Lines or scratches in my pens

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Niels

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Hello,
I feel bad I have so many questions but there is so much to learn when you start down this path. I tried a lot to get rid of it but no matter what I do I get lines in my alumilite blanks. They are faint but they are there.

I was wondering if its the sanding paper I use. Its the open kind I took a photo of the paper and added it.

I use 600 grit paper only and then micromesh. I'm still wondering about a finish after that but if the lines would be gone I think it would be sufficient.

Sorry about the bad photo, my phone does not have a great camera unfortunately.

Could I use renaissance wax after micromesh? I still have some from my metal detecting days. I used it to polish the roman coins I found.

Greetings Niels
 

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KenB259

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If I’m doing a fully acrylic pen, I start with 400 grit then 600, then 1000 and then on to micro mesh. Just the way I do it.
 

Woodchipper

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Getting ready to do three aluminite blanks. Hope they turn out okay. Generally, when doing acrylic, I start with the finest SP from the roll and then go through all the MM grits. I finish with two or three passes with Hutt Ultra Gloss.
 

tomtedesco

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Just my method. Last step is sanding with the "grain" with the lathe off. Rubbing micromesh along the long axis and rotating blank by hand as I rub. I also go to 1000 grit before micromesh. Do you wet sand with MM?
 

Niels

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Yes I wetsand everything. Beaufort from England told me the mm starts at about 600 grit so that's why I go from 600 sandpaper to mm. I wonder about the lines though and i thought meaby the sandpaper I use is more for woodworking? It has the open structure and is build up with lines meaby that's the explanation. It's the only explanation I can think of?
 

alanemorrison

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Not that I turn acrylic, Neils, but I have not used sandpaper since getting Abranet.
Others better qualified can advise regarding using sandpaper on acrylic, but that's what I would be looking at first.
 

Bstrauch

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There are so many techniques it is hard to know where to start. Do a search for "finishing" here and you will see. Going from 600 to MM seems like a big jump. Also, what is you technique (i.e., are you sanding lengthwise with the lathe of as well?). My approach is typically to lightly sand (with the lathe on at around 500 rpm) starting with 500 grit (wet) for plastic and CA coated pens, then move to 800, 1000 and 1200 (again, all wet). Then I move to Zona paper followed by buffing. Importantly, the sanding passes with the lathe on are very brief (~ 5 seconds) and with a light touch. Then with the lathe off, I sand lengthwise for 2 rotations using a bit more pressure.

I may repeat the process 2 or 3 times, checking with a magnifying glass after each set. To manage time expectations, I usually end up taking 2 to 3 times the amount of time on finishing as that of actually turning the pen (I am not fast by any means).
 

jrista

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Hello,
I feel bad I have so many questions but there is so much to learn when you start down this path. I tried a lot to get rid of it but no matter what I do I get lines in my alumilite blanks. They are faint but they are there.

I was wondering if its the sanding paper I use. Its the open kind I took a photo of the paper and added it.

I use 600 grit paper only and then micromesh. I'm still wondering about a finish after that but if the lines would be gone I think it would be sufficient.

Sorry about the bad photo, my phone does not have a great camera unfortunately.

Could I use renaissance wax after micromesh? I still have some from my metal detecting days. I used it to polish the roman coins I found.

Greetings Niels
IMO, for the glassiest clearest shine without scratches, you need to polish after sanding. Even with Zona paper down to 1 micron grit (finest grit I know of in terms of easily attainable paper), in the right light, the kind of 'hard' scratching, even if it is very fine, can still show up. The right light and highlights can show off sanding scratches very easily. If you polish, however, the polish is usually a much higher grit (sub micron), and will round over the hard edges of sandpaper scratches, smoothing out the surface so it just doesn't catch the light the same way. You may still see a scratch here or there after proper polishing, but you don't have the same scratched surface look as just sanding with sandpaper (and it doesn't seem to matter if you wet or dry sand IME.)

I now use Meguiars polishing compounds. They have PlastiX which is good, but their mirror gloss polishes also do a good job. I use the ultra fine cut mirror gloss as well sometimes. After polishing with these, the blanks exhibit that super clear, shiny, smooth glass-like shine, even in the harshest light.
 

