Dewalt circular saw with arrow representing blade direction

Direction of Circular Saw Blade (Quick tips!)

When using a circular saw it is important to know which direction the blade travels. This is the most important part of making smooth perfect cuts. It is also essential when it comes time to change your blade. If the blade is installed incorrectly it can be very dangerous.

When I first installed a blade on my circular saw I did it wrong. This led me to make some very splintered and rough cuts. So let me help you avoid the mistake that I made and install your blade right the first time!

Direction of Circular Saw Blade

The direction of circular saw blade rotation is will vary depending on the brand. Most circular saws rotate clockwise. All saws have an arrow to represent the blades direction. Using this arrow you want the teeth of the blade to travel up through the wood while cutting.

Blade direction

Circular saws can rotate the blade clockwise or counterclockwise, this will vary depending on the company. Most circular saws rotate the blade in a clockwise direction. This will be shown on your saw with an arrow on the blade guard. As you can see below:

Dewalt, Makita and Milwaukee circular saws all rotate clockwise. The only brand that I have found to rotate counter clockwise is Ryobi.

Arrows representing blade direction on circular saws for select brands: makita, milwaukee, dewalt, ryobi

So now that we know the direction the blade travels on your saw, lets discuss the teeth direction. Unlike other saws (miter, table, etc.) circular saw blades teeth MUST TRAVEL UP, through the material being cut. As you can see below, the teeth of the blade are facing up as they rip through the wood I am cutting.

Teeth of circular saw blade facing up as they cut through wood

Most blades also come with arrows on them to show the direction the blade should travel. If the blade you are installing does have an arrow it should match the arrow direction on the saw.

Circular saw blade with arrow for direction labeled

If your blade does not have an arrow that is ok. The teeth of the saw should face towards the front of the saw. This will mean that when cutting the teeth come from under the wood to rip up and through.

Cutting with the blade orientation on the left will lead to much more efficient and smoother cuts.

Dewalt circular saw blade installed correctly and the wrong way.

The direction of teeth is very important for a couple of reasons. Proper teeth direction will lead to more accurate and smooth cuts. If the blade is facing the wrong direction the wood you are cutting will be very splintery.

2 pieces of wood cut showing smooth finish and rough finish

The other major factor with blade direction is the sawdust. If the teeth are facing the wrong direction when cutting, the saw dust can shoot up in your face. This can make cuts much more difficult to make and a very unpleasant experience. With the teeth traveling in the right direction the sawdust will come up into the blade cover and be discarded appropriately towards your feet.

How many teeth do circular saw blades have

The amount of teeth on a circular saw blade varies significantly. I have seen anywhere from 14-120 teeth.

Two circular saw blades one with 24 teeth and one with 40 teeth

In general a higher teeth count makes for a smoother and more fine cut. If you want a precise cut, more teeth is better. Less teeth on a blade will make a quicker but rougher cut. These cuts tend to leave the wood more splintery and often require sanding.

Chart showing difference between different circular saw blade teeth amount

For the most part a circular saw blade will show how many teeth it has. This is often marked with a number followed by the letter “T” or will actually say teeth after the number.

Circular saw blade with amount of teeth labeled.

Types of circular saw blades

There are 3 main types of circular saw blades and each one has a little different function.

A. Ripping saw blades: these blades are best for making rip cuts, which are longer cuts made in the same direction of the woods grain. These tend to make smoother and cleaner cuts. Ripping blades tend to have large straight teeth which helps with efficient dust removal.

Diablo ripping circular saw blade

B. Crosscut saw blades: these blades are best for making cross cuts, which are cuts made perpendicular to the woods grain. These blades have kerfed teeth meaning they alternate between leaning left and right.

Diablo crosscut circular saw blade

C. Combination saw blades: thes blades are the most common type of circular saw blades because they are designed to make both rip and crosscuts. As the name suggests these are a nice combo between rip and cross blade. Combo blades eliminate the need to change blades all the time. These blades come with a wide variety of tooth counts and orientation.

Diablo combination circular saw blade

How to clean your blade

Keeping your saw blade clean is very important and often overlooked. This will help the longevity of the blade and ensure you make the most accurate cuts every time. As you likely know when making cuts there is a lot of sawdust involved. This saw dust can stick to the blade and lead to destruction over time.

I recommend wiping down your saw blade with a rag after every use. This will ensure no loose dust remains on the blade during storage. If you have an air compressor you could even give it a quick blow over. This will make sure to get all the dust out of the grooves between the teeth.

Using a rag to clean circular saw blade

Then every couple of months (depending how often you use the blade) it is important to give it a more thorough clean. Good blade management will just help maximize the lifespan of the blade.


Understanding the direction a circular saw blade spins is very important. Hopefully after reading through this you now have a better understanding and can change your blade with ease.

  • Blade direction
  • How many teeth do circular saw blade have
  • Types of circular saw blades
  • How to clean your blade

Did you find this to be helpful? If so please let us know in the comments.

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