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Every woodworker needs an oily rag to wipe down tools after sharpening or use. For years I used a bit of an old sweatshirt until it fell apart. Now I use a microfiber cloth, which holds more oil and is far more durable than the sweatshirt.

You can get these cloths at home centers, stores that sell kitchen supplies or (if you want to buy enough for the entire neighborhood) Amazon.

The microfiber stuff is a significant upgrade over any work-a-day rag. And when they become too nasty with sawdust, oil and swarf, they will survive multiple trips through the wash.

When students use my microfiber rag, the first question is: Where did you get this? The second is: What oil is on this? The answer to both questions is: I’m not sure.

I know a lot of the oil on it is camellia and jojoba. But I am certain there is some light machine oil on there, some WD-40 and probably olive oil. No, none of these oils affect finishing. No, they have never gone rancid. No, they don’t catch fire or make you grow an unwanted tail.

— Christopher Schwarz

For my gift guides from 2013 and 2014, click here.


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Showing 6 comments
  • Straightlines

    Got a cat?

  • NLightNMe

    Something on my oil rag started turning brass green and putting gooey spots on brass pieces. I thought maybe it was WD-40. Any ideas? I finally threw that rage out and started a new one. I’m trying to keep it just jojoba now.

  • tailwagger

    I’ve often wondered if microfiber dust cloths catch on anyone else’s hands but mine? They are like fingernails on a chalk board against my rough hands. Drive’s me crazy even thinking about it. Maybe when oil saturated they won’t catch so much? Hmmm… .

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