What You Didn’t Know About Diamond Blades in 2020
No matter your trade, there’s no doubt that you have come across diamond blades cutting construction material on your worksite. And for speed and versatility, it is no wonder… Diamond blades are useful for cutting quickly and cleanly through reinforced materials like bricks, blocks, walls, glass, tiles and concrete. This has made them an incredibly popular choice in the construction industry.
But have you ever wondered why some blades last longer than others? Are you sick of replacing blades all the time?
What if changing one thing could transform your job?
This sounds like something that could never happen. However, everything changes when you change blades.
The type of blade you use in your tools makes a huge difference in how the job gets done. And these blades don’t come cheap, so you need to know what you’re working with, and how to choose the best one for the task at hand.
BUT it can be hard to know where to start – there are so many different kinds of blades and tools available, and each one serves a different purpose.
Homeowners and construction professionals often use traditional saw blades or abrasive blades. Unfortunately, these are easily damaged and must often be replaced.
You can avoid this by switching to diamond blades.
In this handy guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about diamond blade tools. Keep reading to learn more!
What Are Diamond Blades?
Diamond blades are part of a larger family of diamond cutting tools. Diamond cutting tools have a steel drill tube or core, and a cutting edge that contains diamond pieces.
Common diamond cutting tools include diamond drills, diamond blades, diamond grinding tools and polycrystalline diamond (PCD cutting tools).
Do Diamond blades have real diamonds?
Despite the name, the blades are not made fully of diamonds. They are made of powdered metal laid over a core of steel that has been mixed with diamond crystals. These aren’t the type of diamonds you’d find in jewellery, they are synthetic diamonds made with a high-temperature, high-pressure synthesis process. The concentration and quality of the diamonds within each segment has a vital role on the way the tool performs.
This diamond material allows for the highest efficiency while cutting materials. The final result is more than just another tool. It is an investment in the quality of every single job that you work on.
But, use the wrong blade for the material and you will grind your blade dull.
Keep reading to discover all of the benefits of using these blades and how to make sure you are using the right ones.
What’s the difference between a Steel Saw blade and a Diamond Saw Blade?
While a standard steel saw blade has teeth to slice through softer materials like wood, Diamond blades cut dense, hard materials that are too tough for wood and metal saw blades. But, they are not all created equal. Just as there are different wood saw blades for soft or hardwood, diamond blades come designed for a range of uses.
In order for any blade to cut through the material, it must be made from a substance that is harder than material to be cut. Diamonds are one of the strongest natural substances known to exist on earth.
Steel, stone and concrete are some of the toughest materials available and require some tougher-than-normal saw blades to cut through them. Diamond saws are an incredibly useful tool for cutting through materials, and are extensively used for precise and heavy-duty cutting.
On the job site they are regularly used for cutting through reinforced materials like bricks, blocks, walls and concrete. Their strength allows for a more effective, smoother cut than other blades. This has made them an incredibly popular advancement in the construction industry.
Because diamonds are incredibly hard and have a high melting point, diamond tools are regularly used within the construction industry.
They are the blade of choice for bricklayers, concreters, landscapers and for civil construction.
Let’s be honest upfront. Diamond blades are going to cost you more money than traditional saw or abrasive blades.
Despite the extra cost, diamond blades will save you money in the long term. This is because they last longer than most other blades.
Additionally, they can be used for multiple different purposes. This lets you buy a single tool for multiple indoor and outdoor projects instead of buying multiple tools.
Finally, they are an investment in quality. Buying longer-lasting tools means having to replace them less frequently. And for homeowners and professionals alike, time really is money!
These blades typically offer a better speed than you get with traditional abrasive cutting discs. This is because they can deal with heat better and have better debris removal.
Faster cutting speed will add up when you look at the amount of time you spend cutting. The math is simple: saving time on every single cut leads to major time savings at the end of a project.
Saving time is what makes diamond blades so popular with contractors. Finishing projects faster puts more money in your pocket at the end of the day!
Diamond blades are popular as they cut through virtually any surface. They are used by many different experts to work on more difficult areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Whether you are designing your dream home from the ground up, or using these blades on the jobsite to earn your living, there is a blade suited to your job.
Different Ways of Cutting
The diamond blade lets you cut wet or dry.
