How well do you clean your power tools?


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Generally I find I go kind of nuts with the cleaning. 

I had bought this saw at some point last year from a guy who bought it to make signs with his son in who was a boyscout. He said he could not get it to cut straight and admitted he had no idea how to properly use it. He let it go for 175 or 200 bucks, I can't remember. The stand was put together and half the bolts were cross threaded, there were a couple of rust stains on the surface, and just general dust on it. After getting it home I changed out whatever bolts/nuts were messed up, lightly cleaned the table with steel wool and then waxed the top and didn't care much about the stains since it was flat and clean enough. 

 

Since I'm rearranging my shop, I thought I'd take the time to thoroughly clean my machines and give them all a tune up. Today my Dewalt 788 scroll saw was up for detailing and cleaning. Used a nylon brush, CRC 3-36, some paper towels, and then decided to clean the table so it looked new. Spent about 45 minutes and got these results. Applied some 3-36 on the table, let it dry, buffed it off and then put a coat of white diamond butcher's wax on the table. It looks new, and clean, tuned up tools make me happy.

 

Sadly the ridiculous mill marks from the factory are still there.

 

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I like for mine to "Shine like the top of the Chrysler building".  (Maybe spent too much time in theater when my children were growing up.)  Thanks to a tip from Jack Forsberg, I use a wire cup brush to spin Scotchbrite pads, on a 15 amp side grinder.  It makes quick work out of it.  I also apply 3.36 every couple of weeks, or when I think about it.

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Waxes and wanes… Definitely a phase of the moon thing…. Probably a hormonal imbalance…

 

I don’t worship my tools… Most of the time, I treat everything like the tools they are: table saw is for ripping stock and mixing pigmented (and very sticky) lacquer --- spill a little in the process -- it’s a tool… Occasional dabs of epoxy on the jointer – well those damn pumps always drip… Mix a batch of shellac on the planer --- all in a day’s work...

 

… And then woodworker Hyde becomes OCD Jekyll: I’ll finally bother over the small pool of shellac on the infeed table that hasn't-yet warn-away during the last week or so, and spend an hour with ScotchBrite, Naphtha, and Renaissance wax to make it all shine again… Go figure?

 

Maybe its blood-sugar thing; hormonal imbalance; caffeine overdose – don’t know… Just is…

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That's exactly how I am Trip. My table saw will get some spots on it from finish or a drip of glue, and then I'm out there with a razor blade scraping off stuff, followed by scotch brite and next thing you know I'm cleaning the detailing the entire thing, waxing the cabinet and going all sorts of nuts. I don't worship my tools, however if you take care of them well, they'll be ready to do the job you need them to do and last you for a long time.

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==>My table saw will get some spots on it from finish or a drip of glue, and then I'm out there with a razor blade scraping off stuff, followed by scotch brite and next thing you know I'm cleaning the detailing the entire thing, waxing the cabinet and going all sorts of nuts. I don't worship my tools, however if you take care of them well, they'll be ready to do the job you need them to do and last you for a long time.

 

Would make an interesting poll...

 

I suppose it’s down to some form of target fixation --- if I need some tinted poly and the nearest flat surface is the top of my planer, then OK…  If I spill a little, well I need the poly right now dammit!  :)  I can always return and clean the gooey mess later… a week later… after it hardens… and requires about 8x the time had it been addressed in the first place... :)

 

The "taking care of tools" is also true… I’ll spend an entire weekend stripping something down, de-greasing, de-rusting, de-griming, lubing, adjusting, etc…  My tools may have globs of epoxy or streaks of hardened poly, but they all pass the nickel test… That's what counts...

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Depends on the tool.  I take great care of my hand tools and pretty good care of my Festools.  My machines experience the most neglect.  Living in St. Louis, it's impossible to totally prevent some surface rust...I keep my iron Boeshielded and waxed but I've given up on the shiny new look.  Once they reach that point they tend to get the who gives a **** treatment.  As long as they're tuned and working properly, I'm happy "enough."

 

I can't remember the last time I had a dedicated tool cleaning day.  Long overdue for sure.  Why don't you head out this way Tom and I'll get you drunk while you clean my stuff.

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 I take great care of my hand tools and pretty good care of my Festools. 

 

I use my compressor and blow off any dust, and then, wipe my Festool stuff after each session of use, and put it back in the Systainers.

 

 

Why don't you head out this way Tom and I'll get you drunk while you clean my stuff.

 

Oooh drinking and cleaning spinning blades of death!

