Tenryu Gold Medal Blade

UPDATE: I am happy to report that Tenryu did indeed develop a true full-kerf Gold Medal blade (see my issues with this below) and I’ve been happily using it in my saw for the last year. They are now available as part number GM-25540-2. The easiest way to get one at this point is to head to the Tenryu website and search for a local distributor.

Now I’ll be honest here in that I have a hard time differentiating between the higher quality blades. Many folks ask me if the Gold Medal blade is better than Forrest. If both blades cut cleanly and they both last a long time between sharpening, I’m a happy camper. But I can safely say that the Gold Medal series is every bit as good, if not better, than the Forrest WW II.

Please enjoy the original review:

As many of you know, I recently hung up my much-adored Forrest Woodworker II blade in an effort to give another brand a shot. That brand was Tenryu. I have heard great things about their blades so I was excited to give them a chance. Specifically the MP-305100AB in my miter saw and the GM-25540 in my table saw.

Let me start by saying the MP-305100AB has found a permanent home in the miter saw. Never have I had such glass smooth cuts from that tool. To be fair though, I upgraded from a stock blade. But what an amazing upgrade it was!

As for the tablesaw blade, I have to say that the blade cuts beautifully. Since my Forrest blade is several years old and has been sharpened a few times (and is in need of sharpening now), a true side by side cut quality comparison was not possible. But I have used my Forrest for years and I am quite familiar with its cut characteristics. And if the Tenryu produced a perceptible difference, I would have spotted it. And to be honest, there wasn’t much difference at all. Of course in a controlled side by side test, with microscopes and lab jackets we might be able to choose a cut quality winner between these two. But seriously folks, in my shop (and most likely yours), both of these blades kick butt and produce top notch cuts. Since the blade is so new, factors like how well the blade holds a sharp edge over time have yet to be determined.

The only real problem I had was that I was under the impression that this was a full-kerf blade. So during the testing, I noticed binding and other indications that this blade had an odd kerf width. Come to find out it is actually being billed as a thin-kerf blade. And it happens to be one of the thickest thin-kerf blades on the market, which is why I didn’t immediately notice the size difference. Unfortunately, this is a deal breaker for me since my setup is for full kerf. Both my splitter and my zero clearance insert would be useless with this blade.

Verdict: Tenryu is a top-notch company that produces a premium blade. The cut quality certainly justifies its cost. If Tenryu could manufacture this blade with a full 1/8″ kerf, they would have a customer for life.

Category: Reviews

Comments

  1. D Walker October 23, 2007

    April 2002, Fine Woodworking magazine did a comparison of 10″ combination blades. The Forrest Woodworker II came out on top with three or four blades that were runner up but the Tenryu GM-25540 was an average performer.

    Walker

  2. Jeff (http://) October 24, 2007

    Marc,

    Any chance you could give the Freud Fusion a try before we all jump on the wagon and buy one?

  3. mdhills October 24, 2007

    I can believe the nickel test was a nice marketing hook (that was my first reaction when I heard it).

    And good to hear about the issues of switching to a thinner kerf — I’d often wondered about how people were switching between full and thin kerf blades, as it would seem to be a big hassle to get a different thickness splitter (I’d noticed the Sharkguard system was available with different thicknesses, for example)

    I’d be interested if Tenryu has a suggestion for the splitter.

    Matt

  4. Frank October 24, 2007

    Marc, I appreciate your candor. The thing is that I wouldnâ

  5. John (http://) October 24, 2007

    An excellent review. I am surprised that the kerf is non-standard as this has a huge impact on safety and cost as you outlined. Thank you for the safety consideration and I hope Tenryu pick up on this blog for the same reason.
    Cheers Marc!

  6. Tim aka Mopardude October 24, 2007

    Why did you assume the blade would be quieter? Do they advertise it to be so? where you measuring the db while running a board through the machine or just the machine on and running? To me clicking on the side of it with a nickle tells me nothing other than the material its made of is probably more dense. Ussually balance and teeth angle have more to do with sound doesn’t it?

    • John Davidson September 4, 2011

      Doesn’t matter how quiet the blade is, still won’t negate the need for hearing protection.

  7. Brad Nailor (http://) October 24, 2007

    Marc
    Just when I had thought with all the ads on your site lately, that you had gone totally corporate, you go and prove me wrong! I love your honesty and candor regarding your feelings about this blade. Just this past weekend I had the WW2 blade in my hands ready to buy it, but I put it down thinking I would wait to see what your results were regarding the Tenryu. Now I feel certain that the WW2 is the right blade for me…..and with the cost of these blades hovering around $100 bucks, it’s no drop in the bucket to buy a bad blade. Thanks for an honest review.
    David
    P.S. How about a contest to give away a free PM2000? ;)

  8. LOL Brad….corporate. If we were corporate then I claim the title President and CEO! Marc let the record show on 10:35am on Oct 24, 2007, I assumed the roll of president/ceo of our corporation. Is it technically a corporation when there are only 2 people? :)

  9. Tim aka Mopardude October 24, 2007

    You can have a corporation of just 1 person!

