Paint advice please

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Todd in PA

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Feb 16, 2021
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I’ve been painting the holes of my acrylic blanks black. With the goal of creating a light barrier, black seems the obvious choice. I’ve been using spray paint because it’s thin and doesn’t build up the wall thickness too quickly. It takes 4 coats of black on a translucent blank usually before I can see no light through the blank when held close to a bright light.

But black really doesn’t show off the colors vibrantly. I bought a can or orange for a specific pen that I was making as a birthday gift, and wanted the color to be vibrant. After 9 coats I didn’t have a light barrier. I switched to black and reached a light barrier that I was happy with at the 12th coat. Well you guessed it…the tube doesn’t remotely fit. I had to drill out the hole again and start over.

The spray paint, even the black, really doesn’t stick to the plastic well. It tends to run off and most of it ends up on my catch pan. I tried craft paint and q-tip before, but it seems too thick, making the tube too tight after a few coats.

By the way, I do drill up a half size when I’m planning to paint to leave room for paint and glue. For example, if the kit calls for 10.5mm, I’ll use 27/64”, which is 10.7156. I also add some black craft paint to my epoxy. This of course reduces the wall thickness of the acrylic after turning, which is sometimes a detriment to the finished appearance.

What specific brand and style paint do you use for color?
What paints have you written off as ineffective for this application?
How many coats do you apply?
 
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TDahl

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I have used Testor's model paint and apply with the brush. Usually just one coat does the job. Never had any problems with the tubes fitting inside the blank.
 

qquake

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I use spray paint, usually Rustoleum, and always only one coat. After painting, I stand the blanks up on a screen, which allows the paint to run down and smooth out, and also allows air to get in the bottom as well as top. I never drill over size. As for color, I usually try to match the predominant color in the blank. Most of the time, I will also paint the tubes. I also color the epoxy with acrylic artist paint, it only takes a drop. This is the method I have come up over literally years of trial and error, and is what works for me.
 

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qquake

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A few years ago, I conducted an experiment. I took two pieces of the same blank, back painted one black and the other white. The results were dramatic.
 

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randyrls

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Todd; I'll confirm the earlier posts. You aren't trying to make the blank opaque, just block the view of the brass tube. Use the predominant color of the blank OR make the blank a different color by using a contrasting color.

These two pens are the same blank, one painted baby blue, the other hot pink.
 

Monty

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Like Todd and Jim, I too use Rustoleum spray paint and paint both the tube and inside the blank letting them dry overnight before glueing the tube in with thick CA.
A few years ago I painted two pearl white blanks, one red and one blue. The red one ended up pink and the other baby blue.
 

Todd in PA

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Thank you for so many good replies! I had never painted the tubes. Sometimes I’d sharpie the tube black to mask the brass. I’ll adjust and paint both and not worry about making the hole opaque.

One coat! Oh man, have I been wasting a lot of time watching paint dry! 🤪
 

jttheclockman

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Thank you for so many good replies! I had never painted the tubes. Sometimes I’d sharpie the tube black to mask the brass. I’ll adjust and paint both and not worry about making the hole opaque.

One coat! Oh man, have I been wasting a lot of time watching paint dry! 🤪
Yes you have. One to two coats all that is needed. I use all as mentioned above. Just a word of caution. I never paint both blank and tube and the reason is you now created a barrier for the adhesive to be able to slip off and break free of a solid surface. Paint slipping off the blank is enough to worry about. To me no need to do both. If still concerned I do as others and tint the epoxy. I always use epoxy. Never CA. CA does not play nice with paints.
 

Painfullyslow

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Rustoleum Painters Touch, 1 coat. Black if I want to darken, white or silver if I want colors to pop more. I use both CA and Epoxy to attach tubes, depending on what I am doing with the blank but never had a problem with either.
 

jttheclockman

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Been using paint and CA for over 15 years and I can count on one hand the number of failures I’ve had. Switched from that brand of paint to Rustoleum and have never had a problem. And I paint both tube and blank letting both dry overnight before glueing.
Good for you Monty. How many times we read on this site of glue failures with paint and CA?? Many that I have seen. If it works for you then keep with it. Just trying to give MY best advise. Maybe it is the brand CA, maybe it is the brand of paint used, maybe it is the time for either to dry. Just beware.
 

Monty

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Good for you Monty. How many times we read on this site of glue failures with paint and CA?? Many that I have seen. If it works for you then keep with it. Just trying to give MY best advise. Maybe it is the brand CA, maybe it is the brand of paint used, maybe it is the time for either to dry. Just beware.
John,
So many factors can affect the final outcome. I’ve always subscribed to the whatever works best for you theorum.
 

jttheclockman

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John,
So many factors can affect the final outcome. I’ve always subscribed to the whatever works best for you theorum.
I as well. I voiced my opinion and you voiced what has worked for you. So the OP needs to read through all the replys and work it out for themselves. There are many examples of things working for one member and not for others. Many aspects of the process can be the difference so we all can just post suggestions and that is all that these are. Nothing is black and white. Trial and errors as in all things in life come with playing in this pen turning arena. Good luck to OP.
 

Monty

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Well said John. It’s like asking how to do a CA finish. Ask 10 different people and get 12 different answers.
It’s all about trying all suggestions and seeing what works best for you.
 

Todd in PA

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Port Matilda, PA
Thank you.

The issue for me was the paint itself. I had no idea there would be such a difference between two $5 cans of paint. I tried at least three different kinds which were all watery. The 2x cans are actually good. I bought the whole color wheel. Thanks again. Now I can get back to turning instead of watching paint dry!

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