T-shirt Shop Rags

Small wipes made from worn-out cotton t-shirts absorb most shop liquids, don’t overstay their welcome after short projects, and prevent the deep emotional attachment leaving swarf in the clothes washer. Scissors cutting gets tedious, so mooch a rotary cutter and slash away:

T-shirt shop rags
T-shirt shop rags

Synthetic fabrics don’t work nearly as well as cotton, so pay attention to the labels.


9 thoughts on “T-shirt Shop Rags

  1. Ed, your shop tips often remind me of Frank Ford’s tip pages, they just have a similar tone about them. If you have not seen these before, you’ll find them to be an absolute treasure trove, especially for the machine shop. I think his health has declined a few years back since there hasn’t been a word or an update for quite some time, he might have even passed away. He is/was quite talented and is really known a a luthier. I don’t do the musical instruments thing in any way but stumbled on to his page from a machinist’s forum.


    Base page … just a little busy with colors and fonts to find the two links above right away:

    1. Early on, I fell under the influence of Guy Lautard’s The Machinist’s Bedside Reader series and it’s stayed with me ever since! Long out of print, alas.

      1. I also have the whole set, they ARE quite good and very practical.

  2. I just use scissors – cut the neck off and since I usually only get four rags per XL shirt not a lot of cutting and I also wait until the T Shirts are way past prime with holes and tears before retiring them to rags. Old socks also work well – I cut the toe out when they get past usage (when I take them off in the evening) – that is a cue to put them in the rag box after they are washed.

    Old socks also work nice to protect things like safety glasses and other things you don’t want scratched etc.

    1. As soon as Mary started using rotary cutters for her quilting projects, I stopped using scissors for cloth: lay out a shirt, zip-zap-zot, and it’s done. Admittedly, I slice it into much smaller sections, but straight-line cuts go really fast.

      Gotta love those cutting mats, too.

      1. I have the rotary cutters and the mats also – they work great for cutting paper also – use them to trim different handouts I print and laminate – use one of the cutting guides and put it over what you are cutting and magic even borders

        1. I’m told paper instantly ruins cloth-cutting blades, so there’s a fatwa concerning cutter use: should I even think of applying a new wheel to anything other than cloth, I will draw back a bloody stump. I should get my own set of cutters … or figure out how to resharpen the old blades.

          1. Don’t know about cloth, but I use mine to cut fiberglass and carbon fabrics and it’s still going strong after a few years despite the handle being covered in cured resin :)
            Instead of cutting mat, we use a large sheet of birch plywood.
            Dunno about sharpening, you’d need a good jig for it to work. It’s a moot point for me though, as I stocked up on a couple of new cutters complete with a fresh wheel for around 5$ each in Lidl store, and still haven’t unpacked even the first replacement :)

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