Best finish choices on nice pens

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Gabericks

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Hey I would like some advice from those of you who are crafting high end pens. The only finish I have been done on Tycoon and Zens is a 10 layer CA finish, micromeshed down to 12k and waxed.
Are there other preferred finish options? Do you choose the finish based on the wood? I've seen but a few websites that sell high end $100 pens with other finishes but do not know how they are done.
Thanks
 
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jttheclockman

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CA here. Have not used anything other than lacquer but choose CA. Yes I make all highend pens. Every pen I make I consider is highend. Now I say that because that is a can of worms you are opening up when you say highend. How many coats you apply is a matter of system you choose to use. Weather you use all thin, thin and med, thin med and thick, CA and blo, polish or no polish is all matter of choice as well as which CA is best. Not all CA glues are the same. You will get many different answers. There is no one best. Just what people get use to using. There are some here who like to experiment. But I am from the school if not broke do not fix it. But good luck in your quest. Will throw this at you also. What makes wood better than acrylics when you say highend. Many big top name pen companies make nothing but acrylic pens. Rarely do you see wood pens. Use acrylics and no CA or finish needed. Just polish to whatever sheen you desire. Just throwing it out there to show you that is a loaded question.
 

ramaroodle

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"High end" to me is the hardware. I consider all of my pen finishes "high quality" and have the same standard regardless of the cost of the kit. My finish of choice is GluBoost. 4 coats and done. Maybe a few more if it's engraved just to fill so you don't feel the engraving. I don't even use micromesh any more. .0000 steel wool or 600 grit paper then EEE or another abrasive paste, then plastic polish. Done.
 
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Gabe - There have been a number of posts in the past that have introduced finishes other than CA but I'm not familiar with any that have gotten a large following. When I do shows I always write receipts with a Vertex that I've had in my pocket for well over a decade. It's Zircote with a CA finish. And it still looks wonderful. It's a "walking" advertisement for CA and I use it as a conversation starter and an example of CA's durability.
CA does have its drawbacks - mostly in the application and sanding/polishing/buffing. I was too cavalier early on and now have an allergy to the dust. so proper PPE is mandatory. But I'm a great advocate of a properly applied and completed CA finish.
BUT, if there was something out there that was easier, cheaper, more durable and safer I'd get in line to try it.
 

philipff

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Ted and Gabe, I would love to us CA more often but the smell is killing me! How do you protect yourselves from the fumes? If you fellows have a bunch of secrets I am certain a whole lot of us would love to hear from you. Many thanks, P.
 

monophoto

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Gabe -

It's important to understand that there is no objective standard by which one can judge 'best' on anything - choice of finishes, choice of tools, choice of cars, etc. 'Best' is purely a subjective concept and is based on the values brought to the evaluation by the person who is making the judgement. So what is 'best' for you is probably not what is 'best' for me, and vice versa.

When it comes to finishes, there are a variety of factors to consider. And these factors generally cannot be considered alone because each may influence the decision regarding one or more of the other factors.
  • wearability - this is a biggie with pens because they are intended to be handled, and there is usually the concern that they look as good when they are five years old as they do on the day they are made. Some finishes wear better than others - shellac-based finishes, and finishes that are predominately wax don't wear well., while CA and polyurethane are known for hard and long lasting. And some really hard timbers (eg, ebony) might not require a long-wearing finish, and might hold up on their own with only buffing.
  • gloss versus not-gloss - this is a choice that is not greatly different from Ford vs. Chevy, or boxers vs. briefs - each person has a preference.
  • thick versus thin - this is related to the gloss versus non-gloss choice, but also introduces the issue that thicker finishes tend to feel more like plastic, while thinner finishes retain the tactile feel of wood. Again, different strokes for different folks.
  • finish color - this might not be so obvious, but it is an issue. Some finishes impart a distinct amber tone, while others are neutral to almost blue in color. And the decision here may vary with the timber from which the pen is made - to my eye (a subjective judgement), finishes that are neutral to colorless tend to look artificially pale on woods that are naturally light in color.
  • ease and process of application - this is especially important if you are making pens as a business venture, and the amount of time that goes into each pen is a factor.
  • the maker's experience - this is another biggie. No matter which finish you choose to use, it takes practice to learn how to apply it well. But then pen making is actually a combination of acquired skills and if you're lucky, the various aspects of experience-building will progress in parallel.
 

jttheclockman

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Ted and Gabe, I would love to us CA more often but the smell is killing me! How do you protect yourselves from the fumes? If you fellows have a bunch of secrets I am certain a whole lot of us would love to hear from you. Many thanks, P.
Odorless CA is the best answer if you do not have a good dust collector system. If you do then just run it when applying CA and fumes go away. Some people have a fan blowing behind them but to me that kicks up unwanted dust and not needed. Have been doing CA finish for well over 12 years and never a problem. I use Satellite City glues and recommend them but that is one person's personal opinion.
 

PaulWitmer

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I agree with what JT has mentioned above. Everything I make I consider high quality, regardless of what I wood or kit I might use. I've used CA finishes on almost all of my work and have been very pleased with the results and durability. I have a favorite fountain pen that I use daily and the CA finish still looks great.
 

wouldentu2?

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Ted and Gabe, I would love to us CA more often but the smell is killing me! How do you protect yourselves from the fumes? If you fellows have a bunch of secrets I am certain a whole lot of us would love to hear from you. Many thanks, P.
Try Bob Smith Industries (BSI) odorless CA, ten years and no more feeling like I am getting sick. Great finish and I only use thin with craft foam.
 

