Maximizing Pens Plus Finish

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Dan Masshardt

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I'd like to have a thread to continue to discuss methods and best practices with Pens Plus from Doctors Woodshop

I've been pretty happy with the result that I've been getting, and I want to continue to maximize it Oh and the time savings is huge

So, for those who have been using pens plus, questions like...

1. Do you feel like you are getting a nice, fairly high gloss? (Assuming you want to)

2. Have you narrowed down your method to one that works well for you consistently?

3. Have you found that different types of wood require different approaches, coats?

4. Have you used pens plus on any different materials / tried anything unusual that you've found effective?

5. Have you gotta any indication from pens you've been using or given sold with pens plus that are not wearing well

(Please, no comments making overarching statements like, "friction polishes don't hold up" If you've specifically found that pens plus specifically doesn't hold up, PLEASE do share that!)

Thanks for contributing My hope is that we can have some good ongoing discussion on this particular finish
 

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Dan Masshardt

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Question, Dan... Does this stuff have a high build-up, like CA? You don't have to overturn, then build up to perfect fit, do you?
Great question. I haven't measured but I've never had the blank overhang the hardware I just turn to bushings

I know others use many more coats than I do I find that it builds as far as the gloss quickly and after several coats, I don't get any additional shine by applying more coats

I'm interested in how others do this
 

southernclay

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Great topic, I'm curious about the build up now. I'm also curious about how sanding/or not with the walnut oil affects the finish. I've yet to hear anyone have an issue with durability. I've been using a pen on my desk for several months with no problems.

I'll be thinking about a few tests to try to contribute some. I love pens plus for the few oily woods I've used it on as well as open grained woods.

Dan have you buffed it before?
 

BSea

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My only issue with it has been with softer wood. I don't think it keeps the shine like harder wood.

I sand with walnut oil like THIS. And I do think it makes a difference over what is recommended from Doctor's Woodshop.

I don't think it builds. At least it doesn't build like CA. I typically use about 5 or 6 coats. I've tried more, but I don't really see any difference after 5 or 6 coats.

I don't sell many pens, so I'm not the best one to ask about longevity. But the few that I use that have this finish have been holding up nicely.

It is my goto finish for anything oily like Lignum Vitae, cocobolo, or ebony. Although I haven't done an ebony pen with it yet.
 

greggas

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I agree with Bsea...it does not work as well on softer woods.

But I have found a very useful place for it in my work. I recently had to make 300 sierras for a client and although I got good per unit price, it was a bit below what I normally charge for a single pen. Based on positive feedback I read on this forum and a few turner's web sites i gave Dr a try and was very happy. It saved a TON of time and breathing was much better !

I tend to use in in a much simply manner than the link in Bsea's post. I sand to 600, clean with acetone and then apply 3 coats. With friction it sets up very nicely and gives a great shine.

I have been using a pen made with this method since february and it seams to hold up nice. I still use CA on my high end kits or on special pieces of wood that I really want the finish to "pop" but certainly do not miss the fumes and trouble breathing after long nights of CA !

I have started to sell pens with Dr at shows as well and so far , so good.
 
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Dan Masshardt

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I want to start doing some more experimentation. I don't know if I've tried it yet in softer woods. When you say softer, what do you have in mind - like maple?

Somebody give me a good challenge. ;-)
 
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greggas

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Dan...one softer woods that come to mind is Peruvian Walnut...I ended up needing about 6 coats until the finish absorbed evenly. It never really match the gloss and shine of harder woods such as pink Ivory, Oaks, Maple, Zebra etc
 

BSea

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I did a dyed curly maple pen. I never could get the same degree of shine like I can with harder woods. It's a Sierra, and I might just disassemble it since I don't care for it too much.
 

BURLMAN

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I recently had occasion to disassemble a Slimline I had turned in Imbuya and finished with Pens Plus (crack in the wood). I had glued the tubes in with thick CA. When knocking out the mechanism, the brass tube came with it. I'm wondering if the cause of that was the heat generated by the polish degraded the glue bond between tube and wood. If so, I have a bunch of Slims with loose tubes in them.
 

