FIELD TRIAL: Minwax Finishing Cloths

These pre-charged finishing cloths come ready to use. I still prefer stain in the can for large and medium-sized jobs, but these cloths are great for small jobs and touch-ups.

Faster, easier, less messy finishing and touch up of stain-grade trim and woodwork is what Minwax Finishing Cloths promise to deliver. Do they deliver? Yes, I find so. They’re cloths that come pre-charged with a stain and sealer in one, all packaged in a re-sealable plastic pouch. Pull a sheet out and wipe on the gel-like product to apply an even, drip-free and controllable layer of colour. Lay it on thick, or thin it out with multiple rubs from a clean cloth to get different effects. If the cloth is still wet, put it back in the pouch for next time. This is quite a different process than applying stain from a can in the traditional way, and when I first discovered the Minwax cloths a number of years ago at an industry trade show, I thought they showed promise. Since then I’ve used them a dozen times on projects and I like them better than I expected to. Except for one small issue, Minwax Finishing Cloths work well in three ways.

Finishing Cloths Deliver Great Colour

First, these cloths deliver exceptional colour. The results are rich, deep and professional looking. Although the colour isn’t supposed to need an addition sealer on top, you’ll want to apply some kind of urethane over the stain when it has dried. Waterbased or oil based, any kind will do. Besides offer more protection, a couple of coats of urethane also add exceptional depth of colour.

Pleasant to Use

The second reason I like these finishing cloths is simply the experience of using them. They’re fast drying (though not TOO fast); they’re almost odour-free (and the smell they do have is quite nice to my nose): and they’re way less hassle than liquid stain in cans. Imagine smearing coloured hand cream on wood and you’ll understand how benign this stuff comes across. Each pouch comes with plastic gloves to keep your hands clean, too.

Great for Touchups

The third reason I like Minwax Finishing Cloths is the way they let me easily touch up worn and damaged stained trim and molding. See a spot somewhere in your house, whip out a finishing cloth, and bingo, the damage is a whole lot less visible. Maybe even completely invisible if you choose the right colour.

The cloths come in 5 shades of brown and cost less than $12 for a package of eight cloths with plastic gloves. They keep well on the shelf, too. I’ve had several opened and resealed packages in periodic use for months and the cloths still come out fresh and moist. They dry quickly on wood, but somehow seem to stay moist very well in the package.

The only drawback I can see with this product has to do with the size of area you’re finishing. If you’re doing more than a few big pieces of furniture, you might want to use stain in a can just because it covers so much more ground for the money. In practice in my own shop I keep both cans and cloths on hand. Both are best in different situations.

Want to see wood finishing know-how in action? Watch the video below to check it out!

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