Many hobby woodworkers only use the table saws occasionally, and that is one of the biggest reasons why table saw tops get dirty or rusty. As a result, the wood will slide less well, which compromises accuracy and safety. Cleaning a table saw top will then become a high priority.
Many people are unaware of how to clean a table saw top. This, however, may be accomplished in three simple steps: sanding, degreasing, and polishing. Your table saw top will stay in good shape if you perform this maintenance once a month.
In this article, I’ll take a closer look at these steps on how to clean a table saw top, how to remove rust spots from a table saw, and show you the products that will help you get the fastest and best results. I also have another handy trick that you will discover to perform this task effortlessly. So don’t miss this.
Please check out my main article about table saw maintenance here to keep your table saw in the best possible condition. Do not miss this article!
- What Is the Importance of Cleaning a Table Saw Top?
- What Are Table Saw Tops Made Out Of?
- What Products Do You Need to Clean a Table Saw Top?
- How to Clean a Table Saw Top in 3 Steps
- How to Clean a Cast Iron Table Saw Top
- How to Clean an Aluminum Table Saw Top
- How to Protect Table Saw Top from Rust
- How Often to Clean a Table Saw Top?
- Can the Paste Wax Damage or Stain the Wood?
Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.
What Is the Importance of Cleaning a Table Saw Top?
On the table saw surface, rust spots, resins, and other filth can accumulate. This reduces the capacity of wood to glide, making cutting more difficult and putting safety at risk.
When table saws are stored in a workshop with no climate control and the temperature fluctuates, moisture can condense on the top of the saw and cause corrosion.
Resins from the wood can adhere to the surface, or simply not operating the table saw enough can contaminate it.
As a result, the wood will be less able to slide over the table saw surface as a result of all these small particles adhering to it, making it more difficult to deal with. You won’t be able to saw smoothly, resulting in fewer clean cuts and a possible safety danger.
To be able to work smoothly and to obtain the best result, it is therefore important to regularly clean the table saw top. This is a task that only takes a few minutes but will save you a lot of time and effort in return. Next to this, do not forget that table saw lubrication is also an important thing to do. You can read more about this in my article, Best Table Saw Lubricating Guide (An Oft-Forgotten Step)
What Are Table Saw Tops Made Out Of?
Cast iron or cast aluminum are the two materials manufacturers use to make table saw tops.
Both of these materials can be combined in some instances, such as with my Makita table saw.
Knowing what type of material your table saw top is made of will help you determine how to clean a table saw top.
However, how do you know whether something is made of steel or aluminum? Checking that is actually fairly straightforward.
Place a magnet on the top of your table saw. Because aluminum does not attract a magnet, you’ll know it’s made of steel if it sticks to the top. Isn’t it simple?
What Products Do You Need to Clean a Table Saw Top?
You can get started with simple materials to to do some table saw top maintenance. The only thing you need to do is check the material your table saw surface is made of and use the right products.
To clean a cast iron table saw top you need WD40, 400-grit sandpaper, thinner or benzene, and paste wax.
For an aluminum table saw top, you will be able to get started with aluminum polish.
Below, I explain exactly how to clean a table saw top with these products.
How to Clean a Table Saw Top in 3 Steps
Whatever table saw surface you have, the idea of cleaning a table saw top comes down to 3 basic principles and that is sanding, removing the slurry, and polishing.
Depending on the type of material that has been used to make the table saw top, the material you use will differ, but I’ll go into that in more detail later in this article.
This first step is intended to remove any dirt present, be it rust spots, resin, or whatever.
With a cast steel table saw top, you can lubricate it with WD40 and use sandpaper to quickly remove the dirt and flatten and smooth the surface.
With cast aluminum, it is better not to use sandpaper, but instead, use a polishing paste. Later in this article, I’ll tell you exactly how to apply this step to the type of table saw surface you own.
Remove The Slurry
In the previous step, you have loosened all the dirt from the table saw surface and as a result, there is now a slurry that you need to remove. Removing the slurry with thinner or benzene will also degrease the surface. Later in this article, you will discover more about it.
Slurry is a name for a suspension of denser solids in liquid. Solid particles range in size from 1 micron to a few millimeters.
The last step in cleaning a table saw top is to polish the surface so that when the wood is cut, it slides over it easily. This procedure ensures that the table saw blade is not only easier to work with, but also protected for a period of time from rust or dirt that sticks to the table saw surface.
Learn how to do this properly in my step-by-step guide to waxing a table saw top. I recommend that you read this article, as I share a crucial step that 90% of people ignore and few others talk about.
How to Clean a Cast Iron Table Saw Top
So, first and foremost, remove rust spots or other filth the right way. Many people here make the mistake of using highly aggressive standard papers, such as 60 grit or 80 grit, or wire brushes right away. I wouldn’t be so aggressive, regardless of how terrible the surface contamination is.
I wouldn’t use anything below 400 grit sandpaper if there’s only a little rust or dust on the table saw surface.
This grit size isn’t too harsh, so it won’t create deep grooves in your saw’s top or leave you with an uneven surface when you’re done. That is something you do not want to happen.
Before you start sanding, it is better to lubricate the table saw surface. You can simply use WD40 for this, a product that everyone has in their workshop. If you don’t have this, I definitely recommend it because this product is so versatile that I use it for a lot of tasks.
