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Beeswax causes premature dulling of sawblade?

I was piercing a pattern in some brass sheet and noticed that when I
rubbed beeswax on my blade (for lubrication) and began sawing, the
blade became very dull within 10 strokes. I looked at the blade with
a loupe and the teeth were essentially gone. So, I took another
blade (from the same gross) and without using beeswax, tried cutting
the same sheet and the teeth were sharp even after 10 minutes of
sawing. Why did the beeswax cause premature dulling? I’m baffled by

Did you get wax on the front of the blade or just the back? I’ve
found that if you get wax on the teeth then they can clog with swarf
almost instantly and it is almost impossible to shift.

If you have a tungsten soldering pick try to pry around some of the
teeth, I’m sure you’ll find them still there, just buried in a metal
and wax composite. Otherwise I’m stumped, I use wax (bees or
otherwise) exclusively for saw lubrication…

Cheers, Thomas Janstrom.
Little Gems.


It sounds like you are putting wax on the saw teeth. This will only
cause the teeth to clog. Try putting the wax on the back of the saw
blade instead.

Steve Brixner

It sounds like you are putting wax on the saw teeth. This will
only cause the teeth to clog. Try putting the wax on the back of
the saw blade instead. 

I really don’t mean to be contentious, but after one or two strokes
through the metal, I really doubt that there’s any difference.
Anyway, i’ve been using beeswax on my blades ever since I started,
and I’ve never had any reason to suppose it’s a bad idea-- quite the
contrary. And I do a lot of fairly intricate sawing. Noel

Hi Drew,

You say that your piercing saw blade became dull when you used
beeswax as a lubricant. May I suggest that perhaps the sawblade
teeth have just became clogged with beeswax and brass filings. When
beeswax is used as a lubricant the best method is to rub the wax on
the back of the sawblade and not on the teeth. Try this method and I
am sure you will see the benefits. I actually use a standard wax
candle as a saw piercing lubricant and have done so for the past 48
years. When I first started as an apprentice, I used to lubricate the
blades on the saw teeth side as it seemed the obvious thing to do,
but when I was told the reason for lubricating the back of the blade
it made a lot of sense so give it a try. see my work here if you are

Peace and good health to all - James Miller FIPG an English
goldsmith fed up with winter and looking forward to spring.


simply because you put the lube on the wrong side of x…! rub the
lube on the flat side of the blade, above the inscions on a bitm
etc…- no clogging, wears better and performs as intended…Most
people load the toothed side of sawlades etc…until it dawns on
smiths that any blade or bit, cutter, bur will glide better without
loading the teeth…hope that demystfies it for you- and insure you
have at least 2-4 teeth per mm of metal…rer

In my experience Beeswax doesn’t cause dulling of blades. If
anything it keeps them sharper longer by reducing wear on the teeth
through lubrication.

There’s something else going on. Try a blade from a different batch.


Why did the beeswax cause premature dulling? I'm baffled by this. 

It doesn’t. Ten strokes after applying the beeswax, you’d start to
have a little less lubrication than right after you applied it, and
the saw would start to feel a bit different and maybe take more
effort, especially if the blade was dulled. But the beeswax didn’t
dull it or cause it to dull. Either the blade already was getting
dull, or you ran into something hard in the metal. That can happen



Personally i find bees wax cloggs the sawblade and causes a bad cut
untill the blade has heated sufficiently to melt the wax. At the
same time, heating the saw blade is what your trying to avoid! I
prefer to use Burr life if im piercing out a large template but im
generally happy to use nothing at all.


i don’t think the teeth were gone, just filled up, it looks like
they are gone though, did you rub the blade down between fingers

I have used bees wax on the front, back, or sides of blades forever
without problems. Too much in the teeth does cause clogging but not
dulling. Years ago I tried micro crystalline sculpture wax, it sure
ate blades. Looks like bees wax but smells awful. Only cost a dozen

Spit also works well with less mess and is easier to find on a
crowded bench :slight_smile:

Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing

I rubbed the beeswax on the side of the blade and I check to see if
it was clogged, but it wasn’t. The teeth were gone. I think the most
logical explanation that was offered was that I hit something "hard"
in the sheet. I don’t do much piercing and I was always taught that
if you use the correct size of blade for the thickness of metal,
that lubrication wasn’t necessary. On a side note, I have some of
Alan Revere’s Videos and he swipes the front of the blade with the
wax (bur life?) on the front of his bench and he doesn’t seem to have
any problems with clogging. Thanks to all that have replied.

