Friction Polish - Pros/Cons?

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After reading most of the threads in this section, it's obvious that 95% use a CA finish. And I understand the durability of CA and wanting to get the glossy shine. I use it some myself on a few pens. But I would like to hear everyone's experience with using friction polish -- the pros and cons. I use HUT friction polish and it does fairly well. A little sticky after you put it on, but it everntually dries and hardens.

I guess a part 2 to this question would be how much does the finish depend on the type of wood? Some woods for example, African Blackwood or Cocobolo, polish very well on their own and are probably more dense/durable than other woods. Anyway, just curious what your experience has been with finishing with the friction polish.
 
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JimB

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I don't use friction polish for pens because it is not durable enough. It is easy to apply and looks great but in a short time of pen use it will not look very good.

I do use friction polish on some other items that will not be handled much.

For pens I use ca/BLO or poly.
 

Chasper

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I used friction polish several years ago. The only four problems I experience were:
1. It doesn't shine much.
2. What little shine it has wears off quickly
3. It has very little moisture resistance
4. Hand lotion will turn it into a sticky mess

If you can live with those problems it may be the right finish for you.

Dense and oily woods can look great with just a good buffing, it won't last years, but will look good for months.
 

monophoto

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I don't care for CA as a finish. If find it too glossy, and I really dislike the process of finishing with CA. I do use friction polish and like it because it leaves the pen feeling like it's made of wood rather than plastic.

However, the friction polish that I use is made from lacquer rather than shellac. The main arguments against friction polish for pens is oil from hands, and the friction from day to day use, eventually wears away a friction polish finish. Those are valid arguments, but they mainly apply to shellac-based friction polish.

Most commercial friction polishes are made using shellac, and lacquer-based friction polishes are a bit harder to find. William WoodRite has one (which is repackaged as sold as the PSI house-brand friction polish). But you can easily make your own using Russ Fairfield's recipe - 1/3 each brushing lacquer (Deft or Watco), 1/3 lacquer thinner, and 1/3 oil of your choice.
 
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Guys ... I understand that the CA is much more durable and it looks awesome. But I've carried around my own pens with a CA finish, then dropped them, scratched them. The scratch is a good bit noticeable in that shiny finish. But I can simply take my pen to the buffer and buff the scratch out. The average customer wouldn't do that. They'd probably be sick after doing it, but then go on and except they made a blunder dropping it. I suppose you could make the same argument with other finishes, but maybe the scratch wouldn't be as noticeable?
 
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I don't care for CA as a finish. If find it too glossy, and I really dislike the process of finishing with CA. I do use friction polish and like it because it leaves the pen feeling like it's made of wood rather than plastic.

However, the friction polish that I use is made from lacquer rather than shellac. The main arguments against friction polish for pens is oil from hands, and the friction from day to day use, eventually wears away a friction polish finish. Those are valid arguments, but they mainly apply to shellac-based friction polish.

Most commercial friction polishes are made using shellac, and lacquer-based friction polishes are a bit harder to find. William WoodRite has one (which is repackaged as sold as the PSI house-brand friction polish). But you can easily make your own using Russ Fairfield's recipe - 1/3 each brushing lacquer (Deft or Watco), 1/3 lacquer thinner, and 1/3 oil of your choice.
Thanks for the tips on the friction polish. I'm assuming with the Russ Fairfield mix you still apply it the same way as the commercial products? For more open grain woods, do you use any sanding sealer first before applying the polish?
 

Rchan63

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"But you can easily make your own using Russ Fairfield's recipe - 1/3 each brushing lacquer (Deft or Watco), 1/3 lacquer thinner, and 1/3 oil of your choice."

Isn't that a wiping varnish formular?
 

monophoto

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I'm assuming with the Russ Fairfield mix you still apply it the same way as the commercial products? For more open grain woods, do you use any sanding sealer first before applying the polish?
Yes - wipe in on, and the spin the piece at high speed while rubbing to generate friction and heat. Then, repeat the process. You can buff lightly between applications with 4/0 steel wool or a gray ScotchBrite pad, but that isn't absolutely necessary.

If I want to really pop the grain, I may apply a coat of thinned oil (1/2 tung oil, 1/2 turpentine) first, and then apply shellac sanding sealer as a barrier coat before the friction polish. In this case, I always buff with a gray ScotchBrite pad after the sealer and before the friction polish.

I generally only apply 2-4 coats of the friction polish. It finishes the wood without creating a thick, glossy shell over the wood.
 

monophoto

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"But you can easily make your own using Russ Fairfield's recipe - 1/3 each brushing lacquer (Deft or Watco), 1/3 lacquer thinner, and 1/3 oil of your choice."

Isn't that a wiping varnish formular?
A wiping varnish would be 1/3 oil, 1/3 solvent, and 1/3 varnish. I make a wiping varnish from Tung oil, turpentine and McCloskey's Man-o-War Spar (Alkyd) varnish that produces nice results. My experience is that the wiping varnish finish has a higher gloss than the lacquer-based friction polish, but it also 'feels' softer. I tend to apply it off the lathe, wiping on an application, letting it sit for 30 minutes or so and then wiping it again; let it cure 12-18 hours, and then apply a second coat, and then a third coat. Because I don't apply it on the lathe and because I don't rely on friction and heat to cure the finish, I reserve it for large items (bowls, platters, etc).

One of the advantages of a wiping varnish finish is that the varnish component may contain a UV restrainer that will help retain the color and grain of the wood.

While I don't use my shop-made wiping varnish on pens, but I have used commercial solvent-based WOP (Minwax) and find that it is another viable option for pens. It builds to a thicker coat than friction polish, and it is possible to buff it out with micromesh just like one would with CA (provided you let it cure thoroughly). But it takes much more time, between 2 and 4 hours between applications depending on temperature and humidity.

I've also used water-based polyurethane floor finish - it's tough and builds to a thick finish. But it also tends to be bluish in color which doesn't work well with all woods.
 
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Wildman

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Many products can be used as a friction polish final result and durability depends upon the product and actual use. Friction finish more about procedure & method than product used. The procedures & methods should vary a little depending upon product.

Yes, many shellac friction polishes will have some fade back on sheen. Have some Slimline pen finished with Crystal Coat that have been hanging out in glove box of wife’s car or door panel of my truck for many years and still look new although sheen has faded a little.

Oil Varnish & polyurethane both made from resigns today and yes actual chemicals used differ greatly.

When using 1/3 oil, 1/3 solvent/thinner, and 1/3 resign mix often called called oil varnish. No mater number of coats does not build a film finish. Depth of sheen depends upon resign-lacquer used. Don't take my word on it go back & read Russ's page!

I have used thinned lacquer as sanding or seal coat, but never added oil. Would not waste my money on a commercial product. If you want to try an oil, thinner, lacquer product go for it.

A mix of ½ resign to ½ solvent thinner is a wiping varnish and will build a film with more coats. Two coats of 50/50 mix should equal one coat of film finish. That 50/50 mix is a start some people will use a 60/40 mix after first coat. If buying a commercial wiping varnish or poly make sure solvent/thinner does not exceed 60%.
 
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