Clean Blades Cut Better

How important is a clean blade? How often do you clean your blades? Do you even clean your blades at all? Years ago I would buy cheap blades, run the heck out of them, and throw them away because they were “dull”. I wonder how much money I could have saved by just cleaning them. More often than not poor table saw blade performance may not be due to a dull blade but rather a dirty blade. Cutting a lot of pine or other soft woods can result in a lot of pitch and resin build up. This is just a reminder that cleaning a table saw blade is incredibly easy, quick, and rewarding.
blade cleaning (1)

There are a lot of products out there specifically made for cleaning table saw blades. I can’t give any recommendations as I have never purchased any. I haven’t had a need to really. Most all of us use oil based finishes on our projects so I’m almost positive that you already have some mineral spirits on hand. If you don’t already have one, get a 5 gallon bucket from one of the box stores for a few dollars. Place a piece of scrap hardwood in the bottom. This will prevent the blade from becoming a suction cup to the bottom.
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Place the blade into the bottom of the bucket and pour enough mineral spirits to cover the blade.
blade cleaning (3)

After 5 minutes or so you should be able to gently brush the resin away with a rag. Once you are satisfied with the results I normally just run the blade under running water and give it a gentle rub to remove any lose residue that may be there.blade cleaning (4)

Pat dry with a towel and put it back in the saw. You could go all out with a hair dryer to dry the blade but I find a minute or so running in the table saw is more than enough centrifugal force to remove any remaining water. Simply place the lid on the bucket and you’re ready for next time.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. have you ever waxed a blade for smoother performance? I’ve never tried this but just an assumtion, if it’s good for a cast iron work surface, why not a saw blade?

  2. Thanks Jay I will try this and the marples blades at your recommendation. And to think I just pitched a $40 blade. Drats. Next time I guess.

  3. Thanks Jay for this tutorial… I never thought of cleaning a saw blade…. But today I decided it was time to spend sometime trying to get some kind of organization in my shop and clean up a bit.. As I started cleaning up and putting away I came acrossed the directions to my sliding compound mitre saw. The blade on this saw was nasty to say the least. Let me back up some… I read where one or more of your responders said ammonia worked to clean a saw blade. Last night while out grabbing some grub I made a trip to the dollar tree and picked up a jug of straight ammonia and an aluminum roasting pan…. Well I can tell you as well that pure ammonia does work quite well. it took all the gunk off my blade almost before my eyes. I was really surprised… total cost of pan and jug of ammonia… 2 bux plus tax…. yeah.. well worth the try… Thanks again for bringing up the topic and the people that are also willing to help a rookie like me…lol… Cheers!!

    • Very cool Vic. Ammonia is some pretty nasty stuff! I’m sure it will work just as well. Gives me headaches though. I really have to use it in a well ventilated area. But I suppose you’re supposed to do that with every solvent.

  4. Thanks for the reminder. I need to do this. The build-up happens so gradually over time you don’t realize it until you notice you’re pushing harder to make cuts. I like how after you clean it, it cuts so easily you wonder if you even raised the blade!

  5. Great idea. I also found a retired guy close by that will sharpen carbide circular saw blades for super cheap! He might take a week to do a small stack of blades (10 or so) of different sizes. As part of the service he cleans them, replaces missing carbide tips and sharpens them up! … There is a small hardware store locally, I asked there if anyone sharpens blades, and they gave me his phone number. … I hope you can find a good inexpensive service for your blades too! … Still, clean blades does keep the burning and frustration down.

  6. This might also work for router bits! Thanks a bunch, I use cedar fence boards (green lumber) for most of my projects and i get a nasty build up with sticks to everything. Is it not advisable to use green lumber?

  7. Hi, can anyone tell me how to distinguish mineral spirits? I have never found mineral spirits in local shops, we have white spirit (dries slow, smells long, oily), 646 (think it’s laquer thinner in US, much like gasoline, evaporates fast), accetone and ‘medicine spirit’ or something like that.

  8. This is a good idea unless you have a Saw Stop. The damp blade will set off the brake then then you do toss the blade (and a brake).. If you do have a Saw Stop make sure the blade is perfectly dry!

  9. This never entered my mind, ever. Well wouldn’t you know it, I pulled out all of those dull blades and followed your instructions and wa La, No more bogging down as a “Dull” blade does. Thank God I saved all of my blades I was going to make something out of them and now, I’ve made more “Blades”. Thank you Jay, what a tip!

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