Stop Buying Expensive Circular Saw Blades, Use Paper Instead

[John Heisz] was contemplating the secrets of the universe when an errant thought led him to wonder, could I use a sheet of paper as the blade in my table saw?

He takes a sheet of regular printer paper, draws a circle on it the same diameter as his regular blades, and cuts it out. He then bolts it into place on the spindle, slots in the table saw insert for really really thin kerf blades, and fires it up.

The blade is surprisingly dangerous. One would maybe expect a paper blade to be minimally damaging to a finger at best, but it quickly shows itself to be capable of tearing through paper and cutting through wood at a reasonable clip. Since the paper is minimally conductive, a SawStop couldn’t save someone from a lack of caution.

The blade finally meets its match half way through a half-inch thick piece of wood scrap. Wood and paper dust explode outward as the experiment ends. Video after the break.

54 thoughts on “Stop Buying Expensive Circular Saw Blades, Use Paper Instead

  1. It looks to me like the failure occurred because he didn’t keep the piece of wood straight. Even a real blade isn’t going to be happy when you change the angle of the piece in mid-cut.

    1. I agree, he does have an angle change there, also cutting across an existing slot in the piece, definitely couldn’t help the paper there.
      It’s hard to tell exactly, but it sure loos like he’s got too much blade out to cleanly make that cut too.

    2. Seems to me the paper on its own doesn’t stay straight.
      At 1:28 you can see a standing wave accumulating in the paper.
      This will on the one hand cause non-orthogonal cuts, which could even amplify the effect. This oscillation sure contributes to the forces that teared the blade apart.

      Paper may not be dimensionally stable enough to be a good blade.

    1. I think that may be a key observation and where this hack could lead to something useful. I wonder if graphene oxide paper coated with diamond dust could handle much higher RPM and be even thinner?

      1. i was wondering something similar but one might have more ease of prototyping by using another fiber since carbon needs epoxy or some other binder, unless cloth like properties would still work.

        the nice thing about paper is that one could manufacture the disks by mixing abrasive directly into the paper pulp, one probably shouldn’t run it through your average paper mill a press would probably work.

          1. If you can manage to make that much continuous graphene then you should patent it and collect your trillion dollar paycheck along with a Nobel Prize.

      2. This video was a real eye opener for me, as well as a follow-on Youtube suggestion showing a similar paper paper blade in a Dremel. As a big user of Dremel cutoff wheels (and cheap knock-offs) I can see a lot of potential and money savings in this technique.
        As the cutting contact surface and kerf is so thin and the blade having such minimal mass, a Dremel should be able to deal with moderate thickness wood and who knows what else other materials.
        Some experiments with soaking the paper in a mild abrasive such as baking soda (used for media blasting) or perhaps dusting it on to the outer annulus of the disc (with spray contact glue) could be worthwhile, as well as mounting the Dremel under a small circular saw table.
        Thanks HaD, great article!

    1. That sounds good. I need a PCB (FR4) cutter and I have lots of Dremel abrasive disks and DC motors lying around.

      I would need a long shaft to go from the motor and under the PCB platform to the cutting disk. I think the Dremel is 1/8 inch so I need to find some suitable bearings and a shaft and coupler and perhaps a tap.

      I don’t know how fast the DC motors I have are. I will up the drive voltage to slightly less than “smoking” and see how they go.

      1. heh, i’m working on the same thing but using tiny circular saw blades. made a prototype by replacing the shaft of an outrunner motor with the dremel arbor since they’re the same size. worked well but really needed bearing supports on the saw portion to keep it from vibrating apart. just ordered some 1/8 steel shaft from a hobby shop on ebay.

        1. Well I am stuck lol. All the small stuff is based on 1/8″ shaft sizes. Where I live is all metric. I thought about using a M2 screw and tapping the end of a metric shaft (non-hardened). I would need a long shaft because the motor diameter is larger than the Dremel cutting disks I have. Then the bearings are so expensive.

          I might just go buy a secondhand electric hand drill and couple the (extracted) motor to some thread rod which is much easier to find bearings for and use thin angle grinder cutting disks (4″) with bearing on both sides.

  2. To start I’m thinkin’ same as he had. I suspect the higher speed alone may destroy it, so I’d go to heaver paper, like Card Stock. Definitely wear eye protection.

  3. It’s worth noting that this guy actually took the idea from someone else. You can see the original here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJU75uXOIBE

    [John Heisz] has been getting a lot of complaints about this on his channel, hence uploading the two troll videos and the ‘middle finger’ video. He’s started quite the war against many of his supporters in the comment section of his recent videos.

  4. something to be said for balancing the blade as well, from the vid it appeared to be a failure of the paper attaching it to the motor, not the paper edge.

    perhaps fire up your new paper “blade” and run a razor along its edge to make sure its perfectly circular with its center lined up on the rotor.

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