While brass blades are useful for cutting through wood and other such soft materials, there are some materials to which saws of such construction simply are not suited. When a saw must cut through harder materials, or if a saw has to do so rapidly and for extended periods of time, a stronger metal such as steel is often chosen. There are times, however, when even steel is not sharp enough or durable enough to do the job, and at times such as this, a carbide blade may be worth considering.
The carbide commonly used in saws is a chemical compound consisting of tungsten and carbide. This compound provides such molecular strength that it is also commonly used by the military for various applications, including armor piercing rounds. The sharpness that a carbide blade provides is not its only attractive feature. Carbide also possesses an extremely high melting point. If a saw is to be used in a high production environment, such as a factory, carbide may be worth the investment. Although a steel blade may have the sharpness to cut a material, it will heat up and warp if used constantly at high speed.
Carbide does have some disadvantages. For one, carbide is an expensive material because of the difficulties involved in its production. Additionally, despite its incredible sharpness, carbide is also a brittle material, having a tendency to chip and break. As such, carbide saw blades are usually made primarily out of steel. The actual teeth of such a blade are carbide, with the blade made in such a way that the teeth are detachable. If a tooth should chip or shatter, the blade may be easily serviced by simply inserting a new tooth.
Some newer carbide saw blades have employed advanced technology to protect the teeth from chipping and shattering. Carbide tools can be coated with a material such as titanium to prevent what is known as galling. Galling occurs when the material being cut sticks to the blade, leading to wear and tear on the blade. The titanium coating prevents anything from sticking to the blade, thereby increasing the lifetime of the carbide itself.
Leading brands for carbide saws include the American Carbide Saw Company, as well as the Industrial Carbide Saw & Tool Corp. A carbide blade isn’t going to be cheap. For instance, a 12″ circular blade offered by the Ace Hardware Superstore costs $202. If you need an extremely sharp blade that will run cool, however, carbide is most likely your best bet.