cutting wood

How To Clean A Table Saw Blade Or Router Bit

When Should You Clean A Saw Blade Or Router Bit?

When buildup appears on a saw blade it is time to clean it.  What does this buildup appear as?  You will find brown or darker spots that are resin from the wood on the blade.

This buildup can impact the quality of the cut.  At times it can also make you believe the saw blade is dull.

Some worry a dirty blade can cause wobble. This is not the case but a dirty arbor, arbor nut, or other mechanisms can.

If you do not clean these blades then it will not only reduce efficiency, but it can decrease the lifespan of the saw blade.

What Is The Best Way To Clean A Table Saw Blade?

While this method can be used for many different kinds of blades, the table saw blade is the most used in an average woodshop.

Do not hesitate to use these methods on other tools like Japanese hand saws or coping saws. These too can need the same care and will not be harmed.

forrest blade

Hands down the best way is to use a cleaner such as CMT 2050 blade cleaner. The problem is how many times can we find it when we need it?

A lot of woodworkers prefer to use household cleaners from under the sink.  It saves money from needing to spend on a specialty cleaner and rarely does it ever get lost.

The easiest solution is to grab Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda).  Take a couple tablespoons full and mix it with water in the top of a 5 gallon trash can.  The top of the can acts as a wash basin.

After about ten minutes of soaking the buildup and gunk will wash off with ease.  You can use a nylon brush to get tight spots or stubborn places and break free any buildup you find. 

It is really simple.

Woodworkers have used many products over the years to clean saw blades.  Some of them should never be used. 

Allow me to detail a few favorites out there that can cause problems.

Can Laundry Detergent Be Used To Clean A Saw Blade?

Yes laundry detergents such as Tide can be used to clean table saw blades. This can be a handy as it will usually be in your house.

Why do I opt for the washing soda instead?  It merely comes down to cost and ease of access.  No one will miss a box of washing soda sitting in my shop and it keeps me from walking to the house for Tide.

From my experience, and the experience of other woodworkers, including research found on the topic, there seems to be no ill side effects from responsible use.

Detergents are merely more expensive.

Can Simply Green Be Used To Clean A Saw Blade?

Simply Green is a very common household cleaner.  Never use the product which is designed for household cleaning.  Rather if you prefer this brand use Simply Green Pro HD.

freud blade

What is the problem with using the wrong product? The issue comes into play with how chemicals can react with carbide tooling.

In effect prolonged use or exposure can impact blade integrity through time.  This can become dangerous for you at worst, and at best cause damage to the saw blade.

If you choose to disregard this and continue using the standard product do be very careful with the ratios.  A ratio of 1 to 10 and minimize the soak time to only what is needed.

I personally prefer to not go this route as I wish to get the best lifespan from my saw blades as possible.

Can You Use Oven Cleaner To Clean A Saw Blade?

The short answer is that oven cleaner will certainly clean a saw blade but you should NEVER do this.  It is among the worst possible choices for creating caustic issues in the metals.

There are blades that are impacted less from the caustic issues such as tungsten carbide.  Yet there still is a problem in how the chemicals impact and attack the brazing of the saw blade.

Freud for example has been known to use a tri-metal brazing foil that utilizes a copper alloy.  This translates into fewer chemicals that should be used on blades.

Oven cleaner will have combinations of different chemicals that will attack and break down near any saw blade alloy or combination you can find.

Other Options People Use Such As Kerosene Or Diesel Fuel To Clean Saw Blades

My first big issue with using products like kerosene or diesel fuel to clean saw blades is how toxic they are.  My shop is enclosed and I do not want to have stinking fuel around me.

The next issue is that some alloys or brazing could be impacted by different fuels or products.  Brake fluid is another that some have used in the past which does a poor job.

If you reach this point in trying to find something to clean your table saw blade with then it has become desperate.  There is no reason for reaching for products like this when washing soda or Tide would be friendly.

Placing my hands or fingers into washing soda is far more preferable than any kind of fuel.

How To Dry And Protect A Table Saw Blade After Cleaning

It is best to use an oil that does not contain silicone or Teflon as an ingredient.  Variations of CLP such as the Royco 634 would avoid these in the past.

WD-40 does not contain silicone but it does have Teflon.  If I had to choose something with silicone or Teflon, I would use the WD-40.

Why are these two aspects important?

Silicon can cause issues with buildup on not only your blade, but also your wood.  If you have ever tried to stain a piece of wood which silicon found its way onto then you will know what I mean.

Silicon generally makes a mess in woodworking wherever it is used.  Try to avoid it.

Teflon is an altogether different beast and it is not all bad.  Many saw blades come with a Teflon coating.  The key is you merely wish to oil a blade to protect it after cleaning it, not coat it with something else.

Teflon will not cause any real harm but oil is more of a preference.  That is, as long as you wipe the blade clean and it is dry when you finish, then you are alright.

Some woodworkers prefer that no Teflon come into contact with any cutting edge.  I understand the principle behind the idea, but a thin spray from WD-40 is very minimal exposure.

It is not like you are dipping the blade and leaving a film.  Spray and wipe dry and you will be fine if that is your choice.

Cleaning Router Bits Or CNC Bits

The same principle applies to router bits and cnc bits as it does saw blades.  The process is identical in every way other than size and profile.

When cleaning with washing soda or detergent you may use a nylon brush more with router bits than a saw blade.  The only other difference is the volume of water to washing soda you decide to use.

I do suggest that you give care to the cleaning process.  Do not drop the blade or router bit.  Have some kind of protective mat you are cleaning them on.

In the cleaning process you want to prevent the cutting edge of the blade from coming into contact with anything which can impact it negatively.

How Often Should You Clean Your Saw Blades?

This question relates directly to how often your saw blades are used and what material you are cutting.  Some saw blades and router bits can go for days with minimal impact.

For a hobbyist it could be weeks if the most work they see is on a Saturday afternoon.  The key is to pay attention to the blade itself.

If you see buildup, burnt looking spots, or any kind of resin, then clean them.  I have had to clean some router bits multiple times a day.

It takes little time and maintains peak efficiency.  Do not hesitate to have a little saw blade cleaning station in your shop.