Burn marks are a persistent ‘ailment’ that plagues woodworkers of all skill level, no matter if you are a seasoned pro or completely brand new. Burn marks can occur due to slow feed rates or a dull blade (as well as a myriad of other factors) which can be easily fixed, but sometimes they can happen due to reasons out of your control (such as other issues with your electric saw or from the wood you are cutting).
Either way, burn marks are not ideal… this is especially true if you are cutting wood meant to be furniture or if your wood is particularly expensive. In these cases (as well as many more) burn marks are a nuisance and proper procedures should be taken to remove them from your wood.
You can remove burn marks on wood from an electric saw by using a scraper or plane and some sandpaper; although this might end up doing more harm to your wood than good, it is the only way to get rid of those pesky burn marks.
In this article, we will go over exactly how to remove electric saw burn marks from your wood; also, since in this case the ‘best offense is the best defense’, we will discuss the various causes of woodburn and how you can avoid this problem in the future.
Removing Burn Marks From Wood (Step-by-Step)
Burn marks are a fact of life when it comes to woodworking with electric saws; sometimes, the thought of simply scrapping your damaged wood and starting new is too much and you may want to attempt to remove the blemish yourself.
If that’s the case, you will need some (if not all) of the following tools:
Here’s how you can remove woodburn:
- Run a scraper or hand plane along the woodburn until the burn marks are gone; unfortunately, if the burn marks are deep, then this will take a chunk out of your wood – there is simply no way to turn burned wood back to normal.
- Use the sandpaper to smooth out the area where the woodburn was before; this will make the area that was previously burnt much more ‘normal’, and in some cases it will look almost as good as new.
As mentioned previously, the best way to combat woodburn is to prevent it from happening in the first place; there is no sophisticated way to fix burn marks on wood that doesn’t impact the wood in one way or another.
So, let’s go over the common causes of woodburn and then the steps you can take to prevent it from happening at all.
Causes Of Woodburn
A significant portion of burn marks on wood are caused by human error. This doesn’t just mean from how you are cutting the wood – it can also mean problems with your electric saw that can be easily prevented with just a little extra care.
Before we get into exactly how to avoid burn marks on wood, let’s go over the most common causes of woodburn:
1. Issues With Saw Blade
This is a big one.
If your blade is dirty or dull, this can cause scorch marks (reason being, there is more friction between the blade and the wood which naturally causes burn marks).
Although many woodworkers understand that a dull blade is a major cause of woodburn, fewer realize that a dirty blade can have the same effect; resin and build up behind your saw blade’s teeth will slow down cutting speed and increase the chance that woodburn will occur.
2. Improper Feed Speed
Feed speed is also a major cause of woodburn.
Frustratingly, different types of wood have different ‘optimal’ speeds with which they need to be cut so as to not cause woodburn… this can take time to get a feel for what types of wood require which speed of feed.
3. Guide Fence and Saw Blade Misalignment
An improperly aligned guide fence and saw blade can cause friction between your wood and electric saw; this is because misalignment pushes the stock sideways and (as you feed your saw through the wood) against the fence.
Now that you know the three major cause of woodburn from electric saws, we can go over how you can avoid burn marks on your wood.
How-To Avoid Burn Marks
Woodburn is usually quite preventable; if you are a beginner woodworker, you may not know this, but experienced woodworkers understand that preventing woodburn is not very difficult.
Certain woods are more susceptible to woodburn; although this is out of your control, it’s even more reason to take the steps to avoid burn marks in case you are dealing with wood that is prone to scorch marks.
In any case, these steps may seem ‘extra’ or too much effort. Although these preventative measures may not seem worth it, the consequences of not taking these precautions can mean excessive burn marks on your wood.
If you are using particularly expensive wood, are working on projects that are meant for other people, or working on projects that is meant to be displayed (such as carpintry or furniture) then preventing woodburn is entirely worth it.
Here’s how to avoid burn marks on your wood:
Sharpen Your Blade
This is necessary if you are noticing woodburn; often, sharpening your blade will solve all your woodburn problems.
As mentioned, a dull blade will mean more friction between your blade and the wood, and more friction means more heat which, as you know, causes woodburn.
So, a good sharpen might be the answer to all your woodburn-woes.
Clean Your Blade
Dirty blades can also cause woodburn; basically, the dirt and residue on the blade are making contact with the wood, not your saw. These materials heat up and, you guessed it, cause woodburn.
Clean your blade with WD40 after every use; while this may seem excessive, it is a small task to undergo for the benefits it can have on your woodworking… after all, woodburn is difficult to get rid of once it occurs, so a quick clean is a small price to pay for what it’s worth.
Replace Your Blade
Sometimes you will need to take a trip down to your local hardware store and spend a little money in order to avoid woodburn.
If the blade on your electric saw is warped or broken in any way, this can be the source of your woodburn problems; if you have tried all other fixes and your are still getting woodburn, this might be the issue.
You can always remove your blade from your saw (while it’s unplugged, of course) and analyze it closely; alternatively, you can bring your blade into a professional who can examine it for you.
The faster you cut wood with your electric saw, the less chance you have of burning your wood; this is somewhat annoying considering faster cutting means less-smooth cuts, but the more experienced you get the more you will be able to find the right balance.
Align Your Blade
Before you cut any wood, always measure between the fence and the blade at the back and the front of the blade; if they aren’t the same, fix it!
Adjusting the blade alignment on your electric saw is a very quick and easy task that can save you the pain, time, and money of dealing with woodburn.
It’s worth mentioning that sometimes things are out of our control; although woodburn is mostly preventable by taking the measures outlined in this article, sometimes it will still happen anyways… all you can do is try to get rid of the marks the best you can, or start fresh.