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    What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    I've been turning pens for about 5 years now and I still struggle with the best finish for a wooden pen and because of this I've gravitated towards acrylic pens because they are so easy to finish. You just polish them up and they are good to go and they stay nice for a long time. I've found this is not the case with wooden pens. The friction polish finishes are pretty when the pen is new, but after moderate use the finish wears off and you end up with a dull finish and eventually a dirty looking pen. I've had the best luck in keeping wooden pens nice with CA "finish" although you have to be very patient when applying a CA finish to get good results.

    What do you think about CA as a finish?

    What finish apart from CA gives you the best wearability and durability?

    What tricks have you used to enhance the durability of your pens?


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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    Hey, Mike. I have been turning pens since 2003 and for wooden pens, I always use a sanding sealer prior to my last light sanding, and then I apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane, waiting 8 hours or more between coats. I have never had any luck with using CA as a finish.

    Question: Up to what grit do you sand before finishing? I go all the way up to 12,000 grit, using mineral spirits between grits to clean it up before moving onto the next grit.
    I like making things. I have a wood shop at home. I am a terrible carpenter but I love doing it. Raymond - Charlotte, NC

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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond View Post
    Hey, Mike. I have been turning pens since 2003 and for wooden pens, I always use a sanding sealer prior to my last light sanding, and then I apply 2-3 coats of polyurethane, waiting 8 hours or more between coats. I have never had any luck with using CA as a finish.

    Question: Up to what grit do you sand before finishing? I go all the way up to 12,000 grit, using mineral spirits between grits to clean it up before moving onto the next grit.
    I always go up through 12000 micro mesh and the pens look good. I've recently switched to Wipe on Poly and getting pretty good results.


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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeH View Post
    I always go up through 12000 micro mesh and the pens look good. I've recently switched to Wipe on Poly and getting pretty good results.
    Do you get the same shine with the poly as ca?
    Darryl

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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    I'm using three to four quick coats of thin CA, then sanding to 12000 MM. Seems to provide a durable finish that is as easy as anything else I've tried.
    To everything... turn, turn, turn!

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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by woodArtz View Post
    I'm using three to four quick coats of thin CA, then sanding to 12000 MM. Seems to provide a durable finish that is as easy as anything else I've tried.
    Kinda what I do but I wet sand with the MM. Then as a final final coat I apply some paste wax.
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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    I have not tried it yet but a guy at wood craft sprays his with lacquer

    the dangers of using CA are just too great for me

    I think the key also to the friction polish is not to mess with it for a while... I know it should already be cured with heat on the lathe but I think it is better to wait 24 hours or so before you handle it much and assemble the pen

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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    Aren't the dangers of spraying lacquer just about as dangerous as using CA? Do you have an explosion proof spray booth? If you want something safe, use WAX. It has a lifetime of about six seconds.
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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by dhall View Post
    Do you get the same shine with the poly as ca?
    Not that I've found. I'm still experimenting, but I haven't found anything yet that is more durable than CA.


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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by tryingtokeepmyfingers View Post
    I have not tried it yet but a guy at wood craft sprays his with lacquer

    the dangers of using CA are just too great for me

    I think the key also to the friction polish is not to mess with it for a while... I know it should already be cured with heat on the lathe but I think it is better to wait 24 hours or so before you handle it much and assemble the pen
    I agree with you on handling the friction polish. It needs to sit without being handled for as long as possible.

    What dangers are you referring to with CA?


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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    I don't turn pens (or anything else), but it would seem to me that wiping lacquer onto a spinning pen would be quick and painless -- except for getting it off the lathe without touching it. It'll hold up very well (better than poly?), but can be polished to a much finer surface. Downside would be that you should probably give it at least 48 hours before rubbing it out.
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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by merrill77 View Post
    I don't turn pens (or anything else), but it would seem to me that wiping lacquer onto a spinning pen would be quick and painless -- except for getting it off the lathe without touching it. It'll hold up very well (better than poly?), but can be polished to a much finer surface. Downside would be that you should probably give it at least 48 hours before rubbing it out.
    I've tried that a few times but never got it to work well on a constant basis. But then I never put the time into doing that as I had with CA. And I work a long time with CA before I could get my ideal of the correct finish.

    But with my limited experience with lacquer, I can tell you that the finish is brighter and deeper, but it does not last as long as the CA. So I am still doing CA whenever I want a long lasting finish.

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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    CA is the way to go. The beauty of using CA (to me anyway) is I only need to sand up to 600 or 800 grit. And once I put on the final coat of CA I can immediatly handle it and no worries of dust settling on wet finish. I let it cure out for 30 minutes or so and wet sand and plastic polish and assymble.

    Never have been have been a fan of friction polish.

    The dangers of CA mentioned before are breathing the fumes as it cures. Be careful when using CA. I use a fan to blow the fumes away from my work area.

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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    What are you using to finish your pens and how does the finish hold up?


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    Re: What is the best (longest lasting) finish for a wooden pen?

    Quote Originally Posted by woodArtz View Post
    I'm using three to four quick coats of thin CA, then sanding to 12000 MM. Seems to provide a durable finish that is as easy as anything else I've tried.
    You don't sand between coats?
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