Cleaning Pitch off Cutterheads

Advice on fluids that will quickly dissolve accumulated pitch and gum off jointer and planer knives. October 3, 2009

I was reading the other day where one of the saw blade manufacturers recommended soaking blades in kerosene to remove pitch. I was wondering how this would work for cutterheads? I run a lot of pine for a customer and there is a tremendous amount of pitch build up that has to be removed before I can swap out knives. I am currently soaking them in a container filled with CutterGuard that I'm getting from Weinig, but even after soaking for over three hours there is still a lot of pitch that still hasn't softened. I'm looking for some ideas that may be cheaper or faster. What is everyone else using?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor R:
Are your cutters HSS or Carbide? Carbide can be degraded by caustic cleaners so you need to be careful. Have you contacted your supplier to find out what they recommend? Last thought, if you spray the cutters with cooking spray (yes, like Pam) the pitch will tend to stick a lot less making cleaning much easier.

From contributor C:
Try using stove cleaner. That is what Newman-Whitney service techs used for years and I think they still use it.

From contributor R:
Diesel fuel works well.

From contributor F:
Try Purple Power or Castrol super clean. They dissolve buildup very quick.

From contributor M:
Another vote for Easy-Off. Also, I treat the blades with talc powder it works well on machine tables too.

From contributor G:
Easy-Off oven cleaner has been used for as long as it's been around. Spray it on before lunch, come back and rinse it off after lunch and get to cutting.

From contributor J:
I've been getting pretty good results with denatured alcohol and an old tooth brush.