Mineral Spirits or Tack Cloth??

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Forum topic by hjt posted 08-31-2011 05:33 AM 19871 views 1 time favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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838 posts in 3162 days

08-31-2011 05:33 AM

Topic tags/keywords: mineral spirits - tack cloth - clean up -

As many of you may know, I’m just getting started doing projects that have a finish applied. Most of my work has been rough or simply unfinished items.

I bought some tack cloth to help me with a current project. After using it one time, I find that I prefer a damp cloth of mineral spirits rather than the tack cloth. So I thought I’d ask you boys and girls which you prefer?

Which do you LJ use – Tack or MS to clean up the piece before applying the first and subsequent coats of finish??

-- Harold

22 replies so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18285 posts in 3699 days

#1 posted 08-31-2011 05:39 AM

What makes a tack cloth pick up dust?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2906 days

#2 posted 08-31-2011 05:44 AM

good question topa; what puts the tack in a tack cloth? I use neither; just a good vacuum with a brush.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3332 days

#3 posted 08-31-2011 05:49 AM

I have used micro fiber cloths for a long time and it works great.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18285 posts in 3699 days

#4 posted 08-31-2011 05:59 AM

I use a soft brush then/ or compress air.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3898 days

#5 posted 08-31-2011 06:04 AM

I’m with Greg. I switched to microfiber a couple of years ago, and never looked back.

-- -- --

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 3947 days

#6 posted 08-31-2011 06:12 AM

Tack rags are bought or made. Made by adding turpintine to a damp cotton cloth than adding a small amount of varnish to make it tacky.

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 3760 days

#7 posted 08-31-2011 06:20 AM

Found this recipe on the Fine Home Building forum. This is very close to the real high quality tack rags. You can make a large batch of them and store in a sealed container. Should last a very long time. Make sure you test any tack rags before applying the finish to ensure they are compatible.

” Go to a music store and ask for a hunk of “bow rosin”. Its a sticky lump of hardened goo that violin players rub on the horsehair to get the bow to make music when drawn across the strings.

Put that in a quart or so of turpentine—the real stuff—and let it dissolve for a few days.

Then soak some rags in that mix, and wring them out. Presto—tack rags. “

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View hjt's profile


838 posts in 3162 days

#8 posted 08-31-2011 06:35 AM

Wow!! more then one way to skin a cat… Love checking in with my fellow LJ’s – they always have ideas and ready to share.

-- Harold

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5910 posts in 3218 days

#9 posted 08-31-2011 07:29 AM

When I’m finished with a project, and ready for the finish, I first vacumn it off with the soft brissle attachment, then blow it off with compressor air, and wipe it down with mineral spirits….I hate tack cloths. I’ll let the first wiping of m.s dry, then repeat a second time, and let it dry….....All finished. Now it’s ready for the first coat of finish….whatever that will be…

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3584 days

#10 posted 08-31-2011 01:09 PM

I’ve used tack cloths but can’t see any better results than just doing what Rick does.

In spite of all precautions I still get a few dust thingies in the final coat which I deal with a coat of carnuba wax applied with 0000 steel wool and polished with an old T shirt.

-- Joe

View Flyin636's profile


57 posts in 2517 days

#11 posted 08-31-2011 02:00 PM

I make them with whatever finish that we’re gonna shoot.Just a little bit works.

But reason for post is to say,like others have posted,an air blast is indespensible because it blows out crevices that seem to hide dust.The problem will show up if you don’t because finish gun blows out dust from these little hideaways whilst spraying.BUT…..just make sure you’re on top of the moisture thing WRT blowgun.IOWs you may be runnin a little cheater filter at sprayguns inlet(which is only sposed to be a last little check of sorts),but you may be blowing moisture and worse…....the “funk” when using blowgun.Flyin636

....”Funk” or “mayonaise” is the highly technical term for the mixture of water and oil blowby in compressor.Both of which need to be adressed as CLOSE as possible to compressor.Don’t bet the farm on cheater filters…..and the almost useless,fruitjar separators.

View Maveric777's profile


2693 posts in 3100 days

#12 posted 08-31-2011 02:08 PM

I normally blow it off real well then wipe down with cotton rags (I buy them by the bag full at Lowe’s) and mineral spirits or denatured alcohol. I had a finish once do some weird stuff on me after I using a tack cloth… Weather or not that was the reason I don’t know… I do know I never used one since…

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3182 days

#13 posted 08-31-2011 02:10 PM

A tack cloth/wet rag alone will not do the job if your wood is porous like oak or walnut. If you blow compessed air in the pores, you will see lots of dust flying out when you do this and the cloth itself can’t get those. Now, you may choose to finish over the clogged pores and never notice a difference, but I’ve never found anything with which you can wipe that will unclog the wood.

I normally blast it with air, followed by a wipe-down with denatured alcohol or mineral spirits on a shop-towel, followed one last time with air to get the towel-fuzz off.

-- jay,

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2714 days

#14 posted 08-31-2011 02:59 PM


-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View PineInTheAsh's profile


404 posts in 3291 days

#15 posted 08-31-2011 03:28 PM

Store bought tack cloths can “dry out.” You don’t know how long they’ve been sitting on a store’s shelf. The plastic wrap they come in are inadequate for long term effective life. Double or triple bag them in Ziploc type bags.

I like the superior and cost-effective shop-made concoctions and the use of a fine bristle, quality brush dedicated for cleaning.


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