Wet cutting is when the blade uses water to help reduce some of the heat its friction generates. The wet cutting technique is part of why the blade lasts much longer than other blades.
Masonry, glass, and other hard materials create a fine dust in the air – presenting a safety hazard to those in the vicinity. The water also minimises the amount of dust generated, which helps to keep you safe. This is good for your health and to help you comply with OHS regulations.
The friction of cutting stone and other abrasive materials produces extreme heat on the blade. Running your diamond saw dry can be dangerous if you don’t use the right blade and follow the safety directions as provided by the manufacturer.
Dry cutting is best done outdoors and is most suitable to smaller projects. When dry cutting, the blade should be allowed to cool off periodically. Cooling can be increased by allowing the blade to spin freely out of the cut.
Dry cutting outside also helps to keep the blade cool with airflow while also being a natural protection for you against the dust generated.
While dry cutting it is even more important to wear a mask, so you do not inhale dust as it can cause silicosis, a serious lung disease.
Diamond blades will not just change the way you cut various materials. They are likely to change how you think about cutting entirely. This is because they do not actually cut in the way that traditional saw blades cut.
Most steel blades work by directly cutting the material. Instead, the diamond blade works by generating friction and essentially working like a grinding wheel.
Types of diamond blades
The power of any tool comes from how versatile it is. And one of the best things about a diamond blade is that it offers different kinds of cuts for your different needs.
Let’s go through some of the things you should consider when deciding on the best blade for you.
Vacuum brazed diamond blades feature diamonds on the exterior edge of a standard circular saw blade. Manufacturers use a vacuum furnace to weld diamond bits onto the edge of the blades metal teeth. Vacuum brazing is cost-effective to manufacture and works well for cutting soft masonry.
An electroplate bond begins by embedding the diamonds in a nickel coating mixture. The mixture is chemically bound by introducing an electric current. The result is a thin, strong diamond blade, perfect for precision and aesthetic work on hard materials.
Sintered Diamond Blades
A sintered diamond saw bond is the most common technique. It involves putting the steel core of the blade into a mold with the diamond segments mixture. By pressing together, at extreme pressure, the mixture a chemical bond occurs without using any heat.
These diamond blades are good for moderately hard materials.
Laser Welded Diamond Blades
“Laser welded” or “laser melted” diamond blades. are the premium range of diamond saws on the market. As the name indicates, a laser is used to melt the diamond segment and the steel core together. This creates an incredibly strong bond that can tolerate high temperatures making the blade the best choice for both dry and wet cutting.
Sintered vs laser welded diamond blades
Sintered or Laser Welded blades are the main types available in Australia. Vacuum Braze and Electroplating is more likely to be found on other diamond tools like pin drills and hole saws.
The method of attaching the abrasive rim to the metal core is important as the blade has a heavy load while cutting material.
Sintered diamond blades are manufactured cheaply and the segments are considered to be less secure. The core of the blade is also weaker, so a sintered blade may deform in high-load and high-intensity cutting jobs (they should be used for wet cutting to avoid this).
Laser welded blades cut faster and have a much longer life (about 35% longer) than sintered diamond blades. As laser welded blades are a premium tool, they will cost more, but are worth the extra for professional use.
How can you tell the difference between a sintered and laser welded?
It’s actually a pretty easy to recognise the difference between a laser melted diamond blade and a sintered diamond blade.
If you look at the two images below, you can see that there’s a difference where the blade tip meets the blade core. In the top image you can see that there is weld but in the image below, it is perfectly smooth.
Example of a Laser Welded Diamond Blade
Example of a Sintered Diamond Blade
What is diamond blade bond?
The bond of a diamond blade is in reference to the blades mixture of metal and diamond that makes up the cutting tip. Before the manufacturer forges the blade, they use their own recipe of metal powder and synthetic diamonds that they mix together. After the blade is forged, the bond determines the strength of material which can be cut by the blade.
Choosing the right bond
You need to choose a blade with the right bond for the materials you are cutting.
Generally, for hard materials you need a blade with soft bonds, and for soft materials you need a blade with hard bonds.
This is because diamond blades grind rather than cut and the bond controls the wear rate of the blade.
