Have you ever wondered why some blades last longer than others? How you can choose the right blade for the material before you start the job? How to prevent overheating and under-dressing your blades?
Keep reading for a basic yet progressive diamond blade education.
Basics on achieving longer blade life:
- Start with the right blade for the material you are cutting.
- Learn how to use the blade optimally.
Maximizing production depends on sharp and long lasting diamonds on your blade. We all know that cutting with any dull-bladed tool is a frustrating waste of time. But what can you do to keep the diamonds sharp, and for as long as possible? There are two basic factors: The blade composition and the material composition.
The blade must have something or someone release the worn out diamond surface. Without this release, the sharp diamond underneath can’t take over the cutting task, so it will remain dull.
So, either the material, your table top surface, or a dressing stone must dress/sharpen your blade.
The good news is you won’t need to actually use a dressing stone IF you have have chosen the right blade for the material. You will also need to know other basics that will help you to “auto-sharpen”.
Basic blade terms
Bond generally refers to how the diamond is sintered to the blade. There is a wide spectrum of soft to hard bond blades on the market. They all serve a purpose.
Soft bond blades cut faster because they release old/dull diamonds faster. Releasing old diamond reveals the sharp diamonds with less dressing. A drawback is that soft bond blades aren’t usually long-lived blades.
Medium to hard bond blades don’t allow dull diamonds to release as quickly. So they will tend to heat up (and more so in harder materials.) Heating up can make the diamonds glaze over, unless the blade is dressed frequently. These blades have a longer life, but if you cut harder materials you will have the drawback listed above.
Generally you’ll want to pair a harder bond blade with a “softer” stone and vice versa.
common blade types
Turbo blade: These don’t have segments (“teeth”) so they are usually yield a medium to fine cut. They result in medium cut speed and vary from soft to hard bond.
Sandwich segment blade: New technology that mixes large and small diamonds and often merged onto a continuous rim blade. This makes for a unique mix of a fast and clean cut.
Continuous rim blade: For clean cuts /seam cuts and works well in more brittle materials.
Segmented blade: More “teeth” so more aggressive. Often these are soft bond, so they’re good for hard materials.
We’re not talking magic here … You will not find a cheap blade that cuts super fast and very clean, in all materials, AND lasts a long time. But you can find your favorites. Take into consideration your equipment, your labor’s skill level, and the materials you most often fabricate.
variables that will affect your outcome
And, how much you may need to actually dress your blade
#1: The material you are cutting
You can cut “soft” abrasive stone faster (Sandstone, Santa Cecilia, Juparanas) and the blade will stay sharper longer. Keep in mind that cutting these types of stones will reduce blade life. Since “softer” stones are almost always more abrasive so they will chew up blades faster. You will want to choose a blade with a medium to hard bond to avoid the blade wearing out prematurely.
TIPS: For these types of material, cut freely and do not force your Saw. Allow more water to flow onto the blade.
When you cut hard non-abrasive stone, (most dark colored granites), remember to slow down. Take one extra pass in 2cm stone; take two extra passes in 3cm stone. Let the blade cut freely and do not force the Saw. Use less water on the blade. If the Saw slows down at any time, dress the blade immediately with a dressing stone or cinder block. For best results, use a medium to soft bond blade – this will limit how much you need to dress your blade.
#2: The Water Flow on the Blade
Using medium water flow (⅓ turn on the AccuGlide), is enough for cooling your blade. Medium water flow dilutes the slurry less. Less dilution means the slurry can act as an abrasive on the blade, so it will dress itself to a certain degree.
Remember – soft abrasive stone requires more water. Hard, non-abrasive stone requires less water. When you cut non-abrasive stone with an iron-like crystal structure, use more water. (Be careful to not blast the motor.) You will recognize these materials as being very hard to cut, even sparking sometimes. This also applies to hard quartzite materials.
If you are using the wrong blade, this will cause extra heat build up and more water or force on the saw will not solve the issue. In fact it will waste diamonds, time, and could put premature wear on your motor.
#3: The Cutting Surface
We recommend using a tabletop which is 60% covered with an abrasive surface. Wonderboard brand is our favorite. Make sure the board you use is actually a cement board, and not composed of clay, fiber, or paper. Wonderboard is the most consistent of brands thus what we recommend most.
#4: The Saw’s Transverse Rate (Operator’s Cutting Speed)
The general rule is – go slow at first to get a feel for your saw and how blades cut in different types of material. You should not have to exert more than two to three pounds of pressure on the handle of the Saw. If the front of the Saw lifts off the Tracks, you have the wrong blade or the blade is dull. Remember: You can heat up and dull a blade in a matter of feet if you have the wrong blade and are pushing hard. If you are hogging the cut, you need to back off and dress your blade before it’s damaged.
Pushing a dull blade with more force will not compensate for dull diamonds. It will likely make the blade heat up faster and start a domino effect of unwanted results.
Operators learn to balance all these factors with time. Experienced operators find a balanced way to use the diamond blades. This is worth it because they max their production and blade life. With some practice, you will learn how to find the “sweet spot” on all types of stone.
There is no perfect blade
Once in a while, you will get a stone that will eat your blades alive. Other times, your cutting speed will slow down even when all factors are as optimal as possible. It will happen! Turning the water up may help on some, like quartzites. When you are cutting the hardest materials, keep a dressing stone handy for constant dressing. It’s worth the effort! It is key to recognize beforehand the materials that will incur more labor time/costs. So you can bid the job with real costs in mind.