I understand store bought tack cloths leave a residue that can interfere
with a stain or finish.
I can brush, vacuum and blow air to remove surface sanding dust but still
some dust remains.
How can I make my own cloth to pick up sanding dust. Ive heard simply a
cloth spayed with Endust is the best.
As far as I know, the standard varnish-based tack cloths could only
interfere with water-based finishes. I've never had any problems when
using them before various oil-based finishes - tung oil, danish oil,
urethane varnish, poly gel, etc. If I were using a water-based finish,
I'd probably wipe down the workpiece with a water-dampened rag, sand
lightly if grain was raised, and then wipe it down again.
The following are instructions for making tack clothes which I found in
a very old book on finishing methods published by Rockwell-Delta (just
goes to show how old the book is).
A well worn cotton handkerchief makes the the best tack rag. It should
be soaked in warm water, then wrung out lightly. The clothe is
sprinkled with turpentine, after which about two teaspoonfulls of
varnish are poured on. The clothe is then folded and twisted, repeating
this operation several times until the clothe is nearly dry.
The rags can be kept in good condition by lightly sprinkling with water
and turpentine, folding and storing in an airtight container.
You will have to make your own "make or buy" decision.
Store bought (varnish) tack rags only interfere with water based
products. Any oil, solvent, or alcohol based product shouldn't be affected.
To "tack down" in preparation for a water base finish, blow or vacuum
off as well as you can. Then, _lightly_ dampen a lint-free cloth and
wipe the dust off in one direction only. Fold the rag to a clean spot
often. Since the first coat of water based sanding sealer will raise the
grain anyway, I usually wait to re-sand until after the sanding sealer coat.
If I've stained with an oil based or NGR stain, or if I've colored the
wood with BLO or shellac, the water based sealer or cloth won't raise
the grain much. The oil and/or stain binder seals the surface enough to
seal out a lightly dampened cloth.
I don't bother with a tack cloth before staining, compressed air or a
vacuum is good enough for me at that point.
I wouldn't spray anything with Endust at anytime in a finishing process.
In fact, I don't want Endust, Pledge, Armor All, etc... in the shop.
Auto paint stores carry several varieties of tack rags, most of which are
wax and silicone free. I have been using the lowest tack of these clothes
for some time, tacking surfaces before each coat of water-based finishes. I
have had no problems with adhesion of the coats or fish eyes in the finish.
My neighbor, being somewhat reluctant to use tack rags in general, now uses
these auto-store-rags all the time also with no problems. I do not trust
the tack rags sold at the BORGs for good reason - I had numerous problems
with these before switching to the wax and silicone free ones from auto
You understand correctly. At least partially: any solvent-based tack cloth has
the potential to interfere with a water-based finish, and vice versa.
Yep, that's why tack cloths were invented... :-)
I've had *very* good results using microfiber cloths. I bought a couple of
small ones at AutoZone for about five bucks. You can also get microfiber
fabric by the yard at some fabric stores, and lately they're available as
dishcloths too. No need to apply anything at all to them, just wipe them
across the wood. It's astonishing how much dust a microfiber cloth will pick
up from a board that you would have sworn was clean -- even after vacuuming
and blowing off with compressed air, there still remains a *lot* of dust that
a microfiber cloth will pick up.
I don't use anything else now.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Water or oil poly?
Cleaning supply houses have packages of yellow microfiber dust cloths,
the size of double roll paper towel packages, for under $7. I love how
well they work on the car and so want them to work in the shop. <G>
Can you just throw them in the washer once they've been used a little
while, or is there some other way to clean/recharge them? Do they
actually rely on some kind of electrostatic principle to pick up dust,
or is just a physical property of the fibers that captures a lot of
For best results micro fiber towels should be washed and dried by them
selves and or with items that do not produce lint. Additionally you should
not use anti static sheets in the dryer when drying micro fiber towels.
This weekend, I'm going to try some birch ply test panels with sprayed
Ultrastar, Ultrastar sanding sealer, and Sealcoat using the yellow
janitorial supply cloths I have.
I plan on three panels. One with 3 coats of Ultrastar, one with one
coat of US SS and two top coats, and the last with Sealcoat and two
coats of Ultrastar. I'll use the dust cloths for initial pickup and
cleaning the scuff waste off.
I'll post results next week. <G>
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