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Finishing It ain't a pen till it's FINISHED!


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Old 01-28-2018, 10:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Durability of finish

I am wondering what the long term outlook is for various finishes. What experiences have you had with CA, oils, etc.? Is it better to use a couple of different products to get the best finish? For example, use something like Aussie Oil and then CA to finish it. I look forward to hearing about your experiences. Thanks.


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Old 01-29-2018, 05:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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The oldest finish I saw is on tool handles, I still use a screwdriver and some chisels that used to be my grandfather's, above all a hand plane handle 150 years old, only oiled: they all show a much better finish than every thing I saw on a pen...
I believe a varnish or lacquer can only go worse, the best look is during the minute it goes off the lathe. An oiled wood goes better with age.
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Old 01-29-2018, 08:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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My experience is limited to CA and Shellawax friction polish for pens. The friction polish offered little in the way of strength, my personal pen was black walnut, it dented easily. It also dulled over time, as expected, giving it an aged look. The CA finish on my personal pens has held up quite well. I wear my pens in my front pocket, and am quite careful with them, so might not be the best test subject. One downside that I have encountered with CA is cracking due to changes in moisture. I haven't had this issue with straight grained woods, but have had a couple burls crack. I would say that CA provides a lot of hardness and scratch resistance, but this is traded off with some brittleness. In general, I think that is the case with wood finishes, loads of trade-offs. If there was one "best" finish then we wouldn't have a zillion options. Also, "durable" is subjective. Resistance to drops, scratches, sunlight, time, etc -- what is your measure of durable?
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Old 01-30-2018, 05:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Not sure anyone can truly answer your question. All wood finishes involve trade-offs for myriad of reasons. Biggest one being who, where, how completed pen is used.

There is no one wood finish for every pen mostly due to who makes or buys the pen. Simply talking about personal choices! Personal choices go beyond appearances or sheen or lack there of. Ease of application & drying times also a consideration.

Film finishes (oil or water base) such as lacquer, resins like poly or varnishes, and de-waxed shellac; I include CA in this category too offer most protection if applied properly. Next comes wiping varnishes (resin & thinner mixtures) either homemade of commercial products.

Oil varnish blends easiest to apply consist of resin, oil, (today mostly BLO) and thinner and offer little protection. Of course goes back to who, where, and how that pen will be used.

If want to stay green because worry about the environment use penetrating oils like walnut or tung oil. Little known fact is these oils do not penetrate very deep without mixing with thinner. Both of these oils will give you a low sheen or natural look on whatever wood you choose. Tung oil offers most protection if apply enough coats. Left out linseed & BLO because problems with both these oils this goes back to my personal choices.

Friction finishes hard to say how durable they will perform. Mostly depends on what goes into making the product. Most thinned film finishes will give you a build of film on a pen. Oil & wax finishes will not.
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Old 01-30-2018, 09:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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MINWAX WBOM Polyurethane using my Dipping Method works for me.
An easy to apply, consistent finish that is as durable as any CA finish.

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Old 01-30-2018, 10:03 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by rd_ab_penman View Post
MINWAX WBOM Polyurethane using my Dipping Method works for me.
An easy to apply, consistent finish that is as durable as any CA finish.

Les
Just read through your method in the library and I'm intrigued to try this. Do you use anything to hold the blank to the dowel while dipping other than a friction fit with the ID of the barrel?
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Old 01-30-2018, 10:39 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I think that finishes other than CA can be just as durable if the proper attention to detail is used. One of my weaknesses early on is the same for many woodworkers - we spend 40 hours making a project and 2 hours finishing. Shame on us. A good and proper finish takes almost as much time as the making, and in some cases more. The "finish" is what presents the package and is just as important.

That said, finishes on a pen, be it oil, different lacquers, urethanes, varnishes will usually take much longer to cure than it takes to make most pens. Deciding to sand 2 hours after applying a finish because it seems hard enough will be just enough to cause a break down of the finish in a few months to a year. The fact that a finish is hard does not mean that it has "cured" enough to be sanded and over-coated with the next coat.

The finishes I mentioned do last in many cases, but not in others and much of the breakdown can be attributed to rushing the finish.

Thickness matters in many cases:
AS to CAs and durability. There are similar ambiguities in that finish. In My Opinion, discussions and some disagreements on its durability is often because discussions are not on the same page as to the thickness of the CA.

People who apply two, three or four coats of thin CA (and even 5 or 6 in some cases) and apply with paper towel are putting approximately 1/128 inch (.008") of protection at best and final sanding may reduce that to less. Then in 6 months or 2 years, we see the CA is not protecting very much. Paper towel absorbs probably 90% of the CA. That is OK, nothing wrong with that, but one must take into account that the protection build up and durability are not there like it would be if the coating were 1/64" (.015).

Durability of Coating finishes (not soaking in finishes) is just as much determined by the thickness of the finishes (look at gym floors and bowling lanes. Thickness is not the ONLY factor by any means, but a portion.

I appreciate you guys who use the dipping method. I use to do that and probably will in the future. Rubbing finishes and paper towel applied finishes usually adds a very thin protection that doesn't allow justice to how "durable" a specific finish CAN BE.
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Old 01-30-2018, 12:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Oil varnish blends easiest to apply consist of resin, oil, (today mostly BLO) and thinner and offer little protection. Of course goes back to who, where, and how that pen will be used.
That depends on the process that is used for apply the finish. Those that want fast, and hit a pen with a couple of coats of an oil finish might as well forget oil if they want durability. For the oil finishes to be durabable it takes multiple coats being applied and will take a few weeks or a month before they are ready for buffing and waxing.
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Old 01-31-2018, 07:54 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Dogcatcher think you are confusing pure oil finishes with oil vanish blends. While pure oil finish drying times are iffy, Not so much for commercial oil varnish blends if follow manufactures instructions. Biggest advantage to these type wood finishes is ease of repair!

Commerical oil varnish blends: ease of application, fortified with chemicals give them bit more durability. Depending upon chemical composition, it might build up a moderate sheen many don’t no matter how many coats you apply. There is no telling what is exactly in the products. Durability is slightly better than pure drying oils due to chemistry but still no good for high use items. Yes, oil varnish blends need reapplication but who wants too do that on a pen?

No way to tell how much linseed or tung oil actually used in these products if at all thanks to life thru chemistry. Not sure how you get oil from a Dane or Teak tree, but manufacturers can and do use less expesive oil to make their products.

Both commercial and home brew oil varnish blends have been used by woodturners and even pen turners looking for a easy to apply fast finishes.

I have used Watco Danish oil on many of my earlier turned lamps but got tired of throwing more than half a can due to hardning in the can. JMHO, would never use a commercial or home brew oil varnish oil blend on a pen.

If was going to use an oil finish on a pen it would be undiluted walnut oil from one of the vendors catering to woodturners. Grocery store walnut oils have provided mixed results.

Pure drying oils used as wood finishes also known as penetrating finishes do not penetrate wood very deep with out solvent or thinner. One reason solvent or thinner is used with and pure drying oils simply helps penetration into wood and shortens drying times. The only drying oil that benefits with more coats is tung oil. Walnut oil comes from salad oil industry and don’t recommend using any solvents or thinners. Mineral spirits and citrus solvent most used solvent & thinner used today.
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Old 01-31-2018, 08:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Find an article by Frank Whiton called classic gunstock finish. I have been using a similar process on game calls for decades.
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