Blade Maintenance

Keep them clean and sharp

Saw blades are like automobiles. If you neglect their maintenance, they'll disappoint you. A blade with a lot of pitch, gum, and resin buildup will run hot, cut poorly, and get dull quickly. A dull blade cuts rough and burns wood. Here's how to keep blades performing like new:

Clean often. Remove any brown, gunky buildup on the carbide teeth with a commercial blade cleaner or pitch remover, available from most woodworking supply catalogs and stores. There are many effective cleaners on the market. For a light buildup, simply spray on the cleaner and scrub with a nylon brush. For heavier buildup, soak the blade in the liquid for several minutes, then scrub with a strong nylon or brass brush. After rinsing, dry the blade with a paper towel or hair dryer -a damp blade will rust.

Sharpen promptly. To determine if a blade needs sharpening, look at the cutting edges of the teeth with a 5x magnifying glass or loupe (available for under SIO from Edmund Scientific Co., 609-573-6250). If you see the edges starting to round over (reflected light makes the round-over shine), they need sharpening. Other signs that a blade is dull include poorer performance and higher noise levels. Most blades can l>e resharpened at least several times, depending on the amount of carbide in the tooth. A quality blade can perform well for decades in a small shop.

All the blades we tested can be sharpened by a reputable local sharpening service—there's no need to send a blade back to the manufacturer for sharpening, even though some recommend that you do. (For more on sharpening services, see AW #45.)

Give it a bath. To clean a blade, spray it with (or soak it in) commercial cleaner and scrub with a stiff nylon or brass brush. Then rinse and dry thoroughly. Blade cleaners arc available in a wide variety of formulas.

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Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

Wood Working for Amateur Craftsman

THIS book is one of the series of Handbooks on industrial subjects being published by the Popular Mechanics Company. Like Popular Mechanics Magazine, and like the other books in this series, it is written so you can understand it. The purpose of Popular Mechanics Handbooks is to supply a growing demand for high-class, up-to-date and accurate text-books, suitable for home study as well as for class use, on all mechanical subjects. The textand illustrations, in each instance, have been prepared expressly for this series by well known experts, and revised by the editor of Popular Mechanics.

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