For example, when cutting a hard material, a soft bond will expose the object being cut to more diamonds as the blade wears down – this makes a neat cut. So if you’re cutting hard porcelain, you want a diamond blade with a soft bond. That way, the blade will wear down faster as the material is cut, exposing more diamonds and create a better cut.
As soft bonds are more forgiving on a range of materials, they are typically used for Universal blades.
While you can cut soft materials with a soft bonded diamond blade, it would be a waste. You’ll get much more life out of your diamond blade with hard bond blade for the cutting of your soft material.
If you cut a hard material with a hard bond you will glaze your blade. Luckily you can fix it by running the blade through a soft material like asphalt to expose more diamond material.
Most manufactures won’t reveal their bonding methods (TOP SECRET STUFF), so it is important that you check the specifications on the packaging of your blade to make sure it’s the right one for your job.
So, to sum up, the main reason you want to choose the right blade is all about how long your blade will last. If you use the wrong blade for the wrong job, the life of your blade will be shortened.
The packaging will say what your blade is designed to cut, and often they will be named after what they can cut, such as brick cutting blades, concrete cutting blades, asphalt blades, metal blades.
You can get general, universal, or multipurpose blades and they are great for a handy man or light user. But for professionals, you will get better performance and more for your buck with a speciality blade designed for your job.
The blade’s teeth (diamond tips)
In other words, this is the type of rim.
You can get a segmented rim which is the best blade for both wet and dry cutting. The segments actually cool the blade down, blow out the dust and create a quicker cut. It is also the roughest cut.
Segmented blades feature a medium to hard metal matrix bond, so they are great for a wide variety of construction materials. They work for wet and dry cuts but will wear out faster if dry.
Then there are continuous rims where the edge of the blade is smooth (no segments or notches).
Continuous rim diamond blades are designed for cutting hard and abrasive materials. It is the slowest blade to cut, but will get you the smoothest finish (less chipping). This blade type is most often used in tiling, glass and stone slabs.
The metal bond of a continuous rim blade is has a soft matrix, so diamonds are more readily exposed by the blades cut. These blades will overheat very easily if the cut is dry. Continuous blades should be wet when cutting.
Lastly, there are turbo rims, which have lots of little notches on the edge of your blade. This is also designed to get you a quick cut and can be used wet or dry.
Turbo blades are meant for a wide range of general material cuts. They have a soft to medium metal bond and feature a serrated edge. The serrated edges are on a single, continuous blade segment.
The continuous, serrated edge makes for fast cutting while keeping the cut smooth. They cut a wide variety of materials, including tile, stone, marble, granite, masonry, and more. And, turbo blades can cut on a wet-saw or dry-saw.
Silent, semi-silent or standard diamond blades
Some blades are dubbed as silent, others are semi-silent and some will leave your ears ringing (safety first- wear earmuffs).
The high pitched whine that comes from conventional diamond blade can ruin the serenity on the jobsite. Much worse, it can cause hearing damage to the tradesman who is operating the saw and those around him.
There is revolutionary technology to overcome this, and many quality diamond blades on the market have some sort of silent technology incorporated.
Generally speaking, a blade that is advertised as silent has been ‘vibration damped’ within the core of the blade.
There are two main methods of silencing a blade:
- A Laser Cut Core: This is where an epoxy silencing material is integrated within the core and provides limited noise reduction
- A Sandwich Core: As the name suggests, this involves laminating two steel cores together between these two cores is a copper centre. This technology provides the best sound reduction. this is also called a two piece blade.
Silent blades are the most premium option and are more expensive. Depending on your attitude, the blessing of silence may or may not be worth the extra money. However it is also good to also consider that the vibration resistance that comes with a blade beling silent also protects the blades core. This will in turn increase blade life and sawing quality.
For those who want a reduction in noise but are not up for the cost, the semi silent blades are a great option and are usually available at a mid-range price.
Choosing the Right Diamond Blade Tools for your job
The right blade and tools can make the job fast, efficient, and cost-effective. Meanwhile, the wrong one might make the job take longer and cost more. You’ll need to choose the correct blade for the correct machine that’s made to cut the correct material.
Whether you’re a business owner or just a part-time handyman, this knowledge will save you precious time and money.
Let’s go over some things you’ll need to consider when choosing the best diamond blade for the task.