WD40 is just convenient to spray on, and it lubricates the paper. It gives a bit of a slurry to keep the sandpaper from clogging while helping to sand the surface. You can do this by hand, but you can also use a vibrating sander. When you use this one, you don’t want to get overly aggressive with it again. The intention is to achieve a flat top and no unevenness. So always keep the sander flat and do not sit on one of the corners. You can apply pressure, but always downwards. Don’t press too much and just go back and forth and let the sander do the work.
If you have spots on the top of the table saw, I wouldn’t worry about it. These are too deep in the table saw surface and as long as they don’t distort the surface you won’t be bothered by this. Sand away what you can, but don’t apply more pressure in these areas than on the part of the saw that has no stains.
When you’re done sanding, you’ll need to clean up the slurry that’s left behind. You can do this with a product that breaks down the grease, such as thinner or benzene. These products will help you wipe everything down and leave a clean cast iron table saw top ready for finishing. Do not skip this step as it is important that all the WD40 has been removed since this is silicone based.
The last step in the process of cleaning a table saw top is to apply some table saw wax paste. The best table saw wax to apply on your table saw top can be found in this comparison article I wrote. Simply, apply a nice layer and let it dry for a while. Let the table saw wax paste sit until it becomes hazy, and it becomes a little difficult to wipe off. That’s when you know it’s time to polish it. Use a nice soft cloth for this, give it a buff and make sure that cloth can just slide over it, and you’re done.
How To Remove Rust From a Table Saw
A dirty table saw top can be cleaned with 400-grit sandpaper. If your table saw is highly rusted, however, you will need to work more efficiently. Try it with slightly rougher sandpaper, such as 320 grit. If that doesn’t work, try using coarser sandpaper. Start with small steps and see what occurs.
Whatever you do, don’t start sanding with 60 grit coarse sandpaper straight away. Only use this method if the table saw top is severely corroded.
It’s also a good time to examine whether cleaning a table saw top is still worthwhile. Heavy rust will form little pits on the surface. This implies that rust will always remain, and the surface will never be as smooth as it would be with a new table saw, no matter how hard you try.
To know more about this topic, I wrote an in-depth article about how to remove rust from a table saw top with step-by-step instructions. Do not miss this helpful guide.
If so, maybe it’s time to start looking for a new table saw. The article, “5 Affordable Table Saws For A Woodworking Beginner + Checklist”, I wrote recently will certainly help you make the right choice.
How to Clean an Aluminum Table Saw Top
An aluminum table saw top requires different maintenance than a cast steel table saw top.
It is not recommended to sand aluminum because it is a softer metal. Introducing anomalies would be way too dangerous.
You don’t need to use an abrasive treatment like sanding because aluminum doesn’t rust.
Instead of sanding, an aluminum polishing paste can be used to remove dirt.
Start by applying a layer of polishing paste to the surface and spreading it evenly with a soft cloth. By rubbing the cloth back and forth, the polishing paste loosens the dirt off the surface.
If you don’t want to put a lot of effort into this task, however, I have a good alternative for you.
Attach a soft cloth to your sander’s sanding pad and let it do the heavy work. It’s a lot faster, and the flat sanding pad ensures optimum surface contact.
When all of the dirt has vanished, use thinner or benzene to remove the slurry, exactly as you did with the metal table saw top.
In theory, the aluminum polish should have smoothed off the surface. However, if you insist on using table saw wax paste, it won’t harm you. Some believe it is absolutely necessary, while others believe it makes no difference.
How to Protect Table Saw Top from Rust
A table saw surface can be temporarily protected against rust by applying paste wax. You will, however, have to do this from time to time.
Another way to avoid rust is to address the source of rust, which is your workshop’s temperature and humidity.
The moisture in the air will accumulate on the surface as the temperature changes, causing the metal to rust.
If you have the opportunity to heat your workplace to reduce humidity, make use of it. If that isn’t a possibility, you can try to keep the moisture from condensing on the table saw’s top. This can be accomplished by simply covering it.
Is your table saw dripping with water? Then, as soon as possible, dry it. This will be the case with construction employees who begin working outside, rather than when a table saw is continually standing in the workplace.
How Often to Clean a Table Saw Top?
How often do you have to do this will depend on how much you will use it and the circumstances the table saw is in.
Hopefully, you won’t have to use sandpaper very often at all. Now that you’ve cleaned it up and applied the table saw wax, that’s going to protect it from rust as long as you keep that paste wax on there. That paste wax will wear off as you pass wood across it. So I would say, depending on how often you use your saw, maybe you can clean it about once a month, maybe once every two or three months.
To do this, simply clean off the old wax with your thinner or benzene. These solutions will also remove the resin that has been left behind from wood. You’ll have to retry the sanding process if there’s too much resin or rust. Don’t allow it to go too far out of hand, and clean your table saw before it starts building up.
After removing the old wax, then reapply your paste wax. That will make the top of your saw slippery so that the wood will glide across it evenly, and it will protect it from rusting.
Can the Paste Wax Damage or Stain the Wood?
Maybe you will ask yourself, will the wax transfer to the wood, and will that affect your finish later?
Well, I would say no. I haven’t experienced that at all.
The paste wax is just a very thin coat, it’s kind of hardened by the buffing process.
Perhaps the table saw wax may be on a molecular level could come off, I think it will not matter because you’re not going to go right from the saw to the finishing table anyway. You’re going to do some sanding or some planing. So, it’s not going to be a problem and the paste wax is an excellent choice for protecting the table saw surface, as long as you use a reliable table saw wax from this list.
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