A.Steve Dassoulas, a technical manager at DeWalt, responds: Both groups are partly right. It really depends on what the user wants — better finish or better blade life. For a given cutting speed, setting a deeper cut depth does increase blade life. A deeper cut is less stressful on the saw and the blade, because fewer teeth are in contact with the wood at any one time. The downside to this approach is that it increases the entry and exit angles of the teeth with the wood, which reduces the quality of cut finish. So if it’s finish you want, adjust the blade depth to slightly more than the thickness of the material.

Minimizing blade depth also improves safety. Keep in mind that kickback can occur when the back of the blade gets pinched. With less depth of cut, less blade area is exposed to the wood, decreasing the chance of kickback. Because there is always a risk that an operator can accidentally get in the way of the blade, reducing the amount of exposed...

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