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How to Clean Saw Blades

Master carpenter Matt Jackson illustrates his method for keeping saw blades sharp and long-lasting in this quick three-step process.

Matt Jackson has been working in the building trades for nearly 50 years. During that time he’s developed a wide range of tips and tricks, including various ways to use a carpenter's pencil. In this video, Jackson shares his process for cleaning saw blades.

Though he’s cleaning a 10” sawblade in this video, the process is the same no matter the blade size and will work for router bits as well as many other blade types. There are three steps to this process: Soak, Scrub, and Shine.

How to Clean a Saw Blade

  • Use a solution designed specifically for cleaning saw blades. Commonly-used oven cleaner may appear to work in the short term, but the active ingredient of lye can affect the brazing (the process that joins the carbide tooth to the blade plate) which could loosen teeth and cause them to dislodge during use.
  • Excess pitch on the blade shortens its life. Cleaning the blade when pitch builds up on the teeth will help lengthen the blade’s useable life.
  • A shallow flat tray like the one shown in the video is all that’s needed for the soaking step. In a pinch, an old Frisbee or 5 gallon bucket lid can work as well so long as they allow the blade to sit flat and remain in contact with the cleaning solution.
  • For Teflon-coated blades, a toothbrush works better than a brass or stainless-steel brush. The latter two options are fine for a bare metal blade. To increase the toothbrush’s effectiveness, trim the bristles back to about half it’s length.
  • Laminate sample chips are a good option for scraping pitch that is difficult to scrub clean using the toothbrush method.
  • A handful of sawdust works to remove residual cleaner and help shine the blade once pitch has been removed.