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Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/08/2009 4:18 PM

Over on a woodworking forum I visit, there is a question on whether oven cleaners are safe to use in cleaning carbide tipped saw blades and router bits. Some seem to think the chemicals in oven cleaner can destroy the bond between the carbide and the steel plate. Others claim it is safe, but no one can come up with an authoritative engineering opinion. A piece of carbide coming off a spinning blade at 4000 rpm can be pretty dangerous. I hope you chem types out there can lay this matter to rest once and for all.

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#1

Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/08/2009 4:59 PM

As faras I know Carbide Tips are Brazed on by acetylene welding??? Maybe you should try your question on a welding forum?????

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#2
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Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/08/2009 7:00 PM

Sorry, but carbide tips are attached to the steel plate by brazing, not welding, so I think my question has to involve chemical reactions, not mechanical properties. Thanks anyway for the input.

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#3
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Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/08/2009 7:14 PM

Unless you soak them for months, I don't see a problem. Any slight reaction with the brazing material would be a surface reaction, since the metal doesn't absorb the solvents.

Having rendered this opinion, I must point out that I do not know what specific chemicals/solvents are used in oven cleaners.

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#4
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Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/08/2009 7:44 PM

My question was directed towards those who are chemists and would know about chemical reactions. The main ingredient in oven cleaner is sodium hydroxide also know as household lye, a very potent chemical, but thanks for your opinion.

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#5

Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 1:49 AM

Lye can react with bronze, the typical brazing alloy. Heated lye, as used for "boiling" engine blocks (when that was common) would damage all the soft metal bearings in the engine. However, the rate of damage to bronze would be fairly low with cool lye, particular if it is thoroughly rinsed off immediately after cleaning. I, personally, would not use lye to clean a saw blade. Lye around metals is a bad combination, and it is just generally unpleasant and moderately dangerous to work with.

I usually try whatever solvents I can find around the shop.

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#6

Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 2:44 AM

It is highly unlikely that there will be a problem. As others mention the tips are brazed on and the bond is inorganic. Caustic soda will only attack the softer metals such as aluminium. If the soda does not remove the problem within a short timer forget it. Contamination is generally from resinous material which has been cooked onto the surface. Best way is to abrade and buff it off - a polished surface will probably help you.

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#7

Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 4:07 AM

I don't know anything about this sort of thing, and, I found this whilst trying to find out what brazing was:-

7. Cleaning saw blades

Use about anything you want. Really strong stuff, e.g. oven cleaner, can theoretically damage your blade if you soak in it for days so spray it on, scrub and rinse it off. You'll be fine. Try to avoid carcinogens and explosives or highly inflammable substances.

From here:- (they appear to know what they're talking about)

http://www.carbideprocessors.com/pages/saw-blades/cleaning-saw-blades.html

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#8
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Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 4:28 AM

CAREFUL - YOU CAN BE MISLEAD!

Caustic Soda is a strong caustic material depending upon the strength direct contact will burn you.

Carcinogens are sneaky they usually take long term exposure to cause a problem. They would be more of a problem for professionals where repeated exposure over a period is possible.

In this case carcinogenicity is the least of you problems. Just be careful - Caustic soda (or potash) can even dissolve some fabrics.

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#18
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Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 5:01 PM

Agreed, the most dangerous aspect of this problem is the handling of the NaOH. That said, any safety concious freshman in a college chemistry class should be able to handle this material without safety problems. At least we did 40 years ago.

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#9

Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 8:24 AM

Greetings Ronseto - by any chance did they say what kind of wood this involved?

I'm just asking because if your blades & bits are sharp & in tune - why do they need to "clean" these at all? If your running high-speed application on wood - debris should not be an issue if everything is right - just a curious question - disregard if you wish

cheers

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#11
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Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 10:05 AM

I am also a woodworker so cleaning saw blades is of concern to me. Blades build up resins from the wood and are baked on by frictional heat. Some woods are more resinous than others, but resin buildup is a common problem among woodworkers.

