Polyurethane Finish

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M Mumford

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Mar 5, 2017
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This may have been asked many times here I just didn't find it. Does anyone use Polyurethane Clear Gloss on there finishes? I'm a first time pen maker, but a long woodworker. Mostly Furniture and shadow box maker and Polyurethane clear is like my go to clear coat. I have ready and watched many forums here and Youtube and seems everyone uses super glue. My problem with super glue is the vapor of it.. I'm allergic to it!!! I was thinking of using Fast Drying Polyurethane for the first coat and using steel wool then finishing with my other favorite Bar Top Epoxy to make a super hard clear coat. I have plans on making a rotisserie so I can keep the finish pen planks spinning I'm going to shoot for about 25 RPM this way the coating will stay level i hope. Just wanted your guys thought on this.. Yep it won't be quick but I got all the time in the world...

Thanks
Mike
 
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KenV

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Oct 28, 2005
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Michael,

Les Elm does a spectacular job of finishing pens using a dipping technique.

Lacquer has a long history also.

Built up film finishes take longer

You might also want to follow the developments with UV curing film finishes. They are showing good promise without the solvents.
 

keithncsu

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May 28, 2016
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372
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Catawba, SC 29704
I just tried Les' method this weekend and even though I used a different poly than he suggested, my results came out far better than I anticipated! I think another couple of coats would've been better. And since there's no real labor intensive steps after the last coat, in theory, I could take the pen apart and add more.
 

leehljp

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Feb 6, 2005
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Tunica, MS,
This comes up about once very 4 to 6 months.

In a nutshell why Poly is not widely used:

1. Time. Most people spend 30 minutes to an hour on making a pen and then do not want to wait 24 to 48 hours for a finish to cure. Yes, Poly can harden to touch in an hour, but it needs to cure. Having said that, some of the finest pens made, are made by people who focus on the quality of the pen, even if it takes days to a month to finish. Most people here will not wait that long.

2. What most people from wood finishing background do not understand is that furniture finishes are made for furniture that is not touched or held in sweaty palms a dozens of times a day, not put in the hot sun or the glove box, or a pocket full of change or a purse and banged around. We don't do that with furniture and furniture finish, but we will expect the same poly to look just as nice on a pen. That is OK if you place the pen in a position to sit and not be touched anymore than the furniture. Ever notice the grime on a well used kitchen cabinet after 3 or 4 years? That is what the pen will look like.

CA does a better job of keeping off the grime.

Your high end pens $500 - $1000 and up, the owners of these will take care and clean their pens. The type of finish in this situation is up to the maker and request of the individual owner. But for lower end pens, people are not going to clean them and protect them. Most will be stuffed in purses, or hot sweaty shirt pockets and even in pants pockets with change and keys. The owners will use the pen a dozen or more times a day in different environments, hot, cold, humid, dry, inside, outside.

Will Poly withstand that?

I have done a few lacquer pens and like them. But they take time. I have thought of using poly, and I will sometime in the future, but it will be a hard poly similar to what is used on gym floors.
 
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Mach4

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Dec 13, 2016
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Boise, Idaho
I've used automotive 2x clearcoat on my wood dash inserts and gearshift on my car and it has done an amazing job. The gearshift is "pen-like" in that it sits in the sun and is handled profusely. I'm doing some experiments on pens and so far so good. The catalyzed stuff sets up quickly.
 

farmer

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Joined
Jun 16, 2012
Messages
650
Location
NV
Yoo slow

This may have been asked many times here I just didn't find it. Does anyone use Polyurethane Clear Gloss on there finishes? I'm a first time pen maker, but a long woodworker. Mostly Furniture and shadow box maker and Polyurethane clear is like my go to clear coat. I have ready and watched many forums here and Youtube and seems everyone uses super glue. My problem with super glue is the vapor of it.. I'm allergic to it!!! I was thinking of using Fast Drying Polyurethane for the first coat and using steel wool then finishing with my other favorite Bar Top Epoxy to make a super hard clear coat. I have plans on making a rotisserie so I can keep the finish pen planks spinning I'm going to shoot for about 25 RPM this way the coating will stay level i hope. Just wanted your guys thought on this.. Yep it won't be quick but I got all the time in the world...

Thanks
Mike

25 rpm is to slow ..............the epoxy will flow around the pen like a wave washing up on the beach .
The epoxy will be rolling and will create BUBBLES....
You need about 50 RPM , not so fast it wants to spin the epoxy off and not so slow the epoxy will be mixing as its turning .

Why use the polyurethane if you are going to do a epoxy finish ..
Just do the epoxy finish and work the epoxy into the wood pores with your hands .. PS WEAR latex GLOVES >>>

I used west systems 105/207 but several billiards cue supply houses sale different brands of epoxies use as a clear finish .
THE THINNER THE BETTER

Cue man billiards
Atlas billiards supply
Prathers billiard supply
Syberts billiard supply
Cue components
 
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jesscaper

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Oct 9, 2021
Messages
2
Location
USA
When I made furniture, I used a regular varnish that repels water and protects from the effects of active sunlight. If you need a table in the house, then, in general, this is the best option. I think you should try it.
In extreme cases, you can always order new furniture. I was finishing the kitchen recently. And we all know that the kitchen isn't complete without a good big table. I ordered it at a discount in a good furniture store and did not bother about finding materials, painting, and other things.
 