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Here's my #4 table saw.  I think it was four or five years ago when we used it last.  It's lightweight enough that the guys could get it down to the water for a boathouse roof we built.  I'm sure it hasn't been used since then.  A while back I noticed it has completely turned into a rust bucket in this storage building on our farm, so I hit it with the above mentioned side grinder.  I don't think I had even been in this building since I started using 3.36 a couple of years ago.  I wish that I had taken before pictures, but this was after less than a minutes work with the grinder and Scotchbrite pad.  I did cover it with 3.36 and left it.  This was with just the coarse pad.  I didn't bother to spend the extra minute on it with the next two grades.

 

It's not really a POS saw like you might think.  I'm sure it came out of the same factory that makes the Grizzly contractors saw that's so popular, since everthing except for the base is an exact match.

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==>Depends on the tool. I take great care of my hand tools and pretty good care of my Festools

Good point... There's a hierarchy:

 

Group A – Very Well Taken Care of (but no toothbrushes involved):
Measuring & Marking, Sharpening Kit
Backsaws, Carving Gouges, Paring Chisels, Dovetail Chisels, Joinery Planes

 

Group B - Taken Care of:

Spokeshaves, Floats, Rasps, Bench Chisels, Bench Planes, Molding Planes
Routers, Domino, etc

 

Group C – Taken Care of, but dropping on floor is OK (after honest attempt to catch)
Block planes, hand saws, striking tools, DIY hand tools, Jigsaws, spray gear
Festool, Mirka, etc not in group B

 

Group D – Dropping on floor acceptable and expected
All portable sanders, Anything Hilti, screwdrivers, hammers, etc
All drills, except Hole Hog (which would dent floor)

 

 

==>Too far?
Stay where you are and remain calm… Just tell us where you are.... Help is on the way… :)

 

 

==>wipe my Festool stuff after each session of use, and put it back in the Systainers.

Do you charge by the hour? :)

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I'm more of a "Tool has to be in the exact same place every time" OCD then cleaning with a toothbrush kinda guy. I like my tools clean, but If they are a half inch away from their designated location I start to panic!  (exception is pencil and tape measure, I can never find those)

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After buying a used machine I typical disassemble, clean, lubricate, repair if necessary, and reassemble. Surprising how often a used machine just needed a very simple repair or perhaps was never assembled correctly to begin with then it runs like a top. After that I keep the rust off and maintain as necessary. Hand tools get pretty much the same treatment. 

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My first round of tools were just sort of taken care of.  Now over the last few years everything has been pretty much up graded and is now been taken crd and cleaned on a pretty regular basis.  I think a lot of that comes with the fact that I am now retired and have more time to be in the shop.  Some time I find my self out there with no project going on so I will start cleaning and tuning just cause I am out there.  More available time definitely affects how the tools are stored and cleaned and general appearance of the shop.   Retirement! I encourage everyone to try it at least once.

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I love a good shop cleaning day!  Very relaxing and nice to get stuff ready.

 

I try to throughly clean after every build, but its not always done.  I take excellent care of my handtools, but they are certainly used and not simply cherished.  They have scratches and show signs of wear.  They are clean, protected, and sharp!

 

I try to take great care with my cast iron as well (TS top, router table, jointer).  I just love the look of shiny clean cast iron.  Of course, my saw tops are scratched and have an odd spot here and there of discolouration.  I would never do a glue up or finish on top of the iron.  Lots of my cast iron has lost that "new" look.  Again, tools should be treated well, but also used!

 

All my festools are cleand ansd stored in sustainers.

 

Jointer and planer get new blades and a through cleaning about every 6 months of use.

 

DC and DD get cleaned after every project.

 

Very rarely do I leave the shop without everything in its place, and clean.

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==>bag of candy and most importantly a grandson nets a clean shop and machinery.

now that's a good idea...

 

==>Leaf blower

My Red Max threw too much oil in the exhaust for cleaning the shop (tried it once, got yelled at). But it died last fall and was replaced with a Stihl BR600/M. This seems more environmentally friendly – wonder if its also shop friendly? Will find out when the snow melts…

 

Reminds me: I installed a master disconnect on my sub (with lock) for small hand/visitor/whatever safety... you do anything in your shop to prevent small hands from playing with the big tools? Might be worth a thread...

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==>Leaf blower

My Red Max threw too much oil in the exhaust for cleaning the shop (tried it once, got yelled at). But it died last fall and was replaced with a Stihl BR600/M. This seems more environmentally friendly – wonder if it also shop friendly? Will find out when the snow melts…

 

My BR550 is the only non-woodworking item that remains in my shop.  Makes very fast work of dust removal...windows and doors wide open, fan on, and in about two minutes it's clean.  The only drawback is you have to put away anything that weighs less than an anvil because it blows like a tornado even on idle.  Can't say how many pencils I've lost to the under-cabinet Bermuda Triangle.

 

But the wife does complain about the gas smell almost every time I blow out the shop.  Shrug of shoulders and blank stare is my typical response.

