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Old 06-17-2017, 02:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Wood grain

What can I do to make the wood grain pop on my pens? I've used a CA glue finish which works great but it really doesn't bring out the grain. Looking for any suggestions.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 06-17-2017, 04:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Many people, like myself, use BLO (boiled linseed oil) with CA when doing a CA finish. When I do it, I use a drop or 2 of BLO on paper towel and wipe on with lathe on or off. Wipe off any excess and then apply your CA. I then repeat BLO then CA as many coats as a I desire.
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Old 06-18-2017, 12:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by JimB View Post
Many people, like myself, use BLO (boiled linseed oil) with CA when doing a CA finish. When I do it, I use a drop or 2 of BLO on paper towel and wipe on with lathe on or off. Wipe off any excess and then apply your CA. I then repeat BLO then CA as many coats as a I desire.
Nice to know, Jim. Will be applying this method on my very next pen. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-18-2017, 12:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Disclaimer : I hate CA finishes on wood, unless there's a special reason to use it. A soft Burl comes to mind as one of those reasons.

Otherwise, depending on what type of wood it is, to make the grain pop I use either BLO, Birchwood - Casey Tru-Oil, or Minwax Natural Stain / Minwax Wipe-on Poly. I follow those up after they cure with a buffed coat of Johnson Paste Wax.

I know they're not as long-lasting as CA, but IMO wood should feel like wood.

Last edited by gtriever; 06-18-2017 at 12:32 PM.
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Old 06-18-2017, 03:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I sometimes use BLO, but I generally prefer teak oil. I mostly use teak oil when I want to enhance the look of the grain & if I don't get the effect I want, then I follow up with BLO. Maybe it's just my perception, it I think that teak oil doesn't darken the wood quite as much as BLO.
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Old 06-18-2017, 03:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Some woods, outside of knots and spalting, don't lend themselves good to showing grain well. Contrasting grain, knots and burls do well. I have some huan pine from Tasmania that is beautiful wood an smells great but the grain is so fine that it is hard to see it. I made a couple of pens that had about 100 years of growth difference in the inner vs outer ring/grain. But it didn't show up well in the pen unless looking very close.

I love teak in furniture, but the beauty of the straight gold grain is lost in the small area of a pen.

If you have an unturned blank, sand the sides smooth and try light stains and different oil finishes on an area to see how they either mask or enhance the grain.
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Old 06-27-2017, 12:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default your technic

Is it possible that you are over sanding your wood, making the wood dull before you ever put the finish on ?

Loading up the water pores in the wood with saw dust and dirt therefore dulling the wood ?
Are you sanding across the grain or with the lathe on .

I don't sand past 420.... and depending on the wood , some woods you never sand across the grain ..
half worn out sand paper will dull the grain.

I vacuum out the dirt and dust before I apply a finish ...
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Old 06-27-2017, 02:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Not a fan of BLO due to it’s inherent darkening wood with age.

Any film finish will pop the grain whether imparts an amber hue all about finish you select. That is why there is not one single finish for all wood species. Have to experiment with different finishes!

Wood species selection and how you cut the wood will also help add dramatic effect. Keep in mind regardless of finish used some species of wood will darken with age and some lighten naturally regardless of finished used! Time frame for darkening and lightening of wood happening may or may not occur in our life time.
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Old 07-06-2017, 07:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I've also done paste wax, danish Oil, mineral oil, and shellac under CA finishes.

It depends on the wood and the grain.

I also sometimes wet down the wood with water after my highest sanding grit, let it dry, and sand it again. This raises the grain and then removes it, helps make for a smoother surface IMO. But under a CA finish on a pen this is really not necessary.

I also use DNA or mineral spirits to clean the wood surface of dust and particles after sanding.
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