What do you use for final clean-up before staining?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by dreamdogs posted 11-17-2012 11:38 PM 1496 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View dreamdogs's profile


4 posts in 2014 days

11-17-2012 11:38 PM

Greetings …

Though I’m sneaking up on sixty, I’m still a strictly amateur woodworker. I’m also new to Lumberjocks and have learned a great deal in reading various threads this last week or so!

I just received a shipment of Mr. Neil’s wood conditioner for the control of blotching, a problem I’ve encountered in a number of projects over the years. I’m keen to use the product and will post a review of the results. Meantime, a question …

My current project is a massive old fir sideboard, maybe circa 1920s. I’ve got it stripped and sanded, am overall pleased with it, and am ready for the finish. What do you use for a final clean-up? I’ve vacuumed it til the cows came home (really, the cows were headed home), and might also give it a real thorough rubdown with a tack cloth.

Anything else? I think I read somewhere that some folks like to do a rubdown with acetone or similar. I’m not opposed, though I’d strongly prefer not to change the wood’s color tone before adding the conditioner, and I’ve got the feeling acetone would do that.

I searched the forum for thoughts on this matter but am not the most computer savvy person. If there’s already a thread on it, I would be grateful for a link. Many thanks! This is a terrific forum, and I will be grateful for your thoughts on clean-up.

And Happy-Almost-Turkey-Day to you all …

13 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3575 days

#1 posted 11-17-2012 11:44 PM

I agree with Charles Neil on using Naphtha to clean any striped wood ,it removes any contaminates before refinishing.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3156 days

#2 posted 11-18-2012 12:32 AM

Always wipe it down with naphtha, denatured alcohol, or mineral spirits…not so much to help clean it, but rather to see any mistakes in your preparation. I like mineral spirits because it evaporates a little slower and I feel that I can see the wood better. Acetone should work as well…I’ve actually used it when cleaning my telescope optics, but I can’t say I’ve ever rubbed it on wood…though I’d think there wouldn’t be an issue with color.

Typically, I use compressed air first and then the mineral spirits. Tack clothes get used sometimes on smaller projects.

-- jay,

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29226 posts in 2336 days

#3 posted 11-18-2012 12:41 AM

Welcome to LJ’s

Lots of old amateurs here. I wipe down with naphtha.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5658 posts in 2811 days

#4 posted 11-18-2012 06:30 AM

I blow off the dust with compressed air, wipe down with dry cheese cloth (different than tack cloth), and blow off again. I have never had to wipe a project down with naptha of spirits. The lacquer, poly, and shellac finishes I use always come out great.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View dhazelton's profile


2767 posts in 2294 days

#5 posted 11-18-2012 12:55 PM

Always used mineral spirits. When you wipe the piece you’ll see why on your cloth.

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2199 days

#6 posted 11-18-2012 01:34 PM

Agree Mineral Spirits….

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View dreamdogs's profile


4 posts in 2014 days

#7 posted 11-18-2012 04:30 PM

Thank you all for your replies! I appreciate it for sure.

Five of six of you agree a wipe down is best. Pintodeluxe recommends compressed air and cheese cloth. My wife has cheese cloth in the kitchen but I don’t have a compressor in the garage (wish I did). Being a cheapskate at heart, I’m thinking about using the leaf blower in lieu of a compressor but worry that might just spread around more grit!

I will think it through some more but am leaning toward naphtha. I’ve got mineral spirits and denatured alcohol on hand, but maybe it’s time to try something new. Anyway, thanks again for your advice. This old sideboard has been an enjoyable project. If I can figure out how to do it, I will post a photo when it’s complete, along with whatever thoughts I’ve got (for what they’re worth!) on Mr. Neil’s product.

Best wishes, time now to take the dogs out for a run …


View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2921 days

#8 posted 11-18-2012 05:36 PM

Make sure you have adequate ventilation using any of these products to wipe it down with. Also no open flames(like a hot water heater) nearby.
Welcome to LJ’s and remember always be safe.

-- Life is good.

View dhazelton's profile


2767 posts in 2294 days

#9 posted 11-18-2012 10:14 PM

Just use a dusting brush or old paint brush to dust it off. People did great work before electricity.

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4216 posts in 2559 days

#10 posted 11-18-2012 10:24 PM

I always use denatured alcohol because it never leaves any residue of any kind and dries quick.

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View juniorjock's profile


1930 posts in 3763 days

#11 posted 11-18-2012 10:42 PM

Lots of good info in this thread. I think I’ve used all of the above at one time or another. The best so for (for me) was using the shop vac with a brush attachment and then rubbing the dust off with mineral spirits. And finally, what Arlin said….. just plain old alcohol. The alcohol will raise the grain a little, but when it does, it shows the places that you should have spent more time on. A little light sanding and one last wipe with mineral spirits and that does it.

View CharlesNeil's profile


2399 posts in 3868 days

#12 posted 11-18-2012 11:35 PM

Nahptha or Mineral spirits, I would refrain from acetone or alcohol, as many of these older pieces were made using hide glue and the stronger solvents can attack the old glue, wipe a wet coat on then with a clean cloth wipe it dry. be sure it dries well before applying the blotch control , looking forwrd to your review,
If you have qny questions either post here or email me , be glad to help if I can .

View dreamdogs's profile


4 posts in 2014 days

#13 posted 11-21-2012 02:37 PM

Well, I came to realize it would take my full powers of concentration to get ready for turkey, football, pie and late night sandwiches … so I’ve set aside the project until after the holiday. Just a quick note here to say thanks again for all your replies, and to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Mr. Neil, will do! I’ve got mineral spirits on hand, and don’t mind not having to go out to buy something else. Really looking forward to using the blotch control, as I have felt that blotching has been trouble now and again in previous projects.

I take on woodworking tasks of one sort or another only occasionally. I suppose this will strike you all as obvious and kind of funny: having spent a couple of weeks on this piece, I’ve got an itch to do more! I find it gratifying work. Hmm. I’ve got an ancient oak wine press that used to belong to my grandfather. It’s all in shambles. I do believe I’ll make putting that thing back together my very next chore. Meantime, I’ll post the results on the sideboard when I get back to it in some days.

Thanks again …

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics