Zebra + CA - Where did I go wrong?

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tv68

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Today I made my first attempts both at turning diagonally cut (unstabilized) zebrawood and applying a CA finish.

To my surprise, though certainly not perfect, the CA part didn’t go horribly. The zebrawood on the other hand - even with sharp tools and turning cautiously, the wood still ended up with “pits” in it. I’m sure that’s not the right terminology, but basically lots of small areas that are lower than the rest of the wood. At some point during sanding, these must have collected some white dust that eventually got sealed in by the CA.

Is there a trick to turning and finishing this wood (and similar types) to get a more even surface? Any tips and would be much appreciated!
 

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studioseven

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Doug,
After my final sanding, I always wipe down my blanks with denatured alcohol (while turning on the lathe). Then I apply my CA finish. Give this a try and see if it helps.

Seven
 

magpens

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In my experience, Zebrawood is notorious for just the problem you mention. .

A technique that helps deal with that problem is to coat the blank with CA after it has been rounded.
And as you turn the Zebrawood down to the desired diameter you have to repeat the process after removing a layer of wood.
You have to develop a feeling for how often you need to repeat. . Since Zebrawood is dense, it does not absorb very much at a time and you do have to repeat quite often until you get to near finished size. . At that point, continue with sandpaper.

The white dust is less of a problem if you follow the above procedure because the "pits" (cavities) are greatly reduced.

However, you should thoroughly clean the shaped blank with alcohol before applying the finish (CA or whatever).
 

tv68

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Thanks all for the very helpful suggestions. I completely forgot about denatured alcohol..I will pick some up and give that a try, as well as blowing out dust beforehand. Is there a particular brand of DN that’s recommended?

I also wasn’t familiar with CA coating the blank during sanding, so I’ll do that as well. Glad to hear it’s not just me that’s had issues with zebrawood!

On a loosely related note, is it acceptable to sand a pen down to its final shape with lower (150ish) grit paper? I’ve had a heck of a time getting it perfectly shaped with tools alone, so some parts always seem to be slightly higher or lower than I’d like the pen to end up.
 
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bsshog40

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Good tips above. I just have always sanded down my zebrawood to finish. Then blow off the dust and then wipe down with denatured alcohol. On pourus wood like this, I will usually put about 5-7 coats of thin CA before I move to medium. It will eventually fill in and coat nicely.
 

Mortalis

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As far as the dust collecting in the open pores of the wood. Use compressed air to remove as much as possible. A small pancake compressor works a charm but if you cant swing the expense then a can of compressed air will help. I dont normally use the Denatured alcohol as I find it doesnt always remove the dust and I dont like applying anything to the surface of the wood prior to applying my CA finish if I can help it. That's just my opinion, obviously others will have differing opinions.

As far as using coarse sandpaper to shape your wood. I will typically use 120grit to get the outside of the blank close (within .030" - 0.050"). I then use 220 to get it down to just about finished diameter. I then use a paper towel to remove the bulk of the dust and then compressed air to remove the dust from the crevices. I have a used Microscope that I picked up on EBay that I use to examine the surface for both deep scratches and dust in pores. Deep scratches need to be reduced before starting to apply the finish. I then apply one coat of thin CA and after it dries I will examine the body under magnification and if I see any captured dust I sand with 400 grit down to the wood and go about removing the sanding dust again.

You can also use the shavings from the turning tools to polish/burnish the surface. Gather a good handful of the turnings and with the lathe turning slowly apply the handful of turnings cupped in your hand to the surface and apply slight to medium pressure. Move your hand slightly up and down the length of the blank. The friction will heat things up a bit so let up on the grip when that happens so you dont burn your self. This will also help to remove some of the sanding dust from the open pores.
 

FGarbrecht

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You can also use a sanding sealer (Myland's Cellulose Sanding Sealer) to fill in the open pore and grain structure of woods like this. I use it frequently and generally like the appearance with it better than if I had not used it.
 

KenB259

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Thanks all for the very helpful suggestions. I completely forgot about denatured alcohol..I will pick some up and give that a try, as well as blowing out dust beforehand. Is there a particular brand of DN that’s recommended?

I also wasn’t familiar with CA coating the blank during sanding, so I’ll do that as well. Glad to hear it’s not just me that’s had issues with zebrawood!

On a loosely related note, is it acceptable to sand a pen down to its final shape with lower (150ish) grit paper? I’ve had a heck of a time getting it perfectly shaped with tools alone, so some parts always seem to be slightly higher or lower than I’d like the pen to end up.
Sanding is perfectly acceptable on pens that are made from a single species of wood. When and if you try your hand at segmenting you will quickly find out that sanding is not a viable option. I rarely sand anymore, a better option is to become proficient with a skew chisel.


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tv68

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Excellent stuff, appreciate all the tips. I’m going to try the CA/dust slurry method and see if I can salvage this one.

My plan is to sand off the existing CA, gather some 150 grit dust from the unused other end of the blank, then mix with a few drops of medium CA and apply (presumably while the lathe is running?) directly from the sandpaper. Here’s hoping it works as planned, but at the very least I now know the pitting is to be expected with open grained woods.
 

