Do you clean your power tools? I do, or at least I usually try to.
I used this Dewalt FlexVolt Advantage reciprocating saw to cut up a giant wood mass that was close to the surface of where I was putting another raised garden bed. I had some trees removed two years ago, and I guess this stump-like mass was covered up instead of being pulled out.
I used the saw for a couple more tasks until finally getting up with how dirty it was.
I was going to clean it “another time,” and kept putting it off, until I realized there was dried compacted dirt underneath the pivoting shoe plate.
So, I took the plate off, and dug out the caked-in dirt. There’s not much I can do about the dust around the blade clamp, so I left it alone. This is what it looked like after I cleaned all the dirt out.
While not perfectly clean, the saw is in much better shape and is more comfortable to grip without work gloves.
Did I need to clean the saw? I don’t think so.
The vents weren’t blocked, and there wasn’t anything affecting its safe and normal use. I did need to clean under the pivoting shoe plate though, as the dried compacted dirt – how did it even get in there?! – was bending the rubber lip back a little.
I used a blunt wooden tool (disposable electronics probe/spudger) to clean out the rubber grip zones the best I could without obsessing about being perfect.
All this got me thinking – do most users clean their tools? Whenever I see professionals or tradesmen working in public places, I peek at their tools, but there doesn’t seem to be any pattern.
Dry materials – sawdust, drywall, or metal chips – tend to brush off easily. It’s wet, oily, greasy, or outdoor environments that tend to dirty up tools.
A lot of my cushion-grip hand tools tend to pick up residue from when I work with black oxide-finished fasteners.
All that said, I prefer to keep my tools clean.
Part of the reason is that I sometimes work with my own tools, and other times I use review samples that I plan to eventually give away. Even if I give away a tool that has been used, I’d rather it not be very visibly used. I also prefer to keep my own tools clean because I never know where they’re going to be used next.
I rarely know what a tool’s next task will be.
If I use a saw to cut chemically-treated wood, I don’t want to transfer sawdust into living spaces if I can help it. If a screwdriver handle is greasy, where can I put it down when assembling furniture? If pliers have metal shavings on the handles, will it be a good idea to use them when working with electronics?
You clean kitchen knives between uses, right? It’s not a good to go from cutting raw meat to cutting vegetables.
With the Dewalt saw shown above, I only really needed to clean the front grip area, under the shoe plate, but I spent a few minutes wiping down the rest of it, and picking the grip area mostly clean. So aside from what needed to be done, I cleaned the rest of the tool out of habit.
Do you clean your tools? Why or why not?