Dan Masshardt

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I recently had occasion to disassemble a Slimline I had turned in Imbuya and finished with Pens Plus (crack in the wood). I had glued the tubes in with thick CA. When knocking out the mechanism, the brass tube came with it. I'm wondering if the cause of that was the heat generated by the polish degraded the glue bond between tube and wood. If so, I have a bunch of Slims with loose tubes in them.
I doubt it. Slim trannies are notorious for coming out hard. It is possible I assume. I do very few slims.
 

Chevota Guy

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Dan, have you compared this to General Finishes Woodturners Finish? That has become my favorite, but I'm always interested in improving anything!
 

Dan Masshardt

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Dan, have you compared this to General Finishes Woodturners Finish? That has become my favorite, but I'm always interested in improving anything!
Kinda - I have a bottle and I've experimented with it but I didn't stick with it long enough to get a finish I was really pleased with.

It seems like it takes a little while to get a decent build with wtf and then ideally is polished, sanded or buffed somehow, right.

The nice thing about pens plus is that you don't have to 'finish the finish'.
 

southernclay

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Dan I think you just answered my question. You aren't buffing on your buffing setup correct? Just paper towel? Your finish is looking great. I've been wanting to see how durable pens plus is but after using a desk pen finished with it for months I'm sold. I did a cast mini pinecones pen not too long ago with it and it worked out great. So I'm thinking for cast objects, worthless wood etc its a really good option.
 

Dan Masshardt

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Dan I think you just answered my question. You aren't buffing on your buffing setup correct? Just paper towel? Your finish is looking great. I've been wanting to see how durable pens plus is but after using a desk pen finished with it for months I'm sold. I did a cast mini pinecones pen not too long ago with it and it worked out great. So I'm thinking for cast objects, worthless wood etc its a really good option.
Warren,

I'm sorry that I missed your question earlier.

Correct, I've not been buffing it. Honestly even 'buffing' with a paper towel adds very little. For me, it sort of buffs itself out as the finish hardens on each application.

I've been wondering about pinecones / worthless style pens. I'll try that soon as I'm going to start casting (or trying to) these sorts of blanks.
 

Dan Masshardt

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For anyone reading, my 'secret' is that I use a drop of pens plus between each grit of sandpaper.

If the grain is tight, I blow the dust off well. If there is some grain to fill etc, I wipe most of the dust off and allow the remaining to fill in with the pens plus. Just a drop, not a lot. Why bother with walnut oil? I believe this is better. It works for me anyway.

And Micromesh, waste of time in my opinion with this method. By the time I get to 800 I'm just dulling the polish is all when I sand. I could easily stop at 500.

I've been using 6 coats after the sanding is done most of the time. 2 forward 2 reverse 2 forward. But honestly, it looks pretty darn close to finish after 2 coats. I don't know what the others add or not. My plan is to keep doing what I'm doing.

A bottle of this stuff will last awhile.
 
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southernclay

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I've been wondering about pinecones / worthless style pens. I'll try that soon as I'm going to start casting (or trying to) these sorts of blanks.[/quote]

Thanks Dan,
For the mini pinecones there were a couple of small air pockets/voids, I filled them with CA before sanding and all worked out to do PP after that. I think I sanded with Walnut oil since mostly acrylic, then 3 coats of PP.

For worthless wood I think the same could be done on the small voids that I've had with the buckeye burl ones.

I've only done one full size pinecone (Atrax). It took a lot of filling for it to finish out well. In that case I think CA is the way to go to get it to fill properly. However it may work to fill and then sand and do PP after. It just several times of filling for me to be happy with it. So by that point I was wanting it done and CA was already out :biggrin:

I'm going to copy your secret BTW :biggrin: Flattered?

