Finishing Process for Alumilite Cast Blanks

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mgoetzke

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Aug 10, 2021
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I made my first pen label castings this past weekend. Fred Wissen was a world of help for my project. I made a total of 8 blanks and they came out great.

I’m not new to turning but have only turned half a dozen pens with wood blanks. The last couple looked great after I got better with GluBoost finish.

I have found on the wood blanks a skew has worked well. I have turned some acrylic and delrin and found a round carbide negative rake cutter worked the best. Is this the best tool for Alumilite?

For finishing I have seen sanding, wet sanding, plastic scratch remover, and even GluBoost. Can experience pen turners please share there processes?

Thanks
Mike
 
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JohnU

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Congrats Mike! It’s always a new level of fun when you construct the blank your turning. I’m guessing you’ll get a variety of answers to your questions, but for me…
Turn my resin blanks close to size with my EasyWood carbide and then put the finishing touches with a HSS skew. I prefer this because it’s less aggressive and I can add my preferred subtle shape.
For finishing I like to apply a Gluboost finish. I usually only sand at 400 grit to smooth out any tool marks and then lightly apply #OOOO steel wool to remove scratches. For just resin I only use the orange label (thin) Gluboost. For hybrids or embedded objects I’ll use the blue and orange. I apply 5-6 layers and then hit it again with the steel wool prior to using all 9 grits of micromesh (wet). I finish with Novus polish. Sometimes I’ll buff on the 3 wheel system if I see any minor marks in the finish.
I know many don’t apply CA and just buff the resin but I feel you’ll get more of a glass like finish using Gluboost. Urethane resins just don’t shine as clear when naked. I used to use other CA brands but Gluboost orange and blue label are made to be a finish and not just a CA and I really like the end results and it keeps a shine much longer than without.
With Polyester Resin like Silmar 41, I don’t apply a finish and just sand, micromesh and buff for a great finish. Hope this gives you some ideas. Good luck!
 

mgoetzke

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Messages
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Location
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Congrats Mike! It’s always a new level of fun when you construct the blank your turning. I’m guessing you’ll get a variety of answers to your questions, but for me…
Turn my resin blanks close to size with my EasyWood carbide and then put the finishing touches with a HSS skew. I prefer this because it’s less aggressive and I can add my preferred subtle shape.
For finishing I like to apply a Gluboost finish. I usually only sand at 400 grit to smooth out any tool marks and then lightly apply #OOOO steel wool to remove scratches. For just resin I only use the orange label (thin) Gluboost. For hybrids or embedded objects I’ll use the blue and orange. I apply 5-6 layers and then hit it again with the steel wool prior to using all 9 grits of micromesh (wet). I finish with Novus polish. Sometimes I’ll buff on the 3 wheel system if I see any minor marks in the finish.
I know many don’t apply CA and just buff the resin but I feel you’ll get more of a glass like finish using Gluboost. Urethane resins just don’t shine as clear when naked. I used to use other CA brands but Gluboost orange and blue label are made to be a finish and not just a CA and I really like the end results and it keeps a shine much longer than without.
With Polyester Resin like Silmar 41, I don’t apply a finish and just sand, micromesh and buff for a great finish. Hope this gives you some ideas. Good luck!
Thanks for the reply. We are almost neighbors - I'm in Orland Park, IL. My wife actually wants to go to Starved Rock this weekend.

I have an EasyWood negative rake carbide cutter that I can start with. When I started making a few wood pens I purchased a new Crown Tools Colwin Way M2 Cyro 1-1/4" skew. Had to have one after seeing his video. Sounds large for a pen but I feel comfortable using it.

Thanks for the hints on finishing. Can I use automotive scratch/swirl remover or is the Novus formulated differently? So for best results do you apply polish and then 3 stage buff or bypass the polish and 3-stage buff instead?

Thanks
 

JohnU

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I live about 10 miles from Starved Rock. They have a very large grove of sweet gum trees at the boat launch area. I’ve had permission to pick a few pods for casting over the years.
I like to use Novus but it probably doesn’t make much difference when polishing a finish. I wouldn’t use it on raw wood but for acrylics it’s all good. You can skip the polish if your buffing. For me it all depends on the finished surface. Sometimes I feel polish is enough but if I see marks left from sanding that I can’t get out with polish, I’ll buff it. I try not to apply a lot of pressure when using micromesh so I don’t leave deep marks in the surface. Since I give most of my pens away, I don’t put them under a microscope (so to speak) when I finish them. If I were selling them I would probably spend the extra time to buff them all.
 

mgoetzke

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I live about 10 miles from Starved Rock. They have a very large grove of sweet gum trees at the boat launch area. I’ve had permission to pick a few pods for casting over the years.
I like to use Novus but it probably doesn’t make much difference when polishing a finish. I wouldn’t use it on raw wood but for acrylics it’s all good. You can skip the polish if your buffing. For me it all depends on the finished surface. Sometimes I feel polish is enough but if I see marks left from sanding that I can’t get out with polish, I’ll buff it. I try not to apply a lot of pressure when using micromesh so I don’t leave deep marks in the surface. Since I give most of my pens away, I don’t put them under a microscope (so to speak) when I finish them. If I were selling them I would probably spend the extra time to buff them all.
I started to turn the first Alumilite blank. The carbide EasyWood NR round cutter didn't seem to be very aggressive but I used it until the blank was round. I then switched to the skew and it seems to be slightly more aggressive but I'm new to this so maybe I wasn't putting enough pressure with the carbide cutter? I was cutting a little above center - maybe that was the issue?

The skew is doing it's job now but the thin hair it produces is really slowing me down not to mention at times it covers my view. There must be a way to clear these strings without shutting down and painfully pulling at them?

Thanks

IMG_2600.jpg
 

mgoetzke

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So I got over the "fuzz" and finished my first casting ever! I have 7 more to do so will assemble into the pen kits after they are all finished. I received lots of help here and other people willing to share there experience with me online. My wife and I couldn't be any more pleased with the end result! (these actually look much better in 3-D)

Mike

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JohnU

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Great job on sizing and lining up the seam to be as invisible as possible. You should be proud!
as for the shaving, urethane resins are good for doing that such thing. Because the resin is so durable, so are the ribbons being cut. I’ve gotten used to clearing them out of the way. Even with the vacuum system on, they get caught up in the turning. I try to get them down to about 1/8” or less above the finished size before switching to then skew. That way there’s less material to remove, leaving less ribbons to clear out of the way. Keep up the great work!
 

eteska

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Oct 29, 2019
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Location
Wisconsin
I started to turn the first Alumilite blank. The carbide EasyWood NR round cutter didn't seem to be very aggressive but I used it until the blank was round. I then switched to the skew and it seems to be slightly more aggressive but I'm new to this so maybe I wasn't putting enough pressure with the carbide cutter? I was cutting a little above center - maybe that was the issue?

The skew is doing it's job now but the thin hair it produces is really slowing me down not to mention at times it covers my view. There must be a way to clear these strings without shutting down and painfully pulling at them?

Thanks

View attachment 317378
If you have an air compressor near by ive had good luck hitting the fuzz and strings with a quick blast of air.
 

mgoetzke

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Joined
Aug 10, 2021
Messages
33
Location
Chicagoland
Forgot I have another question. How do you use "0000" steel wool? I see pen turners using it with the lathe spinning pretty good. I have tried this twice and in seconds the wool is instantly pulled out of my hand and wrapped around the spindle.
 
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