The Best Pen Finish I've used yet

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Oldmanwheeler

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Jun 3, 2011
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I've tried every type of pen finish out there and still never found one that I was completely sold on, at least not until now. I was reading some old forum's on finishing when I stumbled across a link to Doctor's Woodshop. I went to the website and as I read Mike's story I discovered he had a lot of the same issues I have had with today's more popular pen finishing products. As I read further I learned that Mike is a Biochemical Toxicologist and used his expertise to formulate a line of finishing products he calls Doctor's Woodshop!

I ordered one of each of Mike's products hoping they would be the answer to at lease some of my concerns. I'm writing this tonight to share with you a product that in my opinion is far superior to the other finishes on the market. Mike's products did everything he said they would on his website.

If you are interested in trying a Pen Finish that really is a quality product I highly recommend that you order some of Mike's Doctor's Woodshop finishes. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

Oldmanwheeler
Ames, IA
 
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Oldmanwheeler

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I start out with a drop or two of the Walnut Finishing Oil on my sanding paper per Mike's suggestion. I sand all of my pens to to 12,000 grit using Micro-Mesh. I then apply three individual coats of Doctor's Woodshop Walnut Oil/Carnauba Wax & Shellac Woodturning finish. After the third coat I put a little bit of the Walnut Oil Paste Wax on my finger and the heat retained in the wood melts the wax as you spread it. I take a clean Scott towel and give it one last polish. The result is a hard, durable finish.

Is it better than CA? In my opinion it is because it doesn't give the wood that plastic look. I want my pens to be as natural looking as possible so I no longer use CA, but that's just me.

Oldmanwheeler
Ames, IA
 

amboyna

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Nov 22, 2010
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Vancouver, USA
I tried it and was disappointed. After handling the pen the finish lost it's shine. But I did not go through the steps you did. Maybe I will try it again.
 

PaulDoug

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Benton City, WA.
very interesting. I'm always looking for different finishes. I wonder how it stands up on a daily use pen. I also would like to know the shelf life of it.
 

Oldmanwheeler

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I sent an email to Mike who is the person that developed the Doctor Woodshop product line and he has registered for the forum and is waiting to be approved. He will then get online and answer any questions you guy have.
 

MikeMeredith

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Jul 11, 2011
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Lake Oswego, OR
Doctor's Woodshop finishes

Full disclosure: I make the finishes at Doctor's Woodshop (doctorswoodshop.com). Pen turners have been very good customers and I appreciate the exposure I have gotten here. The question" Is it better than CA?" has to be answered from the turner's prospective. From my prospective, the company was founded on three principles:1) wood should look like wood and 2) don't kill the customers. The third is 3) make it cheaper and better but 1 and 2 are more germane to this discussion.

If you want a finish that is shiney and hard like epoxy, my products aren't for you. From my prospective, wood should look like wood, not plastic. A WOP or CA finish looks like plastic. It's also hard and durable though not really much more water resisitant than an oil/wax/shellac finish. The walnut oil/wax/shellac finish I make puts a polymerizing oil into the wood, a smooth shellac surface over it and, because it is a friction polish, a melted carnauba wax top coat floated over the surface. Multiple coats can be applied. An additional carnauba wax coat can be applied if desired.

Let me reinforce the friction polish part. You need to feel the heat as you apply it. If you are looking for more depth of finish, several coats of the High Build Friction Polish will apply a deeper shine as well as put the hardening oil into the wood. Top that with carnauba paste wax and you get good finish that will stand up to handling and be restored with buffing when needed.

As to number 2, my finishes are made with salad dressing and the coating of M&M's with a little bird food (lac bug) and ethanol (also an natural product). Don't drink it, but nothing I make will turn your liver to a raisin.

If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask (mike@doctorswoodshop.com). I do this for fun and so far it's been a lot of fun.
 

MikeMeredith

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Re: shelf life. Shellac by itself has a limited shelf life. In the Doctor's Woodshop products the presence of the oil excludes the air and prevents oxidation of the shellac. I have two year old samples of finishes that works perfectly. Bloxygen (www.bloxygen.com ) will do the same thing in shellac products with out oil.
 

PaulDoug

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Mike, Thanks for the info and welcome to the forum. I hope you will show some of your turnings here. Do you have a store or work out of home? I visit Portland quite often, my Daughter, her husband and my new grandson live there. I would try to get to your store if you have one, if not I well order inline in the near future.
 

Oldmanwheeler

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Council Bluffs, IA
Earlier today I took a pen made out of a laminated blank that I made for my wife and I was never happy with how the finish turned out. Now keep in mind that I just had my shoulder replaced so I was basically doing this one handed. When I finally managed to get it disassembled I took the laminated blank and put it back on the lathe. I took some 600 grit sandpaper with ad drop of DW's oil on the sandpaper and took the old finish off. I used micro-mesh up through 12,000 grit. I put three coats of DW's Walnut Oil/Carnauba Wax Shellac Woodturning Finish and two light coats of DW's Carnauba Wax.

