Finishing Pens with irregular surfaces

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KiwiBob

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Dec 31, 2017
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New Zealand
Generally I use CA and BLO to finish my pens.
However when I make pens with irregular surfaces such as deep groves or ridges I don't seem to be able to get a nice mirror like finish over the entire piece.
How the people on the forum finish their pens that have irregular surfaces?
 
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jttheclockman

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Feb 22, 2005
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Polish on a buffing wheel or use dip method with poly or spray lacquer from rattle can, or finally if using MM use the cloth backed stuff so you can get in the nooks and crannies.
 

dogcatcher

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I never made a pen as you describe, but on game calls that have stippled, checkered or carved features, I used an oil based finish like Teak, Danish or Tru-Oil. Not as durable as some of the others, but provided the best alternative. Search for "Frank Whiton classic gunstock finish" for a description of how to apply.
 

JimB

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West Henrietta, NY, USA.
You can also use a plastic polish with a paper towel. I use Huts. A picture of your pen and telling us your current method of polishing would be helpful.
 

donstephan

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Jul 24, 2016
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Cincinnati Ohio
If you make some shallow V grooves for decoration, for example, are you wanting the entire surface of the finish perfectly flat? Then the grooves have to be filled even with the rest of the surface film.

For example, if making a pen from red oak, which has very open pores, a perfectly smooth film finish would require 3-5 initial coats of most finishes, which will show where those open pores are. After 24 hours to cure and shrink, sand the finish back until those open pores are flush with the rest of the surface. If the finish used was gloss, it is relatively easy to see when you have sanded level - sanded areas will be dull, any unsanded spots of finish over the pores will still be shiny. If the applied finish was thin, that might mean you had to sand back to raw wood around the pores.

More coats of finish. Again, wait for the finish to shrink as it dries/cures.
 

sbwertz

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May 11, 2010
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Phoenix, AZ
Another solution for open pored wood like oak is to glue sand it. Put some medium CA glue on some 220 grit sandpaper and sand the piece. The sawdust from sanding will mix with the glue and fill the pores. Then sand and finish normally. You will still have the same grain pattern but it will be smooth and you can finish it to a high gloss. I do this on walnut when I need to burn a name on it. I fill my burns on dark wood with a metallic sharpie...gold, silver or copper depending on the kit....and if I don't fill the pores, I can't wipe off any excess metallic fill from the surface of the pen. If it has a good high gloss shine, I can simply wipe off the surface leaving only the burn filled. If I don't fill the grain, the metallic fill gets down into the open grain and I can't get it off. DAMHIKT.

I, too, have used CA/BLO finishes for many years. I have applied as many as 24 coats to get something like a stone inlay with fairly large chips completely smooth to the touch. You don't have to wait for it to dry between coats. It drys pretty much instantly if you use Young's method (google youtube young ca/blo for a video) Only thing I do differently is I put a little BLO on a piece of paper towel, and drip some medium CA on top of the BLO and apply them together. Equal parts CA and BLO. For a pen that is usually three drops of each.

You can also use many coats of CA/BLO to recover from overturning a pen blank so it is smaller than the nib. It will build up enough thickness that you can salvage the pen. That happens a lot at the blind center because the bushings get turned down. The only way they know they are at the bushings is when they hear the tool on the metal. I go through about three sets of slimline bushings a month!
 
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