CA finishing.....NOT getting the hang of it....

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BULLWINKLE

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Nov 8, 2010
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Winder Georgia
Fellow members HELP ! I have seen beautiful finishing done with CA and I have read (different methods) by those that have mastered it. Doesn't seem like it should be hard, but all I have tried (different methods described in forums) and my attempts all look awful! After NUMEROUS attempts, I finally started leaving a little excess material so that I could re-sand the sloppy CA I applied and used a different finish to salvage my turning. Finally, I am ready to give it one last shot. Some of the best (if not the very best) CA finishes I have seen were done by James Mann aka Fangar. I remember years ago, he posted his method on this site in a downloadable file. I have NOT been able to locate it as this site has grown so much over the years..... If anyone can send a link, I would greatly appreciate it. This will be my last attempt to get it right and if it fails, I will continue a lacquer finish, as I am very frustrated. Lastly, many say use BLO and others say it isn't the way they do theirs. What does BLO do for the process? I have also figured out that creating heat messes it up bad (changing dry CA to a gummy mess) , so I slowed my lathe down and used Abranet as it doesn't get as hot as Micromesh seems to. My last attempt was smooth as glass and I was delighted until the pen developed horizontal (across the grain visible whitish striations).... What happened there? Thank to everyone in advance for their time in helping! Bullwinkle aka CA challenged
 
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its_virgil

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Jan 1, 2004
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Wichita Falls, TX, USA.
Even though many have tried and failed and finally given up using CA glue as a finish the process is not difficult. There are several "how to" articles in the library. There are also countless CA glue finish techniques on Youtube using boiled linseed oil and not using boiled linseed oil. There are even a few websites like How to Get a Fast, Consistent CA Pen Finish! that sould be of help. But, you ask for Fangar's method so here it is:
CA finish for pens????? look down the thread to about the 3rd or 4th post.

Do a good turn daily!
Don

Fellow members HELP ! I have seen beautiful finishing done with CA and I have read (different methods) by those that have mastered it. Doesn't seem like it should be hard, but all I have tried (different methods described in forums) and my attempts all look awful! After NUMEROUS attempts, I finally started leaving a little excess material so that I could re-sand the sloppy CA I applied and used a different finish to salvage my turning. Finally, I am ready to give it one last shot. Some of the best (if not the very best) CA finishes I have seen were done by James Mann aka Fangar. I remember years ago, he posted his method on this site in a downloadable file. I have NOT been able to locate it as this site has grown so much over the years..... If anyone can send a link, I would greatly appreciate it. This will be my last attempt to get it right and if it fails, I will continue a lacquer finish, as I am very frustrated. Lastly, many say use BLO and others say it isn't the way they do theirs. What does BLO do for the process? I have also figured out that creating heat messes it up bad (changing dry CA to a gummy mess) , so I slowed my lathe down and used Abranet as it doesn't get as hot as Micromesh seems to. My last attempt was smooth as glass and I was delighted until the pen developed horizontal (across the grain visible whitish striations).... What happened there? Thank to everyone in advance for their time in helping! Bullwinkle aka CA challenged
 

BURLMAN

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May 5, 2011
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Chattanooga, TN
Here's my method that I have recently started using with good results.

Before turning seal each end of the blank with either thin CA or clear finger nail hardener.

After turning, sand and MM through 12000 (others may think that is overkill, and they may be right. Just the way I do it.)
Carefully inspect the blank for scratches as you go through the above steps; sand lengthwise if there are any.

Clean sanded blank with either DNA or Acetone.

Lathe speed to slow.

Cut a finger off of a Nitrile glove and put it on your forefinger.

With lathe running put a small drop of thin CA on the glove and apply it to the under side of the blank with quick back and forth motions. You can apply 5 or 6 coats very quickly this way. Switch the medium CA and do the same, never using more than a small drop on the finger condum. I don't use accelerator. After you've applied the number of coats you want, go take a nap, eat lunch or whatever. After about 30 minutes your blank will e dry and pretty smooth. Wet MM starting with black through 12000, trim any excess CA off the ends and you're done.

I've been doing it this way for several months now and am very pleased with the results.

BTW, none of the above steps is an original thought of mine. My method is a combination of techniques that I have gleaned from many contributors on this forum.
 

Jim Burr

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Feb 23, 2010
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Reno, Nv
I run my blank at about 1500ish, Delrin bushings or wax...whatever floats your boat. Fold a paper towl until it's about 3" square...please don't measure it! I cup that under the blank with my index and middle fingers. Over the blank and just to the rear of it, I hold my CA with my right hand. With the lathe running, I drop CA on to the paper towel 4-5 drops at a time as I move the paper left to right, right to left for about 3-4 seconds. Let the CA dry and repeat. Sand as you like...I usually start with 400 dry and the MM wetsand thru the grits. Hope that helps!
 

