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Thread: finishing pens

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    finishing pens

    On a recent post I complimented Stu for the fine finishes on his recent pens and asked his procedure. I was surprised to learn that he sands to only (about) 400 grit. I start at 220 go to 320 with Klingspore Gold then all the way through the Micro Mesh grits up to their 12000 (4000 conventional). Stu said he didn't see the need for that. Judging by his finishes I can't argue with him. But, today, I'm working on an order of six pens and thought I would test Stu's method. Working on a birdseye maple Euro, I did the first two Klingspore sands, of course also stopping and going with the grain. Then I used my white Brillo-type pad at 400. With that done I took a look at the wood. Looked pretty good and I probably could have stopped. But, for the test, I proceeded through the MM grits. At about 3200 MM the wood definitely took on a sheen and the grain figure popped. When done with the 12000 MM it definitely looked better than at 400. When the pen is finished, I'll post a picture. I'm letting the first finish coat cure overnight. I expect that a counter-argument will be that the finish will act as a sealer and sanding the finish is what will really give the final product it's gloss. Again, can't argue that. But, I believe that the smoothes underlayer possible will still give the best results possible.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Frank I don't go above 400 grit. I to don't see the need to do that. I have sold or given away about 70 pens in the last year and never had a problem with finish or sanding. The first few I went clear to 12000mm but didn't see much difference from 400 grit myself so I just started stopping at 400. I use CA/BLO. Be interested in seeing a good picture when done Frank.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Frank, as a former newspaper editor, you don't read well, or communicate too good either

    Re-read what I wrote.

    I sand the raw wood to #320, then sanding sealer, #400, sanding sealer, then I start the CA glue application.

    First coat of CA is sanded at #400, then #600, then the 2nd and 3rd coats are sanded at #600. This sometimes varies with more porous wood, that needs 6 or 8 coats of CA to make a smooth surface. Once I have a smooth surface of CA glue I start to move up the grits.

    **BTW, you can tell it is smooth, sand it, then use the compressor to blow the dust off, as you rotate the blank by hand, you will see uniform sanded matte white, if it is not smooth, you will see little shinny pockets or sparkles of smooth CA in the depressions in the wood.

    I go #800, #1000, #1200, and #1500. I then use the green scrubby pad, well actually it is gray, which is supposed to be around #2000, then wax, and buffing.

    My whole comment to you was about the question of sanding the raw wood, without any finish on it past #320.
    I can see on some of the harder, VERY close grained woods that there might be something to gain, maybe, but with a good coat of smooth sanding sealer and then 3+ good coats of CA glue, I do not really see how sanding much past #320 on bare wood will improve your finish on most woods

    I think that MOST wood, as it is a natural substance will not take much of a polish must past #320 or #400, yes there are some woods out there that will, but just the same, there are some that are so very porous, that until they get at least a coat or two of sanding sealer on them, there is zero point in going past #240.

    Of course your mileage may vary, and I'm very interested in what you have to say, and your reasoning for it, and your experiences, I'm just relating my experience, as I've only gotten into this pen turning stuff. I do note that sometimes things are done because "That is the way they have always been done" and for me, learning in a near vacuum here, not having a mentor or more experienced club member on my elbow, I sometimes go down a road less traveled, and come up with my own way of doing things, not always the best way, but my own, just the same

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
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    Blame it more on memory than reading. I remember the 400 grit part. I choose the maple for this because it is a sorta 'in between' from porus woods to those that almost don't need a finish, like the ironwoods. For me, apx. 220 grit is only a starting point. But going all the way through the MM grits definately makes a difference. I don't do my technique because I have always done it that way. I'm still evolving with pen finishes. It is the most time consuming part of pen turning. I do the occasional CA finish but haven't fallen in love with the technique yet. For now, it is usually spray Deft gloss laquer.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Westphalia, Michigan
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    882

    12,000,000grit

    I have found that certain woods need sanding to 12,000 MM to get rid of as much haze as possible. Cocobolo, ebony and snakewood come to mind. I also use CA/BLO for 95% of my pens but have been wondering about doing some in laquer (sp). (I'm trying to do Larry Merlot proud). There are some woods that I have never been satisfied with the finish. I really don't like Ziricote. I think I read somewhere were it is called 'devil wood' Not suprising seeing as how it heats up real fast and melts MM as well as looking like crap when it's done. If there's sapwood in the pen blank the white wood ends up looking muddy.
    Maple on the other hand doesn't seem to improve much past 3600 MM. Depending on the value of the pen kit I don't go past 3600 MM very often.
    Another variable I have noticed is that some woods need several coats of CA/BLO above the usual 3-4 I usually apply. Maple is again on of those woods. I usually go at least 5 coats with that wood. The finish seems to stay glossy longer with the extra coats.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Paul, I'd certainly support your findings on "Some" woods.

    I recently did a Teak pen............ NEVER again!!!

    What a huge pain, any sanding at all, and the pores of the wood fill with dust, some of which would not come out, even with compressed air and a small brass brush, I had to get a pin, yes, a freaking pin to get the last little bits out.

    That Teak pen took WAY too long.

    Once I got it sealed up with CA I could proceed as normal, but that took a long time to, the CA did not want to seem to dry on the teak, I had to resort to the accelerator, and a hot lamp to get it to dry.

    The Keyaki that I use is a dream for pens, comes off the skew so smooth and shiny, ready for a #400 grit, some sealer and then CA. Bonus is that is looks great too.

    Thanks for sharing your observations.

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

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