CA Finish - the new way!

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Rudy Vey

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Daniel has given us inside in his "old" way of a CA finish. I will describe here what I call the my way of CA finish. I call this thread "The new way" so we can have a good discussion.
Over the last 4-5 months there was a lot of ways of CA finishing described here. Some are very elaborate and take a long time to get finished. I consider myself a production turner and cannot spend 20 minutes or even a half hour on a CA or any other finish. So, the way I finish must be fast.

For years I was not happy with the results I got with CA finishing my pens. I had tried several of the ways described here, but did not get reproducible results - and this is for me the main point. Sometimes the one barrel came out great, but the other was a pain in the a$$ to get to look the same as the first. Major frustration. For a long time I was even voting against CA. I tried other finishes, like Enduro and Unaxol - I still use them for a certain type of wood.

Then at the AAW Symposium in 2006 our Richard Kleinhenz (Scubaman here on IAP) demonstrated pen turning and finished his demo piece with three or four coats of thin CA - looked great. Rich and I later discussed this a bit more in detail and after I got home I tried it myself. Well, the results were very positive. So, here is how I do the CA finish - and this can be done very quickly and works very well for production turning:
after turning and sanding with MM up to 6000 or 8000, I wipe the blank lengthwise with a dry, old towel to remove all dust from the blank. Then I turn the lathe down to a slow speed, don't know exactly how much rpm, but I would guess somewhere between 200 and 300 rpm.
I slip my finger in one of these small bags from the kits and also use a folded paper towel - no special brand, I just use the ones we buy at BJ's or Costco. So, I hold the folded paper towel under the blank, touching it and dribble thin, yes thin, CA on top of the blank, going back and forth with the towel. One must be quick, because thin CA reacts very fast. Then I use aerosol spray accelerator to cure the finish. I apply 3-4 coats this way. After this, I sand again with MM from 1500 through 4000 or 6000 and finish up with Novus fine polish. The whole procedure is maybe 5 minutes or so, never really stopped the time.
So some may now say this is way to little finish, I don't think so. The next time I do a finish like this, I will measure how thick the coating is I apply. This finish is very protecting. I made some pens for colleagues over a year ago and have a few colleagues using them daily. My wife also has one and it is always in her pocketbook. So, I always check on them all the time and they look like new. Just last week a colleague and I were traveling on business together and the pen he used all the time was the Sierra I made last year for him. It looked like it was brandnew from the lathe, still shiny, no scratches or else.
This convinced me that this the way of CA finishing is the perfect way for a fast and good "production" finish. I know many of you do not make a lot of pens and have the time to spend on finishing a pen - some even let them sit over night or 24 hours before they finish the pen completely.

I believe one of the tricks here is to use the aerosol spray accelerator, I tried the pump spray and it does work not as good as the spray - the CA will bubble sometimes with the pump accelerator and leave a rougher surface.
 
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leehljp

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Thanks Rudy. Good, informative and simple. I have done a few like this but the lack of accelerator in anything larger than 1/2 oz spray forbid it for me - until a couple of months ago when I got some from Manny.

As Daniel wrote in somewhat different words but same basic meaning - there is no substitute for experience and practice. What you did is very reproducible, but those with no experience will still have to practice, only less so with this method.
 

Monty

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I have been doing basically the same thing as Rudy, but I'd like to ask him if he ever gets very fine ridges in the CA that give him trouble sanding/polishing smooth?

Hank, I know this doesn't help you much, but I got one of the refillable aerosol cans you can pressurize from HF. Been using one for almost a year now and it is much better than the pump. I empty an 8oz bottle of accelerator into it, pressurize it and I ready to go.
 
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VisExp

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Rudy, neither this or Daniels thread have addressed what, at least for me, was the biggest problem when I was doing CA finishes. How to get a well defined, square edge at ends of the barrel.

I tried wax the bushings and I also tried finishing between centers. But I often got chips on the CA at the ends or rounded over edges.

I was just curious how you deal with that issue.
 

