Using a circular saw with a dirty blade is like shaving with a dirty razor. In both cases, you have to deal with harder cuts and the potential for more bloodshed. Fortunately, cleaning a saw blade is about as easy as rinsing a razor blade.
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 cut edges are not as clean. Though it may seem counterintuitive, dull blades are more dangerous than sharp blades. And blades that cut at maximum efficiency place less strain on your saw motor.
I don’t use my circular saw or my chop saw very often these days, but I still give them a quick cleaning two or three times a year. I take the opportunity to closely examine the carbide tips. If they are damaged or dulling, I start thinking about getting them sharpened or buying a new blade.
Choose a Cleaning Solution
For a long time, I used a citrus cleaner, in large part because I could clean just about everything else around the house with the same product—a big bonus in my book. I’ve also known a number of carpenters and woodworkers who use oven cleaners, or spray on blade cleaners similar to oven cleaners, but I don’t even like cleaning my oven with that toxic stuff. Furthermore, Freud, a major blade manufacturer, says that oven cleaners can harm carbide tips and the binder that holds them in place.
These days I use a product called Simple Green for cleaning saw blades (and just about everything else around the house). Simple Green is a concentrated, all-purpose cleaner/degreaser that can be found in grocery stores and hardware stores alike.
With a name like “Simple Green,” you’d think this stuff was developed by the type of folks who brought us Celestial Seasonings herbal teas. In fact, this nontoxic green liquid was originally created for industrial cleaning and degreasing.
Simple Green should be diluted for regular household cleaning, though it can be sprayed on straight from the bottle for more serious gunk build-ups. I usually mix one part of Simple Green with two to three parts water when cleaning saw blades. I let the blade soak for just a few minutes in the solution, then clean it carefully with a toothbrush or a small brass brush.
Blades should be removed before cleaning, and you need to be conscious of the very sharp edges. Once the blade is clean, rinse it off, pat it dry with some paper towels and put it back on the saw.