Dyed pen blank “naked” inside

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Hi All, I have a question about dyed blanks and if this is normal (and if not if I should try to return/ask woodcraft for something else).

Yesterday at my local woodcraft, I purchased a hot pink curly maple pen blank. It’s HIGHLY figured (it’s really amazing looking) but as I went to cut & drill the blank yesterday, I noticed that the pink dye only made it into the blank about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way thru the wood & not evenly. I cut the blank in half to prep for tubes and I saw that the dye went thru on a diagonal and so half the blank is a pink triangle inside and the other half is basically plain maple. I sanded down a mini chunk of it and the inside is plain maple with a hint of pink fibers.

This pen is for my grandmother; she is turning 94 next week and flamingo pink is her favorite color. I had wanted to make a slimline (because it’s light and has more wood showing than a heavier Wall Street 2 pen) but if I turn the wood down to a slimline size, there will be NO pink showing on the wood. I don’t want to use an acrylic pen blank because my grandpa, (her late husband), was a woodworker and I want to present her with a wood pen as an homage to him as well.

Does this happen with all dyed pen blanks? Should I go in to woodcraft today with my cut up blank and show them my issue and ask for a new one (or is this a “you get what you get” gamble type of purchase?) I understand the density (& amazing figure) of the curly maple can make dyeing difficult, so maybe a spalted tamarind would be a better choice?
I don’t have any means to dye my own blanks (at least right now) and I need to get this made and mailed ASAP so I don’t quite know how to proceed. I have some hot pink Wilton gel food coloring that I might be able to rub in to a complete blank before sealing, but that kind of defeats the point of spending $9 on a pink blank.

What are your thoughts on trying to take it back and choose something else?
 
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MRDucks2

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You should take your blank back to Woodcraft and request a replacement. I expect they will happily do so.

From my experience all maple dyes very nicely through to the center. It can be made to dye to different consistencies to create a weathered or worn look but should be so noted. By the same token, any batch of dyed blanks could have a stinker in it that was not dry enough or didn’t take dye well.
 

KenB259

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Personally, I would continue on. I have had some dyed maple blanks where the dye has not penetrated as far as I thought they should and the pens turned out pretty well. Blanks have a way of surprising you :)
 

leehljp

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An alternative is to go to a crafts shop and look for a large set of magic markers that has pink. It has been a long time since I did this and don't remember if I used water soluble or dye-fast type, but it worked. I had to let the blank sit for a day after applying the marker color, and then applied CA over it. Others may be more experienced with this specific technique than I am. With markers, you turn to the correct size and sand, if you use sanding to get it the smoothest, then apply the marker to the blank as it is turning at the slowest setting on the lathe. Let it set for about 10 to 12 hours before applying the finish.

Some types of markers smear with different types of finishes and not with others, making finishing more tricky. I think that water soluble type would be less likely to smear with CA.

What finish will you use? That dictates which type of marker to use.

Maybe someone else can give more specifics. . .
 
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An alternative is to go to a crafts shop and look for a large set of magic markers that has pink. It has been a long time since I did this and don't remember if I used water soluble or dye-fast type, but it worked. I had to let the blank sit for a day after applying the marker color, and then applied CA over it. Others may be more experienced with this specific technique than I am. With markers, you turn to the correct size and sand, if you use sanding to get it the smoothest, then apply the marker to the blank as it is turning at the slowest setting on the lathe. Let it set for about 10 to 12 hours before applying the finish.

Some types of markers smear with different types of finishes and not with others, making finishing more tricky. I think that water soluble type would be less likely to smear with CA.

What finish will you use? That dictates which type of marker to use.

Maybe someone else can give more specifics. . .
At this point I can’t do a decent CA finish to save my life (maybe I need better CA? But my first can of CA accelerant is arriving today so maybe that will help matters). So I use HUT Krystal coat. It’s “ok” but never gives me the high shine I like (even after using all the micro mesh pads). A glossy finish is all I can achieve with it.
But I like wood to “feel like wood” and not acrylic, so I’ve had a hard time finding a friction polish that gives a super high shine without imparting a super thick coating that loses all the texture of the wood. (I also don’t want to drop $25-35 on each bottle of finish at woodcraft to find one I like, so I just keep using the HUT 🤷🏻‍♀️)
 

leehljp

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Lauren,

I know this will be beyond your level at this point, but it may be something to shoot for in the future: A dulled CA coating will both protect well and give the feel of wood. After a good thick layer of CA is applied and even a smooth consistent shine is showing, the use of 000 steel wool or 3600 grit MicroMesh lightly over the shine - that will kill the shine and give a tactile feel of wood as though it had been finished with a wax like finish a few days before.

Clear lacquer is another alternative as it dries reasonably fast (15 - 30 minutes with 24 hours curing). Again, a pink marker, let it set for a few hours and then "dip" the blank into the lacquer.

Read over this list and see if you can find one that works for you:

Here is a PDF for "dipping". Click on the image in that link: https://www.penturners.org/resources/pen-finish-dipping-method.139/

It is in our Library. JUST NOTCED - That PDF uses polyurethane, which is fine, but lacquer works just as well.

It may not work, but it is an alternative to CA.
 
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You should take your blank back to Woodcraft and request a replacement. I expect they will happily do so.