The end result was night and day. The shine was a deep, brilliant luster that allowed the various laminated woods stand out. When my wife saw it she to was amazed at the difference in the finish. I'll see if I can get it away from her long enough to take a few pictures.

Oldmanwheeler
Ames, IA
 

Paladin

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Kenosha, WI
Mike Meredith

I spoke with Mike yesterday. Very knowledgeable and helpful. With his guidance, I chose the products he suggests for pen finishing and put in my order. I think it shipped yesterday.

Will post again when I get a chance to try them out.
 

Oldmanwheeler

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Council Bluffs, IA
I spoke with Mike yesterday. Very knowledgeable and helpful. With his guidance, I chose the products he suggests for pen finishing and put in my order. I think it shipped yesterday.

Will post again when I get a chance to try them out.
Based on my experience you'll be pleasantly surprised. There is something to be said when you can talk to the actual person who developed the product. I've sent Mike a half dozen emails with questions and he has taken time to answer everyone of them in detail. Sounds like you had the same experience.

Oldmanwheeler,
Ames, IA
 

Daniel

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Welcome Mike, thank you for taking the time to represent your product in person. I know I have seen many members over the years share your view on what a wood finish should be. "Wood should look like wood" Best of luck and hoping you stick around the group. A quality durable finish for wood is something I think would be in fairly high demand here. Many penturners spend a lot of time finding those extra special pieces. Many of them then have a problem with coating them in plastic to keep them looking extra special.
 

ctubbs

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Murray, Kentucky
Welcome to the Forum, Mike, and thanks for the info. Some of our woods contain oils that cause problems with some finishes. How will your finish react to such wood? Thank you.
Charles
 

wizical

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Los Angeles, ca, USA.
after reading the posts on this new finish, It is still a friction polish....Im not questioning the finish itself, im sure it is great on bowls, plates, Salad bowls, Platters and bigger items like that.

Im questioning it on pens....something that gets used every day... that finish will not hold up over time and will become dull!

just my two cents! and if i am criticized for it, so be it
 

gwilki

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May 20, 2007
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Location
Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Mike
Welcome to the club.

Would you mind explaining how your products differ from those from Shellawax? It sounds like there are many similarities, such as using a shellac base and applying friction polish and wax.

Tks
 

Oldmanwheeler

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Council Bluffs, IA
Oldmanwheeler how long are you seeing it take to get the finish you are describing?

Welcome mike
From the time I've finished turning the pen the entire process should take 25 minutes or so. Of course since the finish is such an important part of the pen making process, I will always take my time and pay attention to every little detail. Perhaps Mike can elaborate on this since I've only been using it a few weeks.
 

leehljp

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There are people that would go for that kind of finish, and if you want to sell what you make, then that is great. However, If you want to sell what others want to buy, then keep your mind open and use the CA, or lacquer, WOP, acrylic or other.

By the way, CA can be made to present a wood finish, thick and durable without the plastic look:

http://www.penturners.org/forum/showthread.php?t=32496&highlight=shine

And a Quote from Russ Fairfield:
My conclusion is that the visual perception determines the tactile "feel" of the pen. A high gloss is perceived as a "plastic" appearance, therefore we will also "feel" it as being a cold hard plastic. A matte finish has the appearance of bare wood, and we will say it has the warmth and "feel" of bare wood, even though it is the identical finish.
I admire folks that will develop new ways and methods and I will look forward to seeing some reviews. I love tung oil finishes as well as lacquer (Lived in Japan too long to not like it :rolleyes: ) and polys as well. But for pens as a finish, selling the "wood feel" must take into consideration that it will only sell to a very narrow niche market, nor are they always the high dollar sales.


Belwo is a quote from a post 2 years ago. The post referred to a different kind of finish but at the same time, people that make pens that do not have solid permanent protection as CA and similar - need to consider the following:

Here is the problem: Our heritage use of finishes, waxes and polishes! Before modern day finishes like Polyurethane, or other clear/translucent finishes including certain varnishes, shellacs and lacquers, - polishes, waxes and oils were used to provide protective finishes (on fine wood). So far, so good on this aspect of finishes.

However, WOOD finishes as a protectant was cleaned and polished at least weekly, usually every other day and in some cases daily. People with enough wealth to buy fine furniture with oil, wax and polish finishes had servants/miads that cleaned, waxed and polished these items on a REGULAR basis. For people who had fine furniture but did not have servants, before the advent of the working mom/wife, the wife (usually) cleaned and waxed at least weekly.

