EnduroVar on Wooden Pen Bodies

Signed-In Members Don't See This Ad


Jul 24, 2016
Cincinnati Ohio
The following describes a process used to apply gloss EnduroVar to cherry and black walnut pen bodies expected to be used constantly and carried in often sweaty pants pockets. EnduroVar, made by General Finishes, is a water borne urethane and an alternative for those who don’t want to use cyanoacrylate (CA) glue.

It is likely gloss EnduroVar will not buff/polish to as high a sheen as acrylic because urethane is not as hard. I don’t have acrylic pens to compare with, and constant carrying of the pens in a pants pocket with spare change and such is expected to decrease the sheen anyway.

Others should feel free to modify the series of steps and share the results – it is not suggested this sequence is the best way of finishing wooden pen bodies with gloss EnduroVar. It was able to produce a repeatable finish that seems acceptable for an everyday pen, and is intended merely as a starting point for others who wish to experiment with this finish. The pens used in the test were a black cherry Streamline/titanium gold, a Streamline/black titanium, a black walnut Elegant American/titanium gold, and a black walnut Cigar Pen/black titanium, all from Berea HardWoods. Each of the four pens has two wooden pen bodies.

EnduroVar is water cleanup, low odor, and gives a slight amber tint to the wood. The smallest quantity seems to be one pint cans.

After drilling blanks and gluing the tubes with two part epoxy, the ends were dressed 24 hours later with a pen mill.

On an A mandrel with the appropriate bushings, the pen bodies were turned just until round.

Because of the expected sweaty pants pockets exposure, the milled ends of the pen bodies were dabbed with EnduroVar twice, with one hour dry time between, then allowed to dry overnight.

To sand excess finish on the ends, one end at a time was held firmly against a quarter sheet of 400 grit sandpaper on a smooth table top, then the sandpaper twirled clockwise and counterclockwise. This seemed the most likely approach to keeping the ends flat and perpendicular to the tubes. By doing this before turning the bodies to final shape, the ends were a much larger diameter providing a larger contact area with the sandpaper.

The bodies were finish turned using an “A” mandrel and the appropriate bushings, then sanded using 220, 320, and 400 grit sandpaper. With each grit, they were sanded first at about 200 RPM, then with the lathe off sanded along the length of the bodies to remove rotational sanding scratches. The bodies then were wiped with a paper towel wetted with distilled water. After drying, they were lightly sanded with 400 grit to removed raised grain.

To apply the finish, one pair of bodies was mounted in turn on an “A” mandrel using non-stick bushings. The bodies were mounted with the largest end out and the smallest end facing each other, which seemed to make it easier to evenly spread the finish over the full lengths of the bodies.

Several ounces of EnduroVar were poured into a squeeze bottle with a spout.

The applicator was a piece of paper towel folded over several times until about ½” wide. A few drops of EnduroVar were put on the paper towel for each application on each pen body. The same spot of paper towel was used 3 or 4 times, then the back side, then the next spot on the paper towel, and so on.

For each application, the lathe was set to about 300 RPM. The paper towel with EnduroVar was lightly wiped back and forth usually 8-15 pairs of passes on one body, a few more drops on the paper towel and the other body was similarly wiped. The paper towel applicator was always moving to the left or right when lifted off the pen body. If the paper towel started to drag after 8 or more pairs of passes wiping stopped, otherwise it continued for 15 pairs of passes. From beginning of the wiping, the lathe was run at 300 RPM for 30 seconds to level the just applied finish; then it was increased to 1000 RPM for 60 seconds so that the just applied EnduroVar became dry to the touch. In higher humidity or lower temperature environments the one minute might have to be extended until the just applied EnduroVar is dry to the touch. No attempt was made to burnish the just applied coat of finish with friction.

Four to six of these applications was made for one pair of pen bodies. Then the pair of pen bodies in was carefully slid onto a stiff wire suspended between two pieces of wood, so that all surfaces were exposed to the air.

Continue with the next pair of pen bodies.

The pen bodies were allowed to dry for about 48 hours. (According the manufacturer’s information, EnduroVar dries quickly as the water evaporates, but curing involves chemical bonding with oxygen and can take up to a week. It is possible that the EnduroVar shrinks as it cures like some other finishes, so on coarser woods like black walnut, oak, wenge and similar if a pore-filled finish is desired it might be helpful to wait a week after the first set of applications of the finish to the pen bodies before level sanding.)

After 48 hours, each pair of pen bodies in turn was mounted on an A mandrel with the appropriate bushings and level sanded with 400 grit sandpaper. There were few ridges and bumps to remove. Can’t remember if the pores in the black walnut pen bodies were completely filled.

One pair of pen bodies was mounted on an A mandrel with non-stick bushings as before, and another 6 to 10 applications of EnduroVar were made as before. After the last application on each pair of pen bodies the lathe was allowed to run at 1000 RPM for 5 minutes instead of one.

The pair of pen bodies were slid onto a stiff wire suspended between two pieces of wood and allowed to dry/cure for a week.

Continue with the next pair of pen bodies.

After a week to dry/cure, carefully sand any buildup of the finish on the ends of the pen bodies as before.

Mount a pair of pen bodies on an A mandrel with the appropriate bushings. Level sand with a 1500 grit or equivalent sanding pad, then lightly sand with 2400, 4000, and 12000 grit or equivalent sanding pads.

Continue with the next pair of pen bodies.


As expected for a fine grained wood, the black cherry pen bodies are completely smooth. The more open grain black walnut pen bodies are not quite completely pore filled, which some may find unacceptable.

The process is time consuming, both in application of the finish and in dry/cure times. But it is not technically or physically challenging. EnduroVar is likely to keep in a tightly resealed can for months in a suitable environment, and is not especially expensive.
Top Bottom