Daniel

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So far this has been a great discussion. I posted my method to address the Failure Rate and frustration I have been seeing with it. Rudy's method is focused on speed and still looks like a great way to no fail. I would just warn to be careful with the accelerator. Experimenting beyond any successful method is a good thing but it is good to have a method that works for you to start with. I don't think moving on to BLO would be nearly as difficult to do if you already know what does work and how the end result should look.
I also vote for the thin finish. I have a pen I carry everyday. I work in a warehouse and repair shop, handle it withe dirty hand and drop it regularly. after 4 years the finish is still shining. it is satin nickle and so is the plating. Good method I will have to give it a shot on my next pen. I would much rather start my sanding of the CA with 1500 MM as I have never sanded through the CA once I get to the MM.
 

Daniel

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Keith, I only get chips at the ends of the blank when I get the CA to thick. a thin finish I can simply break the bushing free with no problem. I also apply the CA finish right over the bushings and everything, I have heard of some people doing this and then making a parting cut through the CA right at the bushing. my experience with this is nicking the barrel of the pen but that could just be me. anyway the idea is to cut away thick CA before trying to remove the bushings.
 

leehljp

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I will add that I have had dents occur easily with softer woods and thin finishes. I have some huon pine that can show 100 years of rings/growth on a single pen. When I put 3 or 4 coats of thin, or just enough to create a good finish from end to end without any flat spots - on a couple of these pens, they dented real easily. I did this a little over a year ago and that was part of the reason I changed to a thicker coating.

I also don't do production like Rudy does, but If I did do production, this would be the basic method that I would use.

Thanks Mannie for your input. Next time I am home, I will look into getting that spray set-up.

I eliminated chips on the end when I went to mandrel-less turning and finishing. I use either a razor knife to trim any excess CA off, or a barrel sander on delicate blanks.
 

Chasper

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I use almost exactly the same method as Rudy described with two changes:
1. I rarely use accelerator, the CA usually heats up and cures from the paper towel only.
2. I apply the CA at full turning speed, 3750 RPM or something like that.

If all works right, its under five minutes from putting down the skew to starting assembly, but I usually turn a dozen or so sets of blanks before I assemble any of them.
 

Daniel

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Mannie, I don't know how smooth Rudy's finish goes on but I have never found a way to apply the CA without at least some ridges. I like the wax paper simply because it is the best I have found. I also thought this had at least some part in using BLO also but my experience with BLO is non existent so why listen to me on that?
the trick for me is to keep the ridges small so I can start sanding with the smallest grit possible. I think if you can get the CA on consistently smooth enough to start sanding with 1500 MM you would have a nearly fail safe method.
 

Daniel

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Gerry, How do you keep from wearing more CA than the blank? I have had CA fling all over me, the lathe, the wall behind me at these speeds.
 
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Although I did use CA alone. once I tried BLO/CA I ended up with a smooth surface that didn't require sanding. I occasionally try the thin CA applied with a baggy on the finger method, but I almost always end up with ridges. I don't use accelerator on the finishes.

Larry
 

marcruby

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Daniel;

Most of my ridge problems vanished when I stopped using anything but thin CA. Another big piece of the problem vanished when I started using rubber glove fingers for application. I did use the plastic bagging from the kit but I found that is also prone to create ridges if the coat is too heavy.

Which brings me to my third observation. Rudy is indeed correct - a coat is thin enough when you don't get ridges (or lumps or bumps). Whether you use four coats or 6 or 8, if you keep this in mind the problem is completely controllable.

Marc
 

Chasper

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Gerry, How do you keep from wearing more CA than the blank? I have had CA fling all over me, the lathe, the wall behind me at these speeds.
The paper towel is touching the blank when the CA is dribbled on, it doesn't fling out because it only makes half a revolution before being rubbed on. I think the higher speed causes it to set up faster, that eliminates the need for accelerator and it is the accelerator that causes rough finishes.
 

W3DRM

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... I got one of the refillable aerosol cans you can pressurize from HF. ...



