CA finish problems

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I’ve noticed on some of my wooden burl pens finished with ca that a small sunken vein has appeared in the surface of the ca. Has anyone else come across this before? It’s only on burl pens, str grain pens are fine.
 
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KenB259

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Burls can have voids. Probably the CA is being pulled into them. If you start with coats of thin first, it should help seal the surface prevent it. All the burls I ever used has been stabilized and I’ve never experienced it.
 
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egnald

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Columbus, Nebraska, USA
I have experienced this before with burls as well as with some of the more "punky" woods when I have turned them without stabilizing them first. My approach for mitigation has been to give burls a few extra coats of medium CA than I typically apply in my regimen. Then I use a bit of fine sandpaper backed with a flat - hard surface, usually a plastic blank for my first pass after CA. This has helped me identify any low areas as they show up as shiny spots. My fixes are:

If the shiny spot looks shallow enough I just sand more until it goes away. If it looks too deep I apply some blobs of medium CA in the spots and try to smooth them out a bit so they fill the void but don't become big bumps. Then back to sanding with a hard backer. On occasion if things look too severe, I simply sand the finish off and re-apply it.

I have also had bonafide cracks in the finish show up on some of my non-stabilized burl pens even after months have gone by. Fortunately I have been able to sand them down and re-apply the finish which has fixed them. Going forward I will most likely be stabilizing my burls as it is likely the most robust defense.

The best of luck,
Dave
 
Joined
Apr 13, 2021
Messages
13
Location
Sunderland Tyne and Wear
I have experienced this before with burls as well as with some of the more "punky" woods when I have turned them without stabilizing them first. My approach for mitigation has been to give burls a few extra coats of medium CA than I typically apply in my regimen. Then I use a bit of fine sandpaper backed with a flat - hard surface, usually a plastic blank for my first pass after CA. This has helped me identify any low areas as they show up as shiny spots. My fixes are:

If the shiny spot looks shallow enough I just sand more until it goes away. If it looks too deep I apply some blobs of medium CA in the spots and try to smooth them out a bit so they fill the void but don't become big bumps. Then back to sanding with a hard backer. On occasion if things look too severe, I simply sand the finish off and re-apply it.

I have also had bonafide cracks in the finish show up on some of my non-stabilized burl pens even after months have gone by. Fortunately I have been able to sand them down and re-apply the finish which has fixed them. Going forward I will most likely be stabilizing my burls as it is likely the most robust defense.

The best of luck,
Dave
Thanks Dave. I understand the benefit of stabilising but how do you stabilise a blank?
 
Joined
Apr 13, 2021
Messages
13
Location
Sunderland Tyne and Wear
Burls can have voids. Probably the CA is being pulled into them. If you start with coats of thin first, it should help seal the surface prevent it. All the burls I ever used has been stabilized and I’ve never experienced it.
I’ve not seen many stabilised burl blanks on sale. Is it something you can do yourself?
 

KenB259

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Dec 24, 2017
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Location
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I’ve not seen many stabilised burl blanks on sale. Is it something you can do yourself?
You can do it yourself. It takes some specialized equipment. I don’t do it because I don't believe it would be cost effective for me. There are many here that do it and I’m sure they’ll be more than willing to answer any questions you might have.
 

egnald

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Columbus, Nebraska, USA
Thanks Dave. I understand the benefit of stabilising but how do you stabilise a blank?

It took me a long time before I decided to buy the equipment and materials needed to stabilize blanks. What pushed me over the edge was coming into a hefty supply of softer punkier woods (flame boxelder) and quite a variety of burls from Laos.

The basic equipment consists of:
1) Vacuum Chamber (I had difficulties with the lid cracking and imploding until I bought a good glass lid)
2) Vacuum Pump
3) Cactus Juice from TurnTex (or other stabilizing resin)
4) Toaster Oven, Thermometer, Weights, etc.

