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The Meaning of Kerf in Woodworking

August 23, 2018Sharewoodworking

In woodworking, kerf refers to the width of a cut that is made by a saw blade as it cuts through wood. It is also often used to refer to the width of the blade itself. It is not uncommon to find the packaging of the blades referring to the kerf of the blade. For instance, there are manufacturers who have a standard kerf for their blades of 0.098 inches, or 2.5 mm. For the finer blades, the kerf measures 0.087inches. Here is all you need to know about the importance of the kerf and the factors that determine its width.

Why is kert Important?

The importance of kerf is twofold: precision and minimizing wasted wood. If you need to make very precise cuts on your wood, then it is imperative that you know the size of the kerf. This is especially important where precise tolerance is vital. Additionally, the width of the kerf has a direct correlation to the amount of wood that turns to worthless sawdust. When you are working with expensive hardwoods, you will most definitely want to reduce the amount of wood that gets wasted. In such cases, then thin blades are the ideal kind. A small kerf goes a long way in minimizing the amount of wood that gets wasted.

What Determines the Width of the Kerf?

The width of a kerf is generally of much more importance in circular blades than it is in band saw blades. When working with blades on such saws as miter saws, table saws and circular saws, you need to pay attention to the kerf of the blades. This is because you are prone to waste a lot of wood when using these blades than when using band saws. Band saw blades usually have remarkably thin kerfs, which makes it a tad harder to waste wood.

Some of the factors that determine the width of the kerf include the width of the blade, the wobble of the blade and the set of the teeth. Usually, blades that have a wide kerf are the coarse construction blades. These are generally used to create the frame of the furniture. The teeth of these blades are often welded onto the blade, which is why the set, or the angle at which they are attached, also determines the width of the kerf. With such blades, the amount to wood that gets wasted in generally high. This is why it is not advisable to use these blades on expensive exotic woods.

For fine woodworking, you would be better off using thin blades. Thinner blades usually have the teeth shaped into the metal of the blade, as opposed to being welded on to it There is no angled set with the thin blades and this reduces wood wastage a great deal.

Finally, the wobble of the blade also plays a role in determining the width of the kerf. Generally, wobbling increases the width of the kerf, and this results in more wastage of wood. Wobbling results from misalignment of teeth, so it’s important to ensure that your teeth are properly arranged before you start using the blade.

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