One of the coolest table saws I ever saw was an old Oliver (and I mean old). Turning a crank on the front of the machine rotated one blade out of the way under the table and brought another one up. What an easy way to change blades… no wrench required.
For the rest of us, changing table saw blades means grabbing a wrench and making the swap. But you need to know which blade to put on, depending on what you’re planning on doing. There’s no shortage when it comes to types of blades you can put on your table saw. But in my experience we can narrow your search down to three very useful blades.
First, a crosscut/sheet stock blade with a high tooth count and alternate top bevel tooth pattern. On 10″ blades look for a tooth count of 60-80 teeth. Use this blade to get high quality cuts on the end grain of soft and hard woods, along with smooth and chip-free cuts on man-made materials like plywood. Remember that neither man-made materials nor end grain should be run across a jointer, so you want to get the best possible cut quality right off the blade. The alternate top bevel buys you that cut quality.
Next, a dedicated rip blade. These typically have 24-40 teeth and a flat top grind. A rip blade will hog through solid woods like there’s no tomorrow. “But hey,” you say, “if the cut quality on those 60-80 tooth blades is so good, why not use that one for ripping, too? Have a look at the gullets, the valleys between the teeth. Ripping blades need big gullets to carry away the large chips that ripping produces. If you try to rip with a crosscut blade you’ll most likely overheat and ruin the blade. No good. Yes, you can cross cut and cut sheet goods with a rip blade, but you probably won’t be happy with the cut quality (or lack thereof).
Finally, a combo blade that will do both crosscutting and ripping. These 40-tooth alternate top bevel blades have become very popular, and do a nice job. If you want to hang one blade on your saw, and leave it on there, this is the blade of choice.