Also, looking forward to seeing what you come up with casting, hope all goes well.
 

Weatherbee

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hey guys,

I've been using the pens plus and i also love it! i used dans tip on using it while you are going through your sanding grits up to 600 and its fantastic. after the 600 i start applying it with just a paper towel and the lathe cranked to about 3900 rpm and friction it in with heat. wait 45 seconds and add another one. i do about 6 coats as well and it works great. I've gotten away from CA finish mostly because it looks pretty cheap and plastic like when its done. I do however use CA with the pens plus when i want a more natural look and feel. once I've sanded to 600 i then do 5 coats of thin CA, lightly sand to even it out and then add 10 thin coats after that. i then take 600 grit wet sanding sand paper from klingspor and wetsand lightly. after that i will take some 0000 steel wool and give it a light touch and its dulls down the CA finish. it still has a great shine and luster but it doesn't feel fake and plastic. just a nice shine achieved. i believe this will be good to ensure the longevity of the finish and also the oil acts a second level of stabilization underneath the ca finish. i stopped using medium CA bc of it being cloudy, chipping at the ends and overall breaking away from the bushings is a lot tougher with the medium. if i use thin ca then a couple taps on the lathe bed and its freed. then some sanding of the ends of the barrels lightly with 600 grit and its good to go!

all those below are done with strictly pens plus and the black ash polaris is a combo of pens plus and thin ca
 

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VotTak

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I tried Pens Plus before, but I followed video on that site. Finish was not bad but far away from CA.
Yesterday I tried Dan's "secret". I do not have lathe with reverse so I only used it in "forward". But nevertheless I got some beautiful finish. I will definitely keep on trying in that direction as I see potential in here. BTW I tried on only one kind of wood and compare with my older attempts to use Pens Plus. See a huge difference. I understand that it will not come with first pen, so I'll see whether I will end up.
 

OOPS

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Dan, now that some months have gone by since your original post, do you still consider Pens Plus to be your "go-to" finish for wood pens?

I had an opportunity to meet "the Doctor" at a Woodcraft open house. He brought a basket of bottle stoppers to the event, each finished with Pens Plus. He had quite a variety of woods represented. He claimed that each stopper had been touched hundreds of times, as he takes them to every presentation he does. What I liked most is that the wood shines without the glare (or direct reflection) you get when using CA. The bottle stoppers looked rich and expensive, such as you might find an executive might want for an elegant statement in the liquor cabinet. I haven't made any bottle stoppers yet, but when I do, I am pretty sure I will finish them with Pens Plus.
 

Dan Masshardt

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Good question. Yes - it is. I'm still trying to maximize it though.

There are so many variables to play with.

The pens finished with it all look good but I'm trying to decide why some end up glossier then others.

I do sometimes use ca though. Maybe 1 ca pen for every 20 in pens plus. Usually more expensive pens.

For pens plus, it's vital that any open grain or pores be filled before final finishing. Pens plus itself will not fill in like ca will.

I'm continuing to mess with -

- speed while applying finish

- how many coats

- if applying any coats in reverse makes a difference

- whether to use the same spot on the paper towel for all the applications or use a fresh spot each time.

- whether letting the finished tubes sit untouched for a day or more makes any difference.

- if anything else after the pens plus improves the end result - wax, buffing etc.
 

southernclay

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I want to add a suggestion that has been working well for me for filling pores or small inclusions or tear out spots. This came from Ben Kelley at a GA penturners meeting. He mentioned sanding with wipe on poly to fill grain. I tried it and so far has worked out really well! Try it, you might like it!
 

wwneko

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I like the idea of using wipe on poly to sand. What have you been using to fill the pores Dan?
 

flyitfast

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Pens Plus(PP) and all the other Doctor's Woodshop products are my goto also.
I had the opportunity to visit with Michael Meredith at last year's AAW Symposium and at SWAT in Waco. He shared some great tips on using Pens Plus, most of which have been shared in this thread.