Most people load the toothed side of sawlades etc..until it dawns
on smiths that any blade or bit, cutter, bur will glide better
without loading the teeth 

This begs a question - what about setting burrs (hart, ball and the
like)? I’ve noticed that the business end of those also does
virtually no cutting when lubed, but have been told I must lube them
to prolong their life. How would one apply lube to a burr to ensure
it has at least some benefit, without clogging the teeth? Out of
frustration, I’m forever taking a soft toothbrush to the teeth to
remove all traces of lube and metal filings and then carrying on sans
lube, but my burrs are expensive Swiss ones so I don’t want to have
to replace them often.


Spit also works well with less mess and is easier to find on a
crowded bench :slight_smile:

Interesting discussion. I too was taught to not apply the lubricant
directly to the front of the blade, and have done so always. I was
also told to moisten my thumb and index finger on my tongue, and run
the blade up and down between them. Watching very well known, as
well as very competent, yet less known instructors over the years, I
became aware that there was no standard. I think it is so
personalized, that whatever method worked at a moment of
enlightenment, became the individual protocol.

This past week, during Jay Whaley’s UCSD Class, I saw a student
struggling whilst sawing, and reaching for the Burr Life. I
suggested that she just wet her two fingers and then the blade. The
Burr Life was more appealing. Different Strokes for Different Folks.

Jay Whaley’s Studio Assistant

Helen, you might try ‘Tap Magic’, a cutting fluid if it’s available
in England. Its claim is that it’s good for all metals. I’ve used it
for drilling gold and for engraving steel.

It comes in a container with a small nozzle. I’ve used it for
drilling holes. I use a drill press and lubricate the drill using a
tooth pick that I have put to the nozzle and get just a drop of ‘Tap
Magic’ to carry to the drill. It works well for me. Your experience
may differ. I got it originally for use in lubricating gravers.

The bit with the tooth pick is the way to go here; you can place the
fluid exactly where you want it and the amount you want. This
technique may help you with the burrs.

The toothpicks are what’s called ‘cocktail’ toothpicks; they’re
round. Other shapes would not work as well I think.

Contrary to what I recall reading on this forum; I drill holes at a
slow speed.


Following the reference to using beeswax on sawblades in my videos,
watch carefull because i don’t use beeswax.

I never use beeswax for the reason stated; it is sticky and clogs
blades. I do not use beeswax to draw wire for the same reason, it
clogs the holes in drawplates (after trapping dust).

For both purposes i use a slippery wax like parrafin, a candle, bur
life[R] or a similar hi tech formula that is slippery not sticky,
and does not evaporate, when heated.

Alan Revere


it is actually true, putting the wax, bur lube etc on the teeth clogs
them and makes it harder to slide through metal before friction helps
heat it enough to work as intended. Beeswax in particular clogs a
blade faster than even myrtle waxes. If you lube the flat side of the
blade it will always work better…rer

As a newbie I was taught to put the lube on the back side of the saw
blade, as it will not clog the teeth. I find my sawing is much
smooth and easier doing this.


Hi Kevin,

I’ve just done a Google search and Tap Magic is a water-saving device
fitted into the plumbing system in the UK! I couldn’t find the
cutting oil product you’re recommending. Of course such a search
isn’t necessarily an extensive hunt - it may well be available
somewhere over here so I’ll keep my eyes peeled. Thanks for the