1rst try at CA finish?

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Brianr

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Jun 9, 2019
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I just used stick fast brand CA. With in seconds of applying to the pen the paper towel I was using as the applicator was smoking. I heard of oil finish combustion but I didn’t think ca glue did. And not that fast. I watched about a billion you tube ca finished and never saw them worrying about the paper towels catching on fire really what was worse was the smoke fumes. Is this normal?
 
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MRDucks2

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It's just smoke, and heat, no fire. Has something to do with how certain paper towels are made, not sure if it is the type of paper/pulp or residual chemicals, but, yes, it happens. Oh, and be sure to have something to either blow or suck the fumes away along with a respirator. High probability it will affect your sinus's at the least after a while. Exciting, huh? :0
 

WriteON

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Try blue towels. As for smoke.... where there is smoke there is fire. Keep an extinguisher handy. After a few times you will get faster and the smoke issue stops. I give a quick thin application and let dry. Then repeat. Maybe try a different brand of CA.
 

Brianr

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Try blue towels. As for smoke.... where there is smoke there is fire. Keep an extinguisher handy. After a few times you will get faster and the smoke issue stops. I give a quick thin application and let dry. Then repeat. Maybe try a different brand of CA.
Yeah it wasn’t smoking while I was putting it on the pen. Just after when I was holding paper towel in my hand. Got really hot in my hand started smoking
 

Brianr

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It will leave a blister. Especially on your belly, but don't ask how I know that.
Hahah yeah I’m sure it would. It didn’t really hurt my finger they’re so callous by the time I feel heat it’s late. I’m thinking next time using blue towels or the little ziplocks kits come with. I also have another brand of glue.
 

JimB

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Be careful how you dispose of the paper towel. You don’t want to put it in a trash can or it can start a fire. An air tight metal container is best or a lidded container with water in it.
 

sbwertz

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When I was first learning to turn pens, I took a class at woodcraft. I was the only woman in the class. I managed to get the tip of my finger against the big 12" sanding disc. To stop the bleeding, I put some CA glue on it. I didn't want anyone to notice I had done such a stupid thing! The glue wasn't drying so I sprayed it with some accelerator! You KNOW what happened! I didn't know CA got hot when it cured. Oh, my. That's how I learned.
 

magpens

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@Brianr

The blue shop towels from a tool store is what I use ... never the white towels for kitchen use.
It took me a long time to get the hang of doing a CA finish ... I got some one-on-one help from an IAP member ... thank you ... I hope they read this !! :)
My technique now is ... run the lathe at extremely low speed (under 20 RPM) ... drip thin CA onto the blank from the top, one drop at at time ... use the blue towel piece (doubled and backed with cellotape) under the blank to spread the CA with fairly rapid but short back-and-forth strokes ... move along the blank for the next drip. . I try to spread the CA very evenly and only do one thin coat at a time ... wait about 20-30 seconds, then spray accelerator lightly. Wait a minute. . Wipe off accelerator. . Repeat . . Sand fairly lightly after 2 or 3 such coats . . Dust off .. usually 7 - 9 coats is enough ... sand with 320 grit to remove all shiny spots even the little ones ... continue sanding 400 grit to 2000 grit ... dust off ... polish with (1) Mequiar's heavy scratch remover, then (2) Novus 3, then (3) Novus 2, then (4) Mequiar's PlastX
 

magpens

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@Mike8850

Mike, please tell us where you buy your craft foam ... and the brand name if that is possible.

I have bought craft foam from Michaels, but do not find it suitable for applying CA. . It can smoke at times, and it tends to stick to the pen blank.
So I went back to using blue shop towel.
 

leehljp

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When I was first learning to turn pens, I took a class at woodcraft. I was the only woman in the class. I managed to get the tip of my finger against the big 12" sanding disc. To stop the bleeding, I put some CA glue on it. I didn't want anyone to notice I had done such a stupid thing! The glue wasn't drying so I sprayed it with some accelerator! You KNOW what happened! I didn't know CA got hot when it cured. Oh, my. That's how I learned.
Sharon, I apologize to you but I had to laugh at that one! Next time, get some CA that doctors use in place of stitches. ;)


I learned about CA & heat back in the early 70s. Started building and flying U-control model planes back in the early 60's And RC planes around '70. When early CA came along, I started using it and it smoked big time and got hot even back then. Today's CA does seem a little milder compared to those early days.

