Replaced all the saw blades in my shop this week, and I am a very happy woodworker.
I’ve spoken about this before, and you’d think that being aware of the issue would keep me from repeating it. It’s not that I don’t learn or have a good memory, because I do on both counts. It’s just that the issue happens so very slowly under most circumstances.
I’m talking about sharp blades. Some sharpness, or lack thereof, is very obvious: You notice quickly with chisels that they’re getting dull. You’ll also notice with machine blades if you’re doing huge runs of something in a short time. But with saw blades of the use-them-only-a-few-times-a-day type, the dullness happens so slowly that it’s virtually unnoticeable. It sometimes becomes apparent only when you find yourself leaning with all your weight on something to get it through the saw, when the sound of the machine straining is audible to neighbors, or the lovely aroma of burning wood accompanies every cutting task.
The last time I talked about this I resolved to always have a fresh blade on hand for the band saw or table saw, and I actually acquired them. Trouble was, I never swapped them out when I should have. Again, it happens too slowly to notice.
I put a new blade on my band saw this morning, and the difference is incredible. And even though I hadn’t yet noticed my table saw bogging down on cuts, I changed that blade, too, with delightful results.
Always having that fresh blade ready to go is the first step. The harder second step is remembering to use them.