Quite often, we are asked what saw blades to use when cutting prefinished stair treads to achieve the best cut.  Proper saw blade selection, along with a few basic cutting techniques will save a lot of touch-up work during installation.

Cutting Stair TreadsFor starters, to cut a full 11-1/2" stair tread, you'll need to use a 12" sliding miter saw.  This will allow you to make a full 12" cut in one pass.  Using a 10" or smaller saw, means you'll have to make two cuts on each side of the tread and is very difficult to achieve a quality cut.

In the shop. we do A LOT more cutting than even a high volume installer so we have to balance the speed of the cut with the quality, so we use a little more aggressive blade than what you may want to use in the field.

In my experience, the Diablo line of saw blades seem to perform well and maintain their sharpness for a while so, in our shop, we use 12" 80-tooth Diablo combination blades:

Diablo Combination Blade


We have found these to make an acceptable quality cross-cut, while still giving us some minor rip-cut capability. (Cross-cutting is a cut perpendicular to the grain whereas rip cut is with the grain.) With the 60-tooth blade, there is still some chipping and grain tear-out but all our cuts are over-length (by typically around 3/4") so we can afford some minor chipping or tear-out.

In the field, you'll be making a much more precise cut, so we strongly recommend using a finer finish blade, with a greater tooth count, such as the 100 tooth blade:

Diablo Fine-Finish Blade

The higher the tooth count of the blade, the slower the speed of cut needs to be to maintain a quality edge.

Cut slowly, and don't force the blade through the wood; let the saw do the work and remember:

Measure Twice, cut once

Happy installing!