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#12
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Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 10:28 AM

The hydroxide will not effect the brazing alloy due to the fact that the brazing alloy contains ample amounts of silver (the same brazing alloys used in joining tubbing for the aircraft industry). Put your blades in your oven (ironic) and set it on the bake out or cleaning cycle (450 - 500 degrees), the deposits will burn off leaving an ash. Just brush off the ash with a wire brush and spray them down with a little WD40 and you will be good to go. A good soak in straight thinner overnight helps too.

PS: The reason that the braze works on the tungsten carbide "BIT" is due to the fact that the bit contains about five percent cobalt as a binder. The cobalt is actually what the braze adheres too. The carbide is generally impervious to any chemical attack, unless accompanied by high temperature.

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#13
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Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 11:42 AM

(450 - 500 degrees)

F or C

Off topic: I recently had to visit the US and had to buy a soldering iron to try out some changes. I spent ages cursing the useless iron until I realised I'd set it to 390°F instead of (my normal) 390°C.

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#15
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Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 12:01 PM

F or you must have one heck of a kitchen oven!!

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#16
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Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 12:10 PM

Mine doesn't have a "bake out or cleaning cycle", so, I assumed it must be some other type (ignorance is bliss).

Plus: I only just twigged the irony of using an oven. Think I'd better take a nap.

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#19
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Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/10/2009 11:18 AM

(450 - 500 degrees), Would this temperature destroy the temper of the blade and cause it to warp?

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#20
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Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/10/2009 11:49 AM

You would need to be in the 6's for that. I wouldn't hold 500 degrees F over night, just enough to burn off the residue. Remember, the brazing is done after the blade core has been heat treated.

I have a friend that found an old oven at a garage sale and he put a thermal couple in his. He found that the max temp to be 488 degrees. The cycle time ran about one hour.

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#10

Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 9:39 AM

I think the best way to determine which would be safe to use would be to take an old saw blade with well worn carbide inserts and experiment with it. Use a Dremel tool to etch onto the blade on different teeth which type of cleaner will be used on those teeth, and leave some teeth with no chemicals as a control. Then clean the teeth with the cleaning agents that you marked on them. Let them soak extra long, to simulate worst case situation. After all the teeth have been cleaned, except for the control group, unplug a table saw, install the blade, turn on the switch, and stand well clear while plugging in the saw. Let it run a while and see if any teeth fly off. (It would be a more definitive test to run some hard wood through the saw, but I wouldn't do it unless you can rig up a protective shield.) Then remove the saw blade and test impact on some teeth, bending force in different axes, etc., on some teeth from each condition. This will give imperical data. Anything else is speculation. When it comes to safety, we have all heard at times, "It shouldn't have done that!"

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#14

Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 11:56 AM

I can think of 2 products that may work and be safer. Bestine is a great product and leaves no residue. I use it for removing adheisive tape. Another more readily availble at your hardware store is called "Goof Off". As a last resort I would go to your autoparts store and get some gaskit remover. None of these will hurt the brazing that holds on the carbide tip. Don't use heat.

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#17

Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/09/2009 1:55 PM

I really wouldn't use any caustic on something that has braze. I would and have used light solvents like lighter fluid (naptha) or kerosene (diesel) to disolve wood resins. If further cleaning is required to remove residues of these, glycol based cleaners such as 409 or Fantastik work well. Brake-Klean with triclorethylene works real good but evaporates very fast and disolves lots of things, so handle with care.

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#21

Re: Are Oven Cleaners Safe for Woodworking?

07/11/2009 6:16 AM

Ashes to Ashes and dust to dust if the solvent don't get you the caustic must!

Abrasion is probably still the safest - just needs a bit of elbow grease. I run a polishing buff regularly and use it to put a final sharp edge on my woodworking and carving chisels so it is very easy to polish up saw blades. Any heavy residues can be tackled with a courser paper and maybe a wire brush first.

I also use some teflon spray which is useful in stopping saw binding.

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