  10. Rolf Weidleich October 24, 2007

    I believe the nickel test was meant to demonstrate the “harmonics” of the blade relating to vibration, and how it will respond to harmonic excitation. I believe they are trying to infer that the blade has inherent dampening characteristics that will reduce vibration. It may be a gimmick, I am not sure.

  11.  

    Yes, what Rolf said! :)

    That was my impression as well.

    Since I wear hearing protections, the blade noise is never an issue. But for some people I suppose it might be.

  12. Tim aka Mopardude October 24, 2007

    To me it sounds like a gimmick that is why I am curious.

  13. Travis October 25, 2007

    Marc-
    How about the blade you used for your miter saw? Do you think that would be acceptable in a RAS? I’ve been told that a negative hook angle is more preferable- would you say that the MP-25560CB would be more appropriate?

  14. Mike in St. Paul (http://) October 25, 2007

    Thanks for the in-depth analysis. That is great info that will really help with our buying decisions (more stuff than I ever would have even considered).

    Well done, Marc!

  15. ScoopLV October 26, 2007

    I thought the kerf issue would lead to problems.

    Besides, I have problems enough dimensioning stock without having to worry about mentally removing 0.14″ because mthe measurements on my saw are set up for a 1/8″ kerf.

    • Sternberg July 4, 2010

      You don’t have to do any math. The fence side of your blade is still the same distance from your fence with a thin blade or a thick blade.
      Tenryu blades are great, as are Rigid, Freud and Oldham.
      Forrester might be 10% better at double the cost.
      Everyones blades have gotten quieter over the years.

      •  
        thewoodwhisperer July 4, 2010

        That is only true if you are working on a right tilt saw. On left-tilt models, if the thickness of the blade changes, the position of the fence needs to be adjusted accordingly. Or you have to do some math.

  16. Brad October 27, 2007

    If you are looking for a truly quieter blade you should look at the H. O. Schumacher blades.

    They have a unique design to the teeth that cuts noise significantly. Look at their website for more info on their design, but it does work. I was skeptical until I got a blade at an industrial woodworking and compared it to my Forrest and Freud blades.

    And the best part is that the cut quality is on par with Forrest and Freud and at about 1/2 the price.

    I buy my H. O. Schumacher blades from Leitz, who are great to deal with and much more knowledgeable about cutting tools that your regular woodoworking store

  17. Doug October 28, 2007

    I can understand not keeping the blade yourself because of the kerf issue, but to those of use for whom it isn’t an issue, what is the problem?

    By that logic, you would have to recommend against every thin kerf blade ever made because it will cause the same two problems.

    I’ve always used a riving knife appropriate for a thin kerf anyway. So the real question is whether I want to get a new zci or widen my thin-kerf one if I intend to stick to the blade.

  18.  

    Actually that’s not accurate Doug. Thin kerf blades are perfectly fine when paired with the appropriate thin kerf splitter and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that setup. The same goes for full kerf blades. The Tenryu blade, however, is neither thin kerf nor full kerf. Its somewhere in the middle. That means there is no commercially available splitter intended for that size blade. You either have a tight fit with the full kerf splitter or a loose fit with the thin kerf splitter. Neither of which is an acceptable setup in my shop and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I told you it was. Of course, we all have to make the final decision for what qualifies as “safe enough” for our shops. But with just about every other blade on the market conforming to the standard full and thin kerf sizes, I feel the Tenryu is at a severe disadvantage because of the seemingly “minor” detail in their manufacturing process.

  19. Steve October 28, 2007

    Marc,
    I would like to point out that Tenryu makes a lot of blades with different kerfs. The selection of widths is quite limited in the gold medal blade however, if you look into the Rapid Cut Series blades you will find a much wider (LOL – pun intended) choice. There are a number of blades with kerf widths of 0.125″ – 0.126″ from which to choose. You may want to check out the RS-25550 or RS-25550-2 blades which should work with your splitter and ZCI.

  20. Iain (http://tenryu.com) November 30, 2007

    Hello Marc,

    I just wanted to leave a little note to say thank you to you and your readers for the comments and feedback. We are paying attention and appreciate the comments.

    Thanks again

    Iain Goodridge
    TENRYU America, Inc.
    Hebron, KY

  21. Doug January 16, 2008

    Sorry – still don’t see the issue with the riving knife, except to say you obviously don’t want an RK that is wider than the blade.

