Pitch-coated bandsaw blades

Sawyers share their secrets for cleaning pitch from blades. October 15, 2001

Does anyone have experience cleaning bandsaw blades of pine/balsalm/douglas fir pitch? I have buildup on some blades behind the tooth and on the inside of the blade. I use a cleanser in the water system, but some logs have very heavy and large pitch pockets. I am cutting with a Woodmizer Super and using 1.5 inch blades with ceramic lower guides.

Forum Responses
Water is all I use and it works very well for me. When you hit pitch pockets or think you might, turn the water on full blast if you have to--whatever it takes to keep the buildup from occurring. If your blade is not clean, turn the water up until it is. Pitch will not stick to a wet blade.

I have the answer: Easy Off oven cleaner. (Fred's has a $1 can and it will clean about 10 blades.) I like the fume-free best. Spray on, let set for a second or two, wash off with hose and wipe blade down with an oily rag and ready to go. It'll shine like a new nickel and the process is quick, to boot.

I had that problem, and I discovered that my upper spray head was plugged up. I like windshield washer fluid. I think it works better than Woodmizer's stuff. Also, flood the band till it is clean.

I have a Woodmizer Super 2000 and I use PineSol and water. It will clean the blade cutting heart pine.

I normally clean mine with WD-40, but a sawyer near me cut one end off of a 55 gallon barrel about a foot and a half deep and filled it with used antifreeze. He throws them in at the end of the day (coiled) and takes them out the next morning. The pitch wipes right off when you just run your fingers around the blade. I've never used it but he has for many years.

All I ever use is water and sometimes a little dish soap. I just wanted to add that a very sharp properly set blade is a lot less likely to gum up than one that has some use on it. Probably because of the heat buildup of a dull blade.

I also use dish soap, but only on very pitchy woods. I use Dawn and it cuts the stuff real good. A friend told me to use Murphy's oil soap and vegetable oil, putting 1 1/2 ounces of each to each gallon of water. He swears by it and says it reduces the amount of water you need to use.

I use orange citrus solvent. There are many companies that make it, but Zep was available at Home Depot. It costs about $10 a gallon but it is concentrated and goes a long way. I mix about half and half with water (probably a little strong) in a spray bottle and apply to gummed blades, let sit for one minute and the pitch just wipes off. When I'm milling pine I add a couple ounces to the water and build up is almost non-existent. It's also great for chainsaw blades, shop tool blades and bits. It's a lot more earth friendly than most other chemicals made to do this job because it's made from citrus oil, which may even help keep blades from rusting (not sure of this).

From the original questioner:
I soaked two blades--one in Coca Cola (a suggestion from the local hardware store) and the other in oven cleaner.

The coke seems to loosen the grime from the blade and you feel more at ease working with the blade than with the oven cleaner. Neither actually dissolved the pitch, so we had to scrape it loose. It comes down to this: keep the sap off the blade somehow. The wood here is very sappy and we have tried several methods, including PineSol type of detergents.

I use cheap dishwashing detergent, at least a cup to 5 gallons of water. I generally don't need much till I'm in heart pine or pitch pine. Then it's flood the blade and try to keep up. In winter add a gallon of windshield washer fluid to keep everything from freezing.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
Try using PITCH-OFF 10:1, an enzyme pitch solvent that will safely disolve it.

Comment from contributor W:
Almost everyone who uses my bandsaws swears by Pam non-stick frying pan lube. It's cheap, it works with wood finishes, and it's easy to apply. Just spray your blade once in a while while you're cutting.