Monty, I have a question regarding the refillable aerosol spray cans from Harbor Freight.
  1. I see they have two models available. both of them are 16oz cans Item 1102-7VGA (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=1102) & 65297-0VGA (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=65297). I see they both have multiple spray nozzles. Which model do you use and, which nozzle?
 
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NewLondon88

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the trick for me is to keep the ridges small so I can start sanding with the smallest grit possible. I think if you can get the CA on consistently smooth enough to start sanding with 1500 MM you would have a nearly fail safe method.
I've had good luck using a makeup brush (tiny foam applicator on a stick)
to spread the Medium CA along the blank without ridges. When I apply the
CA, I do it with the blank between the live and dead center (gently!, you
don't want to flare the tube) so there is no cutting away from the bushings.

And after that I use the pen mill with the mill reversed and a little hole
poked in a small piece of 320 sandpaper to sand the ends. (poor man's
sanding mill) I chuck it into the power drill and square everything up.

So far, so good..
 

bradh

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The paper towel is touching the blank when the CA is dribbled on, it doesn't fling out because it only makes half a revolution before being rubbed on. I think the higher speed causes it to set up faster, that eliminates the need for accelerator and it is the accelerator that causes rough finishes.
Accelerator is one cause of ridges. I believe ridges can occur anytime the CA sets before it has a chance to flow smooth. I find I get a smoother finish with medium CA instead of thin. I also find I can get ridges when I spead the CA out too much and the coating gets too thin; thin layers of CA sets up faster than a thicker coating.
The thickness of CA is a balancing act; too thick and you get great flow that then orange peels because it sets so slow.
I use these signs to tell how to adjust the thickness. Orange peel - use less CA next time. Ridges - use more CA or don't spead it out as much.
When I get it right, I find I can start at 4000 MM.
 
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baker4456

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I have used the thin CA up to thick. I have better results with the thick CA and accelerator. I like to build it up a little more so I can sand it back with 1500 MM to ensure no pits. I only apply 2 or 3 coats so the results may be the same as the thin. I have found that using accelerator on the first coat will allow me to apply the second coat without accelerator because there will be residual on the surface. The work goes very fast.
 

Monty

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... I think if you can get the CA on consistently smooth enough to start sanding with 1500 MM you would have a nearly fail safe method.
Daniel, I think you hit the nail on the head here. I have found that there are times I can start sanding with 2400MM if it's real smooth and other times I have to start with 1500 or even go back to sandpaper.

Monty, I have a question regarding the refillable aerosol spray cans from Harbor Freight.
  1. I see they have two models available. both of them are 16oz cans Item 1102-7VGA (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=1102) & 65297-0VGA (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=65297). I see they both have multiple spray nozzles. Which model do you use and, which nozzle?
I have the 1102-7VGA, I think both are basically the same. I use the nozzle that gives the finest spray (UMMV).
 

NewLondon88

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The paper towel is touching the blank when the CA is dribbled on, it doesn't fling out because it only makes half a revolution before being rubbed on. I think the higher speed causes it to set up faster, that eliminates the need for accelerator and it is the accelerator that causes rough finishes.
I would think that the higher speeds would cause ridges, too.
Centrifugal force would tend to 'fling' the CA, as mentioned, but molecules
of liquid tend to adhere to each other, causing a buildup. Then the centrifugal
force would push the CA away from the blank ..causing a ridge.

At least, that's how it works in the little movie in my head.. :tongue:
(and you should see some of these movies..)
 

jttheclockman

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All I can say I have seen Rudy's pens in person a few weeks ago and whatever he is doing he is doing a great job!!!! They were flawless. I am a new comer so do not have much experience but from what I have played with i too like the thin CA and only 3 or 4 coats. I did not think it was necessary to build it up and then sand it down and then build it up again. I am sure as I get more experience I too will find my own way but will be trying Rudy's way for a bit.
 

DozerMite

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All these different methods. All I've ever done is use my finger with med. CA and lathe at 1800 rpm. It comes out very smooth and very little sanding. CA only on the blank and a layer on my finger that peels off.
 

