Finishing Walnut Burl?

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Plowboy

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Hi All,

Confession: I posted this in the finishing forum, but am posting here too since this forum seems to be a lot more active. Sorry for the redundancy.

I've been woodworking for over 25 years, but have only been turning pens for a few months. I have successfully used CA on just about every type of wood I've tried so far, but I've been recently trying to finish some walnut burl and have had a terrible time getting it polished without sanding through. I've tried a few in polyurethane with a little better success, but sill am not achieving the results that I want. I suspect that it's related to the grain structure of the burl and the fact that it doesn't absorb the finish as well as non-burl wood does.

Does anyone have any tips?

Thanks.

Charlie
 
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BURLMAN

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Charlie,
I have done a number of walnut burl pens, finished with CA, and have not had the problem you describe. A couple of questions: What brand CA? What viscosity? How many coats? Dry sanding or wet sanding? Are you cleaning the blank with acetone or DNA before finishing? Well, that's more than a couple, and other turners who have more expertise than I may ask others as well.

John
 

dogcatcher

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I don't care for the plastic feel of the CA finish, for burls and other fancy woods I do a classic gunstock finish. I start by wet sanding the last 2 or 3 grits using Tru Oil or a home brewed concoction that is similar. The wet sanding allows me to fill in any pores or other imperfections in the wood with sanding "dust/mud". After the last grit is finished, the work begins. Hand rubbed coats every 24 hours for 4 to 8 days. This process is explained in an article by Frank Whiton called Classic Gunstock Finishes. https://www.firearmsforum.com/firearms/article/3037
 

jttheclockman

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I don't care for the plastic feel of the CA finish, for burls and other fancy woods I do a classic gunstock finish. I start by wet sanding the last 2 or 3 grits using Tru Oil or a home brewed concoction that is similar. The wet sanding allows me to fill in any pores or other imperfections in the wood with sanding "dust/mud". After the last grit is finished, the work begins. Hand rubbed coats every 24 hours for 4 to 8 days. This process is explained in an article by Frank Whiton called Classic Gunstock Finishes. https://www.firearmsforum.com/firearms/article/3037


Oh my!!!:doctor::doctor:
 

leehljp

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Charlie,

Stabilize the blanks with vacuum tank and stabilizer.

Many finishing problems as you are describing can be fixed by using a stabilizer on your blanks. There are many posts here on using paint pressure tanks as a vacuum tank and then putting blanks in a stabilizing solution, pulling a vacuum and letting it cure. This especially helps on pourous woods and softer woods, and makes them take a finish much better.

OR . . .
Also, if you have some ne-waxed shellac, put a coat or two on, sand and then add your CA. Seams like you are having a sealing problem. That too can be handled by CA. Add a coat or two of thin CA (and you have done that) and then add two or three coats of medium to thick CA. Sand and then add your thin finishing CA.
 
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Plowboy

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Charlie,
I have done a number of walnut burl pens, finished with CA, and have not had the problem you describe. A couple of questions: What brand CA? What viscosity? How many coats? Dry sanding or wet sanding? Are you cleaning the blank with acetone or DNA before finishing? Well, that's more than a couple, and other turners who have more expertise than I may ask others as well.

John
I'm using Stick Fast medium CA glue which is what I've used on other woods with no problem. I have been applying 6 coats and then micromesh wet sand from 1500 up to 12,000 which I initially tried on the walnut. I also tried skipping some of the lower grits as well as moving straight to polishing without any sanding. I had sand through in all cases. The only thing that I've found that gets close is 4 coats of poly and then polishing, but the finish isn't as smooth as CA.

I have not been cleaning the blanks with DNA or acetone. Is there something different about burls that requires this?

Thanks.
 

bsshog40

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I just finished doing my first burl pen the other day. The blanks was bought stabilized. I did a regular CA finish on it with no issues. Did it the same as I do my wood blanks.
 

jttheclockman

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There is nothing special with them I am working on a burl right now and using the same thin CA to med CA with about 6 to 8 coats. Sand with 1200 wet dry paper and then MM. Looks good to me. I will wipe a blank down with DNA or Acetone before I apply CA but wait till it is completely dry before that. Good luck.
 

Dehn0045

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I'm with JT, nothing really special about burls when it comes to CA finish. That said, here are a couple of things that might be the source of your problem: Darker material show imperfections more than lighter materials, you may be sanding through on other materials but just isn't as noticeable. If you do a lot of sanding prior to finishing then you might have peaks and valleys on the surface. Burls are a little more sensitive to this issue due to the grain going all different directions.

One suggestion is to build up a little more CA prior to sanding and polishing. I have also found that if I sand CA shortly after application I will remove a lot more material, but it gets a bit harder if I let it sit overnight and a little easier to work without sanding through. Just my 2 cents, I hope you find the source of your problem.
 

Chasboy1

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I have a similar question. I just turned my first stabilized hybrid blank and used CA -thick right away. Didn’t wipe with acetone and didn’t wait long after wet sanding. From what I’ve read here so far that was a royal screw up.
Advice appreciated!
 

Dehn0045

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I have a similar question. I just turned my first stabilized hybrid blank and used CA -thick right away. Didn’t wipe with acetone and didn’t wait long after wet sanding. From what I’ve read here so far that was a royal screw up.
Advice appreciated!
Yeah, not the best idea. Water initiates the curing of CA, it doesn't take a lot - the moisture in the air is usually enough. If it's cold and dry it can sometimes take too long to cure, causing problems. Water left on the blank or excess accelerator use can cause the CA to cure to fast, which can result in a bubbled and cloudy appearance. Just turn off the CA (I use a skew) or sand it off and try again.

Edit: I read that you "wet sanded", not sure where I got that idea, thus my comment about water... Sorry if that was confusing...

DNA can be used to help the blank dry a blittle faster as the alcohol will evaporate fast and "pull out moisture". I like to use thin CA for the first coat to "fill the grain", but there are plenty of different opinions.

As an aside, you might get better response if you start a new thread and reference older threads that are similar but don't fully answer your question.
 
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Chasboy1

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Thanks DEHN, I did wet sand the trouble areas in the middle of the night and I might get away with fixing the finish. I’ll let you know.
 

Dehn0045

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I guess I'm going crazy, lol. When I re-read the post after my response I didn't see the word "wet". I read it three times, I swore it was there before I responded. Then I gave up and put my edit in and accepted defeat... Now accepting defeat again, because it is plainly there...

Anyway, I like to use denatured alcohol when I wipe down blanks after sanding (I don't normally wet sand - I usually try to get a clean finish using a light scraping cut with a sharp skew). The alcohol dries relatively fast, helps to remove oils or waxes, and doesn't damage cured CA. I avoid acetone because it dissolves CA, it works good to remove CA from your fingers and such, but can ruin a finish. I suspect that it is also possible for acetone to damage the polymer used for stabilizing.
 
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