The first thing to remember
before destroying a good blade and etch is to read the blade
and determine how much cleaning is necessary and what can be
used for cleaning.
Understanding how steel reacts
if exposed to elements like humidity, heat, cold, dry air,
substances in the wood, and chemicals used in the shop is a
key to choices you will have to make in selecting
restoration method and materials. The first thing that happens to
a steel saw blade is the formation of rust, then saps and
oils build over the rust. You will notice in the
picture below that the saw blade looks like all it needs is
a good cleaning with steel wool and oil.
Right side before cleaning.
Appears to be rust free. This condition of the
blade is often described as "...rust free with nice
patina". It is my opinion that many restorers
mistake discoloration on steel for patina. Usually
this discoloration is
I prefer to use a random orbit
sander to clean steel. You have to
clean to the original surface or the rust will raise it's
ugly head again and again. Those raised areas you see
on some saw blades is a formation of rust and when
removed, most of the time there is a pitted area below the
blade surface. I use the 3M Scotch Bright
wool/finishing pad to clean the teeth area.
My opinion is that steel wool
and oil will destroy an etch. Why? Steel wool
does not stay in a plane of the blade and will drop down into the etch
and will remove the dark area from the etching.
A good etching and stamping like most of the older saws have
can be cleaned with a random orbit sander because it stays
on a blade plane and glides over the etch.
Materials and tools used
I use a Ryobi random orbit
sander w/ variable speed control. For abrasive I use 4
½” extra fine 220 grit sanding disc/hook and loop backed.
Final polishing of the blade is done with 3M Scotch Bright
wool/finishing pad and 3M 400 wet/dry.
Cleaned left side with etching.
Etching after cleaning...
...and again, etching after cleaning.