I LOVE Micro Mesh! Here's how I use it: I sand the pen blank to 600 grit, then start at the 1500 mesh, and go step by step up through the 12000 mesh. I do not use a lubricant (wet sanding). I just wrap the MM around the little felt block, and quickly and lightly sand the pen blank while the lathe is on full speed.
"Mesh" is different than "grit" - the 1500 mesh is actually a bit "coarser" than the 600 grit paper.
I just started using MM, generally happy with the results. Do you sand along the length of the blank to remove the radial scratches? I have been doing that, but if it's not needed... I wet sand (liquid wax) to 2000 with regular paper, then start around MM3600.
I normally go 180,240,320 then MM 1500,1800,2400,3200,3400,4000,6000,8000,12000. Sometimes depending on the material I will start out rougher and if I want a more satin or brushed finish like on aluminum I will stop around MM 3400. I only wet sand on plastics. After about 20 pens I will try to wash them in a delicates bag in the washing machine and hang dry. I have 2 sets so I don't have to wait while one is in the wash. Daniel is right, use light pressure or it will heat up and melt. If this happens I stop the lathe and rub off the residue that is left on the pen with a damp cloth. I do not sand along the length of the blank. I can not notice a difference.
according to those that have developed soem of the best finishes.
sanding lengthwise between each grit is important. but only up to 4000 or so. after that you are not seeing any scratch marks anyway.
I have found this is necessary on the darker woods.
Do you sand along the length of the blank to remove the radial scratches? I have been doing that, but if it's not needed... I wet sand (liquid wax) to 2000 with regular paper, then start around MM3600.
Here's a little hint I picked up concerning micro mesh. After it is used for a little while, you can restore it to "like-new" by putting it inside a sock and washing it in the washing machine. It comes out just like it is brand new. I have used the same sheets on over 50 pens now and they are still going although I tend to lean toward EEE Ultra shine as a preferred polish now.
I have recently changed how I use MM. In case you haven't read my article on the cover page of this site, I use the MM to polish my CA finish. I started using the MM (1800) after sanding the CA to 600. Then with the lathe off (gasp), sand only lengthwise with light pressure. I go through 4000, then buff with my Beall system. I have noticed the finish has no concentric rings at all. They weren't noticeable before when I sanded with the lathe on, except under a magnifying glass. Now, I don't even see them under a magnifying glass.
As far as cleaning - I hang a piece of denim up beside my lathe, and take one quick swipe across it before using the MM each time. It does a great job of cleaning the MM!