Help with finishing

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marvelsferb7

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Apr 27, 2020
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2
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USA
This has probably been discussed before so I apologize in advance.
I’ve always used multiple layers of thin ca glue as my finish. Then use wet micro mesh in stages and finally use a plastic polish to bring it all together. Some pens seem to come out better than others and a lot of times I feel like I can see the inconsistency in the glue.
I’m curious what everyone else uses and how you can achieve the high gloss finish without the imperfections.
 
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magpens

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Feb 2, 2011
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Coquitlam, BC, Canada
What you have said sounds OK. . CA can be finicky.

Everyone has to develop their own technique with CA, it seems to me. . Eventually, with practice, it comes good and the reasons are not always clear, even after you get to "good".

Are you using "the blue shop towel" as applicator for the CA ?
 

Dehn0045

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Mar 19, 2017
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1,395
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Houston, Texas
My technique has evolved over the years, currently I use only BSI thin CA and open cell foam as the applicator. I find that I get about 0.002" additional diameter with each coat. I turn the to about 0.006" less than desired final diameter, then apply 4-5 coats. I try to use accelerator sparingly and try not to apply until the coat is nearly cured -- usually no accelerator for the first two coats and then with accelerator between the final few (I use BSI accelerator in spray bottle, not aerosol). I then use a sharp skew to turn back down to about 0.001 over final diameter. There is usually enough material that I can get the barrel perfectly cylindrical with all of pits/valleys removed. Then I wet sand with 3M wet/dry paper 800-1500-3000. Then check to make sure I didn't sand through, its not the end of the world if I do but it saves a lot of time to check at this point vs after the MM. I will usually just apply additional CA if I sand through, but it can cause different colors in the wood which is sometimes noticeable, so I do try my best to not sand through. Then I go through the MM pads, cleaning the blank between each pad. Finish with HUT ultrashine and then apply renaissance wax after assembly. I think I can get a respectable finish, but I know others do a lot better. At some point I will graduate to buffing wheels, but for now this seems to work OK.

I find that temperature, humidity, age/type of CA, age of MM pads (or debris), and "roundness" (for lack of a better term) of the blank play significant roles. I also find that some materials will tend to have slight valleys and/or pits and application of CA can make this worse. If you go right into sanding the slurry can make these even worse, which causes sanding through prior to removing all of the pits/valleys. If you use a skew to make sure the finished blank is perfectly round before sanding it reduces the amount of sanding and helps to prevent sanding through.
 

KenB259

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Dec 24, 2017
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1,215
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Michigan
Lots of things can cause inconsistent results. Different brands, different woods, humidity, application method. I use the blue towel method, 4 to 6 applicatiions of thin, them smoothed back out with 1000 grit sandpaper, then 6 to 8 coats of medium, micro-mesh and then plastic polish. Certain woods, like purple heart, ebony, cocobolo, that are oily, I wipe down with acetone, before applying any CA. Make sure its dry before the CA. If you use accelerator, and I do, make sure you wipe it after every coat to make sure all the accelerator is gone. That's how I do it, and to be honest, I never have any problems. You will get many opinion's on this subject. Try them all and settle on a way that works for you. I like Fast-Cap 2P-10 CA, used to use Stick-Fast, Both worked well for me, but the Fast Cap has just an ever so slightly longer work time. Even with that, I only go up and down the blank one time, no more.
 

howsitwork

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Joined
Jul 9, 2016
Messages
1,082
Location
Thirsk
I’m still struggling with CA if I am honest.

Might be I expected too much as used it on some resin hybrid wood blanks with some open grain. Filled with Thin then thick Ca and sanded back. One out of 3 was acceptable ( ie compared to my favourite melamine lacquer finish) but will keep trying because I want to se if I can achieve the sort of results you get Ken

Just started using polishing. o pound after micro mesh on “acrylics” and i am impressed with this so far.
 

Pierre---

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Joined
Jun 10, 2012
Messages
257
Location
France
Most of my problems with CA came because I did not know when to stop sanding with one grit and jump to the next one, but unfortunately in the final result I could see errors I made some steps before, hence inconsistency. But that was before. :)
I now use jewelers loupe, I see much more defects than before, I know better when I have to go on sanding with the same grit. You can imagine that when I see a result that is sort of decent with loupe, it is just perfect without.
 

marvelsferb7

Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2020
Messages
2
Location
USA
My technique has evolved over the years, currently I use only BSI thin CA and open cell foam as the applicator. I find that I get about 0.002" additional diameter with each coat. I turn the to about 0.006" less than desired final diameter, then apply 4-5 coats. I try to use accelerator sparingly and try not to apply until the coat is nearly cured -- usually no accelerator for the first two coats and then with accelerator between the final few (I use BSI accelerator in spray bottle, not aerosol). I then use a sharp skew to turn back down to about 0.001 over final diameter. There is usually enough material that I can get the barrel perfectly cylindrical with all of pits/valleys removed. Then I wet sand with 3M wet/dry paper 800-1500-3000. Then check to make sure I didn't sand through, its not the end of the world if I do but it saves a lot of time to check at this point vs after the MM. I will usually just apply additional CA if I sand through, but it can cause different colors in the wood which is sometimes noticeable, so I do try my best to not sand through. Then I go through the MM pads, cleaning the blank between each pad. Finish with HUT ultrashine and then apply renaissance wax after assembly. I think I can get a respectable finish, but I know others do a lot better. At some point I will graduate to buffing wheels, but for now this seems to work OK. https://solitaire.onl/ https://9apps.ooo/