Because most of us on this forum are men, we give no thought to what our moms did (or maids) for upkeep on fine furniture. Instead, we only remember the fine wood feel of polished, waxed, oiled wood.

Now to get to pens - Pens are in contact with acidic human oils far more than furniture. And we are not used to the ritual cleaning that went on with the fine furniture that we grew up with. Pens will need far more cleaning than furniture because of the nature of where the pen is stored and how it is used.

If that consideration is taken into account and the user is willing to give that kind of daily considerations to the upkeep of the pen, then it should work fine. I noticed that while the maker claims it is different than other finishes, the wood is still wood and as you mentioned the acidic hands will be in touch with the wood. In this case - think of kitchen cabinets that have been well used. Dirt and grime build up on the corners and have to be cleaned. In pens that leave the grain exposed even though properly oiled, waxed, finished, the dirt will still get into the pores and it still will have to be cleaned regularly IMO.

I love tung oil finished wood. But on a pen, it would require plenty of cleaning, not to mention what it might do to a white shirt on a hot humid day.
I love wood feel and oiled, rubbed, polish of different types, but I sure hate the upkeep. That is what LOML is for, but don't tell her! :biggrin:
 

sbell111

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There are people that would go for that kind of finish, and if you want to sell what you make, then that is great. However, If you want to sell what others want to buy, then keep your mind open and use the CA, or lacquer, WOP, acrylic or other.
It is certainly fine that you feel this way. However, your feelings don't invalidate that of others. Many of us have been selling pens with a finish not unlike that described by the OP for years. The fact that our customers come back year after year to make additional purchases tell us that we are doing something right. Further, the pens that I use all day, every day are finished in this manner. After many years of heavy use, I am still happy with their appearance.
 

leehljp

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There are people that would go for that kind of finish, and if you want to sell what you make, then that is great. However, If you want to sell what others want to buy, then keep your mind open and use the CA, or lacquer, WOP, acrylic or other.
It is certainly fine that you feel this way. However, your feelings don't invalidate that of others. Many of us have been selling pens with a finish not unlike that described by the OP for years. The fact that our customers come back year after year to make additional purchases tell us that we are doing something right. Further, the pens that I use all day, every day are finished in this manner. After many years of heavy use, I am still happy with their appearance.
I apologize for one part, I should have written "and use the CA, or lacquer, WOP, acrylic or other also".

This is not a "feeling" (as in my "preferences") for sure. I love the "wood" feel and prefer it on furniture and other wood products. My reply was from reading this forum for the past 6 + years, specifically from those that sell pens in mass market areas and sell what most people want. This very subject of wood versus plastic/CA look has been written about and posted numerous times on this forum over the years, at least once a year! And from the big sellers, several have said that their clientele as a whole prefer the shiny finish. Having lived in Japan for 25 plus years, it sometimes disgusted me to see the frown on people's face as they looked at a hand rubbed, oiled, waxed piece of furniture and asked why I didn't put a "gloss" on it. :rolleyes: Not everyone likes "oil" and from reading this forum over the years, the figures come up heavily on the side of "shiny" for the buyers' preferences too.

It does happen as you said that some people prefer this and a healthy clientele can be built up. Even a reputation can be built to the point that it draws others in to support the business of Wood Feel finishes. But this is still not the majority of people (buyers) out in the pen world. That is the point of my post.

For people who know how to care for an oil and wax finish, this looks like an excellent product.
 

Mike GW

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Jan 25, 2014
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Vallejo, CA
This vs. CA

I would have to say that the CA, being an acrylic type of finish would be the most durable, it is a finish that takes some practice to do well. It is also the most expensive of the finishing types. One pro pen turner wrote that he used CA on his high-end pens and other quality finishes on the others.

I am new to pen turning and am pretty ignorant on such things, so I'm learning as I go. There are so many finishes and techniques available that it is difficult to decide what you're going to use. Due to all of the praise CA is getting I've been working with that, but I'm not yet completely sold on it. It does take some time to learn. I also hate how it makes turning pieces stick together.

I thought this video was helpful in distinguishing the WOCWS treatment to the high build friction polish in that while the latter gives a deeper gloss the former gives a more durable one for items that will be frequently handled. High Build Friction Polish & Walnut Oil/Carnauba Wax and Shellac Overview - YouTube
 

Mike GW

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Jan 25, 2014
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Mike
Welcome to the club.

Would you mind explaining how your products differ from those from Shellawax? It sounds like there are many similarities, such as using a shellac base and applying friction polish and wax.

