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Old 11-25-2011, 02:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Tip: My New Simplified Thin CA System

I hate CA. I get all kinds of problems with it and it is an annoying way to get the best possible finish on wood pens (and other things). But you have to do it. That is my final take on CA... a necessary evil.

So I have tried to make it as painless as possible. Here is my current method. I cut my paper towels into 1 1/4" squares. Cut a bunch of them. Start with nice fresh CA. It has a shelf life of about a year and it likes to be kept DRY. Moisture is what causes it to begin to set up so as dry as possible for storage. Old CA is a 50-50 chance from the get go. Easier to pitch it and start fresh then spend a lot of time turning a choice blank and then see your CA woes begin.

Nowadays I like to wet sand and that necessitates a new beginning. I put a drop of thin CA on one of my pen part envelopes and I let the CA wick up into the end of the tube. That is usually endgrain and it soaks it up. Just rotate the tube end on an angle and the CA will do the rest. A little spritz of accelerator and you can just take a knife and ream out the tube so no CA is on the brass. Trim any CA flash with a razor knife always cutting towards the center. You are ready to mount the tube for finishing.

My paper towel squares fit very nicely on my CA jig (LOL!). This is a block of closed cell polyethylene foam packing material which is kind of shaped like an L. See the PIX. I just put the first paper on there and hold it in with my nail. After the first one I just stack a new one on top of the old ones. I use the tip and the base so I get two swipes for every towel square. I usually hold down the towel for the application furthest from me and only hold the jig for the one closest to me since the towel is now glued to the others from the first application.

Applying the CA is simple. The first application is directly on the blank spinning at 100 RPM. I want the CA to completely cover and soak into the wood as much as possible so I give it a good dose. As I put it on I have the jig UNDER the blank and move it quickly from side to side. I am talking 3 or 4 swipes and that is all. Just enough to smoothly spread out the CA from end to end... one tube at a time.

Once the CA is spread out I hold my accelerator at about 10" and spritz spritz... the minimum amount... very light. The dust collector is running so it sucks the overflow and fumes away. It hasn't blown up yet!!

Next, I apply from edge to edge, CA on the top of the TOWEL and come under with 2 or 3 swipes... back forth back and stop. Spritz it with CA. Apply new towel to the jig and put CA on the bottom of the towel... swipe under the blank wetting it from edge to edge back forth back stop spritz... CA on top of towel... swipe... spritz... stop... new towel... repeat maybe 10 times or whatever you like. Don't mind the smoking towels... just keep going!!

By the time you have 10 coats on there you have a pretty good layer of CA on the wood. It won't be as smooth as you get with say CA/BLO but it is smooth enough that your red MM pad will bring it quickly to smoothness and you will not develop a huge slurry so you haven't removed much of your finish.

I use 3"X4" MM pads cut in half to make 1 1/2"x4" pads. I mark the pads with dots to identify their position in the grit stack. The wet sanding goes very fast. Then I use auto polishes to make the thing squeaky smooth. I mean they literally squeak. Don't forget to trim CA flash with a knife or a Herrell sanding jig.

The key thing is sealing the ends with CA glue first. If you don't do that, very often... far too often, you cloud the finish because water wicks up the end grain and gets under the CA. Once it is there you can't get it out. You have to hope it will evaporate or somehow escape. Usually it doesn't and the finish is ruined and has to be sanded off and redone. It is never better the second time since you start bringing the thing down below where the bushings were.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure. This method also allows you to basically seal in toto very fussy and crack-prone woods like ebony and snakewood so that no moisture exchange with the environment is possible. That reduces the likelihood of future cracking.

Amazingly all of this has worked very well for me. And nobody was more surprised than me. So I am writing it up in case I forget what I did so I can refresh my own memory!! (Getting old now)

Hope this is useful to some of you who like me have had a lot of trouble with CA.


PS... I never stop the lathe and I do not cap the CA bottle. Just go quickly until you have 10 or 20 coats on there. It works!!

PPS... WAX your bushings before you start. I put them end to end on the lathe, spin em at 100 RPM and apply paste wax to everywhere except the outside ends. Don't get any wax on your wood to be finished or the CA might not stick.

PPPS... I squirt CA all across the 1/2 of the towel that I am working on. Don't be cheap with the CA. Most of it gets absorbed into the towel but you need some to deposit itself on the blank... so wet the towel!! I usually start at about 1/8" from the end of the towel and put CA until 1/8" away from the other end, It will spread to the ends.
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Last edited by Bree; 11-26-2011 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 11-25-2011, 05:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Good write up. Thanks.
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Old 11-25-2011, 05:24 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Nice. Thorough.
That's a great explanation of a CA finish.
I'm going to give it a shot this weekend, I've got an order for 10 pens with decals so I'm going to be using a lot of CA.
Only thing I will do different is NO bushings while applying CA.
I try to turn everything between centers and it's easier to avoid the bushing/CA drama by taking the bushings out for that step.

Thank You!
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Old 11-25-2011, 05:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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[quote=theidlemind;1317031]Nice. Thorough.
That's a great explanation of a CA finish.
I'm going to give it a shot this weekend, I've got an order for 10 pens with decals so I'm going to be using a lot of CA.
Only thing I will do different is NO bushings while applying CA.
I try to turn everything between centers and
Quote:
it's easier to avoid the bushing/CA drama by taking the bushings out for that step.
Or use delrin bushings which CA doesn't stick to as easily!
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Old 11-25-2011, 10:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theidlemind View Post
Nice. Thorough.
That's a great explanation of a CA finish.
I'm going to give it a shot this weekend, I've got an order for 10 pens with decals so I'm going to be using a lot of CA.
Only thing I will do different is NO bushings while applying CA.
I try to turn everything between centers and it's easier to avoid the bushing/CA drama by taking the bushings out for that step.

Thank You!
That works! I am lazy and just go right into it but your way is superior for the best possible finish. Plus your CA will overlap the ends and that maintains the seal well.
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Old 11-25-2011, 10:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Thanks for the info, I will give it a try.
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Old 11-25-2011, 11:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Bree
When are you going to start selling this new fangled, CA Sponge Bob Jig??

Actually, I am going to give this a try. . .always ready for a better CA day.

Steve
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Old 11-26-2011, 10:19 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveG View Post
Bree
When are you going to start selling this new fangled, CA Sponge Bob Jig??

Actually, I am going to give this a try. . .always ready for a better CA day.

Steve
I was tired of getting CA all over my fingers and was looking for a way to hold the towels. I used to hold a stack of used ones putting a new towel on top. But I would always end up with CA finger tips. This was has cut that back dramatically and cost me nothing. And I got to use some of that packing scrap for a worthwhile purpose! Ought to be some kind of Save the Earth award for that! LOL!
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Old 11-26-2011, 11:04 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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i usuallly fight the ca off bushings but is turning between centers for ca easier.
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Old 11-26-2011, 11:06 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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I wear latex gloves when doing ca about 10 dollars a box of 100 easier than getting superglue offf..
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