Niels

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Ok. I will give that a go but that does not take away the lines or does it? They seem to be from sanding or it must be from the skew? If I can't mm them away will polish do the trick then?

Then meaby I should a buffing set from Beal?

Or stop with the mm and go for SP till 5000 and then a liquid polish?
 

jrista

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Ok. I will give that a go but that does not take away the lines or does it? They seem to be from sanding or it must be from the skew? If I can't mm them away will polish do the trick then?

Then meaby I should a buffing set from Beal?

Or stop with the mm and go for SP till 5000 and then a liquid polish?
It will take them away. I have some acrylic pens to make this weekend, if I can get to them. I'll take some photos with just sanding, and then with polishing, to show the difference.

I am not terribly great at buffing. It seems there is a particular skill to how you hold the item to the wheels and how you move them around, that I haven't entirely mastered yet. I seem to get a slightly duller finish with buffing, than when I just polish on the lathe with polishing compound (polishing compound is a liquid with some kind of fine grit suspended in some kind of medium, whereas buffing compound is usually a solid in bar form where the grit is suspended in a clay or other similar kind of medium.) Polishing on the lathe, which only takes a few minutes, is super easy, and gives immediate and supreme results.

As far as sandpaper goes...have you ever tried Zona paper? I used MM until I found the Zona paper. I have several sets of MM I still need to use, that aren't getting used, because the Zona paper is so good. It goes down to 1 micron grit, which is finer than the ~2-2.5 micron grit of 12000 MM. When it comes to sanding vs. polishing...if you want the clearest, most scratch free result possible, IMO you should sand up to the highest grit you can. There is no harm, other than maybe a few minutes extra time spent. Polishing is more effective when the sanded finish is as fine as possible, IME.
 

Kenny Durrant

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Another thing to keep in mind is when your sanding with that fine grits is it doesn’t take much to scratch the surface. When I get below 220 I start wet sanding. I make sure my water is clean with a few drops of Dawn Dishwashing soap. Once you start sanding you should theoretically be sanding the scratches from the previous sanding only. Make sure there isn’t any buildup in the sandpaper because that will leave scratches. I wipe off the residue between grits and when I polish I make sure my cloth is clean. I don’t know if this is your problem but something to think about.
 

mark james

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I seem to get a slightly duller finish with buffing, than when I just polish on the lathe with polishing compound (polishing compound is a liquid with some kind of fine grit suspended in some kind of medium, whereas buffing compound is usually a solid in bar form where the grit is suspended in a clay or other similar kind of medium.) Polishing on the lathe, which only takes a few minutes, is super easy, and gives immediate and supreme results.

In my experience, I fully agree. I have tried to master buffing, but have always gotten a better end result if I did a good job of wet sanding, the Mcguires Plastix. Probably user error, but often I take a good finish to the buffer and end with a dull finish.
 

leehljp

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"Sanding" may not be the main problem. How firm are you holding the sandpaper as you sand? Pressure on the sandpaper or sanding medium can force the sandpaper grit to dig in for one person while the next will lightly hold the sandpaper and it not create the scratches at all. The pressure that each individual uses with sanding medium is highly subjective and often makes defining the problem difficult.

Personally, I found that for me, open grit sanding medium like Abranet caused more scratches than regular sandpaper of the same grit. For that reason, I quit using Abranet long ago. But others use it and it works great for them.

IF what I am bringing up IS the cause, back off on the pressure, especially on the lower end numbers of the SP. Some people use the sandpaper to bring a blank to the size, and I have too. But be patient and don't do it with lower end SP.
 

howsitwork

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Niels

I assume you are wiping the blanks with a wet cloth to remove all dust and traces of previous grit before changing up to next paper?

Micromesh needs wet sanding but again always wipe when you finish with one grit . I have tried liquid polish afterwards and it does seem to improve the finish a little.

I got lines (I think ) from folds in the paper and unless you remove these by sanding along as well as across the blank they remain.
 

jrista

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"Sanding" may not be the main problem. How firm are you holding the sandpaper as you sand? Pressure on the sandpaper or sanding medium can force the sandpaper grit to dig in for one person while the next will lightly hold the sandpaper and it not create the scratches at all. The pressure that each individual uses with sanding medium is highly subjective and often makes defining the problem difficult.

