last time you needed to buy a new blade for one of your saws, how did
you choose it? If you found yourself staring at a rack of saw blades
at the home center or a woodworking tool dealer, glazing over at the
cornucopia of colors, grinds and thousands of shiny carbide teeth, it
probably felt a little bewildering. There are blades these days to
suit every application, material type and tool. And, prices run the
the end, did you finally pick on based on price? Did the dizzying
number of options leave you wondering if they aren't all more or less
the same in the end anyway?
this scenario sounds familiar, you're not alone, suggests Salo Taro,
national sales manager for CMT.
of the most common misconceptions I hear from tool users is that all
blades have similar life, and that blade coatings are just painted-on
gimmicks. But, nothing could be further from the truth."
spends a lot of time clearing up misinformation about blades, and
with good reason: Italy-based CMT stakes its reputation on developing
premium quality blades, bits and cutters for woodworkers, contractors
and industrial applications, and they've been doing it for more than
50 years. "We've
invested in the most advanced, most state-of-the-art technology in
CNC machine equipment and software to manufacture the highest quality
woodworking tools in the world. We also have the most highly skilled
engineers and operators to manage our operations in Europe,"
do misconceptions about saw blades continue? Well, there's no
question that advancements in blade technology over the past 30 years
or so have raised the bar of quality higher than it's ever been. It's
harder to buy a truly awful saw blade these days, and competition
between leading manufacturers is fierce. We end users reap the
benefits, across quite a broad range of blade pricing. And,
blades these days look similar from one manufacturer to the next.
They all have carbide teeth, come in an assortment of styles to suit
many tools and typically have a nifty color scheme. It only seems
plausible to those outside of the blade manufacturing industry that
maybe, just maybe, one blade is qualitatively pretty much like the
However, Taro disagrees. "There is so much research, metallurgy and
engineering that goes into blade technology, and those attributes
aren't easy to see through a blade package on a shelf -- if at all.
You can't tell quality based on appearance."
But, Sal says, CMT "doesn't cut corners" on quality. That's why
the company uses only the highest grade German steel for its blade
bodies, then laser-cuts it to exact shape for perfect balance. Even
the arbor holes are cut with a laser instead of punched from the
steel to ensure that they are centered and will precisely fit a saw's
arbor. "We also use the finest industrial-grade micro-grain
carbide for our blade teeth, to stay sharp and wear longer than our
competition. Then we use a tri-metal brazing process, which provides
the best resistance to shock during cutting."
And, he confirms, the signature orange coating on a CMT blade is more
than just a pretty paint job. "Our trademarked orange coating is
industrial-strength PFTE or polytetrafluoroethylene to resist resin
buildup, burning, rust or other corrosion. It's a Teflon® blend
that will keep your blade running cooler, cleaner and smoother over
Still, there's no debating that premium blades can be expensive. Around 2008, when the recent
recession began, Sal says the company heard frequent concerns from
customers who wanted blades that were more economically priced, to
help satisfy the bottom-line challenges professional contractors and
cabinet builders were facing at the time.
Industrial Thin Kerf ITK™ blades have been very popular with the
pros since we launched that brand about 15 years ago. So, about two
and half years ago, we expanded the ITK line to give our customers
more choices of ITK at a broader range of pricing."
addition to the "Industrial" version of ITK, CMT added two
more blade categories: ITK Contractor and ITK Plus. The Contractor
line includes some 22 different blades in sizes ranging from
3-3/8-in.-diameter up to 14-in. They feature heavy-duty German steel
plates hardened to 44 on the Rockwell scale, with expansion slots and
"construction grade" carbide for long life and better
performance. Prices for ITK Contractor blades are about $12 to around
$50 retail, and the blades are intended for daily use by contractors
and remodelers looking for the best compromise between longevity and
ITK Plus line is a step up from the Contractor blades. These blades
feature high-density carbide teeth, made with a new SinterHIP process
that uses both high pressure and high temperature to create
porous-free teeth. ITK Plus carbide purportedly provides a longer
cutting life than traditional carbide. The ITK Plus blades, which
have CMT's orange nonstick coating, come in some 30 different options
in 5-3/8- to 12-in. sizes. Prices range from about $15 to $76 for
wood-cutting blades. Several ITK Plus blades for cutting cementitious
Hardie™ Board siding are also available.
says the ITK Plus blades are a great mid-price point series for
general woodworking applications.
help make it easier for end users to choose the right ITK blade to
meet their needs, CMT has also added "Good, Better, Best"
qualifiers on the packaging, catalog and web descriptions of these
blades. Those simple distinctions represent specific attributes of
each blade grouping, as well as low, medium and high pricing for ITK
Contractor, Plus and Industrial blades.
you need a blade for framing, finishing, ripping or general purpose
woodworking, we've got an ITK blade that will satisfy the quality and
pricing that meets your needs," Taro says. "We feel this
expansion of the ITK line brings the absolute best value to market --
and that's always been our goal: to continually improve our quality
for woodworkers, contractors and industry."
more about CMT's blades, bits and other products by clicking here. Or, watch Taro cover each ITK blade category in more detail in a video blog we conducted at CMT's booth at the 2013 AWFS Fair.