BULLWINKLE

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Nov 8, 2010
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Location
Winder Georgia
MANY THANKS ...Between the few listed methods, I hope I can FINALLY master this finish! If not, well nobody can say I didn't give it my best shot! Thanks again....
Bullwinkle
 
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Claremont NH
It really doesn't matter what you use to finish your pen it takes practice. You are not going to get CA to give you just the perfect finish the fist, second, third and so on time you use it. The same is true with almost any finish it takes practice and technique to get it down. An article can give you a technique but it cannot give you experience. I didn't start right out with the finish that I use getting the finish I get now it took dozens of pens to get to the point that I am at now and it is still improving. Don't loose heart keep trying and don't expect to move the mountain in one day! Don't give up either.
 

paintspill

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Apr 17, 2011
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toronto, ontario, canada.
i have cursed out a ca finish more than a few times, from what i read the one thing that jumped out at me is that you mentioned the micromesh getting hot. i'm wondering if you are using it wet (as it should be used) other then that, i'm with the practice thing mentioned above.
 

butchf18a

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Dec 3, 2010
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woodland, wa
Not about to add my methodology to the already extensive list. My best advice is keep it simple. Use smooth flowing application with good old regular paper towels. If you are sanding, regardless of the material, to the point where you are building up excess heat, you are sanding too long, with too much pressure. All your sanding needs accomplish is to knock off the slight ridges that may form. A smooth application will keep those to a minimum to non-existent. Finish polish with micro mesh wet, a little dish liquid in the water doesn't hurt.

Next best piece of advice....keep working at it, once you get it you'll be glad you had the fortitude to stick through the learning curve.
 

Dan Masshardt

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Jan 30, 2013
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Mechanicsburg, PA
What would you say is the major problem with your ca application? It's not even? It doesn't sand / finish well after application?

The best advice would be to find someone close to you who does consistently good ca finishes and meet with them. I'd say that gets you wherever you need to be.

Online forums are wonderful, but some things are better in person.
 
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BULLWINKLE

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Joined
Nov 8, 2010
Messages
14
Location
Winder Georgia
It really doesn't matter what you use to finish your pen it takes practice. You are not going to get CA to give you just the perfect finish the fist, second, third and so on time you use it. The same is true with almost any finish it takes practice and technique to get it down. An article can give you a technique but it cannot give you experience. I didn't start right out with the finish that I use getting the finish I get now it took dozens of pens to get to the point that I am at now and it is still improving. Don't loose heart keep trying and don't expect to move the mountain in one day! Don't give up either.

Thanks Mike... Actually, I have turned for years and did (and still do flat-work. Basically, I can finish with the best of them, on ANY finish but CA. My lacquer is like glass, I urethane superbly etc. Guess I am just CA challenged...DAVE
 

BULLWINKLE

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Nov 8, 2010
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Location
Winder Georgia
I live in Tucker. I realize that isn't exactly next door but I would be willing for you to come by and see how I apply my CA finish and do some of your own if none of the above suggestions work out.

Mike
Mike, I am going to try again on my own a few times, and if I still have issues, I will take you up on your generous offer. Also gives me an excuse to eat at Bambinelli's as well. Haven't gone there in a long time since gas is so high now. Thanks .. Bullwinkle
 

edstreet

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Aug 12, 2007
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No longer confused....
This thread seemed to divert more into the 'how to do a CA finish' rather than what you wanted which was 'why is the white cloudy spot there'

There are a good number of 'problems' that can and will develop with CA ranging from cracked looks, white cloudy look, chipping, and a whole slew of other things. Not all of it is related to what you do as there has been speculation, reports and so forth of certain accelerators and brands of CA causing things.

However there is the issue of the white spot, I have seen that from heat, also from residual oils or what not on/in the wood before pouring on the CA. I think many use things like DNA or acetone to clean the blank very good before adding CA.
 

tomas

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Jul 12, 2010
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Rio Rancho, NM
I live in Tucker. I realize that isn't exactly next door but I would be willing for you to come by and see how I apply my CA finish and do some of your own if none of the above suggestions work out.

Mike
Mike, I am going to try again on my own a few times, and if I still have issues, I will take you up on your generous offer. Also gives me an excuse to eat at Bambinelli's as well. Haven't gone there in a long time since gas is so high now. Thanks .. Bullwinkle
Bullwinkle,

It sounds to me that you may be holding the paper towel against the wood too long. I use medium CA and make 2 back and forth passes on the blank per coat. Any more than that and I can feel the towel start to catch on the CA. I apply the CA directly to the towel and apply 16 coats with a couple of spritzes of accelerator in between. Also, be sure to go completely off the end of the blank.

Rocky (Tomas)
 

Steve Busey

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Jul 9, 2008
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Marietta, GA.
Dave, don't forget the special formulation Stick Fast came up with to simplify CA pen finishing. You can see our own Russell Eaton demonstrate it here.

Disclosure: I have no relation to Stick Fast, except as a satisfied customer...
 

Tom D

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Jul 1, 2009
Messages
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Columbia, SC
I think there are as many ways of applying CA as the number of post you will get. My advise would be to pick one then make it your own. When I started turning pens the first five pens came out what I thought was good then things went to hell in a hand basket. After trying everyone's method someone on this forum suggested I get a piece of wood and practice until it works. I did just that and I haven't had to trash a pen since.
 

Bryan

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Aug 14, 2019
Messages
6
Location
NC
I tried foam and plastic bags, both didn’t produce the results I wanted.
Here’s my method: I wrap my fingers with masking tape and use paper towels. The lathe needs to be running very slowly. Four coats of thin CA, throw away the paper towel each time, with no accelerator. Micro mesh the four coarsest grits. Apply one more coat of thin. For some reason my thin CA gets really hot and smokes. I then apply multiple coats of medium (at least four). After each coat I wait a few seconds, turn the lathe back on a mist with a quality accelerator. Once I am satisfied with the thickness, I micro mesh through all the grits and they look great. I always wet sand with micro mesh, even wood.
Four things I have learned: paper towels work best, make sure the lathe is slow and turn it off to prevent runs or bunching of finish. Always sand back and forth after sanding with the lathe on. Thin CA will burn you.
I hope this helps, I started CA about two weeks ago and now they all look great. Stick with it, you will find what works for you.


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