Cleaning Saw Blades Safely

In Woodsmith No. 17, there was a letter in your Tips and Techniques section from a reader called "Cleaning Saw Blades". In the tip, he recommended using lye to clean saw blades.

I'd like to point out that the lye (NaOH) is approximately 3N (chemist jargon), which is relatively strong. If it gets into your eyes, you can expect some permanent damage even if you get immediate medical attention. The extent of the damage will be determined by the strength of the chemical and how soon it is removed.

Lye is a very dangerous material and I feel your readers should be made aware of it.

Arthur M. Coates Weston, Massachusetts

We get an a wful lot of mail suggesting the use of lye, oven Cleaners, etc. to clea n saw blades. Besides the obvious hazards to your health, it seems to me that over a period of time it would be kind of hazardous to your pocket hook too.

We think the safest, and the cheapest way to clean saw blades is to use a product that's designedfor just that. In our shop we use two different types of resin removers.

One type is available from the Woodcraft Supply catalog. It's sold in gallons only, for S11.S0. That may sound like quite a bit. of money for only one gallon, but it's diluted with water before use to a ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part cleaner. Effectively making it five gallons of cleaner.

The second type is available from Sears, and the only real difference is that it comes full strength, ready to use. It's available in pints and costs $4.4-9.

What's really nice about both of these products is that they're quick and odorless. And they're also non-toxic. As far as we're concerned, we wouldn't use anything else.

shop tip: We soak our saw blades in an old pizza pie pan that's just large enough to totally submerse a 10" wide blade.

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