Wednesday, April 24, 2013

World's Only Reusable Tack Cloth

After working with wood for many years, you are always on the hunt for the quickest, cheapest, and most efficient methods to get your end result.  When you finish your final coat of sanding, the traditional method of prepping for finish is to use a tack cloth to remove all dust from your piece.  While using a traditional tack cloth can be effective, I didn't like their sticky feel, they could leave residue of your work, and since they are not reusable it could get expensive if you do a lot of woodworking.  A few years back, I searched for an alternative and found the same rag I use when waxing my car was also a great reusable tack cloth.

It is important to remove all sawdust before applying a finish.

Microfiber came on the scene fairly recently, but has already replaced many cloths for a variety of different reasons.  Microfiber cleaning cloths soak up more wet material than other rags, are less likely to scratch, and pick up more dry debris as well.  This last benefit is of particular interest in their application as a tack cloth.  Their ability to pick up microscopic particles, such as sawdust, make them extremely effective for surface prep.

One of the nicest features of using a microfiber cloth as a tack cloth, is the ability to reuse it time and again.  After a while, your microfiber cloth may become full and temporarily stop picking up sawdust.  A few good shakes will release a lot of the sawdust and it's back to picking up more sawdust.  This will only be effective a handful of times, so it's to keep a couple extra on hand.  Since they are so cheap, you won't break the bank keeping a half dozen in stock.

Notice how much sawdust the top of this microfiber rag picked up.

While microfiber cloths get the job done, there is still an ever so slight layer of leftover sawdust.  I normally finish off my project with a quick wipe of mineral spirits and let it dry.  I would typically do this with any method of dust removal, but I felt compelled to share this so as to produce the best finish on your handy work.

Besides being my favorite tack cloths, microfiber rags have many other great uses:

  • Automobile detailing
  • Dusting furniture
  • Polishing silverware or other metals
  • Drying dishes
  • Cleaning photography lenses

After your day is done, throw your microfiber rags in a washing machine with ordinary laundry soap.  When drying, it is important not to use fabric softner, the static is what keeps these workhorses at peak efficiency.  Many fabric softners leave a waxy residue that may also wreak havoc on the finish of your project.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. So do you use the microfiber cloth wet or dry? You don't have that specified. Thanks

  3. I apologize, you are correct.

    I use the cloth dry. The static electricity will hold a lot of fine sawdust, just shake it out every so often. If it is a big project, you will need to use more than one rag. After you are done, a quick pass with mineral spirits will get the remaining particles.

    This is much easier and less messy than using a traditional tack cloth.

    1. Thanks, will save me money buying tack cloth. just got a bunch of microfiber cloths, only doing one window so i should be set :) and i already have mineral spirits.

  4. Great post! I found it very useful. Love the final result. Thanks for the inspiration and the tips.

  5. Been doing this for years now and I only needed to change microfiber cloths after a couple of use. It is also good that these aren't as expensive as before, too!

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    1. Thank you for this idea! And another use for a microfiber cloth - with a little spritz of water on it, clean a LCD TV or monitor screen. Make sure you use type of water use in a steam iron (sorry forgot the name), not the water from the faucet.

      edited to add the word "screen" to LCD TV or monitor.

    2. Thanks Roo the Hunter, that is a great idea. Microfiber was a great invention.