Move over Diablo, Irwin got something right for once

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Review by lumberjoe posted 07-25-2012 02:39 PM 40725 views 8 times favorited 51 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Move over Diablo, Irwin got something right for once No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Yesterday I found myself in Lowes. Rumor was they were offloading all of their CMT stuff cheap. While browsing around I stumbled upon the Marples blades. Disclaimer I have a saw blade addiction. If I see something new or exciting, I have to buy it. It’s a problem and I need help! Also I am not a fan of Irwin at all. Their marathon blades are pure garbage, and the “classic” blades are a downgrade from whatever came on your saw – as hard to beleive as that is. I did some research and read all the hype with a grain of salt and a lot of skepticism. The Marples is claimed to be a complete departure form their current line up. They are made in a brand new facility in Italy. The coating on them is some kind of aluminum which is supposed to be superior at heat dissipation.

It would be unfair to compare this to my Infinity combo blade since they are not in the same market segment, so I compared it to it’s direct competition – my Freud Diablo 50 tooth combo blade (D1050X). Also of note, the Irwin is brand new and the Freud has seen some use, but (you’ll have to take my word for it) the cut quality of the diablo is the same as it was out of the box, and I clean it regularly.

1. Price and availability
They are about the same. You can get the Diablo for 37$ at home Depot, and the Irwin for 39$ at Lowes

2.First Impressions
The Irwin blade is pretty. The coating feels very smooth and even, more so than the diablo which has a bit of a matte texture. The Irwin is slick, like the Freud industrial blades with the silver ICE coatings. The Irwin felt heavier, although I thought it was all in my head – So… I busted out the scale:

Freud – 23.7 oz

Irwin – 24 oz

Not a lot of difference. The Freud is used, so the out-of-package weight is likely identical

At first glance it looks like any other bargain carbide blade. On the packaging it makes mention to “Large carbide teeth that can be resharpened”. In comparing side-by-side to the diablo, they are substantially larger – even taking into account the gently used Diablo blade may have shed a little:

It’s tough to make out in the picture, but the carbide is a lot thicker and there is more of it, starting lower in the gullet than the Diablo

4. Cut quality and efficiency
note: all cuts performed on a Ridgid R4512 table saw
I was pleasantly surprised and a little impressed. I got up early this morning to start on a project. I started with just some simple test cuts . First up was the diablo. This blade has always ripped fairly smooth, but no matter what I do, it tends to burn a little on red oak. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, oak burns easliy (drilling, router bits, general cutting). It’s not terrible and sands out with 150 grit easily. As expected, the freud blade cut very smooth, but did burn a tad:

Here is a rip cut with the Irwin in the very same piece. This blade cut far more efficiently. The effort to push though the blade was extremely minimal and more like a 24tooth rip blade than a 50 tooth cross cut blade. I made about 20 Rip cuts in red oak this morning, most pieces between 4 and 6 feet in length. All yielded the same result Very smooth, but no burning at all:

Cross cut:
This is kind of a toss up. The Freud exhibited some burning as it always does, however the cut was really clean. This was done with a miter gauge, not a sled so there was no backing up of the cut.

Notice there is almost no splintering.

Now the Irwin. MUCH smoother cut, however a significantly more amount of splintering, but not what I would consider unacceptable. Also like the rip cuts, much less resistance was offered and less effort was required:

Overall Impressions and Summary
Although I had a lot of doubts as to the quality of this blade, it’s a true performer. I was impressed with the cut quality and ease of cut considering this is a bargain blade. There is nothing I feel this blade lacks for as a combo blade. Combo blades are a compromise between a rip blade and a cross cut blade, but with that consideration under advisement, this blade performed flawlessly. The only question that remains is longevity. I would recommend this over the Diablo D1050X. While the cross cuts are a tad smoother with the diablo, the Irwin does not burn at all and the cuts are very acceptable. That could be because the coating they tout so highly actually works well at heat dissipation, or because it cuts far more efficiently and faster than the diablo. I made quite a few more with the cross cut sled but my camera batteries died. I will add them to the review later. With the sled fence as a backer, no tear out was present at all.

It’s always nice to have other options in the bargain blade market, and I think Irwin really stepped it up. This blade appears to be very well designed and manufactured. I also applaud them for keeping the price low so this blade is attainable even for us cheapskates. I like it enough to leave it on my saw for the time being and REALLY run it though it’s paces

If you are in the market for a combo blade, stroll on over to Lowes and toss one of these in your cart. You will be glad you did


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51 comments so far

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3314 days

#1 posted 07-25-2012 03:06 PM

Wow, what an outstanding review. I just might have to pop down there and pick one of these puppies up. Just a great review, thanks!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Bob817's profile


679 posts in 3182 days

#2 posted 07-25-2012 03:06 PM

Thanks Joe I am in need of a new blade soon I will remember this on my next trip to Lowes.