    First of all, you are just plain wrong when you say there are industry standard for kerfs. Check out:
    http://www.woodmagazine.com/wo.....Retest.pdf
    In both the thick and thin categories there is considerable difference. The thinnest is 0.090 all the way up to 0.134

    I’d suggest that after several sharpenings, the difference will increase. Then of course, there is blade runout. Simply put, if you ever change blades, you are going to experience some variation

    2nd, RKs have even less standardization and tend to be approximate anyway. I personally use a sharkguard (http://www.leestyron.com/sharksplitter.php) made from 13 gauge steel that ends up at approx .090 after powder-coat.

    As Lee points out, the deeper the RK, the less critical the RK thickness is (so long as it isn’t too thick).

    What exactly is the concern? There is a 0.021 difference between the blade and my RK. The gap between the RK and the blade is approx 1/8″. Are you really saying a board is going to bind on that and kick back? Sorry, but the physics of the equation just don’t add up.

    You are right that safe enough in our own shop is up to us, but I think you are chasing ghosts here. Have an RK? Check. Keep the guard on for all through cuts? Check. Got a sharp, clean blade? Check. Wear eye protection? Check. Just confirmed that my setup is safer than probably 98% of home shops? Check.

  22.  

    Doug. I was originally under the impression that this blade was full-kerf. That is was I was led to believe. When I did a little digging, I also saw that it was thicker than the vast majority of thin-kerf blades on the market. So from my perspective, it seemed like this blade was somewhere in between full and thin kerf. And since I don’t have a thin kerf splitter to experiment with, I didn’t feel comfortable recommending a blade that was thicker than the standard thin kerf splitter (at least thicker than most others on the market). So it was too tight for the full-kerf splitter, and potentially too loose for the thin kerf splitter.
    This blade could very well work nicely with a thin-kerf splitter, but how much of a gap is too much? I don’t know. You don’t know. But when I have thousands of people reading my advice, I need to be on the safe side with my recommendations.

    • Chuck R June 2, 2014

      You have THOUSANDS of people reading your web site??!! Way to go Marc, I never gave any thought to the numbers of readers, and that is fabulous. Congratulations on a very successful endeavour!!!

  23. Steve Jaynes June 10, 2009

    I DO use thin-kerf blades as I have no 220V available in my shop, and am limited to 1-3/4 HP motors. The thin kerf blades have been like adding 25% hp to my saws.

    I recently was challenged by my local woodworking retailer, who doesn’t handle Forrest, to try the current crop of Freud blades, particularly the full-kerf Fusion 10″ and the thin-kerf Glue-Line Rip Blade.

    I purchseed both, at approximately $150.00 out the door. Bad news, NEITHER performed as well as a new Forrest Woodworked II purchased the same day, for ~$95.00 using my “Rockler 15% discount coupon”.

    I tried all three blades in the following saws: Jet ProShop 10″ JPS-10 w/ full-wide throat plate, Sawsmith 2000, with full-width throat-plate, and a Shopsmith Mark-V-520 with a zero-clearance throat plate. I ripped and cross-cut dozens of cuts in each saw, experimenting with White-Oak, Hemlock, MDF, Birch plywood, fir plywood, and Baltic-Birch plywood, and a few cuts in Red-Oak and Purple-Heart.

    My subjective assessment was than in ALL three saws, the Forrest out ripped and out cross-cut the Freud blades. I was amazed that it slightly out performed the specialize Freud rip blade, in smoothness of cut and lack of burning for 12 FOOT long rips in Hemlock.

    Even in my wife’s untrained estimates, “That Forrest Blade cuts smoother and doesn’t make the saws slow down.” Also, the Fusion blade had considerable binding and burning in the Hemlock. The Glue-Line rip blade ripped nicely, but no better than the Woodworker II.

    As always, your milage WILL vary, and I don’t have a 3 HP cabinet saw to test, but I have returned the Freud blades for a refund. I’m sending my 22 YEAR OLD Woodworker-II back for sharpening . . . AGAIN, to keep as my plywood and MDF blade.

    I DID NOT use my blade stiffener for these tests.

    Hope my experiences are helpful to someone.

    Steve Jaynes
    Portland, OR

    • Sternberg July 4, 2010

      You can get 220v wired in for a couple hundred bucks or less, and it will make a nice difference on many things, not just your table saw.

  24. In May 2008 Wood Magazine did a comparison of several 40 tooth combination blades and the Tenryu Gold Medal was rated higher than the Forrest WW II, in the same class. It was quieter and cut smoother, for a little less money. The only drawback they mentioned is the odd kerf width. I guess the Japanese think in metric.

