All of the online woodworking forums have a steady stream of saw blade discussions. Perhaps this page adds fuel
to the fire. A lot of the discussion extols the virtues of the Forrest WWII blade. I have used Forrest WWII blades for
years on our PM66 and indeed it is an excellent blade. However, most woodworkers compare their new Forrest WWII blade
against their previous blade (which has been dulled by months/years of use) and cannot contain their glee regarding the
Forrest performance. The primary advantage of the Forrest blade is in its sharpening. Most sharpening services do their
final grind/hone at 400 grit. For cabinet making, you really want your blade sharpened and honed to 600 grit. Several
sharpening services (Forrest and Ridge to name two) sharpen/hone to 600 grit. As a test, I sent my Systematic blade
to Forrest for sharpening and it cut as well as the WWII.
For the past five or so years I have used the Forrest WWII combo blade for most operations (crosscut and rip). I use
the Freud rip blade for difficult rip operations (thick lumber). The Forrest WWII is an excellent blade but tends to burn
when ripping some hardwoods (oak and cherry).
Part of the appeal of the Forrest blade is the ultra smooth surface it leaves. This is due in part to its superior
sharpening and the narrow blade/tooth clearance. This narrow clearance appears to actually burnish the wood a bit. If your
table saw is not setup for the blade, if the blade gets a bit dull, the blade gullets do not clear the workpiece, or the
blade has some pitch residue, the burnishing turns to burning.
Consequently, Forrest recommends that you angle your fence (leading to trailing edge) .003" away from the blade and run the blade a bit higher than most woodworkers like, high enough so that the gullets of the blade are fully exposed. I have also found that our Forrest blades tend to dull faster and chip teeth more than any other blade I have used. Everytime I have sent the blade to Forrest for sharpening, they have had to replace chipped teeth. I only use these blades to cut cabinet grade lumber/plywood and melamine. No construction lumber, no nail-filled trees, etc. I have read where woodworkers have gone 2,3, 4 years without sharpening their WWII. All I can say, they must not be cutting much hardwood or melamine.
In October 2002 I purchased two In-line Industries / Ridge Carbide combo blades and have been using them almost exclusively. I like the flat bottom cut of the In-Line Industries blade. It provides a cut virtually as smooth as the Forrest and the flat bottom means I don't have to mount my rip blade to mill narrow dados and box joints. Also, the carbide tips of the In-Line blade are significantly thicker than the Forrest tips, meaning I'll get more sharpenings before the blade is toast. And finally, the blade does not burn lumber on rip cuts since its blade/tooth clearance is slightly greater than the Forrest blade. It is too soon to tell whether the blade will last longer between sharpenings than the Forrest, but I tend to believe it will because they tend to not collect as much pitch. This is important, because pitch leads to heat which is a prime cause of dulling blades.
For difficult rip cuts and resawing, I use one of two Freud LM72, 24 tooth blades. CMT offers a similar blade. Nothing
for the price produces a better glue line cut. They are inexpensive to sharpen and work great as resaw blades. I recommend
that you do not use combo blades for resawing, they just do not clear enough material.
I use a Freud F410 on our Grizzly 1023S. I purchased the blade for about $60 before the price increase. It is an excellent blade, every bit the equal of the Forrest WWII. It is especially good crosscutting melamine.
I use a Freud Dado set. It is not the best, but for the price it does very well. I understand the Ridge and Forrest Dado blades are considerably better, I just don't use them enough to justify the price.
Miter Saw Blades
I use one blade on our Delta miter saw, a Freud LU85. It does a reasonable job. With a proper sharpening the blade should perform as well as the Forrest cutoff blade. I have not sharpened this blade in 10 years and it is used (abused) daily.
Circular Saw Blades
I use a Forrest WWII on our DeWalt 364, used for most of our panel cutting. It works great, but splinters on the backside of panels on crosscuts, especially if the cut is not backed up.
I use a CMT Cutoff blade on our PC 743, which is used for some panel cutting and general all-around cutting. It works okay, but not as well as the Forrest which has been used much more and is need of sharpening.
I use a DeWalt carbide blade on our Skil saw, which is used to rough cut panels with our Jointability jig. It works better than expected for a "throw away" blade.
Much has been written about the Tenryu, CMT General, and other combination saw blades. Frankly, all of the new crop of combo blades have the right geometry to cut well, given they're sharpened correctly and honed to 600 grit. FWW magazine recently rated the US Saw Oldham and Everlast Astra Wood combo blades very highly and they run about $30-$40 less than a Forrest. You can check out the Everlast blade and the FWW blade chart at: Everlast Saw Blades.