Dieseldoc

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Good advise on Zebrawood and to add , watch the grain direction will help. Using a very sharp skew is a must, sharpen off and that. Will help. Some time what we call pitting is grain tear out , that is why watch grain direction.
 

KenB259

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The two woods that used to give me grief with the dreaded white spots are Zebrawood and Padauk. In fact my very first post here about two years ago was regarding white spots on padauk.


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tv68

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The two woods that used to give me grief with the dreaded white spots are Zebrawood and Padauk. In fact my very first post here about two years ago was regarding white spots on padauk.


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Ah, I was thinking of trying Padauk - sounds like I should perfect this slurry technique first.😆
 

PenHog

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+1 for the denatured alcohol.

I also use some boiled linseed oil prior to applying the CA coating to improve the look of the wood. But I've not tried this on zebra wood, so you may wish to get a second opinion on whether this is okay.
 

tv68

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+1 for the denatured alcohol.

I also use some boiled linseed oil prior to applying the CA coating to improve the look of the wood. But I've not tried this on zebra wood, so you may wish to get a second opinion on whether this is okay.
Thanks, I’ve seen BLO mentioned on the forum. Will give it a shot, assuming it’s good with zebrawood. Re: DNA, would acetone work as a replacement? Looks like that’s all my local Home Depot carries.
 

Dieseldoc

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Have been using Padauk for several years in segmenting both on vessels , pens my main concern was bleeding of the Padauk on against segmented wood like Holly or Maple. First I would use sanding sealer to help control the bleed which help just as long as turning was done with very very sharp skew or shear cutting with gouge, which gave me zero grain tare out. All of this helped but still needed to find better way.
Then stabilizing Padauk with catcus juice in the vac pot. Interesting results, doubled in weight, turned nicely and almost no bleeding against other segments. Finnish with CA on pen's with out any white spots or any other defects.
Will try my process when using Padauk and will try it with Zebrawood next time I use Zebrawood. Well put some Zebrawood blanks in the vac pot today and report results.

Note do not use DHA , just blow off with high pressure air.

Cheers

Charlie
 

tv68

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Have been using Padauk for several years in segmenting both on vessels , pens my main concern was bleeding of the Padauk on against segmented wood like Holly or Maple. First I would use sanding sealer to help control the bleed which help just as long as turning was done with very very sharp skew or shear cutting with gouge, which gave me zero grain tare out. All of this helped but still needed to find better way.
Then stabilizing Padauk with catcus juice in the vac pot. Interesting results, doubled in weight, turned nicely and almost no bleeding against other segments. Finnish with CA on pen's with out any white spots or any other defects.
Will try my process when using Padauk and will try it with Zebrawood next time I use Zebrawood. Well put some Zebrawood blanks in the vac pot today and report results.

Note do not use DHA , just blow off with high pressure air.

Cheers

Charlie
Yeah stabilized would seem to be the best option, unfortunately I purchased several of these from PSI and have no way to stabilize them.

I did try the sanding dust/CA slurry method and there seems to be an improvement, but the areas with tear out are still very noticeable. For my own understanding, is the goal here to make them completely blend in, or just fill in some of the divot so as not to appear so deep?
 

bsshog40

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Not sure if it will work, but if you're wanting to fill the voids completely in, you may try a coat or two of thick Ca with some excelerant and then sand smooth.
 

howsitwork

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Alternative is to use multiple thin coats of melamine lacquer and then once you’ve filled the pores sand , rub clean and apply CA.

I like the idea of filling the zebra wood by impregnating or stabilizing. I shall give it a go next week as I have some paduak as well . The stickfast is slightly red stained from some red b
gum burr I did 2 months back but with paduak that won’t show.
 

tomas

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Excellent stuff, appreciate all the tips. I’m going to try the CA/dust slurry method and see if I can salvage this one.

My plan is to sand off the existing CA, gather some 150 grit dust from the unused other end of the blank, then mix with a few drops of medium CA and apply (presumably while the lathe is running?) directly from the sandpaper. Here’s hoping it works as planned, but at the very least I now know the pitting is to be expected with open grained woods.
In the past I have had the same issue, especially with SpectraPly. For me, the white spots were dust filling the openings in the grain (pits). After initial sanding, I use DNA liberally wiping with the grain. I then use thin CA, again liberally for the first 2-3 coats. If the liberal CA is bumpy, I turn it smooth with a sharp chisel before applying additional medium CA and wet sanding with MM.

Tomas
 

tv68

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So correct me if I’ve misinterpreted, but it sounds like there’s no real issue with the pits showing as long as they’re properly cleaned out and filled in with lacquer or CA?

I cleaned the latest zebrawood blank with acetone then applied a light coat of BLO. As I mentioned before, pores are still visible but they at least appear clean and a bit more filled in this time around. How long should I allow the BLO to dry? My plan is to apply the CA sometime this week.
 