Firefyter-emt

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The chipping CA and glue on bushings led me to apply CA to one blank at a time while held without bushings between centers. This led to my sander-mills to fine trim the CA flat without chipping at the edges. Give it a try, you might just like it!
 

JimB

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I'm still getting better at the CA finish but right now I have settled on thin CA then BLO applied with wax paper. I apply to the wax paper only one or two drops of CA depending on the size of the blank and go back and forth across the blank several/many times for about 15 seconds and then only one drop of BLO applied the same way. When applying I start the lathe at about 1100 rpm and then speed it up to 2600 (or whatever the low/high speeds are on my Jet1014VS on the middle pully setting) as I'm going back and forth. I use the same spot on the wax paper for both the CA and BLO. I wipe off excess blow with a paper towel. I do anywhere from 8 to 10 coats this way. I do some sanding/mm depending on how smooth it is. It has been getting smoother as I get more experience.
 

johnkofi

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Rudy.... You are the MAN!!!! I have been struggling with the BLO/CA finish for a while, it was always a hit or miss on getting a decent finish.
I tried your method on three pens that were ordered, the finish turned out perfectly and it was very easy to do. I did nearly $100 worth of pens in less than 3 hours!!!

Thanks -
 

Rudy Vey

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Rudy, neither this or Daniels thread have addressed what, at least for me, was the biggest problem when I was doing CA finishes. How to get a well defined, square edge at ends of the barrel.

I tried wax the bushings and I also tried finishing between centers. But I often got chips on the CA at the ends or rounded over edges.

I was just curious how you deal with that issue.
I had no problems in removing the bushings and CA breaking out, but I can imagine if a finish is built thick it might do so. Also, I would not recommend to put wax on the bushings, it will interfere with any finish. Never had a problem removing the bushings from the blank. If they stick, just "break" them off.
 

rick_lindsey

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I started playing with a CA finish today, and while the results are promising I clearly have a ways to go. I was using a paper towel applicator and "thin" (though I think it may have thickened with age) CA. I would wet out the blank and rub back and forth with the towel. If I kept rubbing long enough, the glue would get tacky and rip off a piece of my paper towel. If I stopped sooner the blank would still be wet. Am I doing something wrong, or is my glue just old?

I don't have any accelerator, and am unlikely to have a chance to go get some this week -- should I just hold off on CA finishes until I get the accelerator? I don't mind letting it sit a few minutes if that's what it needs. I was also able to turn it at 1800rpm without flinging the glue (though as mentioned previously it was thicker than i think "thin" CA should be), so i might be able to get a little heat from the towel rub if that helps.

thanks!

-Rick
 
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NewLondon88

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I started playing with a CA finish today, and while the results are promising I clearly have a ways to go. I was using a paper towel applicator and "thin" (though I think it may have thickened with age) CA. I would wet out the blank and rub back and forth with the towel. If I kept rubbing long enough, the glue would get tacky and rip off a piece of my paper towel. If I stopped sooner the blank would still be wet. Am I doing something wrong, or is my glue just old?
It sounds old to me. The CA might not 'fling' off if it is being picked up by the paper towel, but it just sounds old.

many don't use accelerator, a few extra seconds is often all it takes. You're putting on very thin coats.
 

cozee

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As they say, no pictures it didn't happen, sooooo..




These were all done with a very simple CA application. Well, not the third one down, it is an acrylic!! I have 2 ways of sanding the CA, all depends on what I feel like doing . . .

After final turning. I apply 3 coats of thick CA setting each coat with pump accelerator, both CA and accelerator from Monty). Coats are applied with a piece of 3 x 5 card.

After final coat, if there are any "ridges" or wakes as I call them, I turn them off with a flat nosed scraper. Wet MM from 1500 (prefer to start with 1800) out to 12,000, buff on the lathe with compound and wax.

I have also used 600 and 1200 grit wet papers then went to 2000 and 4000 Abralon (wet) pads then compound and wax.

Neither method takes me more than 5 minutes and the latter can be done in just a couple.

I do sand out the finish on my acrylics the same way.
 
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