Personally, I found that for me, open grit sanding medium like Abranet caused more scratches than regular sandpaper of the same grit. For that reason, I quit using Abranet long ago. But others use it and it works great for them.

IF what I am bringing up IS the cause, back off on the pressure, especially on the lower end numbers of the SP. Some people use the sandpaper to bring a blank to the size, and I have too. But be patient and don't do it with lower end SP.
Sandpaper by its very nature and design, creates scratches. That's what it does...its grit cuts across the surface. If sandpaper didn't create scratches, it wouldn't do anything. So I don't see how sanding any particular way, would avoid scratches. If you avoid scratches, then you eliminate the utility that sandpaper has.

Lighter pressure could reduce how deep the scratches are for any given grit...but may also limit how effective the grit is at leveling the surface you are sanding. With optimal pressure (not too light, not too hard) should make sure you get effective contact and let the sandpaper do its job. Sandpaper is graded at a 50% grit level so that each successive grit, and the scratches they create, are half as deep as the prior. Sanding shouldn't be about avoiding scratches, as then you avoid the utility of sandpaper. Sanding is about using the grit properly to even out the surface you are sanding, then progressing through grits to progressively reduce the depth and scale of the scratches to the point where they are no longer overtly visible.

With wood, since it has a natural texture, beyond a certain point finer grits would be creating scratches smaller than the natural texture of the surface of the wood. With resins, you can take the progression much, much farther for a much smoother, shiner surface in the end.
 
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As others have said too much pressure can replace the very scratches you sanded out. Another thing to remember is as the grits or polishes get finer, the time spent with each one remains about the same. I start with 320 or 400 grit and go through 1200 grit then use 3 progressively finer polishes.
 

Niels

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Thanks for all the good advice. I guess the only thing I can do is start from the bottom back up again because the scratches are probably made already with the low grits. I will give my pens a complete finish and practice till I'm content.

I indeed took the paper on two sides so I will try to do it gently and make sure all is cleaned, clean water, replace a lot, wipe off in between and so on.

Now I have lto look for a good polish then.
 

leehljp

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Sandpaper by its very nature and design, creates scratches. That's what it does...its grit cuts across the surface. If sandpaper didn't create scratches, it wouldn't do anything. So I don't see how sanding any particular way, would avoid scratches. If you avoid scratches, then you eliminate the utility that sandpaper has.

Lighter pressure could reduce how deep the scratches are for any given grit...but may also limit how effective the grit is at leveling the surface you are sanding. With optimal pressure (not too light, not too hard) should make sure you get effective contact and let the sandpaper do its job. Sandpaper is graded at a 50% grit level so that each successive grit, and the scratches they create, are half as deep as the prior. Sanding shouldn't be about avoiding scratches, as then you avoid the utility of sandpaper. Sanding is about using the grit properly to even out the surface you are sanding, then progressing through grits to progressively reduce the depth and scale of the scratches to the point where they are no longer overtly visible.

With wood, since it has a natural texture, beyond a certain point finer grits would be creating scratches smaller than the natural texture of the surface of the wood. With resins, you can take the progression much, much farther for a much smoother, shiner surface in the end.
This is NOT an argument whether or not sandpaper creates scratches or not. Nor did I imply that theme in my post.

Neils has a problem that he is trying to solve. Let/s stay on that subject. Finding the right pressure for using sandpaper - is not unlike knowing - when a tool is barely loosing its edge, and then an inexperienced person then increases the pressure on the tool subconsciously to make up for the tools loss of its edge. This happens often enough with those new to turning. So does applying the right amount of pressure in sanding.

If you have a problem with my answer as to its purpose, please feel free to PM me and we can discuss it.
 

Niels

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I think I know what I did wrong. First I think my tools (skew 19mm and 2 parting tools 1,5 and 4 mm) were not sharp enough so I will buy the Sorby Pro Edge. I like the machine and since I have 0 experience in sharpening this is a good investment, I think. At least it's a must to have a solid sharpening device.
Second I think it's partially the way I sanded. I will do it more careful from now on with only one finger.

