Pen plus restored my faith to mankind

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MedWoodWorx

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Pen plus arrived in the post today. I payed about 130 euros for 3 bottles of retail value of 19 dollars ( about 17 euros). Shipping and taxes has cost me more than product value. But every cent was worth it. Its a marvelous, bizarre oily finish that has a lot of potential especially for dense non porous woods. I tried applying it over olive wood with light sanding from 800 to 3000 grit sandpapers. I messed up a bit cause it becomes sticky really fast but i cannot tell where i am wrong cause its my first experiment with pen plus. I have no idea about optimal conditions (temp and humidity) or proper application ( sanding, buffing etc.). Anyway i would like to start this thread so that i can learn more from others, who are more savvy than me. Thanks in advance for any input. Cheers
 
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jrista

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Pen plus arrived in the post today. I payed about 130 euros for 3 bottles of retail value of 19 dollars ( about 17 euros). Shipping and taxes has cost me more than product value. But every cent was worth it. Its a marvelous, bizarre oily finish that has a lot of potential especially for dense non porous woods. I tried applying it over olive wood with light sanding from 800 to 3000 grit sandpapers. I messed up a bit cause it becomes sticky really fast but i cannot tell where i am wrong cause its my first experiment with pen plus. I have no idea about optimal conditions (temp and humidity) or proper application ( sanding, buffing etc.). Anyway i would like to start this thread so that i can learn more from others, who are more savvy than me. Thanks in advance for any input. Cheers
The stickiness...did it happen while you were initially applying it to the blank, or during friction polishing?

If during application, you just need to get the finish on the blank, and get it spinning FAST (I usually friction polish 3000rpm or higher) and start polishing sooner.

If it gets sticky during friction polishing, it may be because you have too much. Where you can probably build CA glue up to as many layers/thickness as you want, in my experience Pens Plus isn't really something you want to build up a lot. It will actually give you a nice, finger-print free, and in my experience durable (I'd say next best thing to CA...obviously its not as hard as CA) finish with fewer coats than CA. Also, the first coat will use the most PP, but even then, its not that much...I usually start with less than a dime sized thin dot for the first coat. For all subsequent coats, its much less than that...you do not need very much of this, a little bit goes a LONG way!! I haven't even used 1/3rd of the original bottle I purchased yet, and I've finished a few dozen or so pens with PP since I first started using it. Too much, and it does get sticky, so use it sparingly. I mean, its a tiny little dot for subsequent coats.

Oh, also, after you fully friction polish in the first coat, the subsequent coats can be applied without turning the lathe off. The only time I turn the lathe off with PP, is if I find that I've introduced streaks. If I accidentally do that, then I turn the lathe off, use a little bit more PP, and manually rub it lengthwise along the blank and try to work out the streaks. Then I friction polish it again as if it was the first coat. Then I'll apply more subsequent coats if needed. I stop coating when every part of the blank is shiny, and does not dull after 10-15 minutes or so.

Where with CA, you usually want at least 10 coats, and some people do many coats of thin, then many more coats of medium, or something along those lines, Pens Plus should get you a reasonable finish with fewer. I don't think I go more than 8, but 5-6 is usually where I'm stopping these days. The last two pens had two coats of just the pure walnut oil, then 4 coats of Pens Plus, and they came out great.

HEAT is important. You need your finger almost burning when friction polishing. The heat is really key. When I wasn't getting enough friction, I always had to do that "last light pass", and that light pass requires much more drying time (at least a day). With high heat during friction polishing, of each coat, you really "burn" it in, and that bakes in the shine and hardens the wax properly. You will need to experiment to find the right pressure and RPM to achieve that (BTW, too much pressure, and that will usually result in fibers from your towel getting stuck in the finish, so its a balancing act). The high RPM does help get the right friction with the right pressure.

The initial coats of the pure walnut oil are important, IMO. I originally started with Pens Plus just directly on the dry wood (usually after cleaning a bit with DNA). A lot of woods, even harder ones, will soak up huge amounts of PP. This was when I was putting 10+ coats on, and I had stickiness problems. Softer woods, like Maple, just soak and soak and soak up PP, doesn't seem to matter how much I put on. I had a very hard time with a Port Orford Cedar pen a couple months back. That wood never stopped soaking up the PP. I think its because the PP has some oil in it, and it just wasn't enough oil to saturate the fibers sufficiently. When I started using the pure walnut oil as my first couple of coats, the very first coat was a saturating coat...so that the fibers would get sufficiently saturated to keep them from guzzling up the oil in the PP coats. Again, it is best to friction polish the pure oil in as well, and again, that requires pretty high heat (burning your fingers hot).

