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Home > Tool Review

Blade Cleaning: Removing Pitch and Resin From Your Blades and Router Bits

Here's a way to extend the time between sharpening your saw blades and bits.

After use, a saw blade will develop a coating of what's referred to as pitch.  This pitch will affect the cutting of your blade if not removed.  You'll start to notice having to push harder to get the stock through the blade.  This will in turn produce more heat on the blade which will dull the blade faster than need be.  So giving your saw blades and bits a good cleaning on a regular bases is a good practice to get into.

I've read a lot of articles on different ways to remove pitch from blades.  To be honest, some of them scare me, here's why.  

Most blades that you buy are carbide tipped.  Carbide is a very hard metal that will stay sharp longer than softer metals.  Carbide is expensive though, so most of the time only the tips of the cutter are brazened with carbide to cut cost.  Some of the articles I've read on the Internet and in some magazines say to use oven cleaners to remove pitch form blades.  There's no doubt that these products will remove any build-up on your blades, but the harshness of the corrosive chemicals in these products lead me to believe that they could eat away at the joint between the carbide and the body of the blade.  The last thing I want as my table saw blade is spinning at 10,000 rpm is bits of carbide flying at me like bullets!  

So what's a better alternative?  Fortunately, there are some very good products out on the market specifically designed for cleaning pitch from blades and bits safely and effectively and some other generic cleaners that will work also.  All these products need to be handled with care as all of them can be irritants to skin and dangerous if splashed in eyes or swallowed.  Follow all manufactures warnings and precautions during use.  Also, keep these products out of reach of children.  

The two products that I tested are non--corrosive and clean up with water.  Both are concentrated so they need to be diluted with water.  I chose the concentrated products to try to get the most bang for my buck.  

The first product I tested was Woodcraft's Resin Remover.  It comes in a pint size plastic bottle for $10.99 at my local Woodcraft store.  The directions stated to dilute the the product at a ratio of 1 part Resin Remover to 4 parts water, which I did.  I used a plastic protector that you use underneath flower pots to prevent water from leaking out on the floor as a "soaking tub".  Whatever you choose to use, make sure that it's big enough to submerge whatever size blade you're using.  Also, don't use the container for anything else, mark it someway so that it's clear that it's to be used only for blade cleaning.

The blade that I used to test both products had plenty of pitch build-up as you can tell from the pictures.  I wanted to be as fair in comparing the two products as I could, so I only dipped a portion of the blade in the diluted solution for each test product so the same blade could be used for both test products.  

I let the blade soak in the solution for 30 minutes.  The Woodcraft Resin Remover worked great.  There was no pitch left, and even better, all I had to do was wipe the blade clean with a rag. (Make sure you wear gloves at all times using both of these products to protect yourself from skin irritation and from the sharp teeth on the blade).  

Another word of caution here.  If you do find that the pitch on your blades needs a little more persuasion to come off, don't use anything that will scratch up the carbide or blade itself.  A fine grit synthetic Scotch Bright pad would be as much as I would use.  Just be gentle even with this, as it can still scratch.  

The next product that I tried was Simple Green concentrate.  This is a product that's used for general cleaning and can be found at grocery stores and even at the big box hardware stores.  

Simple Green concentrate comes in a spray bottle that needs to be diluted with water.  I paid  $4.97 at Lowes for a 32 oz. size bottle.  (I don't understand why the product comes with a sprayer when it needs to be diluted first but what do I know).  The directions state that you can dilute it anywhere from 1:1 to 1:10.  So to be as fair as possible I choose to use the same 1:4 ratio as the Woodcraft Resin Remover.  I followed the same procedure as with the Woodcraft product letting the blade soak for 30 minutes.  To my surprise, the Simple Green product removed all the pitch build-up just as well as the Woodcraft product.  Again, I only had to wipe the blade clean with a rag.

My conclusion is pretty simple.  The Simple Green concentrate did just as good a job as the Woodcraft Resin Remover for much less money.  The Simple Green is less than half the cost for twice as much concentrate.  And using the same 1:4 ratio the Simple Green will mix up to a gallon of cleaner once diluted.  In my book that's a no brainer.  

 

Warning:  The blade tested here was not Teflon coated.  I don't know if either of these products are safe to use on Teflon.  I would suggest at first trying soap and hot water with a pad that says it's safe to use on Teflon coated surfaces.

 


-Craig Stevens
 2007

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