CA - been using 8-9 years

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keithbyrd

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Sep 2, 2011
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I have used a lot of CA for my pens. The last two years have been frustrating. I usually put 3-4 coats of thin then 3-4 coats of medium. Two problems:
1. I was experiencing some cracking in the finish using stickfast so abut two .years ago I switched to Gluboost. At first i thought this is good but I could not get away from gumming up sandpaper after letting it cure even overnight. So I switched to mercury. About 50% of the time I have the same problem - gumming up the sandpaper and having a heck of a time getting it smooth. I let it cure overnight most of the time and degloss it with 4/0 steel wool and it still happens about 50% of the time. I dont get it!
2. On open grain woods like black walnut and mahogany I cant seem to get a finish without little white specks in the pores. I sand to 6oo and 4/0 the blank, blow it of with air compressor and wipe it down with DNA and I still get it. Last week I finished a black walnut and it took 4 tries - sanding down between each try till it was clean in the finish. I don't get it.
I fairly consistently get the same results. I used paper towel to apply, switched to plastic bag and, switched to paper towel and alternate to apply - still get it. Does anyone have any answers or suggestions? Your help is greatly appreciated - I have gotten to where I don't want to make wood pens especially open grain wood pens! HELP!
 
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magpens

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I'll be interested in the comments from others. . Sorry that I can't identify anything problematic with your process re: "gumming" up the sandpaper.
Do you use accelerator ?

My process is pretty standard, I think. . I don't experience any "gumming up" as I understand the term ... just a powdery residue which washes away in hot water allowing me to re-use the paper at least 10 times. I use Stickfast CA and have done for 10 years.
 
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Hmmm. Wondering what you have been doing between coats of CA. If isn’t allowed to cure up before the next coat it will remain “liquid” For quite a while. Might be at least part of the issue.
Yes, open grain woods can be a real pain. But I’ve had good results doing what you say you’re doing. Wipe it down, blow out the pores with compressed air, wipe it down wet (either acetone or DNA). Has worked here.
I also had cracking CA and it resolved itself when I stopped using “old” CA.
 

keithbyrd

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Mount Wolf, PA
I'll be interested in the comments from others. . Sorry that I can't identify anything problematic with your process re: "gumming" up the sandpaper.
Do you use accelerator ?

My process is pretty standard, I think. . I don't experience any "gumming up" as I understand the term ... just a powdery residue which washes away in hot water allowing me to re-use the paper at least 10 times. I use Stickfast CA and have done for 10 years.
Interesting - do you rinse off your sandpaper after use?
 

keithbyrd

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Hmmm. Wondering what you have been doing between coats of CA. If isn’t allowed to cure up before the next coat it will remain “liquid” For quite a while. Might be at least part of the issue.
Yes, open grain woods can be a real pain. But I’ve had good results doing what you say you’re doing. Wipe it down, blow out the pores with compressed air, wipe it down wet (either acetone or DNA). Has worked here.
I also had cracking CA and it resolved itself when I stopped using “old” CA.
Thanks ted- I let it dry to the touch between coats - only occasionally do I use accelerator. I also usually let it cure over night to ensure it’s dry.
 
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Wow - i was thinking it might have been “oily” wood, too, but if you’re Wiping down with DNA or acetone just prior to applying CA, that shouldn’t be the problem. I’m out of ideas. Hope a smart one here can help.

But the more i think about it, the more I’m convinced SOMETHING is causing the CA to NOT cure. Without knowing what that might be, maybe a small shot of accelerator between each coat to make sure it’s cured would help.
Or - even try fresh CA. If it’s even a year old OR stored in a warm/hot place (I store mine in a shop refrigerator) it’ll go “bad”.
 
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jttheclockman

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I have said this many times here that I started using 15 years ago+ and still today Satelite City CA Hot stuff. I use the thin and med. I never start sanding CA untill I make sure the grain is filled on porous woods. This way I know when sanding there is no left over white spots. When it is dull I look for shiny spots and either refill or sand more. I never start sanding with anything lower than 800 grit wet dry paper and use water as a lubricant. If the CA is not curing than it could be bad and you need fresh. Maybe there is some answers in this link. https://www.caglue.com/Frequently-A...-from-Satellite-City-Instant-Glues_ep_42.html
 

Dehn0045

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I've been using a pen that you made me for a PITH spring of 2019, been using it daily ever since. The finish is still great, I think you were using Gluboost at the time. So I know you have it in you, don't give up! :p

+1 for what JT said about building up enough CA to be sure that the pores are full BEFORE sanding. Putting on additional coats after sanding and with pore dimples still present is asking for trouble. I use a skew to turn away excess CA and don't have problems with white flecks of I reapply CA, but the skew pulls the material away from the dimples so they are always pretty clean.

Medium CA sometimes needs a little extra motivation, I only use thin CA (BSI) but still use accelerator after the first few coats (even in the warm humid houston air). I like the pump spray accelerator and apply it prior to applying the CA. I feel that the CA that is at the bottom of the coat will need the extra motivation, applying accelerator after the coat focuses attention on the outer layer of the coat and not the inner layer.

I wonder if the medium CA isn't old or otherwise contaminated. It should definitely fully cure overnight regardless of accelerator (unless it is super cold/dry maybe).
 