I find that it is best to friction polish in a couple coats of the oil, and let that sit and dry for a while. I have a little dowel rack that I put blanks on. Since I always finish directly between two centers, no bushings, its not a problem to take them off the lathe, and put them back on, and you can do that as often as you need. So I'll let the oil coats dry, then I will usually use a new dry piece of paper towel to wipe off any excess oil first, before applying the first coat of PP. Then, I'll apply 2-3 PP coats, then let that dry pretty well before I continue. I will usually need a couple more coats before the finish is truly done. Most of my blanks bounce back and forth between my rack and the lathe a few times before they are finally good. I always bring the rack in when I'm done with each round so that the finishes are drying in a reasonably warm environment (my garage, without my 500W garage heater running, will settle around 35-38 degrees these days, and that cold does not seem to be good for any kind of friction polish, whereas 68-70 degrees seems to be perfect.)
 

jrista

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Oh, one final note...its also very important to not touch the finish with your fingers until it has had a chance to completely harden and cure. I was trying to teach a local guy how to use it. He was a friction polish guy, usually the Mylands High Build, but never quite achieved the same level of gloss I do with PP. I noticed that he was always handling the blanks pretty much immediately when he was done, and that seems to dull any friction polish finish, especially PP (and PP can also bake in fingerprints).

I created a few blank-removal tools out of some simple dowel that I sharpened on one end with my belt sander, a couple of nuts that thread onto the dowel snugly, and a washer between them. This allows me to pull back the tailstock with this tool kind of wedged into the brass tube, and then i let the blank fall onto the dowel when I fully pull away the tailstock. This allows me to make sure I never touch the blank while the finish is still "new". I will touch the point of the removal tool to one of the dowels on my rack, and lift the back to put the blank on the rack, still without touching it. Super cheap and easy tool to make. You just need to find a size of dowel and a couple nuts and a washer that will thread snugly on the dowel to create a stop at the non-pointy end.
 

MedWoodWorx

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Oh, one final note...its also very important to not touch the finish with your fingers until it has had a chance to completely harden and cure. I was trying to teach a local guy how to use it. He was a friction polish guy, usually the Mylands High Build, but never quite achieved the same level of gloss I do with PP. I noticed that he was always handling the blanks pretty much immediately when he was done, and that seems to dull any friction polish finish, especially PP (and PP can also bake in fingerprints).

I created a few blank-removal tools out of some simple dowel that I sharpened on one end with my belt sander, a couple of nuts that thread onto the dowel snugly, and a washer between them. This allows me to pull back the tailstock with this tool kind of wedged into the brass tube, and then i let the blank fall onto the dowel when I fully pull away the tailstock. This allows me to make sure I never touch the blank while the finish is still "new". I will touch the point of the removal tool to one of the dowels on my rack, and lift the back to put the blank on the rack, still without touching it. Super cheap and easy tool to make. You just need to find a size of dowel and a couple nuts and a washer that will thread snugly on the dowel to create a stop at the non-pointy end.
First of all thank you for your time.
Maybe i did everything wrong: i saturated the wood with pp using a paper towel and then wet sanded with pp. I didn't wait between grits and also washed the blank a couple of times with pp without sanding. At the end i friction polished in high revs with a piece of paper towel when i noticed that the blank became sticky. I used too much in too little time i suppose.
 

mark james

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jrista. Has some superb thoughts, so I won't repeat the discussion.

I will merely say that there are MANY finishes that we each can pick and choose from. And each has faults and strengths, so I have a simply philosophy: Have a very large tool box with many tools, and learn how to use the tools that you like for the purposes you desire!!!!!

