Carbide toothed circular saw blades have pretty much completely replaces bi-metal circular saw blades so why don’t we see the same phenomenon in reciprocating saw blades? At a recent Freud Media Event we had the opportunity to see the Diablo Carbide Recip Blades go head to head with the likes of Dewalt, Milwaukee and Lenox and smoke them (see video below) with this test. The first couple things you might be thinking are 1) All these tests are fake I can’t believe any of them. 2) If the carbide teeth are so much better why haven’t we seen all recip blades go to carbide? 3) Should I make the switch to Carbide?
First, on the fake demos question we would strongly suggest, especially at the media presentations these are real demos with new competitor products (accessories and tools) with minimal shadiness factor. Most of the media folks in the room are very skeptical and have little more than a free lunch swaying them to be positive. It would always be way more fun for them to report on how a manufacturer tried to rig a test than it ever would be talking about actual blade performance. The saws were selected by audience and we did get a chance to see all the accessories as well as use them ourselves.
That being said each manufacturer does hundreds of different comparison tests and will use the test that best highlights their products, in the Freud Diable Carbide blade it is where there is 10 nails very closely spaced together in wood. The Milwaukee Sawzall Ax Blade Video below they run their blade against the same Carbide Diablo and the Lenox and beats both of course it a mix of plunge cutting, then goes through much more wood and thinner nails not embedded in wood which highlights their blade much better. Which is closer to your application certainly you will need to decide.
Second, if you watched the video above you might see some of the reasons how carbide isn’t always the fastest in demolition applications. We’ve made many cuts with both kinds of recip blades and there is no question, for us if we are cutting something that we know we are deliberately going to cut nails in wood we are going to grab the carbide tooth blade. We have found in practice however the carbide blades are a little slower in wood, especially when you consider you need to use them much longer to get your moneys worth. Two 9” Diablo Carbide ($9.47) is going to cost about the same as 5 pack of 9” Milwaukee Ax ($19.99) or 5 pack 9” Diablo Bi-Metal ($17.97) blades which means you get new fresh sharp blades more than twice as often.
Basically if we were going to break down a bunch of pallets of wood to scrap and just cut them into smaller sizes we would grab a bi-metal demo blade and we would do our best to not hit any nails (which we probably wouldn’t). On the other hand if we wanted to break down the pallet to reuse the wood for a reclaimed project off 1001Pallet Ideas we would recommend the Diablo where we might make some strait wood cuts, others where we will just be cutting the nails and plenty of both. A little experience with both and you’d know which blade to grab from the tool box.
Third, on making the switch over to carbide, we would definitely recommend trying out a carbide blade yourself first in addition to your other demo blades. These are awesome blades better for some jobs but not every job and at the current price point not always the most cost effective route. Price will always be a consideration and in many cases with companies purchasing blades for workers they may not always be used to their full potential. Blades are only used for 1 job then tossed, if that was to make 10 cuts and the job is done then that blade will get pitched is the view of many tool crib managers.
Moving forward we should see these blades get cheaper and better performing as Bosch Tools (Freud parent company as of 2009) will continue to invest heavily in carbide technology. In our Freud video above at the end you will see the next generation carbide blade (not out at the time we wrote this) is 2.7x faster and lasts even longer than their current carbide tooth blade used against the competitors. Our guess would be we are going to continue to see performance improve for carbide technology and if price does continue to fall at some point these could replace bi-metal altogether in recip blades and probably hole saws as well. We wouldn’t think this would be any time in the immediate future but all bets are off looking 5-10+ years down the road.