I think sharp tools, practice the sanding and then MM. Then I'm 90% there. The only thing I have to think of is a Polish/ Finish.

I think I will buy a botlle of Meguiars Plast-x or meaby A Beals like buffing system. That's still open.

Thanks for all the comments I't really helped cause I have the feeling it was a sanding technique thing. And that's solvable by practicing a lot on the pens I have so far till I'm content.
 

RunnerVince

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+1 for backing off on sandpaper pressure. That's the most likely culprit, IMO.

It's also possible you're dealing with tool marks rather than sanding scratches, which means starting at 600 grit is most likely not going to cut it.

Regardless of where they come from, if you can't remove scratches with light pressure on the grit you're working with, you need to go down at least one grit and work back up. You may be able to remove them with the grit you're on, but you'll waste time and sandpaper, and more importantly be more likely to start applying extra pressure, which is going to then create new scratches and send you into a never-ending loop of removing scratches and then finding more.

Sometimes, certain scratches only become "visible" as the surrounding material gets smoother. That stinks, but it's the nature of the beast. When you find said scratches, move back down and work your way up again.

Finally, invest in a decent light that you can reposition or hold over your work at different angles, and then check your work between grits. As you begin sanding, you're not looking necessarily for scratch free. You're looking for a uniform scratch pattern, and a good light will help you easily identify spots that'aren't uniform. If you don't have a uniform pattern, don't move up in grits. Either spend a little more time where you're at or move down and work up again. It's frustrating to have to do, but not nearly so much as getting done with sanding, putting on that first coat of finish or polish, and noticing a scratch you missed before.
 

Niels

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I also have the feeling it's the sandpaper I use. It's an open structure and more for wood I think. Although I'm not sure. I have the feeling the lines match the lines in the sandpaper
I was gonna order some abranet sandpaper and start from 400 600 800 then go to 3M trizact. 1000 3000 6000.

Meaby i skip the 800.

I found a place in the Netherlands for woodturning that sells it. I was gonna call him and als for a polish too. And then end with some renaissance wax.

That should do it I guess if done properly. Don't you think?
 

alanemorrison

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Neils, you would have to have a very nicely turned blank to start sanding with 400 grit.
If you have a problem with scratches you would need to start at 240 or even 180.
 

Woodchipper

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Niels, I just finished the second alumilite blank. I was very careful to keep my roughing gouge sharp with a diamond file and one pass on the Rikon fine wheel. I did see fine lines running around the blank. I went through each wet MM, wiped off the residue and went on to the next grit. Final polish was with Hutt liquid. My wife looked at it and it passed inspection.
 

Niels

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With the new sanding technique it's already much better. The scratches are much finer. There are a few pens that have some big scratches from the beginning and I guess I have to do em again and start from 180 up. I'm wondering now if a polish would not do the job. The polishes you mention I can't find in Holland.
There is a online woodturners shop that has abranet. He is back from holiday 1 August says his site. I will ask him which one I should order. Hopefully that's the trick.

Hope my English is not to bad.

Thanks again. It's a queste but i like it a lot
 

jrista

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With the new sanding technique it's already much better. The scratches are much finer. There are a few pens that have some big scratches from the beginning and I guess I have to do em again and start from 180 up. I'm wondering now if a polish would not do the job. The polishes you mention I can't find in Holland.
There is a online woodturners shop that has abranet. He is back from holiday 1 August says his site. I will ask him which one I should order. Hopefully that's the trick.

Hope my English is not to bad.

Thanks again. It's a queste but i like it a lot
So, if you have been starting with 180, that could be part of the problem. For even a decently tooled acrylic, IMO 180 grit is FAR too coarse!! You are basically guaranteed to get deep scratches.

Even if 180 grit was "appropriate", you wouldn't want to return to THAT grit. If you have deeper scratches from the base grit, then start with the subsequent grit. The way sandpaper works, its on a half-grit scaling system. A 220/240 grit paper is half the grit size as 180, meaning it will cut through scratches from 180 grit and REDUCE them, without adding deeper scratches. You MUST progress through the entire series of grits, from whatever you start with, in order for each grit to do its job properly. Don't skip grits, or you will leave scratches behind.

