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Johnny D 10-19-2016 04:18 AM

Epoxy resin
Good morning,
New to this site and have only been turning pens for about a year or so.
Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but I can't learn unless I ask.
I am partial to a very high almost glass like shine on my pens. Is it possible to use a clear epoxy resin as a finish? Like the kind they use on bar tops?
I know a good shine comes with good prep work, much sanding, etc. I would like to know of any products that you vet turners use to get a really high gloss shine. Thanks in advance for any advice you may have.
Johnny D

Akula 10-19-2016 06:59 AM

Short answer is yes.

The problem is the time it takes to setup/cure. You are also going to need special tools/equipment to keep the pens rotating or the resin will sag and drip.

IMO, it's hard to beat a great CA finish. It's quick, cost less and easy once you learn. There are many other type finishes and most of them look great as well, they just take more time.

ZbR 10-19-2016 09:20 AM

I work with epoxy resin. The problems mentioned by Akula are quite easy to overcome. To shorten hardening time I use heat. Heating bulb is sufficient, however you have to mind temperatures for given resin which are usually provided in technical sheet. Heating not only shortens the setting time (up to 2-4 hours depending on resin) but also gives resin much higher hardness. To rotate a pen I use motor with 15RPM which is quite easily and cheaply available (they are used in microwave ovens).

tomtedesco 10-19-2016 09:28 AM

Great question. I never thought about using resin and now have great info should I decide to try it.

jttheclockman 10-19-2016 09:42 AM

Hello Johnny and welcome to the site. Hope you stop by the introduction forum here and post a little info about yourself. We like to get to know something about the new members and you also enter into the newbie contests.

The question you ask is not a cut and dry type question and an easy one to answer. There are so many type epoxies out there. The epoxy resin you refer to will have a tendency to yellow as most epoxies will over time. Now there are those that say they are clear and they have UV protective additives in them and they are usually marine epoxies. There are epoxies that pool cue makers use that can be of value and we have a resident pool cue maker here that goes by the name of Farmer. He may weigh in but if not give him a shout and he can explain those epoxies. There is a new product that is being tauted called Solarez UV finish and is cured with light.

Most people here use a CA finish for their pens. It has been proven to be a reliable and sturdy finish and yes it comes with a learning curve and there are many brands that people love to hail about here but most are all the same. They do make an odorless type which can be a healthy thing because even epoxies have an odor to them that can effect people healthwise.

I suggest you may want to do some reading here and do a search using the search feature on the top and it may help find some answers you seek. Good luck and again welcome.

lhowell 10-19-2016 10:18 AM

Hi Johnny!

There about 1,000,000 different ways people achieve high gloss finishes on pens. The most common as referenced by previous posters is using CA. Even then, it seems every pen turner has their own method on what works for them using CA for finish. Some use thin some use thick, some use pads, others use cut up Scott rags. Even then some prefer to have the lathe running and apply it while others leave it off and rotate the blank.

You have other methods that take a little longer and patience. There is a user on here that uses a lacquer/poly dip method and his results have been stunning. He has posted an article in the library about his dip method. Others will either airbrush or spray lacquer/poly onto pens and wait hours if not days between coats.

John has the right idea. Search the posts in the forums, peruse the library, and watch a few videos on Youtube. I watched about 7 different videos on Youtube for CA finishing and picked what I liked about each method and put them together to create my own method for finishing with CA.

If you have any questions feel free to ask and can't wait to see some pictures of finished pens with whichever method you choose!

Johnny D 10-19-2016 03:49 PM

Thanks for the warm welcome, and all the good input from everyone. Much appreciated! I like to use BLO/CA for my finishes, but I also believe that some woods just take a higher shine than others. I have much to learn. Thanks again
for the advice.

magpens 10-19-2016 04:19 PM

I use CA. . If you haven't tried it, or have but without much success, I recommend that you get an experienced penturner to show you how he/she does it. . There is nothing like a personal tutor, and that was what me going on the right path.

Watching videos is a good help, but there is nothing like someone to work with you for even a few minutes.

donstephan 10-20-2016 09:32 AM

My understanding of the process of building high gloss is that the surface of the finish must be extremely flat and smooth. The first coat of finish on red oak is not going to look as shiny as the first coat of the same finish on maple. That first coat, when dry, will not be flat on the red oak because of the open pores in the wood. That first coat, when dry, likely has more shine because the surface of maple is smoother than the surface of red oak.

The applied coat on maple, when dry, still may not have a great shine, because the surface of the dried finish is not perfectly smooth. But the process of leveling the surface of the dried finish removes some of the finish as sanding dust, likely sanding through in places back to the wood itself. So several coats of finish are applied before leveling. A further complication is that some finishes shrink as they dry/cure; for them, it is best to wait several days to several weeks, depending on the finish, before leveling.

If you want a glass smooth finish on say red oak, it likely would require applying a number of coats, allowing time to fully cure, level sand, apply several more coats, then final sanding to gloss. The same finish on maple might not require the initial coats and level sanding.

An added question is how much sanding of the bare wood before the initial coats of finish. Some feel the final look is improved by sanding the raw wood to 12000 grit equivalent, some feel there is no benefit to sanding beyond 400 or 600.

You might consider turning pairs of 6" long dowels of woods you want to use for pen bodies, sand one of each pair to 400 or 600 grit, and the other of each pair to a much higher grit, and clearly mark each. Try a finish on these pairs to get some experience with level sanding and bringing to gloss, and see if you find a difference in the two different final raw wood sanding grits.

In my opinion, the exercise is valuable experience at little cost.

Johnny D 10-22-2016 06:38 PM

Thanks Don. You make many good points. Thanks for the info. I will experiment.

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