How to Maintain Saw Blades

In most DIY-Workshops the table saw, circular saw, mitre saw and so on, are the main tools you need. In almost every wood project at least one of these tools is used. However, very few handymen and hobby woodworkers maintain their saw blades. Whereas it only needs a little effort to significantly increase the service life of a circular saw blade. Care not only includes sharpening but also very simply cleaning the flanks and teeth.

Regular cleaning

Deposits tend to stick to circular saw blades, especially after cutting resinous softwood. The liquid tree resin sticks to the saw blade and mixes with the fine dust of the freshly sawn wood. By neglecting to thoroughly clean the saw blade, the resin and wood mixture hardens and forms a rough surface on the sides of the saw blade. When the blade is used the next time, these hardened deposits causes more friction and so more heat on the cutting edge. The result is unsightly burn marks on the wood, which later have to be tediously sanded out again. This annoying phenomenon can easily be avoided by regular cleaning the saw blade. All you need is the lid of an old paint bucket, a wire brush and some dilution. Of course the first step is to remove the saw blade from the circular saw as described by the manufacturer. And naturally the table saw must be disconnected from the power supply before that! So please unplug the machine and leave it disconnected from the power supply until the cleaning is complete and the saw blade has been re‐installed!

Now place the dismantled saw blade on the lid of the paint bucket so that it is in the centre of the raised edge. About 100 ml of dilution is more than enough to clean one blade. Pour the dilution over the saw blade and let it stand for a few minutes. Now you can remove the deposits with a wire brush. Take about five minutes per side of the saw blade to brush it off properly. If you only use the dilution to clean saw blades, you can use a funnel to return the excess dilution to the can and use it again the next time. Your saw blade should now shine again and be hardly distinguishable from a new saw blade.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a thinner at home, a regular household cleaner can help you with cleaning saw blades: Oven spray. Here you spray it simply onto both sides of the blade and remove the dissolved dirt with a fine brush and water. But be careful: The oven cleaning spray is best used outside or only with sufficient fresh air. Also don’t breath the vapours in directly. 

Which oil to use to maintain the saw blade?

To avoid rust, you should oil each saw blade after cleaning. Suitable are here for example universal oil or camellia oil.

How to sharpen the saw blade?

There comes a point where the simple cleaning of the saw blade no longer has the necessary effect. The teeth have become blunt and worn from frequent use, the original shiny edges only have a dull shimmer. There are three ways to deal with this problem.

Buy a new saw blade

Option one is to simply buy a new saw blade. However, as we are DIY enthusiasts and like to repair and recycle things, we postpone the purchase of a new blade to a later date.

The sharpening service

There are service providers in every major city who specialise in sharpening knives, scissors or even saw blades. They will usually have your dull saw blade as good as new within a day. The quality of the sharpening services is usually quite good, but quality comes at a price. Depending on the saw blade, the sharpening service may ask as much as 40 % of the original price.

Sharpening the saw blade yourself

The ultimate in saw blade care is and remains sharpening it yourself. HSS saw blades required an appropriate sharpener. All other circular saw blades can easily be sharpened on the workbench with just a few tools. The tools required are quite simply two strips of wood, a screw clamp and a flat file. The dismantled saw blade is clamped between the two strips wood to the work bench with the screw clamp. Not more than one third of the saw teeth should stick out at the top between the two strips of wood. Now place the flat file at the angle of the cutting surfaces on the teeth of the saw blade and pull it back and forth three or four times. Avoid applying pressure to the file, otherwise it may happen that the angle of the cutting edge is not 100 % correct. Now you repeat these steps until each tooth of the saw blade had its turn. The cutting edges of your saw blade should now shine like new again.

You did it!

When you have completed all the steps described above, you should be holding a saw blade made nearly new with just a little effort.

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Picture of the author Hauke Leweling.
Written by Hauke Leweling
Published on 18.06.2019

Whether it's the garden or the workshop, Hauke Leweling is a true all-rounder and a freelance blogger. For Einhell, Hauke is armed not only with pen and paper but also with various gardening tools and equipment that he thoroughly tests. He shares his experiences, as well as tips and tricks, in his blog posts.