Brian, Paper towels are act as a mild accelerant; Some CA's react to water or moisture mildly, some to acetone based accelerants and of course "accelerator". Be prepared to be applying and suddenly the paper towel is grabbed by the sudden hardening CA and watch the paper towel wind around the pen as the pen turns! :eek: This even happens after one gains considerable experience, just not as often. What you experienced with CA and PT is common.


BTW, applying with foam sheets, or the plastic bags or even nitrile gloves is a little different than using paper towel, but more of the CA goes on the pen. I have had less heat problems with the plastic bags, foam sheets and gloves than with the paper towel.
 

1080Wayne

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@Mike8850

Mike, please tell us where you buy your craft foam ... and the brand name if that is possible.

I have bought craft foam from Michaels, but do not find it suitable for applying CA. . It can smoke at times, and it tends to stick to the pen blank.
So I went back to using blue shop towel.
I use the 12x18x2mm Creatology white foam sold by Michaels . Don`t think I`ve ever had it smoke . Anything used to apply CA can stick as the CA sets up . I use a piece about 1x2 inch , run a continuous bead of thin or medium across one end , and apply it on the underside of the blank , with side to side movement until it begins to stick , lathe at about 500 rpm . Cut off the end with CA on it (maybe 1/4 inch) and repeat , or if I`m feeling really cheap , use the other side of the same end before cutting off .
 

randyrls

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I’m thinking next time using blue towels or the little ziplocks kits come with. I also have another brand of glue.
Brian; You can also use "Craft Foam" (aka closed cell foam). It goes by different names and most craft stores will have it in 11"x 17" sheets for like a dollar. Cut into strips about 1" wide. The best part is it is non-reactive with CA (no smoke, no heat). AND CA will not soak thru it.
 

Brianr

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Brian; You can also use "Craft Foam" (aka closed cell foam). It goes by different names and most craft stores will have it in 11"x 17" sheets for like a dollar. Cut into strips about 1" wide. The best part is it is non-reactive with CA (no smoke, no heat). AND CA will not soak thru it.
Yeah I see that many have mentioned that. I have to head to Walmart today for charcoal. I’m going to look for craft foam and try it. I’ll probably end up with a bunch of other stuff too lol. It seems I could go to Walmart for one small item and next thing I’m walking out with bags in each hand and 100$ less in my pocket every time I go there.
Thanks to all for all the responses and information. I appreciate it.
 

penicillin

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Feb 27, 2019
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I stopped using paper towels a long time ago. Now I use craft foam. I am still using the first sheet I bought, after doing many pens.

The CA glue can still smoke (and potentially catch fire) with craft foam. It is less likely to happen because you use so much less CA with craft foam compared with paper towels. Still, I let the used craft foam "dry" for a few minutes before throwing them away.

Here are my tricks for a good CA finish:

* Think about Safety.
Before you start, tie up loose hair and get rid of loose clothing. Cut up applicators and fabric so that they are too small to hurt you if they stick to you AND the turning lathe at the same time. Use gloves whose fingertips tear off if they stick to the lathe, like the cheap, thin, disposable nitrile gloves that you see everywhere.

* Swing the Tool Rest Behind the Lathe. Cover the Lathe bed to Protect it.
When I am ready to sand and finish, I spin the tool rest and move it completely out of the way, partly behind the headstock. I cover the lathe bed with a plastic bag, weighed down with heavy wood scraps. Be sure everything is out of the way and there is nothing lose that can get "sucked" into the rotating pen on the lathe.

* Use Fresh CA Glue.
Use a sharpie marker to write the date of purchase on the bottle. When you open it, write that date down, too.

* Use a Non-absorbent Applicator.
I recommend cutting up craft foam sheets into small squares. Craft foam is available for less than $1 at Walmart, Michaels, and other craft stores. Some of my friends use disposable gloves (or cut off the tips of old gloves), while other friends re-use the tiny baggies that come in pen kits. Any similar non-absorbent material will do, as long as it is small and can't hurt you if it sticks to the moving lathe and your fingers at the same time. Avoid paper towels, which are so "old school" these days. Paper towels yield more finish problems, they waste a lot of expensive CA glue, and are more likely to heat up or catch fire.

