How to Select the Right Diamond Blade
Selecting the proper blade for each project is key to a successful completion. Diamond blades are the ideal choice if you want to make professional, clean cuts in concrete. However, not all diamond blades are created equal, and you get what you pay for when it comes to the quality of the blade and the cut it will make.
If you need to make a large number of high-quality cuts, like most contractors, selecting the right diamond blade for the job is critical. You also can’t rely on only one type of blade to perform the same cutting task in different types of material.
There are numerous factors to consider when it comes to blades for your saw. Using the wrong diamond blade on a material it’s not meant to cut can cause damage to the blade, the saw, and even the operator. Below are questions to ask when figuring out which blade is right for your project.
What type of equipment are you using?The type of saw you’re using will determine the kind of blade you should get for a specific job. Different types of equipment use different blades, and although you can use the same blade on multiple saws, they should have similar RPM and ratings.
Whether you’re using a low-powered or high-powered saw, it’s always important to look at a blade’s specifications. For instance, using a general-purpose diamond blade on a high-speed power saw won’t work.
Diamond blades are generally used on:
- Handheld Cut-Off Saws
- Walk-Behind Saws
- Early Entry Saws
- Wall Saws
- Masonry and Tile Saws
- Surface Grinders
- Core Drilling
An adequate saw for a diamond blade must provide enough power, proper RPM, flanges that are flat and parallel equal to at least 1/3 of the blade diameter in size, and proper alignment after the blade is mounted between its flanges. While these factors may limit your blade selection, at least you’ll know what is adequate and what is not.
Consider matching your tool series to a blade series. Pay close attention to the blade specifications from the manufacturer. Speed rating specifications provide the most optimum performance for your saw and blade.
What materials are you cutting?For maximum cutting speed and blade life, you want a blade that matches the material as closely as possible. While some blades can cut a wide range of materials, the blade you choose should be specified for the job-at-hand for maximum performance.
The material directly affects the cutting speed of the blade as well as the blade’s lifespan. That’s why determining the material that will be cut the most often is a priority when selecting a diamond blade.
When it comes to diamond blade cutting speed and safety, the hardness and abrasiveness of the material matters. Soft, abrasive materials require faster shaft speed, while harder and less abrasive materials require slower shaft speed. Additionally, the size and hardness of the aggregate, along with the compressive strength, impact cutting speed and ultimately the life of the blade.
How deep are you cutting and are you cutting at the right time?The depth of the cuts you want to make are a factor to consider when choosing your blade. The cutting depth can vary based on the blade diameter, the type of saw, and how far parts of the saw extend below the collars.
If you’re cutting concrete, the blade you choose greatly depends on the timing of the cut. You can cut while the concrete is still green, or after it has hardened. For example, if you’re using a Soff-Cut system scoring green concrete, which is softer and more abrasive, you’ll want a diamond blade with a hard bond.
Wet or dry cutting?Some diamond blades are designed to be used specifically for wet or dry cutting. Neither method is necessarily more effective than the other – but some jobs can require a specific method.
Dry cutting is recommended mostly for indoor work areas where water would be a detriment. Dry blades may be used either dry or wet, depending on the job and the equipment. If you are dry-cutting concrete, make sure you are using an approved silica dust collection system.
Wet-cutting blades are necessary if a water source is required for the cutting job, as they must be used with water. Wet cutting permits deeper cuts when using water as a coolant. Important note: do not use wet-cutting diamond blades for dry-cutting as they will overheat. Another thing to remember is that you need to contain/clean up slurry when wet-cutting.
Whichever cutting method you choose, simply getting the best blades doesn’t guarantee the best results. You also need to know when to use the correct cutting method.
Cutting speed vs wear resistance: What’s more important to you?
In a nutshell, high cutting speed helps get the job done quickly, with less effort. High wear resistance equals longer service life in more extensive jobs. So, what’s more important to you as a contractor? The initial price of the blade or the cost per cut?
The life of a diamond blade is greatly affected by the saw that’s being used – a tool with a high RPM will wear a blade faster than a tool with a low RPM. Additionally, as an operator, you have some control over the life of the blade by applying less pressure.