I read in a recent Woodsmith article about using baking soda and water (1 Tablespoon baking soda to 1 cup of water) to clean the pitch off of sawblades and router bits.
Before this I had tried pine sol and 409 on router bits. The Pine Sol disolved the slick coating on router bits, and the 409 didn’t seem to work at all.
Today I tried the baking soda / water solution on a couple of saw blades. I put a rubber washer in the center of an old 12″ pizza pan, added 2 cups of the solution and let the blade soak for two hours. This was sufficient for the newer blade. After that time I scrubbed off the pitch using an old toothbrush. The older blade with more pitch required 4 hours. I scrubbed the teeth with the toothbrush after 2 hours, and again after 4. I was quite pleased on how the blades turned out.
Router Bits are much harder to remove pitch from than saw blades. I suppose this is due to the higher temperatures generated due to the much greater rotational velocity.
I tried the baking soda solution with limited success, even after letting the bit soak overnight. I eventually used a diamond hone to remove the build up on the cutting faces of the bit.
Here you can see the straight bit immersed in the cleaning solution while still installed in the router (half-way through a project – I didn’t want to change the plunge settings).