Lee58

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Thanks, I’ve seen BLO mentioned on the forum. Will give it a shot, assuming it’s good with zebrawood. Re: DNA, would acetone work as a replacement? Looks like that’s all my local Home Depot carries.
If I recall correctly acetone will leave a residue on the blank
 

howsitwork

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Pure Acetone should not leave a residue , methylated spirits might as they mix something in to make it toxic and stop you drink8ng it ! Acetone will however attack CA if you’ve coated the blank with that at any stage.
 

Shooter-55

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I am having the same issue with some open grained wood. Driving me nuts....I tried a few things today and actually have some resolution to my particular issue. This is what I did to fix the problem. After turning and sanding using 220, 320, then 400 grit, I blew the piece out as best I could, Wiped it down well with DNA. Then at low speed, flooded the blanks with a sanding sealer mixture using a paper towel piece. 1/2 SS, 1/2 Laq. thinner. Did 5 even coats. Then 5 coats thin CA, and then 8 coats Med CA. Must all be level coats. No sanding in between. Went right to MicroMesh (wet). After each pad I dry and use a wet toothbrush to clean any slurry laying in any crevices. I did this after each pad. Finally got some Wenge to shine without any white spots. If anyone has further advice, I am sure the OP and I would like to hear it.
 

tv68

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I am having the same issue with some open grained wood. Driving me nuts....I tried a few things today and actually have some resolution to my particular issue. This is what I did to fix the problem. After turning and sanding using 220, 320, then 400 grit, I blew the piece out as best I could, Wiped it down well with DNA. Then at low speed, flooded the blanks with a sanding sealer mixture using a paper towel piece. 1/2 SS, 1/2 Laq. thinner. Did 5 even coats. Then 5 coats thin CA, and then 8 coats Med CA. Must all be level coats. No sanding in between. Went right to MicroMesh (wet). After each pad I dry and use a wet toothbrush to clean any slurry laying in any crevices. I did this after each pad. Finally got some Wenge to shine without any white spots. If anyone has further advice, I am sure the OP and I would like to hear it.
Very nice, and glad to hear it’s resolved the issue for you. I haven’t been nearly as thorough, but so far it appears the sanding dust + CA slurry, along with wiping the sanded blank with acetone and applying a single coat of BLO has eliminated any noticeable white spots. I’m going to apply the CA finish this evening, so we’ll see what the finished product looks like.
 

Dieseldoc

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Have been using Padauk for several years in segmenting both on vessels , pens my main concern was bleeding of the Padauk on against segmented wood like Holly or Maple. First I would use sanding sealer to help control the bleed which help just as long as turning was done with very very sharp skew or shear cutting with gouge, which gave me zero grain tare out. All of this helped but still needed to find better way.
Then stabilizing Padauk with catcus juice in the vac pot. Interesting results, doubled in weight, turned nicely and almost no bleeding against other segments. Finnish with CA on pen's with out any white spots or any other defects.
Will try my process when using Padauk and will try it with Zebrawood next time I use Zebrawood. Well put some Zebrawood blanks in the vac pot today and report results.

Note do not use DHA , just blow off with high pressure air.

Cheers

Charlie
Just finished stabilizing two Zebrawood blanks. 1x1x6 which weight were checked at 2.5 each. Put blanks in toaster oven for 2 hours at 200 degrees, check weight very little weight loss 2.4 final weight each. Stabilized in cactus juice for over night and let soak for 4 hours, drained off and wrapped in foil , into toaster oven for 6 hours. checked wight and found blanks were at 2.9 , so very little change from stabilizing. Pulled blanks, cleaned up for turning. Turned blanks with very sharp skew Shear cutting ,watching grain direction and had no tear out little or no pore hole in blanks.

Then cut another two blanks from same timber, not dried or stabilized and took one blank turned blanks again with very sharp skew, shear cutting, watching grain direction and found results, little tear out and more open pores but not to bad. Cut another blank with skew which was sharp but not very sharp , not shear cutting and didn't check grain direction. Results were , lot of grain tear out which open up pores in blank.

This is the same results that I had when I did a Padauk stabilizing test, however Padauk took on more of the cactus juice.

For me cutting with a very sharp skew, watching grain directions gave the best results for time spent, adding the stabilization just made it cleaner blank off the lathe.

Cheers

Charlie
 

tv68

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Happy to report the second attempt came out much better. I can still see the divots, but no white is trapped in them. Also, the wood on this pen is darker and the grain stands out quite a bit more, which I’m assuming is from the BLO.

That said, I did see white streaks after my first coat of thin CA. All I had done prior to that was buffed the BLO (which was only one thin coat applied several days ago) with a paper towel. After applying the first coat of CA I sprayed it with accelerator and noticed the white spots, so I sanded it off at 600 grit and started over (side note: even with sanding the wood maintained a nice glow from the BLO).

Compared to my first crack at diagonal zebrawood, I’m fairly happy with this one with the exception that I was in a hurry and rushed the CA process. I applied 3-4 coats of thin followed by probably 6 of medium, dry sanded at 320 then wet sanded with pads at 800+. The result is more hazy in spots than I’d like, so I’m hoping I can just repeat the sanding process instead of having to remove the CA coat altogether.
 
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