The basic process is:
1) Use the Toaster Oven to bake out as much moisture from the wood as possible (moisture is the enemy).
2) After the blanks have cooled back down to room temperature, put them in the vacuum chamber.
3) Weight them down and cover them with the resin (Cactus Juice).
4) Turn on the vacuum pump to extract all of the air trapped inside the wood. (Can take 24+ hours).
5) When the bubbles stop, open the chamber to release the vacuum and turn off the vacuum pump.
6) Allow a day or so to allow the resin to soak into the blank (replacing the air that was vacuumed out).
7) Let the blanks drip off for a while and wrap each in aluminum foil.
8) Bake the wrapped blanks in the Toaster Oven at the appropriate temperature to cure the resin.

For me, the process takes about a week plus or minus and I usually process about 20 blanks at a time.

Regards,
Dave
 
Joined
Apr 13, 2021
Messages
13
Location
Sunderland Tyne and Wear
It took me a long time before I decided to buy the equipment and materials needed to stabilize blanks. What pushed me over the edge was coming into a hefty supply of softer punkier woods (flame boxelder) and quite a variety of burls from Laos.

The basic equipment consists of:
1) Vacuum Chamber (I had difficulties with the lid cracking and imploding until I bought a good glass lid)
2) Vacuum Pump
3) Cactus Juice from TurnTex (or other stabilizing resin)
4) Toaster Oven, Thermometer, Weights, etc.

The basic process is:
1) Use the Toaster Oven to bake out as much moisture from the wood as possible (moisture is the enemy).
2) After the blanks have cooled back down to room temperature, put them in the vacuum chamber.
3) Weight them down and cover them with the resin (Cactus Juice).
4) Turn on the vacuum pump to extract all of the air trapped inside the wood. (Can take 24+ hours).
5) When the bubbles stop, open the chamber to release the vacuum and turn off the vacuum pump.
6) Allow a day or so to allow the resin to soak into the blank (replacing the air that was vacuumed out).
7) Let the blanks drip off for a while and wrap each in aluminum foil.
8) Bake the wrapped blanks in the Toaster Oven at the appropriate temperature to cure the resin.

For me, the process takes about a week plus or minus and I usually process about 20 blanks at a time.

Regards,
Dave
Thanks Dave that’s brilliant advice, thanks for taking the time to explain it for me. I think it’s worth it and I’ll definitely be investing time and money into the world of stabilising because I can’t bear the thought of trying to sell what could be stunning pen, to then go on and develop problems, which could have been overcome by a simple process. I’ve tried three times this week to salvage my thuya burl pen and couldn’t do it so I’ve given it away. I couldn’t even contemplate selling a pen that wasn’t perfect in my mind. Stabilising would have avoided the problem for sure.
there’s a thought, can all blanks be stabilised?
 

egnald

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Joined
Jun 9, 2017
Messages
850
Location
Columbus, Nebraska, USA
Thanks Dave that’s brilliant advice, thanks for taking the time to explain it for me. I think it’s worth it and I’ll definitely be investing time and money into the world of stabilising because I can’t bear the thought of trying to sell what could be stunning pen, to then go on and develop problems, which could have been overcome by a simple process. I’ve tried three times this week to salvage my thuya burl pen and couldn’t do it so I’ve given it away. I couldn’t even contemplate selling a pen that wasn’t perfect in my mind. Stabilising would have avoided the problem for sure.
there’s a thought, can all blanks be stabilised?

That is a good question, probably best answered by the folks at TurnTex, the company that makes Cactus Juice stabilizing resin (and stabilizing equipment). It is my understanding that very dense woods do not benefit from stabilization and some woods with a naturally high oil content do not stabilize well - like Olivewood and Cocobolo.

Dave
 
Joined
Apr 13, 2021
Messages
13
Location
Sunderland Tyne and Wear
That is a good question, probably best answered by the folks at TurnTex, the company that makes Cactus Juice stabilizing resin (and stabilizing equipment). It is my understanding that very dense woods do not benefit from stabilization and some woods with a naturally high oil content do not stabilize well - like Olivewood and Cocobolo.

Dave
Yeah that doesn’t surprise me, especially oily woods. Cheers Dave your a star 👍
 
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