Premium quality teeth and hand tensioned blade deliver superb cuts making this one of the best miter saw blades currently on the market
Unless you are new to woodworking, it is highly unlikely you have not heard of Forrest saw blades. Anyone else will know of the high regard in which Forrest blades are held. Reviews of any of the various Forrest blades are invariably overwhelmingly positive.
Among woodworkers, the most popular Forrest blades seem to be the combination blades (Woodworker I and Woodworker II) and the dado head set (Dado King). Part of the reason for their success must be the precision manufacturing and quality control processes employed. Like many other major blade manufacturers, Forrest uses the best quality steel and carbide. However, they also use a fair amount of hand work – the plate is hand tensioned, teeth are manually brazed onto the plate, and blade re-straightening, as required, is done by hand. This results in a blade that has virtually no runout (+/- .001″). All Forrest blades use a double hard C4 submicron carbide for the teeth, which give superior blade life. According to Forrest you can expect up to 300% longer life between sharpenings than you will get from other blades. As well, Forrest is one of the only companies that re-sharpens their blades. Which means that the original tooth geometry designed for that blade is maintained.
Whatever the reasons for their success, I was excited to try their new Signature Line Chopmaster blade. Forrest’s original 80 tooth Chopmaster blade is designed for chop, miter and radial saws. As the name implies, the blade is designed specifically for crosscutting. The new Signature Line blades feature more carbide teeth with new tooth angles and smaller gullets.
The Signature Line Chopmaster has 90 carbide teeth, set in a pattern of two alternating teeth followed by a flat top raker tooth. The teeth have a steep bevel angle, a top clearance angle of 18°, a rake angle of -5°, and produces a 7/64″ wide kerf, less than a hairs breath under 1/8″. The large teeth will give you plenty of resharpenings. The arbour hole is precisely drilled, as it fits very snugly on the arbour, without any slop whatsoever.
Of course, what really matters is how a blade performs. I tested the Signature Line Chopmaster on my miter saw and also on the table saw. Prior to beginning the tests I checked the alignment on my mitre gauge, rip fence and arbour shaft on the table saw, and the miter and bevel settings on the miter saw. While Forrest does sell blade stiffeners they didn’t specifically recommend the use of one with the Chopmaster, so I didn’t use one. I made a range of crosscuts in plywood, MDF, 3/4″ and 2″ alder and 3/4″ and 3″ ash. For cuts in softwood and sheet stock on the table saw I raised the blade about 1/4″ above the stock, while for hardwood I raised the blade 1″ above the stock. I also installed a zero clearance insert.
The first thing I noticed is that the blade encounters almost no resistance cutting through stock, whether the material is 3/4″ or 2″ thick. Second, the quality of the cut is phenomenal. The cut surface was as smooth as glass. Absolutely no sanding or plane work is required, even for surfaces that will be visible. On commercial plywood and shop made ply there was absolutely no tearout on the bottom side.
Six weeks since the initial testing session I continue to use the Chopmaster on my miter saw for virtually all my precision cuts (for rough stock I use the general purpose blade that came with the saw). The Chopmaster cuts continue to be consistently perfect. Switching blades doesn’t take that long, and using the right blade for the task gives me better results, and increases the time between sharpenings.
Is the choice of a saw blade that important? If you are looking to get the best cuts possible from your miter or table saw, and the maximum value from your saw blade investment, then, the answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’. The Signature Line Chopmaster is, in my view, the best miter saw blade currently on the market, and a sound business investment.
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