I thought with my new JET contractors saw, Incra fence, link belt, and Forrest Woodworker II combination blade, I would have the best setup I could afford. Now I read I might need a blade dampener and a scoring blade to make the best plywood cuts. Do dampeners and scoring blades really help?
Michael Dresdner: Do they help? Yes. Do you need either? Not necessarily. This is one case where you should not try to fix it until it is broken. Try cutting with your current setup. If it does not do what you want, then look for solutions. A well setup saw with the fittings you describe should do yeoman’s service just as is.
Ellis Walentine: Scoring blades help, but they are only available on much larger, industrial duty saws. They have their own arbors and motors and are designed to nick the borders of the kerf before it gets to the main blade, thereby reducing tearout. Your Woodworker II is an ATB (alternate top bevel) blade that just happens to be one of the best on the market. It should cut plywood slick as a whistle without further assistance. Blade stabilizers aren’t likely to produce a perceptible difference in the quality of the cut or the amount of tearout. They make sense mostly for thin-kerf blades, where the heat produced by cutting denser woods could cause the blade to wobble.
Lee Grindinger: A high quality blade will eliminate the need for a blade dampener. The first thing to check if you’re getting lousy cuts on plywood, or any veneer for that matter, is the sharpness and type of the blade. An ATB (Alternate Top Bevel) tooth pattern is best for this use. The next thing to check is fence alignment. Your fence should be set dead parallel to the blade; any variation in this will cause tearout. The next thing to check is the arbor flange runout. This is the flange on the arbor and any runout in the flange will cause the blade to wobble. Yes, you’ll get a better cut time after time with a scoring saw but you can also get satisfactory results from a well tuned cabinet saw with a good blade.