I have use Pens Plus, and when appropriate it has served me well. ;) ;)
 

jrista

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First of all thank you for your time.
Maybe i did everything wrong: i saturated the wood with pp using a paper towel and then wet sanded with pp. I didn't wait between grits and also washed the blank a couple of times with pp without sanding. At the end i friction polished in high revs with a piece of paper towel when i noticed that the blank became sticky. I used too much in too little time i suppose.
Hmm, I wonder if wet sanding with a wax-based finish is why it got sticky. I think if you want to wet sand, I would use the Doctors Woodshop Walnut Oil, which is just the oil. I don't think I would recommend wet sanding with a wax-based finish, though, which is what PP is. Its the same walnut oil, DNA, shellac, and a synthetic microcrystalline wax.

I would just sand to a high grit (unless the wood just won't take it, I go all the way up to 2000 grit, just dry sanding), then finish. Otherwise, I'd pick up a bottle of the pure walnut oil (Doctors Woodshop brand, which is a very clear oil, vs. say Mahoneys, which has a very notable amber color, and seems to go rancid pretty quickly) and wet sand with just the oil.
 

jrista

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He has a video showing how to use Pen Plus Here I would follow his instructions.
This is a good video. It is actually where I got the idea to use the walnut oil first.

Key thing to note, when watching this...his WHITE bottle, is just walnut oil. It is not till nearer the end, after he wet sands with just the oil up to, I think, 5000 grit, that he finally uses his BROWN bottle, which is Pens Plus.
 

MedWoodWorx

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You are right guys i am stupid. I ve seen the videos but i stupidly decided to use pp instead of walnut oil. The thing is that i have only some food grade walnut oil not doctors oil. I ll give it a try asap. Thank you everyone.
 

jrista

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You are right guys i am stupid. I ve seen the videos but i stupidly decided to use pp instead of walnut oil. The thing is that i have only some food grade walnut oil not doctors oil. I ll give it a try asap. Thank you everyone.
The walnut oil is not required. You can use just PP on dry wood as well. I would just be a bit more liberal with the first coat, rub it in better before you friction polish, and then REALLY friction polish it in good before you add the next coat. Give the first coat some time to dry so you can identify dry/dull spots if they occur. Usually, they will occur where the grain is punky, where there is endgrain (i.e. the ends of the blanks, around groves, etc.), or where there are scrapes in the wood (even when they can barely be seen by the eye, say little scrapes caused by sanding, these can end up showing up as dull spots with PP.)

The second layer should be targeted at covering up the dull spots as much as possible. Subsequent layers should do the same, and improve the shine until you get that glass-like finish.
 

MedWoodWorx

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jrista. Has some superb thoughts, so I won't repeat the discussion.

I will merely say that there are MANY finishes that we each can pick and choose from. And each has faults and strengths, so I have a simply philosophy: Have a very large tool box with many tools, and learn how to use the tools that you like for the purposes you desire!!!!!

I have use Pens Plus, and when appropriate it has served me well. ;) ;)
can you please elaborate what do you mean by appropriate? i mean have you noticed any particular woods that are especially benefited from PP? i would guess that oily and dense woods have to gain the most.
cheers
 
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First, watch the videos on the Doctor's Woodshop on how t apply Pens Plus and other finishes. It sounds like you are just rubbing it on and that i it. It requires heat to buff and really adhere. Friction. The videos do a great job demonstrating this finish.
 

jrista

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jrista. Has some superb thoughts, so I won't repeat the discussion.

I will merely say that there are MANY finishes that we each can pick and choose from. And each has faults and strengths, so I have a simply philosophy: Have a very large tool box with many tools, and learn how to use the tools that you like for the purposes you desire!!!!!

I have use Pens Plus, and when appropriate it has served me well. ;) ;)
I agree, its good to have a large toolbox. I honestly haven't explored all the options yet myself, and I need to. I need to give poly a try. One of the reasons I haven't yet, is every time I read about it people comment about the yellowing caused by poly, both on initial application (I guess oil based polys are usually based on linseed oil?), as well as more and more over time. I turn enough lighter colored woods, maple and holly in particular, that I really want as neutral a finish (color wise) as I can find. There are two that I've used the most: Mylands Melamine Lacquer, and Pens Plus.