From my experience all maple dyes very nicely through to the center. It can be made to dye to different consistencies to create a weathered or worn look but should be so noted. By the same token, any batch of dyed blanks could have a stinker in it that was not dry enough or didn’t take dye well.
59BEB66A-8F7F-40FA-82AB-FEA9ADF03EEB.jpeg

It’s “pretty” and all... but not the all over hot pink flamingo look I had thought I was buying. And this is on a “Wall Street” bushing. If I had turned it down to a 7mm slimline tube there would have been even less pink! 😬
A0EC2799-29FC-4D04-976B-0B548E97E26B.jpeg
 

KenB259

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I have had good luck with buying artists oil paints and thinning them with DNA. You don't need the expensive paint, cheap will do. Turn it to size apply the dye and let dry.
 

RGABEL

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I did some trials with alcohol inks and was impressed by the result. Took a few drops on a blue shop towel and rubbed over the turned blank. Took a ordinary looking maple blank and made it look impressive. Not sure how the HUT finish will react with it though.
 

DrD

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I dye a lot of maple. I start with undyed curly maple blanks, turn and sand the blanks to "finished "size. Then I dye them while on the lathe, spinning at lowest speed, with literally whatever I have on hand - food/cake coloring, Magic Markers, Trans-Tint, artist water colors - whatever. Let the dry for a day or two, then LIGHTLY sand with equivalent of 000 Steel Wool, eg the MicroMesh or the Miralon equivalents; I use Miralon Black followed by Miralon Tan. Follow that with Pens Plus or Dr. Mahoney's Utility Finish; don't need to use CA!

Hope this helps!

DrD
 

greenacres2

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From the picture, it looks likely that blank floated when it should have been soaking. I think a return is in order , especially with the photo. Just sent you a message for a possible alternative.
For what it’s worth..I dyed a few blanks with gel food color 2 or3 years ago...they are still sticky!!
earl
 

MRDucks2

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From the photo that is what I would call a weather or distressed dye job for a through dyed blank. I like the look on some applications.

The level of penetration you see on the pink corner is achievable all the way through on a dyed blank of maple. Some woods are more difficult and some colors are more difficult to get complete penetration but not maple and not pink. That is an easy combination.
 
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From the picture, it looks likely that blank floated when it should have been soaking. I think a return is in order , especially with the photo. Just sent you a message for a possible alternative.
For what it’s worth..I dyed a few blanks with gel food color 2 or3 years ago...they are still sticky!!
earl
I did end up going back to woodcraft today was told that the blank was defective (pretty in it’s curly ways but was supposed to be all the way pink). We grabbed the last one off the shelf ( it as curly of course!) and he cut part of the end off and it was pink all the way thru. So tomorrow I will see what happens when I turn it!
 

TDahl

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You might also consider applying Boiled Linseed Oil. I have used this on died blanks where the color seemed to fade during turning. BLO seemed to make the color pop. Do this before apply CA or any other finish.
 

NJturner

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I might also suggest that you consider GluBoost instead of the CA finish. I've used CA for a long time as a finish, sometimes with Boiled Linseed oil and CA, sometimes just CA. Works well and holds up way better than a hand rubbed oil finish on a pen. I steer away from accelerator when using CA as a finish - I think the accelerator kind of kills the texture, requiring more sanding. Just give it time to dry naturally.

I attended the recent MPG and Mark Dreyer demo'd GluBoost and it looks more durable and easier to apply then CA. I ordered some and am testing it on some blanks. So far, I like the look and applying like Mark suggested ( on a lathe that is off and just slowly rotated by hand to apply) it is WAY less messy than when I do CA. I have had to replace lots of face shields because the CA sprays as I do the finish with it, as the fast rotation helps with leveling the CA and drying it, without accelerator. GluBoost also has an accelerator, but it doesn't seem as harsh to the finish so far.
 

jttheclockman

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You have alot going on and others have given ideas to correct and in future finishing things which all is good. My thoughts are no not all woods will take a dye all the way through and not even maple. There are many types of maples and some are more closed cell than others and curly maple is one of them because the cells are random. This could have been the problem with that blank and the new one you picked up is less curly and more open celled so the dye was able to penetrate better. Not sure what the maker is using to dye them and what product he is using. Trantstint dyes are some of the more potent vibrant dyes as well as ink dyes and alcohol dyes. Waterbased not so much but on the right woods will work well.

Again I am not disputing others guidance and you take whatever info you want. But will tell you if using any oil based top coat will muddy the color of any type of dye unless you seal with a coat of shellac. As far as Glubost or CA is just a matter of choice and both probably will work well. I have used CA since I started over 15 years ago and can do a perfect CA finish which comes from practice but never will try Gluebost because I find no need to switch. My point here is whatever avenue you go down learn the process and become good at it and it will last with you.

As far as feel of wood, you can accomplish with CA as well as lacquers which I prefer. Hope the pen comes out well because it is a good intent and purpose. Good luck.
 
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I might also suggest that you consider GluBoost instead of the CA finish. I've used CA for a long time as a finish, sometimes with Boiled Linseed oil and CA, sometimes just CA. Works well and holds up way better than a hand rubbed oil finish on a pen. I steer away from accelerator when using CA as a finish - I think the accelerator kind of kills the texture, requiring more sanding. Just give it time to dry naturally.

I attended the recent MPG and Mark Dreyer demo'd GluBoost and it looks more durable and easier to apply then CA. I ordered some and am testing it on some blanks. So far, I like the look and applying like Mark suggested ( on a lathe that is off and just slowly rotated by hand to apply) it is WAY less messy than when I do CA. I have had to replace lots of face shields because the CA sprays as I do the finish with it, as the fast rotation helps with leveling the CA and drying it, without accelerator. GluBoost also has an accelerator, but it doesn't seem as harsh to the finish so far.
Good to know! Thanks! I’ve not heard of the GluBoost yet so I’ll try to locate some soon!
 
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