A contractor told me that I need to clean wood dust from my table saw and miter saw after each use. He explained that leaving wood dust can impact the tools’ longevity and I should use a compressed air blower to clean the dust from the saw tools.

How accurate is that statement?


I got my answer through this post.

  • It makes sense to clean the dust from power tools after each use
  • wood dust can cause rust on the metal parts

However, still it is not clear to me that how essential is the use of a compressor air blower. Not everyone has a compressor and it might not be feasible to carry a compressor along with power tools to job sites. I personally think a shopvac should be efficient enough.Shopvac is an easier and more practical option.

  • 2
    On a slightly tangential note: It makes a lot of sense to clean the working surfaces of any precision tooling in-between cuts. The dust that builds up can impact precision by preventing the material you're cutting from resting smoothly against the reference surfaces.
    – Dave
    Jan 4 '16 at 23:09
  • 1
    This does not answer the question as asked, but I would say "yes, clean your tools and work area" for two other reasons. 1. you can step in and track sawdust elsewhere in the house and 2. if you have pets you probably don't want them stepping in sawdust and licking their paws.
    – user285
    Jan 4 '16 at 23:21
  • 1
    How often do you use your table and miter saws? What parts are you referring to? The table? Slots and tracks? The drive assembly / bearings / gearing? Inside the motor? The miter saw arm? The blade?
    – Jason C
    Jan 5 '16 at 14:17
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    @grfrazee It does not seem to be clear to the answerers who have posted so far, judging by the variety of topics being discussed below, ranging from cleaning motors to cleaning tables to storage vs. use to compressors vs. vacuums to moisture creating rust on types of metals that may or may not be related to the OP's tools, and so on. Also "how often do you use your tools" is necessary to clarify "clean after each use". It is a fine fundamental question, and it is only on hold - too broad or unclear, it just needs more details. General advice is difficult if not impossible to give.
    – Jason C
    Jan 6 '16 at 15:14
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    The usage frequency is minor and not that significant. The more important details are what parts you're concerned about cleaning, and what you're concerned with longevity of (e.g. motor, blade, other parts, etc.). Also combining table saws and miter saws into one question is tricky, unless you're concerned about something common to both. E.g. it really doesn't make sense to clean the dust from e.g. the motor after each use, and your table saw probably isn't made of rust-prone materials in the drive system, but it does make sense to clean the dust off the table itself after each use.
    – Jason C
    Jan 7 '16 at 3:29

For the Miter saw: Ditto on LeeG and Matt's answers.

On the Tablesaw, I clean the table top off every time to avoid anything that might rust the cast iron top, then I give a quick wipe down with a lubricant (very quick spray and wipe, nothing detailed). On the inside, my DC keeps the cabinet reasonably dust free, but at least once a year, I vacuum that out with my shopvac to keep things moving freely and them spray parts with a dry lube.


I think this falls under the "it's true, but doesn't matter" category. Motors will operate at their peak efficiency when clean, but it takes a lot of dust build up before the performance or longevity would be impacted.

Personally, I clean off my tools prior to storing them, just because I like to keep things neat. My Dad used the same miter saw on construction sites for years and the only cleaning it got was what fell out of it when he put it in the truck.


What LeeG's answer covers is pretty spot on when it comes to build up of dust on the motor and the hidden areas. There is really no inherent harm in trying to clean the tools after every use (sort of somehow pushing dust into a crevice I suppose) except for maybe being an exercise in futility.

Not to condone it but my 12 inch mitre saw has hardened sawdust build up behind the frame below where the motor is. There are no moving parts near there and it is not loose. I can turn it upside down (not an easy feat) and the dust will stay there. Been there for years and is not impacting the tools use at all.

I wanted to make a point of distinction. You are not talking about where the dust is being accumulated. I would frequently clean the table and surface of saw tools to prevent binding of the pieces being worked on. Mitre gauge slots of table saws are prone to this.

If there is dust where wood will be passing I would clear that, while the tool is off, at every pass.


Leaving sawdust in contact with metal will promote rust. The reason for this is that the sawdust can absorb moisture, essentially wetting the metal. Also, many woods have acidic pH, so you are essentially exposing your tools to acid by leaving sawdust on them, which will promote rust.

  • 2
    I've heard this as well, but never really seen it happen in practice.
    – JPhi1618
    Jan 4 '16 at 21:13
  • On my table saw at least, none of the metals in the drive assembly are particularly rust prone anyways.
    – Jason C
    Jan 5 '16 at 0:07
  • Take a piece of cold rolled steel, put some sawdust on one end then sit it down in a basement for 4 or 5 months and it will be obvious the difference. Jan 5 '16 at 0:40

This may be opinion rather than answer, but: it's generall y better to get in the habit of cleaning and putting things away as you go. A space that isn't kept neat tends to accumulate more and more layers of "I'll do it later, and I can't do that until I do this and..."

Also, excess sawdust can eventually become a safety hazard as well as an accuracy hazard.

I'm not very good about this myself, but I'm trying to set a rule that I don't leave the shop until at least one more thing is clean and where it belongs than when I came in. Maybe by 2020 I'll have the shop looking like I want it to.

  • It's 2021, how close did you get? :D
    – FreeMan
    Sep 15 '21 at 23:34
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    Well, I finished insulating the workshop walls, which involved making even more mess for a while... but I'm working on moving things back where they belong so I can actually work in the space. And I seem to slowly be sorting out the tools needed in the shop from those needed in the household toolbox. So, progress, though somewhat diagonal.
    – keshlam
    Oct 15 '21 at 22:13

As a former machinist who now works with wood I agree heartily with Dave's comment above regarding the precision of cuts made when sawdust & debris is left on the miter saw table - I clean the table after every cut. Of course the "sawdust absorbs moisture & is acidic" point is a vital observation as well. What I disagree with is the use of an air compressor or other blower as the cleaning agent. An air compressor is more likely to force the debris deeply into tool crevices versus cleaning them out.

  • are you suggesting to use a shop vac as opposed with compressor air blower?
    – Allan Xu
    Jan 5 '16 at 16:17

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