Choosing the right concrete saw

If you are cutting concrete or control joints for either patching, replacing or installing something, you will definitely need concrete saws that will get the job done effectively and efficiently. Using one type of saw to do all cutting jobs well is a stretch as cutting requirements differ from the type of cut being made and the type of concrete being cut.

Diamond saw blades are the most popular choice due to their ability to excellent cuts. Under this category, there are is a variety of blade options at different prices and quality. To get the best results on your work and achieve optimal performance for your investment, here is a guide that might be helpful when buying a blade:

Understand how a diamond blade works— diamond blades have four basic components

  • A metal steel disk that holds the diamonds in a segmented rim (core).
  • Synthetic diamond crystals that have sharp teeth for cutting the concrete
  • A metal bond where the diamond particles are held called the matrix
  • A weld that attaches the core and the cutting segments.

The diamonds on the surface use abrasive action by rotating at high speeds to slice through the material. A soft surface requires a hard metal bond so as to utilize the particles fully before they are replaced. The inverse also applies as hard, abrasive surfaces require a soft metal bond to ensure new diamonds appear at the right time. When the diamonds at the top wear out, new diamonds from the matrix are exposed. The hardness of the matrix controls how fast diamonds wear out.

Identify the material you are going to cut— this is the most important aspect of choosing a blade as it directly affects the performance and overall life of the diamond blade. It is recommended that for optimal performance, the blade to be used should be matched with the material as closely as possible. Common characteristics of the concrete that are vital are the type of sand, the size of the aggregate and the compressive strength.

While buying different blades when cutting different types of concrete on the same project may be expensive, manufacturers recommend that you use the blade that is used the most to cut all types of concrete since most blades can perform on a range of materials.

Wet or dry cutting—this is often based on preference, performance, job requirement and safety. Wet cutting is preferred for cutting joints in concrete as it allows you to cut deeper and substantially reduces the amount of dust produced. For indoor jobs, dry cutting is preferred as it eliminates the need to clean up or cool the blade during cutting. Dry cutting is also ideal for decorative jobs.

When using wet blades, it is important to remember to always use water while cutting to avoid blade fatigue. Dry blades can be used either dry or wet, depending on your preferences.

Match the blade with your cutting equipment—check your equipment and ensure that the blade you intend to buy matches its cutting speed range. Using a blade at a speed higher or lower than that of your equipment reduces its lifespan and performance.

Manufacturers usually have information on compatibility charted but you can talk to a professional to get the right kind of blade.