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jrista

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Aug 12, 2021
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Colorado
This comes up about once very 4 to 6 months.

In a nutshell why Poly is not widely used:

1. Time. Most people spend 30 minutes to an hour on making a pen and then do not want to wait 24 to 48 hours for a finish to cure. Yes, Poly can harden to touch in an hour, but it needs to cure. Having said that, some of the finest pens made, are made by people who focus on the quality of the pen, even if it takes days to a month to finish. Most people here will not wait that long.

2. What most people from wood finishing background do not understand is that furniture finishes are made for furniture that is not touched or held in sweaty palms a dozens of times a day, not put in the hot sun or the glove box, or a pocket full of change or a purse and banged around. We don't do that with furniture and furniture finish, but we will expect the same poly to look just as nice on a pen. That is OK if you place the pen in a position to sit and not be touched anymore than the furniture. Ever notice the grime on a well used kitchen cabinet after 3 or 4 years? That is what the pen will look like.

CA does a better job of keeping off the grime.

Your high end pens $500 - $1000 and up, the owners of these will take care and clean their pens. The type of finish in this situation is up to the maker and request of the individual owner. But for lower end pens, people are not going to clean them and protect them. Most will be stuffed in purses, or hot sweaty shirt pockets and even in pants pockets with change and keys. The owners will use the pen a dozen or more times a day in different environments, hot, cold, humid, dry, inside, outside.

Will Poly withstand that?

I have done a few lacquer pens and like them. But they take time. I have thought of using poly, and I will sometime in the future, but it will be a hard poly similar to what is used on gym floors.

This is some great info here. I've been trying a lot of finishes lately, including polyurethane and polycrylic, among other things. Both of these standard furniture finishes, which look excellent on furniture and the like, I've found are very, very hard to use properly on a pen. I also found that both took significantly longer than an hour to be hard to the touch and resilient to handling...the first time I used either, I touched the blank somewhere between one and two hours, and was met with a tacky surface that captured my fingerprint, effectively ruining the finish. Subsequent attempts basically required the blanks to be left for hours, or until time the next day (not a full 24 hours, but 12 or around there).

The finishes were not glassy smooth like you would get with CA, either. Both seemed to conform to the grain of the wood, and on some woods they just looked terrible. The polyurethane sometimes had bubbles that I just couldn't get rid of on a small round object like that either, and the bubbles would leave little artifacts. I'm sure there is an application technique factor there that may help eliminate the bubbles, but still...the finishes in the end, were not flat and glassy smooth like I had been hoping for, and with the long drying time, putting on multiple coats would have been an extremely long ordeal.

I am still not a fan of CA myself. It looks very much like plastic to me, and not a good kind of plastic...like a cheap plastic. I've tried a couple of different CA glue types. Just started experimenting with Mercury flex, and I guess I'll see if that ultimately looks the same or not...I've had a little bit of cloudiness with it so far, and I'm not sure if that is an application technique issue or something else. I also have yet to really give GlueBoost a try, and see how that looks. In the end, though, I haven't generally liked turning my beautiful wood, into plastic...which is what keeps drawing me to other finishes.

So far, the finish I like best, when I give it time to fully cure, is Pens Plus. Its a walnut oil based friction polish, much like shine juice, but it seems to work significantly better than home made shine juice that I've made myself. Maybe its the difference between walnut oil and BLO, not sure. In any case, a few coats of Pens Plus, and a day or so to fully dry and polymerize, and I end up with a very hard, fairly scratch resistant (even with keys in a pocket, given how well some of the keychains I've turned and finished with Pens Plus have held up!), and is nice and shiny too. Maybe not quite as shiny as CA, but, the finish looks more natural with the wood, and does not look like plastic. I do think it is important that the blank not really be touched for a few days while it fully dries and cures entirely with Pens Plus. My earlier attempts, I handled the blanks too soon, which dulled the shine and left me still wanting more. A few days is certainly a lot longer than 30-60 minutes, but its also a lot less than a month.

The one drawback I have had with Pens Plus, is it doesn't do so well on maple, or similar types of softish woods. They seem to keep soaking up the finish, and as they do, the finish on parts of those types of woods will dull. It becomes very important to generate enough heat from friction during application to make sure you start the polymerization process as quickly as possible, and even then, it is really that soaking up of the finish that pushes me to apply a lot of coats. Eventually you'll apply enough and the wood will stop soaking it up, but this polish really seems to work best at 1-3 coats...beyond that, it gets harder to manage, and less glass-like in the end (it can start picking up fibers, streaks from friction show up more, etc.)
 

jttheclockman

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Joined
Feb 22, 2005
Messages
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NJ, USA.
To me there is no such thing as scratch free finish. Just can not be. Maybe a close fit for that is powdercoating. Maybe you want to try that. They make satin. Not all woods are prime for it though.
 
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