The Wizard
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by The Wizard »

Yes, get a 12" compound miter saw first.
Then install a good carbide blade on it if the original blade isn't carbide.
I have a 12" Ridgid sliding miter saw from Home Depot that I like...
Last edited by The Wizard on Fri May 27, 2016 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Chip
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by Chip »

I don't have a specific blade recommendation, but you will want a dedicated crosscut blade, rather than one that tries to be both a rip and crosscut. I have used Freud 10" blades on my table saw and radial arm saw with good results.

The best way to prevent splintering (in addition to buying a good blade) is to back up the workpiece with a piece of scrap wood. This on the side of the piece where the blade exits. For a typical portable circular saw that would be the top of the piece and the far edge.

Honestly this is the kind of project that I would use to justify buying a new tool. In this case a chop saw AND a good blade. One can never have too many tools. :)
Rodc
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by Rodc »

Blade best use is determined by the shape, size and set of the teeth.

But mostly you can get by knowing if the blade is designed to crosscutting or with the grain (ripping) or is some jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none hybrid.

http://www.woodcraft.com/articles/691/c ... lades.aspx

Sounds like you want a cross-cut blade.

Don't cheap out.

Best of luck.

ADDED: Agree with post above - this might be a time get the right tool, not simply use the tool you have. For many years I bought a new tool for each job just as part of the cost. Over time you get a good collection of tools. Most often if you have a use today you will have another use for the same tool in the future. If you know this will not be true often the best course of action is to rent the right tool rather than use the wrong tool.
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pshonore
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by pshonore »

Only a very skilled person can make precision crosscuts with a circular saw that are suitable for finish carpentry. Its even tough on a cheap tablesaw. And remember to tape the surface being cut to minimize chipout.
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BHUser27
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by BHUser27 »

All responders -

Thank you very much for the excellent replies!
I will read the links and take a look at the recommended blades.
I know I can research this on Google but it is always nice to get a head start from another's real-world experience.

For the new railing I already have access to a 12" compound miter saw - so that should take care of those angle cuts for me. I just can't use it for the posts. I need a straight cut across the top of the in-situ posts (3 total) after I remove the old railing and balusters. I may need to make a few passes with my 7-1/4" but I think I can do what I need to with it. I will find/borrow a larger diameter handsaw if needed. (I have some scrap oak I will practice on first)

Also, we are painting all of the wood white so I have some wiggle-room as minor boo-boo's can be filled & sanded before painting. <- I'm pretty good at this already.

Cheers,
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mptness
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by mptness »

BHUser27 wrote:My question is a simple one. I will be using a quality handheld Dewalt 7-1/4" Pro circular saw to cut-off the post decorations (turning existing posts into craftsman style). I have a homemade jig in mind to help guide the cuts. What is the best blade for me to purchase to make sure I get very clean precise cuts through the oak without splintering? Any recommendations appreciated - number of teeth, blade type, where to purchase, blade brand, etc.
This one ought to do the job:
http://www.amazon.com/Freud-D0760X-Diab ... A387625011

These types of handheld in place cuts can be nerve-racking if not dangerous. The key to minimizing tear out will be a steady straight pass with the saw (and a jig clamped to the post is an excellent idea).
barnaclebob
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by barnaclebob »

I'm not sure that a blade will be mainfactor in the accuracy and cleanliness of your cut. You will probably need to sand anyway. I would see if you can get close with your practice scrap and current blade before buying a new blade.
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BHUser27
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by BHUser27 »

barnaclebob wrote:I'm not sure that a blade will be mainfactor in the accuracy and cleanliness of your cut. You will probably need to sand anyway. I would see if you can get close with your practice scrap and current blade before buying a new blade.
Thanks.
Yes - I am not trying to avoid sanding. I have a decent power sander.
All I have on-hand are some dull low-tooth-count crosscut blades that I used to cut a bunch of 2x4 studs.
Going to be buying new blades and not afraid to spend $$$ for good ones - just trying to tailor the purchase to the job at hand.
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BHUser27
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by BHUser27 »

mptness wrote: This one ought to do the job: <snipped link>

These types of handheld in place cuts can be nerve-racking if not dangerous. The key to minimizing tear out will be a steady straight pass with the saw (and a jig clamped to the post is an excellent idea).
Thanks for the link. I have used diablo before and been happy. They seem to dull out pretty fast but that may just be my perception.

Completely agree regarding the in-place cut. I am planning to create a guide "ledge" wrapped all the way around the post and screw it in place rather than clamp. I am OK filling and painting over the screw holes that are left in the post.
Rodc
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by Rodc »

Cutting in place makes this more challenging.