* Run the Lathe Slowly.
You don't need a lot of speed to apply a CA finish. Higher speeds cause problems by applying centrifugal force to the wet/curing CA.

* Use a Small Amount of CA at a Time.
Learn to work with two drops per application, three drops at most. More CA will make more ripples that are harder to smooth out, but give you more time to work. Less CA is better, but you must work faster.

* Be Patient. Take Your Time to Smooth Out the Ripples.
The CA glue will not set up immediately. Look at the CA as it goes on your pen. Press the applicator against the pen blank and move it back and forth to smooth out the ripples. Pay attention to the way it looks, and stop when it is smooth. Learn what it feels like when it just starts to get tacky and you have to stop as the CA just begins to set up.

* Be Gentle with the Activator (Accelerator).
If you use an activator, stand far back and send a gentle fine mist over your slowly spinning pen. Pressure from the spray can distort the finish, and too much activator can leave white specs or a hazy finish.

* Be Patient and Allow the CA Time to Cure Between Coats.
CA finishes can be done quickly, but you get a better finish if you are a little patient between coats to give the CA time to harden and cure. A few minutes between coats makes a difference.

* Follow the Manufacturer's Instructions.
Do your homework. Read the manufacturer's instructions for applying a CA finish. I got better finishes after reading and following GluBoost's instructions for their Fill 'n Finish products.

* Sand/Polish "With the Grain" Too. Wipe with Clean Fabric between Sanding/Polishing Steps.
Everyone sands and polishes differently, but ... Stop the lathe after each sanding or polishing step and repeat it "with the grain, the long way" while gently turning the hand wheel. Do it after each step to avoid leaving circular marks. Before moving on to the next finer grit, wipe the pen blank with a clean fabric rag or cloth (do not use paper towels!) to remove any large grit particles that may remain. I use small pieces of cut up T-shirts and similar cotton-like fabrics.

* Practice.
When your pen is first roughed down to a cylinder, give it a CA finish. You have nothing to lose. Turn it off and get back to the wood. Apply another CA finish. Turn it off. Repeat until it is time to shape the pen. Do that on a few pens, and you will be a "Professional-Grade CA Pen Finisher" very quickly indeed.

What I do:
* Two or three coats of GluBoost Fill 'n' Finish Regular.
* Very gentle spray of GluBoost activator from a far distance after each coat. Just a couple of hits of mist over the slowly rotating pen blank.
* Two or three coats of GluBoost Fill 'n' Finish Thin. Yeah, they recommend the thin on top.
* Very lightly wet sand with Micro-mesh on a slowly rotating lathe. Just a few seconds at most. I keep a cup of water with the Micro-mesh pads "floating" in it on a table next to the lathe.
* Turn off lathe and very lightly wet sand "with the grain", the long way, while hand turning the lathe by the hand wheel.
* Use a clean fabric to wipe the grit and white swarf off the pen.
* Repeat for all nine grits of Micro-mesh.
* At this point, the pen is well-finished, but I like to apply Hut Ultra Gloss Plastic Polish. I put a small dab in fabric, wipe it all over the pen with the lathe off, spin the lathe slowly while going back and forth with the fabric, then spin it a little faster to polish it. I repeat it again, then wipe it well with a clean cloth and call it done.
 

campzeke

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Jun 28, 2015
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Tampa, FL
First rule for a good CA finish.... DON'T USE Stickfast. Just my 2 cents. I recommend ...
1 - Mercury Flex Thin and medium with Mercury Accelerator in between coats.
2 - GluBoost Thin and medium with GluBoost Accelerator in between coats.
3 BSI or Bob Smith CA with or without accelerator.

GluBoost is a fairly new product. It is more expensive than the others but you use less of it once you figure out how to apply a CA finish. I had doubts at first but now use it exclusively on my higher end pens. It dries a little slower and levels out better that any other I have used. That means less sanding and a faster finish. Again, just my 2 cents for what its worth. Works for me....
 
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