-- ~ Bob ~ Newton, N.H.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3048 days

#3 posted 07-25-2012 03:15 PM

Paul, I am pretty impressed so far. As long as you understand the limitations of a combo blade, it fairs very well in that class. I would definitely recommend it. Also of note I hate lowes and almost never go in there. However I think I will be making another trip today to pick up the Irwin Marples cross cut blade. I didn’t see a rip blade, but if they have one at the store I am going to, I will get that as well.


View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4448 days

#4 posted 07-25-2012 03:25 PM

looks like a great blade, and at a great cost.

thanks for the review.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3848 days

#5 posted 07-25-2012 03:34 PM

Good review Joe.
So, thanks to you, now I have to buy at least two more blades. (One rip and one cross cut I do not use combo blades)

-- Bert

View knotscott's profile


8382 posts in 4175 days

#6 posted 07-25-2012 04:25 PM

You did a great job documenting with the pics and descriptions. Too bad the Diablo wasn’t new, but you’ve at least confirmed that the Marples are a decent blade. I love the cosmetics of those blades….really cool looking IMHO. Nice job!

The Dewalt Precision Trim DW7150PT is in the same price range if you want to compare another good bargain blade side by side….. :D.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3048 days

#7 posted 07-25-2012 04:32 PM

Thanks knotscott! That Diablo blade is used, but barely, and it burned the first piece of oak I ever cut with it. Because of that I really only use it for plywood, and I rarely cut plywood. If you look at the cross cut pic closely, the red is still rubbing off. I’m not sure I need ANOTHER combo blade, but I don’t own any dewalt blades yet. Lowes doesn’t seem to carry the Irwin Marples 24 tooth blade, but I would like to give that a whirl.


View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3048 days

#8 posted 07-25-2012 04:35 PM

Also, this picture doesn’t have any real value, but it looks cool


View TheOldTimer's profile


226 posts in 3885 days

#9 posted 07-25-2012 05:10 PM

I was in Lowes here in Chandler AZ the other day and their supply of circular blades is pretty slim. Did not see too many Irwin blades on the saw display. They use to carry a much more variety of blades then they do now. It may be me, but it looks like Lowes is catering more to the do it yourself cliantel then HomeDepot. I tend to write that store off (Lows) as they seldome have what I am looking for. I think they would rather sell cloths washers and dryers then tools. It may be a sign of the great exonomy.

-- TheOldTimer,Chandler Arizona

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3048 days

#10 posted 07-25-2012 05:16 PM

OldTimer, I believe it because these blades are brand new to the market. In general I agree with your sentiments. I wrote off lowes a long time ago. I will say I was quite surprised on my most recent trip though. They had a good amount of router accessories including sub bases and guide bushings, as well as a decent selection of Kreg stuff other than the pocket hole jigs (feather boards, push sticks and other jigs) that normally you can only get online or somewhere like woodcraft. I have never seen anything like that at Home Depot.


View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3848 days

#11 posted 07-25-2012 05:28 PM

OldTimer, I have the very same experience with “my” Lowes and the employees are totally incompetent to help.
The only reason I go there is that it is less than 3 minutes from my home when the nearest HD is at 20 minutes away, but pretty much everything about it sucks.

-- Bert

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 4119 days

#12 posted 07-25-2012 05:29 PM

Hmmm… Might have to go look at this one. I’ve been a Freud snob for a while, but I have need a combo blade for a while now. Excuse to go spend money!

Thanks for an excellent review!

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View Jeff's profile


525 posts in 3994 days

#13 posted 07-25-2012 05:49 PM

Around here there are two kinds of Lowes: a regular and a super size. The super size usually has lot’s of stuff the regular size doesn’t. Lowes has to cater a bit of everything to every one. As a result they have very little choice for every application. I don’t expect them to have everything I need. Fortunately I have a Woodcraft relatively close and there’s always the internet.

I went out at lunch today and picked up one of the Irwin combo blades. Have to try it out. They also had three of the CMT dado sets marked down to $32.97. Hard to beat price but I had a bad experience with a warped CMT blade so I let them be.

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3048 days

#14 posted 07-25-2012 06:13 PM

Jeff, I grabbed one of the CMT dado sets. I haven’t used it yet, but it actually gets terrible reviews. I guess it’s worth 32$. I’m just glad I have a nice Freud set, and an emergency back-up for when that one goes to the sharpener.


View oldretiredjim's profile


206 posts in 3185 days

#15 posted 07-25-2012 07:19 PM

fantastic review. don’t need a blade right now but i saved this.

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