is ebony tricky to finish or its just me?

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MedWoodWorx

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ebony is such a weird wood to finish or am i doing something wrong? i did 3-4 coats of fine ca and then a couple coats of medium ca. next day the blank had soaked all the ca and only a few stripes were glossy. i sanded with 1000 grit and added a few coats but it seems that it doesn't work. Does ebony need many layers?more than other hardwoods?is ca totally unsuitable for ebony?
any advice is welcome, cheers
 
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its_virgil

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I found long ago in my pen turning that ebony, when used for pens, tends to be one of those woods that cracks...maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe next month but every ebony pen made cracked. And, finishing can be hit or miss. There are too many other great woods to use than to use those that do not cooperate when used for pens. When I need black, I use African Blackwood.
Do a good turn daily!
Don
 

MedWoodWorx

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Ebony needs to be cleaned very well with acetone and let to dry before adding a finish.
I did that also. I ve read that in a thread somewhere in the forum and so i used dna to clean the blanks from ebony wood dust and when it dried i used acetone to degrease it.
 

KenB259

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I did that also. I ve read that in a thread somewhere in the forum and so i used dna to clean the blanks from ebony wood dust and when it dried i used acetone to degrease it.
That’s all I got. I used to have some trouble with CA lifting up on the ends of the blank but after learning to clean the blank with acetone, I have had no further issues.
 

leehljp

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I posted this a few days ago with an ebony blank and the first dead drive center for TBC turning on IAP:

I did a fair amount of ebony early on and used it in basic segments such as this one:

I never had any problem with CA soaking in, and I didn't bother cleaning with acetone to make it stick. My method of applying CA was with an applicator because paper towel (PT) absorbed too much of the CA and it took 20 or 30 coats with PT to build up as much as I could get in one or two with an applicator such as foam or plastic bag or something similar.

The problem I had was that in trying to separate the bushings from the blank with that much CA - the CA would lift up off of the ebony blank on one side when the bushing snapped. One way to prevent that was to score the CA at the bushing / blank line, but that didn't always work. The best way for me was something totally new - turning between centers. Once I did that, I had no problem with building up layers of CA on oily ebony.

Thinking back - I did use medium CA most of the time on ebony.
(My early days use of ebony was Japanese persimmon that was given to me by a Japanese master craftsman and it was very oily.)

. . . A thought just came to me concerning what you wrote:
" i did 3-4 coats of fine ca and then a couple coats of medium ca. next day the blank had soaked all the ca and only a few stripes were glossy."
There is a difference between black wood/black African wood vs ebonies, which are black too. There are different kinds of ebonies for sure. But Black Wood, at least as it used to be distinguished differently some years ago, and I am not sure how it is distinguished or called in your country or region - black wood was more porous and not oily. I can see how that wood might absorb the CA. Most ebonies are oily.

That said, in the past 15 - 17 years, wood names have changed and what we called certain woods back then are not the same that is necessarily used today. The bloodwood I had (and still have) from back then looks different than what is called bloodwood of today. There have been a few other woods similar.
 
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jttheclockman

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I use gabon ebony alot and never have a problem finishing it. Here was the last example I made. Gabon ebony and holly.

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MedWoodWorx

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I found long ago in my pen turning that ebony, when used for pens, tends to be one of those woods that cracks...maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe next month but every ebony pen made cracked. And, finishing can be hit or miss. There are too many other great woods to use than to use those that do not cooperate when used for pens. When I need black, I use African Blackwood.
Do a good turn daily!
Don
ok i didn't know that. what about the @Edgar method? I heard that from edgar so i named it after him: soaking the inside of the blanks with thin ca, letting them cure for 24 hrs and then glue the tubes in. After finishing with ca the pen blank is almost completely soaked with ca as if it's stabilised (well that's my theory at least, and it has worked with crosscut woods).
 

leehljp

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you turned this little spike and you use it in an ordinary chuck?or it is bought from a store? cheers
I was living in Japan and did not have quick access to a dead/drive center. On the spur of the moment (or hour) I made that as an experiment. It worked well but as soon as I could get one of my daughters living in the US to get a 60° drive center and mail it to me in Japan, I started using that.

But I made that specifically to be able to finish oily ebony blanks without having to use the bushings in the "finishing" (CA) process. That one blank was the first one. It worked well! That was back in 2007 - 2008.
 

RichAldrich

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My experience is like Ed's. It will crack sooner or later. Ebony does not like to get hot. Float the bevel. Do not apply bevel pressure or rub bevel. Drilling....keep the blank cool. Sanding...on and off quickly. Agree with Ed. I use blackwood.
 

wimkluck

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Al my ebony pens have cracked after a period of time. Also snakewood. I used black epoxy blanks or african blackwood.
I just finished a couple of poor man's ebony blanks. I soaked mdf en baked them. Beautiful black blanks. I am almost ready with a project where i used 6 sheets of black mdf 3050mm x1220 mm. So i can make many many black penblanks.
 

Woodchipper

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This has been interesting. Haven't used ebony so far but find the posts to be most helpful for the future. I did one pen in maple wood from an old cutting board. I applied a few coats from a Sharpie and finished with several coats of medium CA. I don't think I have any photos of it.
 
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