Ironwood

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If you are breathing the fumes, that’s not good. I have read many accounts, where people have become sensitised to CA from exposure to fumes.
As already mentioned, find a means to remove the fumes from where you are breathing in the air. I use my cyclone dust extractor with a 6” hose right behind the blank I am working on. But anything you can do, such as a fan, will be better than nothing. JT’s suggestion of odourless CA is a good one. There are a few on the market, some mentioned already, I use BSI Gold thin like Dave suggests above, I use the same applicator as well, cuts down on how much you waste.

As to the original question, I don’t think you can go past a well applied CA finish for a high end pen. It’s not the only finish you could use, but for me it ticks all the boxes.
Perhaps the highest end finish could be Urishi, from my very limited understanding,it is ussually applied over Ebonite , but I have heard of it being applied to timber.
 

Gabericks

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Ted and Gabe, I would love to us CA more often but the smell is killing me! How do you protect yourselves from the fumes? If you fellows have a bunch of secrets I am certain a whole lot of us would love to hear from you. Many thanks, P.
I bought a 3M 62023HA1-C Professional Multi-Purpose Respirator from day one and use it every single time. A little of the idor still comes through but I should be safe. I actually bought it before I did CA. I'm bought it to turn antler pens.
 

Gabericks

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I agree with what JT has mentioned above. Everything I make I consider high quality, regardless of what I wood or kit I might use. I've used CA finishes on almost all of my work and have been very pleased with the results and durability. I have a favorite fountain pen that I use daily and the CA finish still looks great.
Thanks for the feedback. What is your favorite fountain pen?
 

Jonkou

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Been using Satellite City CA for many years in bowl turning so when I took up pen turning a few months ago it was the logical choice and it works well. Recently tried Gluboost based on recommendations from turning club members and read on this site and I like it much better. Have not experienced any degradation using the activator and the fumes from the system are much less irritating than SCCA. Haven’t tried it for gap filling on bowls yet but think it’s going to be my go to for that too. Can’t speak to being more durable or a better finish than others for pens but I like it and will continue using it.
 
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Ted and Gabe, I would love to us CA more often but the smell is killing me! How do you protect yourselves from the fumes? If you fellows have a bunch of secrets I am certain a whole lot of us would love to hear from you. Many thanks, P.
When I apply CA, I use the fan behind me blowing the fumes away method. Especially helpful in the winter when shop windows are closed but useful in the summer, too. When I dry sand (which I try to avoid) I use a respirator. It has an activated carbon filtration system so it is useful when the fumes get strong. When I wet sand (preferred) I will use nitrile gloves.
 

ramaroodle

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Ted and Gabe, I would love to us CA more often but the smell is killing me! How do you protect yourselves from the fumes? If you fellows have a bunch of secrets I am certain a whole lot of us would love to hear from you. Many thanks, P.
Again, I am touting GluBoost. The paper towels don't smoke or get hot and the fumes are minimal both from the CA and the accelerator. The difference is like night and day. But I keep the dust collector running so there's no smell anyway.
 

PaulWitmer

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Thanks for the feedback. What is your favorite fountain pen?
Gabe:

My favorite fountain pen is the Rhodium and Gold Jr Gentlemen - its hard to keep them on my website and Etsy store. I also like the Triton and Cambridge Hybrids with exquisite wood and alumilite-hybrids (I can make them large for my customers that want them that way, and the pen still looks good). However, that being said, the one I use daily is a Baron is Sterling Silver with a Black Onyx and Burl Hybrid blank. It hasn't let me down in over 7 years now and still looks great.

Paul
 

Gabericks

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Gabe:

My favorite fountain pen is the Rhodium and Gold Jr Gentlemen - its hard to keep them on my website and Etsy store. I also like the Triton and Cambridge Hybrids with exquisite wood and alumilite-hybrids (I can make them large for my customers that want them that way, and the pen still looks good). However, that being said, the one I use daily is a Baron is Sterling Silver with a Black Onyx and Burl Hybrid blank. It hasn't let me down in over 7 years now and still looks great.

Paul
great thank you. Do you have a link to your store that I could go see your work?
 

Aussie Chris

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Hi Ted,
please elaborate on your statement: " I'm a great advocate of a properly applied and completed CA finish."

cheers
Chris
 

TonyL

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I am just throwing this out there without regard to anyone's sensitivity or reaction to CA:

During the virtual meeting, one of the kind attendees has had success with 2 coats of thin followed by Renaissance wax. I believe thin may off-gas/fume less (not sure, and I don't have a CA sensitivity issue, so I am really no sure). I don't know how glossy it gets, but I am going to try it for clients that want a satin/more woody feel and appearance.

I do like the addition of CA for some level of adding protection and structural integrity.
 

TonyL

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I am just throwing this out there without regard to anyone's sensitivity or reaction to CA:

During the virtual meeting, one of the kind attendees has had success with 2 coats of thin followed by Renaissance wax. I believe thin may off-gas/fume less (not sure, and I don't have a CA sensitivity issue, so I am really no sure). I don't know how glossy it gets, but I am going to try it for clients that want a satin/more woody feel and appearance.

I do like the addition of CA for some level of adding protection and structural integrity.
I tried this...not bad at all.
 
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