I am not sure just what these look like. If the result is a tiny flat surface on top of a flatish surface that is easy to sand you have one situation. If you want to end up with a complicate faceted surface you have a different situation.

A picture might be useful.

If you are willing to go through the trouble of mounting a jig do you have a router? You could cut it a shade high and use the jig for the router to ride on and use a straight bit to shave the cut surface flat.
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PVW
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by PVW »

Cutting off an installed newel post will be challenging. I would go manual. A back saw and miter box might work. If you can't find a miter box that works, you could make a simple jig out of angle aluminum or channel aluminum. Cut a slot into the aluminum (with your miter saw and appropriate blade) then clamp onto the newel post and use like a miter box.

I would also apply a decorative cap onto the newel post to cover up any imperfections that are almost guaranteed to occur. You can make your own craftsman style cap. If the cap is recessed to slide onto your newel post, it can hide some large imperfections and look very professional. The top of newel posts are probably the most noticeable part of your stair railings, so they need to look perfect.
Bertie
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by Bertie »

It might be easier to do this by hand — with a coping saw or dovetail saw. Depends on the diameter of the "bobbles" of course. But you'd definitely get a finer cut doing this by hand. Might want to get some extra blades for a coping saw if you go that route (in case you snap one).
rustymutt
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by rustymutt »

You want to use a finish blade on oak. Lots of fine small sharp teeth. And understand you may need more one blade, as oak is hard wood, and burns up even carbon coated blades. I've built with solid oak, and it's wonderful to work with, save it's hardness on bits, blades, tools in general. But the end product is second to none in strength.
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ralph124cf
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by ralph124cf »

You might want to consider renting a portable band saw. It sounds like the easiest solution.

Ralph
Rodc
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by Rodc »

PVW wrote:Cutting off an installed newel post will be challenging. I would go manual. A back saw and miter box might work. If you can't find a miter box that works, you could make a simple jig out of angle aluminum or channel aluminum. Cut a slot into the aluminum (with your miter saw and appropriate blade) then clamp onto the newel post and use like a miter box.

I would also apply a decorative cap onto the newel post to cover up any imperfections that are almost guaranteed to occur. You can make your own craftsman style cap. If the cap is recessed to slide onto your newel post, it can hide some large imperfections and look very professional. The top of newel posts are probably the most noticeable part of your stair railings, so they need to look perfect.
Decorative cap might be the way to go. Repeatable so they all come out the same. Might be hard otherwise.
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by Mingus »

Chip wrote:
Honestly this is the kind of project that I would use to justify buying a new tool. In this case a chop saw AND a good blade. One can never have too many tools. :)
Yep. Half the fun of doing a new project is getting to buy a new tool or two.
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by Mingus »

Is this an authentic crafstman home that you want to upgrade the orginal woodwork to iron?

Or a non-crafstman home you wish to add some crafstman elements to?
Chip
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by Chip »

PVW wrote:I would also apply a decorative cap onto the newel post to cover up any imperfections that are almost guaranteed to occur. You can make your own craftsman style cap. If the cap is recessed to slide onto your newel post, it can hide some large imperfections and look very professional. The top of newel posts are probably the most noticeable part of your stair railings, so they need to look perfect.
This. I didn't realize when I posted earlier that you had to make the cuts in place. I think I'm reasonably skilled but would never attempt to make a multipass crosscut with the saw held sideways on something so visible, even with perfect jigs. The cap suggested by PVW is the way to go.
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by gatorman »

I think I wouldn't try to cut the posts off too precisely. I'd tend to cut them off a little long (Say 1/4-3/8") and then I'd make a jig to hold my belt sander and sand them flat and square. It is going to be hard to do using a skill saw, and if you screw it up, impossible to recover. If you use the belt sander, you'll remove material more slowly and can check your setup/progress as you go. You might be able to use a router as well, as suggested by Rodc, but in either case, router or belt sander, you'll need to make sure the jig clamps all faces of the post immediately adjacent to the workface to avoid tear-out.
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BHUser27
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by BHUser27 »

"Craftsman" may not have been the right description.
The existing post is a 3-1/2" x 3-1/2" plain newel with a ball on top.
The posts are high enough that I can cut off the top and still have the rails at code height.
I simply want to cut off the ball, then chamfer the top to look like this picture...

Image

If I am not happy with the result I will put on a simple cap
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gatorman
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by gatorman »

BHUser27 wrote:"Craftsman" may not have been the right description.
The existing post is a 3-1/2" x 3-1/2" plain newel with a ball on top.
The posts are high enough that I can cut off the top and still have the rails at code height.
I simply want to cut off the ball, then chamfer the top to look like this picture...