1. Materials You’re Cutting
First and most importantly, decide which materials you’ll be cutting in order to decide which diamond blade tools to use. If you know what you’ll be working with, you can work faster and your blade will last longer, because it’s well-suited to the job.
Most blades work well with a variety of materials, so don’t worry – you won’t have to buy new tools for each new job. However, that range is limited based on the bond hardness, as well as the diamond quality within the blade.
For best performance, try to match the blade to the material it will be used to cut most often.
If you’re cutting asphalt or concrete, you also need to know what materials were used to make up the aggregate. If you know what aggregate you’re working with, you can find the best diamond blade tools for it.
Not sure what kind of aggregate you’ve got? Either examine it yourself, or use a Mohs test to figure out how hard it is.
2. Equipment You’re Using
The next thing to consider is the equipment or tools you’ll be using to do the cutting. This makes a big difference in the blade you choose.
You’re often buying the blade separate from the equipment, so it’s not a package deal. You’ll need to get the right blade to work with your equipment, as well as one that will cut the material you need it to.
If the blade is the wrong size for the machine, for example, it will be useless.
You also need to consider whether it’s a wet or dry blade. Often, equipment is meant to work with water, but what if there’s no water available?
Consider RPMs as well. A blade that runs fast or slow will be less effective, and wear out more quickly. For example, a brick saw typically revs lower than a demo saw, so a blade that is good on a bricksaw won’t also be great on a demo saw even if you are cutting the same material. Blades will always have a maximum safe speed they can be used at – be sure not to exceed it.
Lastly, but very importantly, the blade must go on your machine the right way round. This is with the comet tails of the diamonds going away from the cut.
3. Depth You’re Cutting
How deeply do you need to cut the material? This will also affect the right kind of blade for the job.
Sometimes, the maximum cutting depth of a blade is different once you’re using it on the job. Both the saw type and the blade diameter affect the depth you can work with.
4. The Speed You Need
Finally, you need to balance speed versus lifespan considerations for your blade.
Do you need to get the job done fast, or do you need a blade that’s going to last a long time? How much are you willing to spend? A pricier blade tends to last longer, giving you a lower price per cut. Some contractors like concreters make money literally but the minute when they get a job with long lineal cuts. These guys generally prefer speed over blade lifespan, as the cost of a diamond blade is insignificant in comparison to the big contract job.
How do I know if I’m using the right diamond blade?
It’s a good question, as different diamond blades vary in quality, and most are designed to cut a specific material for best performance and longevity.
The overall performance of a diamond cutter is measured in two different ways:
- how long it lasts, and
- how well it cuts
Basically, he better you pair the right blade with the right material – the nicer your cut will be. You will also get better value for money, as your diamond blade will last longer.
Recommended by the Pros
Whenever you are choosing a new tool, it’s important to find out how the pros feel about it. And the verdict is in: experts prefer to use diamond blades for their major cutting needs.
These blades offer an unparalleled level of convenience for users. This is because they help save time and money for contractors and homeowners alike.
Whatever the project, you’ll get the job done faster. And you’ll be able to complete many different projects before ever having to replace a diamond blade.
How Do You Take Care of Your Diamond Tool?
To get the most of your diamond cutting tools, make sure you follow the installation instructions. If the blade hasn’t been correctly installed, it will wear faster and cuts won’t be as accurate.
Make sure that you regularly have your diamond cutting machine serviced by a professional. And check that your diamond tools are well-maintained.
Unless the specs say it can be used to cut dry, make sure you use water while you cut. If you dry cut with a wet cutting blade, you risk undercutting the blade core. That’s, where the diamond blade steel core wears faster than the diamonds used to cut the material. This can be dangerous as the diamond segments can break of the blade.
When using a wet cutting blade, try not to push too hard on the blade and ensure that you remove the blade from the cut every now and again to help with the cooling of the blade.
Safety Guide for Cutting with Diamond Blades
With the rise in construction work being done each month, we are experiencing a healthy industry, keeping trades nice and busy . But with demand there often comes the rush to build as much as you can as fast as possible. But when short cuts are taken safety is sometimes overlooked, and when this happens it can have terrible consequences.
As many tradies use a demo saw, brick saw or angle grinder on the job site, I thought I would go over a few safety tips as a general reminder to help keep you safe.