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==>anything that weighs less than an anvil

The RexMax was the very first piece of lawn equipment gear that we purchased... It lived a long and very reliable life... I would have purchased the Shindaiwa model that superseded it, but the local farm/feed emporium became a Stihl-only dealership… To that point, I only had experience with Stihl saws, trimmers and brush cutters…

 

==>tornado even on idle

Yes, and very annoying... I suspect it's an emissions thing… After Hurricane Sandy*, I replaced a bunch of Stihl kit and noticed that all have California carbs with restricted adjustments… I’ll have to figure something out… Same with the saws...

 

 

*With Hurricane Sandy, big saws (3HP and up) were in such demand that Stihl was backordered for months... The cleanup crew got a list of saws in the area and purchased them from residents… Wild times…

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TripleH, its going to get tougher still to monkey with Stihl tools.  The place my son in law runs is a Stihl certified repair shop and he was telling me that still has gone to all fuel injected & electronic ignition engines. 

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==>monkey with Stihl tools

I'm not really a grease jockey, but I do try to do my own basic maintenance... including the occasional rebuild…

 

I get the reliability of the new engines (especially with 15% fuel coming) and the greenness… To me it’s not the $$ to pay others for maintenance, it’s the time element… If I drop a saw off for a repair, its three weeks+ to get it back (noone stocks parts anymore)… And if others are like me, you don’t know a saw needs fixing until you go to use the saw – so three weeks+ is a pain in the ass…

 

As for the 10% and 15% fuels, these are works of the Evil One…I’ve had to rebuild/replace more carbs in the past two years then in the previous twenty – that’s not an exaggeration… Over six weeks in the fall, I spent enough on lawn/garden eqpt rebuilds to get a SS-ICS setup... I know ethanol fuels are supposed to benefit someone/something, but this sh*t is getting old fast…

 

@OP – sorry about the thread hijack… As a side note: I think my garden eqpt is just about the same level of cleanliness as shop kit: use, get dirty, get more dirty --- then something snaps and I go wild with the pressure washer….

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I used to rebuild carbs on small equipment, but then they started selling them on ebay for 20 bucks.  I was able to buy ethanol free gas here for a number of years, and then that station started selling gas with ethanol in it without telling anyone.  I had to replace three carburetors that next Spring.  After that, I started taking the ethanol out of gas for a couple of years, but fortunately another station started selling ethanol free again.  Ethanol gas has created boom times for small engine repair shops.

 

Most of my Stihl equipment was purchased before they changed the fuel system parts to tolerate ethanol.  I have a few of the newer tools that are made for it, but still run ethanol free in all of it.

 

By the way, if you do rebuild the little carbs, the best thing in the world to help is a white dishpan.

 

I have an 036 that I let the guys who work for me cut their firewood with (furnish them the trees for the firewood too).  It's on its third cylinder and piston kit, but it still runs like a new one.

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==>white dishpan

After all the years of using BORG 5-gal pails, I discovered white dishpans last fall... I got some in a couple different sizes, plus some small perforated rinse trays to go in the pans – really does make a difference…

 

==>036

Good saw... probably the only pro saw I've never actually owned -- that and the 088 :)... After Sandy, I didn't replace my 066 --- Hopefully, won't have any more use for a felling saw... I'm getting too old for that sh*t...

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066 is as big as I have now. It's just for stumping and bucking big trees, which around here rarely get over 4', and most of the time you don't even see a 3 footer.   I like the 36 because it's really lightweight but still strong enough to pull a 3/8 chain.  44 is stronger too for not much more weight, but it's a pipey beast, and most of the people I know who have been cut did it with a  44  (044/440).  I think weight on the 36 is about 12 pounds for the powerhead.  We keep a 2' bar on it so we don't have to bend over much. 

 

Every time we bring out the 066, which we keep a 42" bar, and .404  63 chain on, some bystander will say,  "That's a Man's saw."  They're right.

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==>most of the people I know who have been cut did it with a  44  (044/440)

Think a lot of accidents are over-reaching with a tail-heavy saw… Actually, I’d bet most accidents are one-handing a climbing saw…  I don't have any numbers -- just going on thisng that make me nervous...

 

I keep bucking saws a bit nose-heavy: 44=>28” bar; 46=>32”; and 66=>36”… Anything bigger and I hire a pro… I’ve seen bars out to 60”, but never used one – probably scare the sh*t out of me…

 

==>66, which we keep a 42" bar, and .404  63 chain

Probably my favorite saw, didn't know it could take that big a bar... I'd figure 42/606/063 is 88 territory... Personally, I use 3/8"-050 (or occasionally 063) --- that aggressive stuff scares me... :)

 

 

During Sandy, we lost around 30-40 trees in the 36”-48” range and some in the 48”-60”. Definitely a job for a pro outfit… They wanted my saws -- and wanted me out of the way… :)

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