How to Clean Router Bits

Posted by John Rennie on

Router drill bits are extremely prone to the build-up of pitch and other wooden debris, so they need to be regularly cleaned to allow them to perform to the best of their ability. If they are not frequently cleaned, they may cut as if they’re blunt which will not be beneficial to the efficiency or aesthetics of your project. 

What Are Router Bits?

Router bits are the most important components of router cutters in the UK as they are the pieces of the machine that cut and shape your material. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit your individual project’s needs. This is why it’s so imperative that they’re properly cleaned and cared for, otherwise you will not be able to reach your desired finish. 

Materials and Equipment Needed for Cleaning:

  • Nitrile gloves (optional)
  • Paper towels
  • Brass wire brush
  • Plastic container
  • Powdered brewery wash (PBW)

Once you obtain each of these, you can begin the cleaning process. 

Step One: Mix Powdered Brewery Wash (PBW)

PBW is a form of detergent that is considered to be more effective than soda cleaner alternatives. For the cleaning of router bits, you should mix two tablespoons (30g) of PBW with a pint (570ml) of warm water. Next, you should stir this until it completely dissolves; this will not be an immediate process; you should stir for a few minutes. Once your solution is ready, pour it into a plastic container. 

Step Two: Prepare Router Bits

This step of the process will differ depending on whether the router bit has a follower bearing. If you find that your bit does have a follower bearing, you will need to remove this before you soak the router bit. 

Firstly, you will need to remove the retaining screw that holds the bearing in place. This will allow you to remove the bearing which should simply slide off; however, gentle prying with a screwdriver may be necessary. Underneath the bearing will be a washer which should also be removed. Finally, ensure that you keep the parts in a safe place so that you can reassemble the router bit once it’s been cleaned. 

Step Three: Soak the Router Bits

Once your router bit has been taken apart, it will need to be soaked in the solution that you prepared earlier for three to five minutes. During this time, you should see the resin and pitch loosening up.

Step Four: Brush the Router Bits

After soaking, the resin and pitch on the router bit will be much looser, allowing you to gently scrub it with a brass wire brush. Excessive pressure shouldn’t be necessary and could damage the router bit; if the resin and pitch aren’t coming off easily, leave the bit to soak for slightly longer. 

At this stage in the process, you might want to wear some nitrile gloves as the solution can strip your hands of their natural oils, leaving them dry. Additionally, you should take care when handling the tool as the surfaces will be sharp and may be slippery from the solution. 

Step Five: Rinse and Dry the Router Bits

Once all the pitch and resin has been removed, you can then rinse away the debris in the sink and dry your router bits. As previously mentioned, you will need to be extremely careful due to the sharpness of the bits that could cause injury. If you find that the bit is still not clean, you can leave it to soak for a little longer. Similarly, if you can’t completely dry the bit using paper towels, leave the bits to air dry as they shouldn’t be stored or assembled whilst damp. 

Step Six: Reassemble the Router Bit

In addition to the router bit, you will have a screw, bearing, and washer. In order to reassemble all these components, you should slide the washer onto the domed surface, facing towards the bearing. Next, place the bearing on top of the washer, and replace the screw and tighten it using a hex key. 

Step Seven: Dispose of the Liquid 

You may worry about the PBW solution’s environmental impact upon disposal. Fortunately, this can simply be disposed of down the sink as it’s an environmentally friendly cleaner. Don’t be alarmed by the level of dirt and the colour of the solution as it will be a result of the resin and pitch from the wood. 

Shop Router Bits with Rennie Tools

Regardless of the needs of your project, Rennie Tools will have a UK router bit to suit. For further guidance regarding router bit cleaning or advice about selecting CNC router bits, please get in touch. You can reach out to a member of our expert team via email at Alternatively, you can call us on 0161 477 9577 or 07581452424.

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