Risks and hazards when cutting with a diamond blade
Any power cutting can be the source of danger and liability on a construction site. From dangerous kickbacks, to concrete dust, there is a lot to be aware of before you start the demo saw up.
Before you even start to cut you should check your blade for any damage e.g. cracking, segment detachment, undercutting of steel center just below segment, uneven wear, or worn down segments.
Cutting dry generates a lot of heat and only certain blades can handle it. The premium laser welded diamond blades are the type best for dry cutting. This is because the laser welds that attach the diamond segments is the strongest method of attachment.
Cheaper diamond blades like the very common, brazed diamond blade, may not be able to handle the heat of a dry cut. Segments could even fly off during a cut if the blade overheats.
When cutting, especially dry cutting, the blade should be allowed to cool off periodically. You can cool your blade quickly by allowing the blade to spin freely out of the cut. Dry cutting outside also has the extra benefit of helping to keep the blade cool with airflow.
While table saws like bricksaws and tilesaws are usually connected to a hose which sprays water on the blade while you cut. Demo saws and angle grinders are often used to cut dry.
Wet cutting should always be the cut of choice. Not only do you get a cleaner cut and your blade lasts longer, but it is the much safer option as it prevents the dust from entering the air you breath.
If you are going to cut dry, it is best done outdoors as this naturally gives you some degree of protection against the dust generated. You should also only cut dry for smaller projects, and work out how to cut wet if the project is going to take awhile.
When dry cutting you should be wearing a mask, so you do not inhale dust. Silicosis is a serious lung disease that can be fatal. Hundreds of people develop lung cancer each year after being exposed to silica dust at work. You don’t want a disease like that catching up with you.
Safework recently release a report of a construction worker injured by a dangerous and potentially fatal kick back. Kickback occurs when the saw is suddenly thrown up and back in an uncontrolled arc towards the operator. Some reasons kickbacks can occur are:
- when too much material is cut in one pass.
- the blade gets unexpectedly jammed
- cutting with the upper half of the blade (instead of the lower half) forces the saw up and back towards the operator.
In the instance reported by Safework, the construction worker was cutting pipe, and didn’t chock the pipe properly so he could roll it and cut it in smaller segments.
Check it off – Keep these 10 things in mind to keep safe while cutting
- Check your blade before use, make sure there is no visible damage.
- Wear protective clothing such as face masks for dust, protective eyewear for debris, and earmuffs.
- Check the blades cutting specifications to make sure it is able to handle what you are planning on cutting. If you are cutting dry, make sure your blade has been designed to cope with this. Don’t exceed the maximum operating speed of your diamond blade.
- Check the direction arrow on the blade aligns with the rotation direction of the machine’s spindle.
- Make sure the blade is mounted on a correct diameter blade shaft (reduction rings can be used to reduce the blade’s bore size where required) between proper blade flanges and is securely tightened.
- Don’t operate a saw without proper safety guards in place
- Cut wet whenever possible to keep the blade cool and minimize dust. If you are dry cutting with an angle grinder, look at using a vacuum attachment to collect dust.
- Allow the blade to cool by turning in air every few minutes, especially when dry cutting. The harder the material being cut, the more often the blade should be allowed to cool.
- Don’t force the blade into the material, allow the blade to cut at its own speed. Forcing the blade may cause overheating or blade damage or create a kickback.
- Cut with the lower section of the blade, not the top section of the blade.
Safety – should always come first
No matter what your timeframe is, your team needs to follow basic safety tips for cutting with diamond blades. Diamond cutting is so important to precision construction, so get your team on board with a strong safety training.
The Bottom Line
Whether you are a professional or a home renovator, you are not alone if you just want some advice in choosing the right blade for your job. This is where we can help as it can be a little overwhelming.
We know diamond blades inside out, and so you can have confidence that any blade you get from CDBS Construction Centre is the quality you need. AND we have diamond blades to suit almost any material.
Browsing through our online store is easy. We provide perfect descriptions of our tools, as well as user reviews from people just like you. If shopping online is really not your thing, just give us a call on 02 6242 8996 because that’s easy too.
If you enjoyed this article you will enjoy How to cut Concrete using your Diamond Blade which covers what to look for to make sure you choose the best blade for your project.
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