1080Wayne

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Do you have a feel (measurement) for depth of finish you are putting on ? If it is over 4-5 thou it might take a bit longer to cure than overnight . I would try accelerator after the last coat . Letting it dry to the touch between coats without accelerator should be fine , but 3-4 heavy coats of medium puts you at the upper limit of being able to do that .

On open grain woods I think you have to be in the 4-5 thou applied thickness range to have a decent shot (no guarantee) at filling the pores in one operation . As John says , if you can see shiny spots after sanding with 800 grit , best to apply more CA . I`d suggest another coat of thin and 2 or 3 more medium . Note , your finish application may not be as smooth as John`s , so you may need to start sanding with a coarser grit , but work your way up to the 800 grit test .
 

jttheclockman

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If you can not get CA on in smooth coats than that is where you need to start practicing. I put on 3 coats of thin and 3 coats of med before paper hit blank. Always. 2 passes, one up and one down and walk away. Let lathe run to self level CA on slow speed. Med takes longer to dry. After I sand and get what I want I will check my measurements with calipers and know weather I need to add or subtract. Never found doing a CA finish to really be hard to do. Before polishing I make sure the blank has cured for at least 24 hours. Then wet polish with MM.
 

1080Wayne

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Accelerator before the CA Sam ? That I`ve never tried . Are you able to get a decently smooth (400 grit start) by doing that ? I`m pretty sure that accelerator on the outer layer propagates the chain reaction through all of the CA layers , even though they have dried to the touch .
 

Dehn0045

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@1080Wayne I find the pump spray accelerator to be a little less potent. I suspect that it is due to a few factors - aerosol has higher surface area and also has acetone which I think may contribute in some way. When I apply the pump spray accelerator after the CA coat I get little spots where the accelerator droplets land. When I apply accelerator before the coat it seems to just speed up the curing a little bit, although I use thin CA I do apply pretty thick coats (1 to 2 thou increase in diameter). I'd say that the coats are smooth, just as good as any other technique I've tried.

I have had trouble filling gaps and holes with CA where the top layer of CA cures, but the stuff underneath doesn't. This led me to believe that the outside of CA coat can cure faster than the inside. Maybe not a major issue with a CA finish that is only 5 thou thick. But I have heard other suggest that this issue can lead to cracking - applying CA on top of CA that is not fully cured. The primary issue being CA shrinks a little when curing, so if the inner layers shrink after the outer layers are solid it will lead to a crack. This is another reason why I think applying accelerator before the coat I the right approach.

I spay the accelerator (1 or 2 spritz) and then rube the blank by hand to distribute evenly. Then immediately apply CA. I find accelerator isn't necessary for the first coat or two due to the moisture from the blank.
 

mg_dreyer

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Dec 1, 2006
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Aurora, Ill, USA.
I will only talk about GluBoost I have not used the other finishes. When I apply GluBoost my technique is very simple - light coat / accelerator / #0000 steel wool if needed. My pattern is two of the blue Fill N Finish then 2 or 3 coats of orange. Always the same - light coat / accelerator / #0000 steel wool if needed.

When you say you are gumming up the sand paper - what grit are you starting with. For me I am starting with micromesh. If a stubborn nib, I might go as high as 400 wet dry very lightly. I never really have to "sand". I am essentially de-nibbing and polishing.

My thoughts are if you are sanding you might be applying to much per application. If you cannot get smooth with steel wool I would suggest less product. And the accelerator is a must - but only a SPRITZ. Not a lot.

I generally do not even need to wait overnight. I can micromesh / polish / buff immediately.

My technique is on YouTube - if this helps.

Click below:
GluBoost - Liquid Finish In A Bottle
 

PoppyTee

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Dec 22, 2019
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Alabama
Thanks to @mg_dreyer, I recently tried GluBoost and was amazed at the ease of use and results. My first time looked like I had been doing it forever. I followed his tutorial video and one from Ed at Exotic Blanks. I'll be sold on GB for a while.
 

keithbyrd

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Sep 2, 2011
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Mount Wolf, PA
Everyone - thanks for all the insights, procedural tips and questions. Some great insights here. I am coming to the belief that I have put the layers on too thick and they didn't dry effectively. I tried one last night using only thin and it came out great. I also used a little more accelerator. I appreciate everyone taking the time to read and respond with thoughtful insight. Thats why the IAP is such a good place! Thank you!
 

keithbyrd

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Sep 2, 2011
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Location
Mount Wolf, PA
I've been using a pen that you made me for a PITH spring of 2019, been using it daily ever since. The finish is still great, I think you were using Gluboost at the time. So I know you have it in you, don't give up! :p

+1 for what JT said about building up enough CA to be sure that the pores are full BEFORE sanding. Putting on additional coats after sanding and with pore dimples still present is asking for trouble. I use a skew to turn away excess CA and don't have problems with white flecks of I reapply CA, but the skew pulls the material away from the dimples so they are always pretty clean.

Medium CA sometimes needs a little extra motivation, I only use thin CA (BSI) but still use accelerator after the first few coats (even in the warm humid houston air). I like the pump spray accelerator and apply it prior to applying the CA. I feel that the CA that is at the bottom of the coat will need the extra motivation, applying accelerator after the coat focuses attention on the outer layer of the coat and not the inner layer.

I wonder if the medium CA isn't old or otherwise contaminated. It should definitely fully cure overnight regardless of accelerator (unless it is super cold/dry maybe).
Thanks Sam. I think I am back on track!!
 
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