Image

If I am not happy with the result I will put on a simple cap
Cutting the chamfer is not a task for a saw. You should use a router and a ball bearing bit like one of these:

http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/shopsite ... chamf.html

The problem with using a hand held router on the end of a post is that you are going to be removing some of the support area for the router base with each pass, and you didn't have much to start out with. So, you'll need to make a fixture which fits over the top of your post and has enough clearance to insert the bit. The fixture will provide a flat surface upon which the router base can ride to prevent the router from tipping and ruining your cut. You should make the cut in 4 or 5 passes. You won't get good results if you try and take off all the material in one pass.
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Chip
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by Chip »

BHUser27 wrote:I simply want to cut off the ball, then chamfer the top to look like this picture...
I made something that looked just like that once. It was the top of a Wright-style floor lamp, in cherry. But I made the cap separately and glued it on.

It took a couple of tries before I got the cap right, and I was using the radial arm saw to cut the chamfers, along with a stationary belt sander to touch things up. It was pretty difficult to get the four chamfers identical.

Good luck!
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by gatorman »

If you decide to go with the router, and are not familiar with using one, here is a good reference:

https://www.amazon.com/Router-Book-Pat- ... oks&sr=1-1

If you don't have a router, this is a good one:

http://www.amazon.com/Makita-RP1800-3-1 ... ls&sr=1-17

This one is a little more, but adds variable speed, which may be useful if you use the router to spin large diameter bits :

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002MUAMF4/ref ... B002MUAMFE

although if you don't want to spend the money to buy one, you could probably rent one pretty inexpensively.
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BHUser27
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by BHUser27 »

Everyone - humble thanks for the thought provoking replies.

This is the post style I will be cutting the tops off of...

Image

I have decided to use a fine blade in my "Sawzall" and this jig to square up the tops...

Image

I will then clean up with belt sander and either router a small chamfer with multiple passes or apply a cap.

Thanks again.
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by pshonore »

IMHO, a Sawzall is not meant for fine work. Have you considered using a quality, well-sharpened crosscut hand saw? With a little practice, its amazing how well they work. Or do you know anyone with with a decent tablesaw near by? You can also chamfer with small block plane with a good sharp blade. (Just be sure to approach from both sides to eliminate tear out). If you have a local Woodcraft (http://www.woodcraft.com/) or similar type store, see what they recommend.
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by leftcoaster »

Portable bandsaw with a fine tooth blade is the way to go.
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by earlyout »

Have you tested your procedure? Buy a piece of 4x4 lumber, fix it in an upright position that has a little wobble in it ( I have never seen a newel post that wouldn't move a bit) and then try you jig/sawzall method. Suggest you cut from each of the four sides of the post keeping in mind that the oak post will be much harder wood than your test piece.

edit: Make certain you wear adequate eye protection when you do this!
Last edited by earlyout on Sun Jun 05, 2016 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
pshonore
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by pshonore »

Sawzalls, jigsaws and bandsaws are designed with blades that can flex "in the cut", (mainly because they're either designed for rough work or for cutting irregular shapes - curves, circles, etc). A quality circular saw can make a good cut with the right blade if you can guide it properly (a big "if") and not so easy in 3 1/2" of seasoned Oak if its even within the capacity of the saw. A good tablesaw will make the best cut. Belt sanders are intended for longer flat surfaces and can mess up a nice sharp edge/corner in no time. Of course, any of these tools will work for rough cuts.

Wish we could see a drawing see we know exactly what you're trying to do.
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BHUser27
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by BHUser27 »

Thanks to all posters.
You made me think about this problem in new ways and the result was far more successful because of it.
I chose to use a new finish-cut handsaw and some hacked together guides using framers squares & the old balusters.
I am very happy with the result. Tops are dead-on and a little sanding was all that was needed to remove saw marks.
Here are pics.
Image
Image
pshonore
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by pshonore »

Congrats on finding and using a handsaw (although modern handsaws are generally not good quality and cannot be sharpened easily) But if it worked for you, that's the most important thing. Funny thing yesterday, I was at a tool collectors meeting where there was "tailgating" with tons of old tools. 100 year old Disston (the premium brand) hand saws that looked like they just came from the factory were selling for $200 + up. But those are for collectors, not users. Next time you're at a tag sale or flea market, look for a good old Disston. $5 - $10. They're easy to sharpen and a joy to use. Be aware there are cross cut saws (used across the grain) and rip saws (used with the grain)
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Re: Best Saw Blade to Purchase for this DIY

Post by Rodc »

Nice! Glad it worked well for you. Thanks for the update.
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