    As a dealer, this is a major aggravation for me, to have a perfectly good saw blade that doesn’t sell well because of that one shortcoming. I wonder if Tenryu knows how much money they’re leaving on the table by not using .125″ tips? It would cost them zero to just put wider tips on it.

    On the Miter Pro blade, Tenryu MP and MP+ miter saw blades all have ATAF tips and WILL give glass-smooth cuts. That’s the secret to that. And yes, they are rated for RAS.

    •  

      Hey Owen. Tenyru is definitely aware of the need for the true full kerf blade. In fact, I would imagine they would have one on the market very soon. I had an opportunity to test a few early production models and I am currently using one on my saw right now. LOVE IT! So I hope we’ll see these on the market soon.

  25. TennesseeYankee August 26, 2011

    always great to have options. Thanks Tenyru.

    Now when I need to replace my Forrest blade in four to five years, I will know where to go.

  26. medfloat August 26, 2011

    Hmmmm, no noticable difference from the Forrest blade, unkown customer service quality, relatively same price, would need to build confidence in product. Makes one hesitant to change to a new product when the current one meets such high standards. Thanks for the review.

    Dan

  27. Greg August 26, 2011

    I am not certain of all the studies in reference to the RK and blades, but I can tell you I was building a work bench. The cabinet saw is a Powermatic Model 66 and upon entry into the piece of Maple I got a bind that wrapped around the front and back of the RK. Because of the safety tips of my instructor, to listen for the sound and not to force the piece of wood if it gets hard to push, I was able to shut the saw down before a kickback. The piece of wood had to be pried from the blade and RK as it had completely closed around them.

    To try to release the inner tension we cut the piece with the bandsaw, then trimmed the edge with the cabinet saw. Upon the next piece of wood we experienced the same trouble except I was faster to shut the saw down. Again the bandsaw worked terrifically and I continue to thank my instructor.

    Now in retrospect, if I would have had a thin RK with the full kerf blade or even a minor degree of tolerance, I am sure there may have been a severe kick back and who knows what could have transpired.

    Marc I contribute the safe result to the wisdom passed onto me by my wood working instructor. He told me he had never seen such a jam, but that wood was unpredictable as it can be under great tension that we release through ripping. He then insisted we not use the wood from the same batch of wood purchased unless we used the bandsaw first and proceeded carefully and made smaller width rip cuts.

    I hope you will continue to advise based on research, knowledge, and (Priority) safety.

    IWorking with wood is very different than working with metal due to tolerances that are not predictable with wood.
    Thanks and keep up the great work.
    Greg

  28. I still using my blade that I got with my Table Saw. It gives me a smooth clean cut and had not given me a reason to replace it yet. I have a Laguna 10″ X 5/8 X 50T Combination Blade in and it was free with the saw. It Does not mater how much I want one of the cools blades, I cant justify replacing mine until it gives me reason to.

  29. josh August 28, 2011

    Made in the USA, by non union, is FTW.

    you vote with money. vote wisely.

    • John Davidson September 4, 2011

      Unions are one third of the reason why the options are limited. They don’t compete, they think because they are union that it justifies more and more and more for them, which drives the companies to find cheaper labor, and the government sides with the union and the big business cause they get money from both sides lobbyists. That’s FTW.

  30.  

    Unfortunately, in the world of woodworking, buying American leaves you with pretty limited options.

  31. Jon McGrath August 29, 2011

    Marc, your miter saw is 12″?

  32. brad August 29, 2011

    Marc,
    Thanks for an excellent product review. I am in need of a new blade for my tablesaw, and this is great information to consider.

  33. Sean August 31, 2011

    I been using the Tenyru blade for over a year on my tablesaw, but I use the thin kerf blade and it is the best saw blade I’ve owned. I have never owned or used any Forrest products, but you do not get the reputation they have by building crappy products. I have however owned/ used several Freud blades and I thought they cut well until I started using the Tenyru, it was a night and day difference. I keep one freud blade for when I cut polycarbonate and PVC, but other than that it neves sees wood.

  34. Robert August 31, 2011

    Anyone else disappointed with Tenryu’s customer service? I’ve e-mailed them 3 times in recent weeks and only received one reply. When I asked a follow-up question, you guessed it, they didn’t bother to answer. Not impressed. This is not the kind of company I want do to business with.

  35. Barry (http://www.tenryu.com) September 13, 2011

    If you’re having trouble getting a response via email, you can always call TENRYU at 1-800-951-SAWS for your immediate needs. MON-FRI (EST)

  36. Marc,

    Last night after work, I stopped by the local woodshop, Cleveland Tool and Cutter and purchased the Tenryu GM-25540 based on your recommendation. I too have retired my Forrest WW II. The cut was….. out of this world. GLASS SMOOTH.

    Patrick Melchior
    Dragonfly Woodworking

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