Help with aluminum table table saw

I used car wax to wax my table saw, and now it just wipes off black whenever i slide wood over it or rub it with a towel. nothing removes it, I’ve tried WD-40, water, mineral spirits and a lot of elbow grease. It still remains dirty and just doesn’t come off. Here is a picture album of my problem.

It would seem that Stuart’s PhD in material science might have some application here.
Some aluminum table saw tops seem to have some sort of factory coating - probably applied over an anodized surface.
Your “treatments” may have removed the coating as well as the anodized surface. I don’t know how practical it would be to have the surface re-anodized - but that sounds like it would be complicated - requiring disassembly.
I have a Bosch 4100 table saw in my garage - and use the same Johnson’s paste wax on it that I use on my cast iron surfaces (Unisaw, Jointer, Bandsaw etc.) and haven’t seen any ill effects. My can of the stuff must be 20 years old.
Maybe to clean the surface you can try the aluminum cleaner that they sell in auto parts stores - Mother’s Brand - then try re-waxing.

Hi, thanks for the response. let me ask this now, if the coatings are gone, how will that effect my saws table? Will it actually eat away at the aluminum? Or will it leave the aluminum alone and just eat away at the coating? I would think the coating is to offer an attractive finish the saw. I do try my hardest to take care of my tools and while this does hurt deep, poor appearance does not phase me to much. I can try an aluminum cleaner but if that doesn’t work, would it harm the surface to leave it and cover it with a few coats of clearcoat? or should i just cover it in a few coats of wax, or clear coat then wax? I apologize for my jumbled thoughts, im just nervous about what could happen to my saw. Id much rather not have to pay $250 for a new table, extension and insert. Basically will it damage the aluminum if i just leave it and cover it up with something? What are your thoughts. Thanks!

I wouldn’t lose any sleep over this. All surfaces wear - many corrode or rust - but generally if you keep it in reasonable check it will not affect your work. After all we are talking about cutting wood - not machining precision parts - and you often sand, scrape or plane surfaces before final finishing. I would just avoid using anything that will obviously transfer to the wood as an oily or waxy residue that will ruin the finish. Paste wax - buffed out has never been a problem for me. But as another thought - your issue is probably far from being unique - and online user groups, woodworking forums or ones associated with the major jobsite saw brands (try Bosch, Dewalt, et. al.) may have some ideas -if you Google some combination of words associated with your issue.

Hey ok man. I have asked Reddit for some opinions and that did not get me anywhere, I contacted Porter Cable and Meguiars and haven’t heard back from both of them yet. Thanks.

I get this kind of residue any time I polish a metal. What I can’t understand is why mineral spirits wouldn’t have removed any remaining residue. I think it’s just the polish pulling up the top oxidized layer. Can you give it a few more passes with the mineral spirits and then finish with regular wax (not something with cleaners or these new synthetic “wax” formulations)?

i just spent a few hours working it with WD-40. Earlier this week when i tried it i didnt see anything happen, but today I worked with it and it seemed to pull alot of it up. i didnt get all of it, but id say 90% of it. i just put on and buffed the first coat of wax. I will apply probably 2 more coats of wax before using the saw again. If I start to see black stuff on the wood, i am going to remove all the paste wax, clean it up again, then put a few coats of clear coat over it.

Easiest way to remove car wax is with Dawn soap. When you wax a car after so many wax jobs you actually want to remove all the wax and start truly waxing the paint again. To get down to the paint the easiest thing to do is was the car with Dawn dish soap. Worst case I would use that to remove the car wax and then start fresh. If you want to coat the table top I would use a floor wax or bowling ally wax. These waxes will actually harden and protect the table top. I use wax like this on everything. It works well on wood as well as metals. I put it on saw blades and carbon steel knives to help prevent corrosion all the time. Hope this helps.

What were you trying to accomplish with the car wax? I use this

Its inexpensive and the container seems to last a long time. It makes an UNBELIEVABLE difference in reducing friction. I use it on my hand planes, table saw, tracksaw/tracks, etc. I highly recommend it.

Lots of people suggest Renaissance Wax. I have never tried it but it is over 2 times more expensive for less than half the size. $13/16oz vs. $30/7oz.

