Using a circular saw with a dirty blade can lessen the effectiveness of the tool and ultimately set back your project. Over time, pitch and resins build up on the cutting edges of saw blades. This effectively coats the edges, making the blade act as though it is dull. Friction and heat increase, cutting is more difficult, and the resulting cut edges are not as clean as they could be. While it may seem counterintuitive, dull blades are more dangerous than sharp blades. Blades that cut at maximum efficiency reduce the strain on a saw's motor (and on the user, when it comes to handheld saws). Fortunately, cleaning your saw blades is about as easy as rinsing off a razor blade.
A Quick Cleaning
Simple Green is an all-purpose cleaner that should be diluted for regular saw-blade cleaning, although it can be applied straight from the bottle for more serious gunk buildup. Follow these steps for a quick regular cleaning:
- Mix one part of Simple Green with three parts water in a shallow container.
- Remove the saw blade from your circular saw, being careful of the sharp teeth.
- Place the blade into the cleaning solution and let it soak for a few minutes.
- Scrub the blade's teeth and any gunky areas with a toothbrush or a small brass brush until they are clean.
- Rinse the blade in water and pat it dry with paper towels before re-installing it in your saw.
How Often to Clean Saw Blades
Even if you don’t use your circular saw very often, it's still a good idea to give its blade a quick cleaning two or three times a year. Your saw blade will need to be cleaned at more regular intervals if it's used for more intense projects like remodeling work that requires regular use of the saw over several months.
Before You Begin
Take the opportunity to closely examine the tip of each tooth on the blade. If a lot of the teeth are damaged or getting dull, consider sharpening or replacing it. While steel saw blades can be sharpened (or at least touched up) with a triangular metal file, blades with carbide-tipped teeth must be professionally sharpened, although it's usually more cost-effective to buy a new saw blade.
Equipment / Tools
- 1 toothbrush or small brass brush
- Cleaning solution of your choice
- Shallow container
- Paper towels
How to Clean Saw Blades With Household Cleaners
Choose Your Cleaning Solution
Several different cleaners can be used on saw blades, including those specifically formulated for cleaning tool blades. If you don't have this on hand, some woodworkers favor a citrus cleaner, in large part because they can clean just about everything else around the house with the same product—a big bonus.
One common household cleaner that works on saw blades is Simple Green, which can also clean many other items in your home. Simple Green is a concentrated, all-purpose option that can be found in grocery stores and hardware stores everywhere. Along with being a biodegradable and non-toxic cleaner, Simple Green is a powerful formula that was originally created for industrial cleaning and degreasing.
Some may recommend using oven cleaners, but Freud (a major blade manufacturer) claims that oven cleaners can harm carbide tips and the binder that holds them in place. This can prove dangerous, as the blade tips can become detached during the use of the saw.
Remove the Blade
Before taking your saw's blade out, ensure that the saw is either unplugged or turned to the "off" position for cordless varieties. Once it's safe to begin, remove your saw's blade and take care to avoid touching the sharp teeth.
Prepare the Cleaning Solution
In a shallow container, combine your cleaning solution with water if recommended. Consult the manufacturer's instructions for specific portions. (Simple Green notes to use 1 cup of solution to 3 cups of water.)
Clean the Blade
Place your saw blade inside the cleaning solution. Wait about 10 minutes, then begin scrubbing its surface with a toothbrush or brass brush. For a stronger scrub, trim the bristles of a toothbrush to half-length. You may also use a steel bristle brush on standard saw blades to tackle heavy grime, although this step is not recommended for those coated in Teflon.
Rinse and Dry
Once you've removed any residue from your saw's blade, it can be rinsed in water to wash off any excess cleaner. Pat it completely dry, ensuring the areas between the teeth don't have any remaining damp spots (taking care not to cut your fingers on the exposed sharp teeth). After the blade is dry, it can be reinstalled in the saw for use.
Tips to Keep Saw Blades Clean Longer
DIY Saw Blade Cleaning Solution
For a homemade saw blade cleaning solution that also removes rust stains, try soaking the blade in undiluted white vinegar instead of a commercial cleaner. After waiting up to 30 minutes, begin scrubbing the saw blade with a toothbrush or brass brush. You can also form a paste of borax or baking soda mixed with lemon juice and let it rest over tough spots for 30 minutes before scrubbing (just be sure to use this solution separately from vinegar soaks).