Key are: Start with smooth surface
Speed needs to be at about 3000 to best create heat.
Speed also helps blend the new coat with the previous coat, making a single thicker coat.
5-7 coats should give a good shine - softer woods might need more.

I use Dr's microcrystalline wax as a final finish which protects the PP a little better. It is similar to Ren Wax, but I think it gives a harder clearer finish.
I have also used PP on some bowls with success, although I do wax over it also to protect. I need to get some of his other Walnut oil products for larger turned items.
I do still use CA when that type of finish is requested, but not as often.
gordon
 

Dan Masshardt

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I like the idea of using wipe on poly to sand. What have you been using to fill the pores Dan?
Pens plus! That's what using a bit between grits is all about.

If I have a bugger spot to deal with I'll use ca and dust to repair then sand it back down and go to the pens plus.
 

Dan Masshardt

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Pens Plus(PP) and all the other Doctor's Woodshop products are my goto also. I had the opportunity to visit with Michael Meredith at last year's AAW Symposium and at SWAT in Waco. He shared some great tips on using Pens Plus, most of which have been shared in this thread. Key are: Start with smooth surface Speed needs to be at about 3000 to best create heat. Speed also helps blend the new coat with the previous coat, making a single thicker coat. 5-7 coats should give a good shine - softer woods might need more. I use Dr's microcrystalline wax as a final finish which protects the PP a little better. It is similar to Ren Wax, but I think it gives a harder clearer finish. I have also used PP on some bowls with success, although I do wax over it also to protect. I need to get some of his other Walnut oil products for larger turned items. I do still use CA when that type of finish is requested, but not as often. gordon
So you apply all coats at 3000 or above?

Do you apply the wax in the lathe and right away after the pp?

The walnut oil and carnauba wax blend is really nice for larger turnings.
 

Souths1der

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I got some pens plus over the weekend to check it out based on this thread. Obviously I need to use it for more than the three pens I've used it on in this short time, but here are my results.

Pen one - Bloodwood. Followed Dan's method of a drop in between sanding grits. Sanded to abranet 500. I did the 6 coats, 2 forward, 2 reverse, 2 forward. I applied those coats at about 1k and then buffed them at about 4k. The pen tuned out pretty good, there seems to be some faint dull spots near the ends though, really have to look hard to see them.

Pen two - Bloodwood. Did everything like pen one except used a little more pens plus on each of the 6 final coats and made sure i paid closed attention to the ends. This pen looks fantastic, no faint dull spots.

Pen three - Cocobolo. Did everything like pen two. I could barely see micro scratches in the finish with the naked eye. So I went to the polishing system. It didn't take them out, so I figured it must have happened on one of the first couple coats or the last sanding. Stripped the pens plus and re-did everything. No scratches after the final sanding, but they showed up after the second coat of Pens Plus. It had been a long day, so I just stripped it again and used CA because I really like CA on Cocobolo anyway. Maybe I'll do another test with Pens Plus on Cocobolo again. Could have just been a fluke.

I will say that I hope I can work this out and use it as my primary finish. I really do like the look of the two bloodwood pens. It was also quite easy to use and you don't have to worry about fumes or finishing the finish. All good things IMO.
 

VirgilJ

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Thanks Dan for starting this thread. It comes at a good time for me because I've developed a severe reaction to CA and I've been looking for a replacement finish.

The picture is of the first pen I finished with PP. The finish is actually better than the picture shows because I'm a lousy photographer. I put it on using the same method I used for a ca/blo finish rubbing lengthwise quickly until I felt the heat start to build up. I put on six coats like several have suggested, but like you said after two or three it doesn't seem to change much.

I'm happy with the results. It's got plenty of shine and is very clear and bright with good depth. Frankly I'm surprised a friction polish looks this good.

I'll probably still use lacquer for my high end pens, but at this point I don't see why PP wouldn't be a great alternative to CA for everything else.
 

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