Tks
Thanks for the welcome! I'm not quite sure how they would differ. That was kind of my point when I confessed my newbe ignorance in this area. The books I've been reading and videos I've been watching give a lot of praise for the CA method. There was one author that stated that he would have never considered using an adhesive to finish a pen, but is now a big fan of the method. That is why I'm giving it a try. My first three pens I used a sealer and Maylands high build friction polish which was very easy to use. Because I want a gloss finish that would hold up under a lot of handling I decided to try the CA method. It seems to have a greater learning curve, hence the frustration. One time I had to sand the blank back down to bare wood and start the process over. Practice does increase the skill, and I'm also experimenting with the differing methods of application.

There seems to be so many different views and methods to the finishing process that trying to decide which is best can be overwhelming. I noticed on the Wood Doctors site that he uses a synthetic wax in the Pen's Plus formula rather than the natural Carnauba in the Walnut Oil/Carnauba and shellac.

Like others have said, try many and find one we like
 

Mike GW

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Full disclosure: The walnut oil/wax/shellac finish I make puts a polymerizing oil into the wood, a smooth shellac surface over it and, because it is a friction polish, a melted carnauba wax top coat floated over the surface. Multiple coats can be applied. An additional carnauba wax coat can be applied if desired.
Thanks, Mike, for the extra input. I've watched a few of your videos and have have been a subscriber to your Youtube channel. For the use of pens I'm assuming that the WOWS formula refered to here is the one with the microcrystalline wax verse the carnauba. Would the Mylands HFP work with this?
 

Mike GW

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Jan 25, 2014
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Vallejo, CA
Mike
Welcome to the club.

Would you mind explaining how your products differ from those from Shellawax? It sounds like there are many similarities, such as using a shellac base and applying friction polish and wax.

Tks
Thanks for the welcome! I'm not quite sure how they would differ. That was kind of my point when I confessed my newbe ignorance in this area. The books I've been reading and videos I've been watching give a lot of praise for the CA method. There was one author that stated that he would have never considered using an adhesive to finish a pen, but is now a big fan of the method. That is why I'm giving it a try. My first three pens I used a sealer and Maylands high build friction polish which was very easy to use. Because I want a gloss finish that would hold up under a lot of handling I decided to try the CA method. It seems to have a greater learning curve, hence the frustration. One time I had to sand the blank back down to bare wood and start the process over. Practice does increase the skill, and I'm also experimenting with the differing methods of application.

There seems to be so many different views and methods to the finishing process that trying to decide which is best can be overwhelming. I noticed on the Wood Doctors site that he uses a synthetic wax in the Pen's Plus formula rather than the natural Carnauba in the Walnut Oil/Carnauba and shellac.

Like others have said, try many and find one we like
Oops! I clued in and think you're talking to the other Mike :rolleyes:. I'm new too, but definitely not an expert :confused:
 

Bocere1

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Looking at the dates on this thread tells me in 2 or 3 years we will still be enjoying discussing finishes. This thread is like that movie where two people are putting letters in a mailbox and having a conversation years apart.:wink: It would be nice if someone had macro pictures like those edstreet enjoys of pens that have these finishes and have been well used since 2011 and can see a then and now look.
 

mikespenturningz

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What's with the pitting. Ed that is called grain. My customers at least mostly like to feel the wood. By the way those pens are mine and all of them have been sold! I finish my pens exclusively with Doctors and it is a great product. I highly recommend it.
 
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mikespenturningz

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Those are segmented pens I have a thread in the segmenting forum about how I do it. The metal is aluminum I have them all over the world now. Take a look and give it a try. I also have a thread in finishing about how I use Doctors. I have changed my methods a little since I wrote it but it will get you started.
 
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Billy G

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Mar 29, 2015
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PA
What do most woodturners use to pre polish wood pen blanks to beautifui there work
before final ca glueing !
Billy G Pittsfield,Pa. Tried car compounds and white Diamond and Lens polish.
billyhg@verizon.net
 

jttheclockman

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NJ, USA.
What do most woodturners use to pre polish wood pen blanks to beautifui there work
before final ca glueing !
Billy G Pittsfield,Pa. Tried car compounds and white Diamond and Lens polish.
billyhg@verizon.net
Hello Bill and welcome to the site. May I make a suggestion and that is instead of jumping into a thread that is 2 years old and half the people do not even come here any more, you would be better starting your own thread in the finishing forum. to answer your question in one word. Sandpaper or skew. No finish is needed if you are top coating with CA. Unless you are looking to stain a wood for color you do not want any substrate to hinder the CA from sticking to the blank. Good luck.
 
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TonyL

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I do not use anything to polish prior to applying CA or any other coating. I do sand the wood or mixed materials (wood and resin combined) to 2000 grit (all dry) at 600 to 800 rpms prior to the application of any coating. I guess sanding can be an aggressive form of polishing, but no liquid or solid compounds are used prior. You asked what most do, unfortunately I do not know. If you discover something, please let me know. Thanks!

Much success with your process.
 
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