I suspect on some woods, the warming/yellowing wouldn't be a problem, and I really do need to give poly a try. I did explore polycrylic a bit, and a couple other water-based pen finishes. Those seem to have taught me that I am really not a fan of water based finishes, I think...
 

grpass

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I also love pens plus. After sanding, clean the blank with DNA. leave the lathe turning at a fast speed. Use a paper towel with 2-3 drops of Pens Plus, keep pressure on the blank as you move the paper tower back and forth. 5-6 coats. Keep using a fresh spot on the the paper towel for each coat. Amazingly it dries as soon as you finish each coat. Great stuff
 

MedWoodWorx

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First, watch the videos on the Doctor's Woodshop on how t apply Pens Plus and other finishes. It sounds like you are just rubbing it on and that i it. It requires heat to buff and really adhere. Friction. The videos do a great job demonstrating this finish.
Well i did watched them a thousand times thats why i am stupid. I didn't notice that he sands with just walnut oil and at the end he uses the PP. Therefore i used a lot and i ended up with one sticky mess. However today when i checked again the blank was smooth and the PP had cured. Maybe it was the oily character of olive wood, maybe it was luck.
 
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Well i did watched them a thousand times thats why i am stupid. I didn't notice that he sands with just walnut oil and at the end he uses the PP. Therefore i used a lot and i ended up with one sticky mess. However today when i checked again the blank was smooth and the PP had cured. Maybe it was the oily character of olive wood, maybe it was luck.

Sent you a PM
 

MedWoodWorx

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So after experimenting a bit with pens plus i managed to make this.
IMG_20220113_193934.jpg

The pen at the left is finished with ca and the blanks at the right with PP.
Important note: photo taken with a crappy phone in a homemade lightbox.
Many thanks to everyone in this forum for sharing thoughts and expertise. Cheers
IMG_20220113_193904.jpg
 

jrista

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Looks pretty comparable. I think you can get the PP much, much shiner though! ;) With practice, you'll get better and better at using it.
 

MedWoodWorx

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Is it just me or the PP bottle dispenser is wrong? I think that kind of dispenser works with thick liquids like creams, shampoos etc. PP is much thinner.a pull up dispenser like the ones used in glue bottles or a closing cap would be more appropriate. Just a thought, cheers.
 

jrista

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Is it just me or the PP bottle dispenser is wrong? I think that kind of dispenser works with thick liquids like creams, shampoos etc. PP is much thinner.a pull up dispenser like the ones used in glue bottles or a closing cap would be more appropriate. Just a thought, cheers.
Yeah, I don't like the default dispenser. I wonder if I could find an alternative that would fit, that would make dispensing it easier... I know you can get some replacement bottle dispensers for some types of bottles...
 

RGVPens

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I've used and like Pens Plus. But I've never used the Walnut oil. In a quest for a better/easier shine I ordered some Walnut oil and expect it to arrive tomorrow.

The question is, and it may sound stupid, but I've never seen it before and wonder if it is dark and stains like real walnut oil? Will it change the color of say olive wood?
 
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I've used and like Pens Plus. But I've never used the Walnut oil. In a quest for a better/easier shine I ordered some Walnut oil and expect it to arrive tomorrow.

The question is, and it may sound stupid, but I've never seen it before and wonder if it is dark and stains like real walnut oil? Will it change the color of say olive wood?


With wood blanks I typically wet sand with the the walnut oil then "wash" with walnut oil. One more light coat of walnut oil after that and I then use the pressure for heat friction to get the oil to adsorb and harden. This creates a great base for applying the Pens Plus. The pens I make this way have a good sheen and have surprising durability.
 

jrista

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I've used and like Pens Plus. But I've never used the Walnut oil. In a quest for a better/easier shine I ordered some Walnut oil and expect it to arrive tomorrow.

The question is, and it may sound stupid, but I've never seen it before and wonder if it is dark and stains like real walnut oil? Will it change the color of say olive wood?
This is a very clear walnut oil. I've used Mahoney's walnut oil in the past, and it is very brown, and does change the color of the wood. But the Doctors Woodshop walnut oil is very clear, and has a very very slight yellowing/darkening effect on pens. The only time I have had a notable color change is with this one particular maple platter blank that turned a bit orange when finished in Doctor's walnut oil. On all pens so far, there is the normal darkening you get with any finish, but otherwise only the slightest yellowing in color change.

With Olive Wood, you might find the wood gets slightly more golden colored. I have finished a pen with this stuff, and it seemed to generally maintain its color:

full
 
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