I find that temperature, humidity, age/type of CA, age of MM pads (or debris), and "roundness" (for lack of a better term) of the blank play significant roles. I also find that some materials will tend to have slight valleys and/or pits and application of CA can make this worse. If you go right into sanding the slurry can make these even worse, which causes sanding through prior to removing all of the pits/valleys. If you use a skew to make sure the finished blank is perfectly round before sanding it reduces the amount of sanding and helps to prevent sanding through.
Most of my problems with CA came because I did not know when to stop sanding with one grit and jump to the next one, but unfortunately in the final result I could see errors I made some steps before, hence inconsistency. But that was before. :)
I now use jewelers loupe, I see much more defects than before, I know better when I have to go on sanding with the same grit. You can imagine that when I see a result that is sort of decent with loupe, it is just perfect without.
 

leehljp

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Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
7,722
Location
Tunica, MS,
This has probably been discussed before so I apologize in advance.
That is one thing I like about this forum! People always willing to help, even with subjects and explanations that have been told over and over. GREAT People here to help.
In contrast, I go to a few other forums in which the long timers repeatedly tell new comers to "search", and it isn't even their (old-timers) forum, but they sure like to make new comers feel uncomfortable for asking.

No need to apologize! Ask away.

I’ve always used multiple layers of thin ca glue as my finish. Then use wet micro mesh in stages and finally use a plastic polish to bring it all together. Some pens seem to come out better than others and a lot of times I feel like I can see the inconsistency in the glue.
I’m curious what everyone else uses and how you can achieve the high gloss finish without the imperfections.

I too got frustrated at reading that others were making great finishes with CA and it was giving me fits on my first 3, 4 or 5 pens. So I decided to NOT make a pen my end goal. I took a 2x4 pine cutoff and made about a dozen blanks and spent a Saturday practicing on turning, on sanding, on measuring and particularly on finishing with CA and sanding CA. That was the best 5 - 6 hours of practice and CA perfecting I could have done. I know this is not for everyone but it sure does prevent ruining good blanks and getting frustrated with poor CA finish on a great blank.
 

TonyL

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Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
8,150
Location
Alpharetta, GA 30004
Over the years, I have paid closer attention to sanding non-woods and CA finishes. I have learned no matter how sharp my skews are, I continue to produce fine tools marks that need to be sanded at a lower grit (lower number grit) than most recommend. I am sure they can start at whatever grit they do (their work is beautiful), but I cannot always do that - in fact, I can seldom do that (start at such a high grit) Despite all of my pens being used regularly and therefore scratched-up immediately upon first use, I do not "like" any radial scratches that can be seen with a 20x loupe after finishing. Folks ask why and may think I am a nut, but that is fine - part of the challenge and joy I get is by taking something square and rough and making it shiny.
After buying all sorts of magnification equipment, I saw that when I thought tools marks and fine scratches were removed, they were not. Very often the sanding debris would find their way into some of the fine scratches creating the illusion of being filled or the depth of the scratch being lessened. Therefore, I would advance to the next grit prematurely.

For me, at then of the day, it is about achieving my desired finish and how much work/pleasure I want to invest pursuing it.

Please do not hesitate to ask any question as many times as you want. Respondents all have choices - to reply or ignore. The IAP cannot rely on a sustaining its membership and their achieve its intend goals of sharing information and advancing the craft without new members.

I hope this helps or otherwise cured your insomnia :)

PS. I may start at 600, then wipe of the dust, then inspect, if the are still 600 grit scratches on there, I drop down to 400, etc. Heck, I had to bring blanks down to 150 . Don't care. I on;y care if I am happy with the results.

Enjoy and great health!
 
Last edited:

Dehn0045

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Joined
Mar 19, 2017
Messages
1,395
Location
Houston, Texas
Ok, so now I need a bidding system and a 20X Jewelers loupe 🤪. I think I run into debris/contaminant issues from time-to-time, so better dust collection (or just a cleaner shop) would help too. I guess that's part of the fun of pen turning, there is always something to tweak or improve.
 

leehljp

Member Liaison
Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
7,722
Location
Tunica, MS,
Ok, so now I need a bidding system and a 20X Jewelers loupe 🤪. I think I run into debris/contaminant issues from time-to-time, so better dust collection (or just a cleaner shop) would help too. I guess that's part of the fun of pen turning, there is always something to tweak or improve.

I'm sure you were warned that this is a money hole hobby! 🤑 The additions to a better pen and finish never end! 🤣
 
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