SystiMatic Planer Combination Table Saw Blade
Big-buck performance on a budget
Text and photos by Tom Hintz
NOTE: This story is not a review of the many saw blades available in the woodworking marketplace. What follows are the reasons I use this particular blade. My web site (www.newwoodworker.com) is totally funded out of my pocket, which precludes testing all of the brands available. You may find that another blade may better suit your woodworking needs.
This blade offers quality cuts at reasonable prices.
Click image to enlarge
Like most new woodworkers, I happily assembled my new table saw, including the factory-supplied blade. With the last assembly tool barely in it's drawer, my new saw was humming away and I was feeding every available scrap of lumber through it. Before long, the blade was growing dull.
In defense of the manufacturers, we have to consider why included blades may have a relatively short life. The exuberance of a new woodworker with a new saw often leads to large amounts of lumber being cut in a very short time. Factor in inexperienced setup and operation of the saw and it is understandable why the original blade may not survive as long as it could.
I lucked out while visiting my local woodworking shop in search of a new, "better" blade. I knew little about them other than carbide and a big price tag were probably in my future. Fortunately, there were other woodworkers in the store buying blades and I noticed that two of them picked up SystiMatic combination blades. A salesperson also predicted I would see little difference on the saw between the $50 SystiMatic and the $100-$120 blades I originally had in mind. I decided to take a chance "following the leaders" so-to-speak and within the hour I was tightening the arbor nut on my new SystiMatic #37102 (#1035 on the blade) rip/crosscut combination blade.
This 10-inch blade has 50 carbide teeth, arranged in groups of four ATB (Alternate Tooth Bevel) and one raker. That all sounded impressive to me then, but actually meant little aside from the vague recollection of Norm Abram mentioning something along these lines once or twice on The New Yankee Workshop. I would learn in coming months that this is a versatile blade that handles many jobs very well.
I started testing my new SystiMatic blade on a piece of common 2X6 pine. A crosscut with the miter guide left me pleasantly surprised at how easily the wood passed through the blade. The freshly cut end-grain had a glue-ready surface that would need little sanding to get ready for finish. The remainder of the 2x6 was then ripped with similar results - surprisingly little effort and very clean edges.
The combination of four ATB (Alternate Tip Bevel) teeth and one works great on all of the woods (and plywood) I have tried it on over the last several months.
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I was impressed.
Next, a length of ¾-inch-thick oak was ripped and cross cut. The results were the same - considerably reduced push-through effort and remarkably smooth edges.
A scrap of high-dollar oak veneer plywood was next. I had nearly ruined a project by cutting panels from this wood with my old blade. The edges splintered and chipped badly. The SystiMatic sliced through leaving edges with virtually no splitting or chipping at all.
I was even more impressed.
The rest of the afternoon was expended making various miter cuts, bevels and whatever else I could think of to tax the abilities of the SystiMatic blade. No matter what I pushed through it, the blade handled the job with ease, producing remarkably smooth edges on everything.
General Shop Use
Since buying that first SystiMatic several months ago, I have used it for all table saw operations except (most) dado work. Though I fully expected performance to decline somewhat with use, I noticed none until very recently. When ripping a 2X4 for my new shop bench it seemed that the feed rate had slowed a little, though the cut itself remained smooth and true.
I purchased another SystiMatic blade, identical to the first one, planning to send the original SystiMatic in for sharpening. However, when I removed it from the saw, I noticed quite a bit of buildup around the teeth and decided to see how cleaning it affected its performance.
I had a can of spray-on blade cleaner so applied that, let it sit as instructed, then scrubbed the buildup with a small brass brush. I wiped the blade clean, and then applied a thin coat of WD-40 before re-installing it in my saw.
The results were dramatic. Twenty minutes worth of cleaning effort restored the performance of my original SystiMatic blade sufficiently that I left it in the saw and put its replacement on stand-by in the drawer. My intentions are to use the cleaned blade until it again shows signs of losing performance, and then send it in for sharpening.
It is a good idea to have blades re-sharpened before they become very dull. If your blade is showing any signs of dullness, stop using it and have it re-sharpened. A dull blade can be very dangerous.
The SystiMatic combination blades performance has amazed me. I realize part of this amazement could be a function of my lack of experience with higher quality blades. However, if the messages I see from other woodworkers regarding blade performance are any indication, the SystiMatic combination blade is well above the norm.
When I bought my first SystiMatic table saw blade I fully intended to replace it with another brand. My plan was to buy blades from different manufacturers until I found what I considered the best for my situation at a price I could live with. Now after several months of using the SystiMatic combination blade, I decided to stick with it, at least for now. It has done everything I asked of it, done it cleanly and without giving me any trouble along the way.
I would still like to try other brands, but until my woodworking budget develops a surplus, I will stick with a sure thing.