IMO 180 grit is radically too coarse for pens in the vast majority of cases, and in fact I think the same of 220 grit. This is true for wood or resins, but particularly resins. I never start with a grit more coarse than 400 myself, and if my tooling is good enough, sometimes I start at 600. In your case...I think you need to be VERY careful about how you sand from here on out. You might want to start at 320, and just spend some more time with it to carefully take care of any notable larger scratches before moving through the grit series.

If you start with 220, IMO, you still run the risk of leaving behind notable scratches from that sandpaper. You might need to spend more time with 320, but it reduces that risk.

In the future, unless your tooling is particular bad (in which case, I would say spend more time with the tool to produce as clean a surface a you can...I use EWT Negative Rake bits, sometimes in a sheer scraping orientation, on all resins. for the cleanest, smoothest cut), I would try to avoid using any grit more coarse than 400. I very, very rarely have problems with deep scratches that survive the grit series when starting with 400, on either wood or resin.
 

alanemorrison

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Neils, this will be my last comment on this thread. My experience is mainly turning wood and not acrylic as I stated earlier.
No-one here should expect you as a new turner to run before you can walk. You will learn to improve your technique as you gain more experience, in maintaining sharp tools, turning and sanding and finishing.
You indicated in your original thread that you started sanding with 600 grit and still had scratches. The advice is that you start with lower grit and have a light touch without skipping grits. As you gain experience with your tools you may be able to start with 240, 320 or even 400, but until you get that experience use the appropriate grit.
Enjoy your pen making.
 

RunnerVince

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Are you sure that the grits are the same in europe as in the USA?
There are two standard grits for sandpaper. I don't remember which is which, but one is just the number, and the other starts with P. They are very roughly equivalent, but the higher the grit, the larger the difference. There are other proprietary grits, such as micromesh and (I believe) abranet, but the vast majority of abrasive "papers" you can buy will be from one of those two systems.

Obviously, at some point, there's a crossover where the lower grit in one system is actually finer than the higher grit in the other system. My guess is that that point is well above where most of us would switch to micromesh, so it's a non-issue. But if you want to avoid it, simply ensure you're buying sandpaper from the same system. There will also be differences (though much less pronounced) between manufacturers, and even from different product lines from the same manufacturer.

Within each system, the progressions are roughly the same: 80, 100, 120, 150, 180, 220, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000. Some brands may skip the 100 grit or 150 grit or have additional/fewer grits, but manufacturers design their sandpapers so the next grit will eliminate the scratches from the previous grit.

The point of all this is that the sandpaper itself won't cause issues if you use the same type of sandpaper -- system, manufacturer, and product line -- throughout the project. If you use grits from two systems (e.g., 120 and P150), manufacturers, or product lines, then you're asking for frustration. Will you for sure have issues? No. But it's a completely avoidable headache.
 

wimkluck

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I have sold sandpaper for more then 30 years. We only use the grids with P . You can skip grids. 80 to 120 to 180 So every time 50% more. I prefer to use all the grids when I start with the lower numbers. Thats safer. If I have problems when I have scratches it is my one fault.
I hoped someone could explane the grids of the micromesh to the european system with the P grids
 

Niels

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At the question whether i start with low grids. No, I usually start with 400 or 600 grit and work my way up to 6000 grit. So basically. 400 - 600 - 1000 - 3000 - 6000. or go to MM after the 600 grit. Meaby I should take more steps?

But in the beginning I sanded like crazy and even shaped with it. pressing it between 2 fingers because it worked really quick. Now i realize thats not the way but I could not get rid off the scratches completely. Now after this topic I know what I have to do and it's just a matter of experience and practicing. I thought meaby Abranet would be a nice upgrade on the sandpaper and I'm gonna give it a try.

Coming back at the polish question I had. I just watched a comparison video of RJB on Meguiars and Hut and that it's the same result. Meguiars I can order here so that's what I'm gonna do.

This all helped a lot so Thanks again.
 
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