My only suggestion is to use a paste wax sold for dressing the tables of woodworking machinery, rather than an auto wax. I can’t recommend a brand as i’m still on the same tub after 20 years sold by one time French manufacturer Kity.
Kity machines all had aluminium tables and the wax does a great job of reducing friction.
Remember that freshly cut alloy is bright silver and relatively soft. Left exposed to the atmosphere it gradually oxidises and dulls. The oxide layer is tougher than the bare metal if I remember correctly.
Anodising, and especially type 3 or hard anodising, uses heat and electricity to accelerate the formation of a protective oxide layer.
I have no idea how they were treated, but the tables of my kity machines are a dark grey similar to the hard anodising on my surefire flashlights. They come up silver when scratched but they’re pretty durable for aluminium.
If you strip the table back to bright metal and immediately wax it, I wonder if this slows or prevents natural oxidation and leaves the surface softer than it would become otherwise ?
As Fred says, we need a materials guy on here :slight_smile:

So the black crud - is aluminum oxide and some dirt. And probably some of the wax/polish.

That is not meant to be put on bare metal - unless that metal is chrome or something inert. It is meant for paint. It’s not a problem though. yes you can wash the table with some dish soap - and then follow up with some mineral spirits or paint thinner (on the bare metal mind you).

Then use one of the paste waxes mentioned. which is predominately carnuba and or bees wax and some other emolents - not a polish. That polish did polish and clean the table - and once the voc’s left it left behind a polymer residue that won’t really work on a metal surface.

Good luck.

OH and without wax - I have used bar soap in a pinch as a lube so to speak. also works well and comes off easy

Take an orbital sander with 800 or 1000 grit paper on it. Polish the deck very well to you are satified. I do my industrial size Grizzy Band Saw deck with it and it keeps a mirror finish. If you have a polished cast iron deck on any equipment, there is nothing wrong with this method. Remember to remove all like your inserts where you don’t get against them and scuff them up. I even found that the 1000 grit is too fine to start with so I polish with both back to back. Wipe off any black with a dry cloth and then use the below wax. it protects and last a good while too. I think you will love it! Then go to the link below and purchase this wax. yes, it is kind of expensive but it is made for this and damn man, it works!! Read up on it and know what it says, then do it. Happy woodworking!!

I can’t believe I am correcting such a generous and knowledgeable person as Fred, but:

“Your “treatments” may have removed the coating as well as the anodized surface…”

Those treatments cannot have removed the anodized surface. Anodizing just thickens the oxide layer on top of the aluminum. It cannot be removed except by abrasives or cutting tools.

IIRC, some auto waxes contain an extremely fine abrasive, something like diatomaceous earth. I imagine some of that stayed behind on the table, and that is creating the black smears. It might be hard to remove, but it should go away eventually.

If it were me, I’d use something like Bostik GlideCote (formerly known as Top-Cote.) The stuff is expensive, but it works like a charm. When it comes to things like this, I’m a fan of using products that are specifically designed for the use I’m putting them to. I’ve learned some hard lessons about that (by the way, you CAN’T use Tri-flow “everywhere” on your bicycle.)

I’m not sure what actual effect it has on the anodized surface of aluminum - but I’ve found that some cleaners like Greased Lightning (I buy mine at Lowes) seem to wreak some havoc on aluminum pots - so I’m careful not to mix them. Citric acid based concoctions like Aluminum Jelly (the once made cousin to Naval Jelly) also seem to strip something off of anodized aluminum. When I commented, I was thinking about what I had observed with these products’ interaction with anodized aluminum.

BTW - my wife’s trick for restoring aluminum implements (like her melon baller) that sometimes get blackened by the dishwasher - is to boil them in a solution of cream of tartar

Well, serves me right for not knowing you’d have some actual experience with the topic, Fred!

But “anodizing” includes the actual anodizing, plus dyeing and then sealing. I suppose the Greased Lightning, etc. could be removing the dye or the sealant.

remember there is clear anodizing too. it doesn’t have to have color in it.

I’d be a but surprised if the saw top was anodized at all though - more likely bare clad which will scrap and re-haze over time. ANd not corrode since it’s one of the cast AL300 series metals. They don’t corrode easy due to the lack of copper in the mix and the presence of more silica. IE AL casting on Marine parts - Auto Suspension parts etc - tend be also be in the AL300 or AL700 series. (casting alloys typically but not always have a 3 digit id)

regardless if there is still a black residue then a through cleaning is in order.

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Well said. Thanks for the info re aluminum alloys.

Sand it with 60 grit, belt sand then orbital. Keep changing belts and discs, Once its shiny leave it slightly roughed up, air spray clean 120 psi, coat table top with 3 coats of poly-acrylic being careful not to cake it in grooves of inserts and rip fence