Routing chipboard and pine and other conifer woods a router bit of mine built up residue. I managed to clean some of it with acetone and mineral spirits but still there was left.

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The bit looks and feels sharp, the edge is clean but around the edge there still is some residue.

Should I be concerned? How can I clean the rest of the residue?

  • 1
    See the section on cleaning in my previous Answer here. In addition to the solvent using a fine wire brush for the scrubbing is a big help. Also doesn't hurt to warm the bit with a heat gun before you start.
    – Graphus
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 14:33
  • The right-hand third of the top edge in the first photo looks pretty chewed up, not close to sharp.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 16:18
  • @Caleb: Unfortunately my phone (OnePlus 3T) cannot make a decent macro shot. In real life the cutting edge of the router bit looks much better (sharper). I was lazy and didn't want to pull out the DSLR and mount the macro lens, then import the raw images into Adobe Lightroom, develop them and upload them... Commented Jul 10, 2018 at 16:51

2 Answers 2


The key search term for this residue is "pitch", like "removing pitch from blade".

A variety of products for cleaning pitch off of cutting tools are sold, many of which use a caustic chemical like that found in spray-on oven cleaner. You may have luck with oven cleaner itself, although those chemicals can remove other things in addition to pitch, like paint and other coatings, for example.

A technique I found amazing, and now use exclusively, is to soak in a hot-as-you-can-stand-it concentrated mixture of liquid laundry detergent and water. This video shows more of the details and produces results just like what I have seen myself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYnd6BGifoo

I use the same All detergent as shown in the video, just because that's what we have in the house, but I'm sure many others would work just as well.

Laundry detergent is a mild caustic, which perhaps explains its effectiveness, but I've never seen it do any damage to the blades I've cleaned this way.

Really hot tap water will work, boiling water is probably not advisable. As I recall, a 50-50 mixture of detergent to water is optimum. You don't need a huge amount if you use the right shape of container and you can clean multiple blades before refreshing the solution, perhaps warming it up a bit in a microwave between blades. I believe it works with cooler water, but the required soaking time is extended. The used solution can be safely poured down the drain, which of course is what happens when you use it to clean your clothes :)


In our industrial timber workshop we use an industrial degreaser to clean the tools. We just let the tools soak in it overnight. It works very well but it's pretty dangerous stuff so care has to be taken when handling it.

  • Thanks! What kind of dangers does this involve? Commented Jul 8, 2018 at 21:11
  • 1
    It's a pretty strong base so real care has to be taken not to get it on your skin or in your eyes. Of course the environment has to be respected when getting rid of what remains after use. Commented Jul 9, 2018 at 11:22

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