View Full Version : Ok..Here's a finish that works

John Hart
08-16-2005, 10:23 PM
I had to come up with a long lasting finish for pens to satisfy a customer. I wanted something that was durable, hard, resistant to moisture and felt good in your hand. Here's what I tried.

1. Sand to 220
2. Add a bunch of CA with 220 sandpaper
3. Sand to 2500
4. Polish with paper bag paper
3. wet a cloth with BLO and then wet it with CA
4. Apply that mixture with high friction
5. Apply two coats of Crystal Coat with good friction

I did two pens tonight like this and it took about 15 minutes a piece. I even did an oak pen and it is smooth, glassy and appears to be quite tough.

If y'all see any problems with this method, I would really like to hear it, cuz I really don't want to goof this up.

Thanks for listening!

Michael Cody
08-17-2005, 12:20 AM
That's a pretty standard finish .. the CA in the 2nd step fills the pores (if needed) and the BLO & CA in the second 3rd step react to form a very high gloss hard finish. Bill Grumbine talks about this over on WC and there is an article about it there too. I've been using basically the same finish for a couple of years.. On open pore wood I coat with thin CA and sand to build up slurry/filler to fill pores (220g or 320g). Then Watco (Bascially BLO & Additives) 2-3 coats sanded in (400g and 600g) and then wet it good with Watco and apply CA. They react, hard finish is the result, I sand again with Watco lubed 600g, then micromesh up to 12k and polish with Crystal Coat & paper.. I don't go thru your intermediate sanding in the same manner but close.

Randy Meijer
08-17-2005, 3:54 AM
...5. Apply two coats of Crystal Coat with good friction...

Crystal Coat is a shellac based friction polish that has a wide reputation for being very short lived. Why don't you make up a couple of pens without the CC and see how the finishes compare after a couple of months of use?? You may be able to save yourself some time and disappointment if the CC lives up to its reputation in your application.

John Hart
08-17-2005, 6:18 AM
I did the CC despite the fact that the finish looked pretty darn good prior to it. What I'm hearing is that I just might be on the right track...just skip the last step. (which sounds pretty good to me). Thanks guys!!

Tom Mullane
08-17-2005, 7:37 AM
I have to agree with Randy on this.
Shellac based friction polish is notorious for lack of durability... if you are getting a high gloss on your CA finish there is no reason to topcoat it with a friction finish...
Just finish you final coat of CA by sanding to 12000 Micro Mesh then appy a protective coat of Renassaince Wax (never said I could spell, LOL)....
The Ren wax will help protect the finish from fingerprints...
I only use CA now for my production pens.... I do not use the blo/ca combination because I have found that it can fog occassionally... by just using ca alone I have eliminated that. On my higher end pens and special order pens, I use lacquer or enduro as a finish.. both take a lot longer, but the finish is museum quality and durable... have never had a pen come back to me for refinishing..

John Hart
08-17-2005, 7:42 AM
...On my higher end pens and special order pens, I use lacquer or enduro as a finish.. both take a lot longer, but the finish is museum quality and durable... have never had a pen come back to me for refinishing..

Thanks Tom. I am a lacquer moron. What is a good brand name? I bought Deft but don't really know if it's the right stuff or whether I'm using it right, so I shy away from it.

Michael Cody
08-17-2005, 7:58 AM
Tom -- interesting issue on BLO/CA -- I've not had the problem with clouding.

On the issue of Crystal Coat -- it is a shellac/wax mixture. I don't see any real difference using that versus any plain wax. They both do the same thing with slightly different approaches. A plain wax won't last long either but I think CC lasts a little longer and if you get good friction/heat while applying it really doesn't dull if the finish underneath is ultra-gloss too. I also find CC easier & quicker to apply than paste wax (marginally though) ... I think CC has a bit glossier shine that most waxes though now I am playing with some TS&W coating from the guys on Penturners.org -- don't know what in it but it works pretty well.

On the issue finish wear, I approach it like this. If you want that wet look you have to fill all the pores in the wood to get a smooth surface first. My thought is that sanding to 600 wet w/watco's you fill the pores with dust/oil mixture curring with friction heat and/or thin CA. I get a good solid hi-end finish on the wood. Then I add the CA combo and get a great long wearing finish there ... last I add the final wax coat to bring it all out. That way when the wax or CC wears there is a shiny surface underneath that people won't notice the wax dulling, then if they should wear through the CA coat the wood underneath is smooth also and by then the pen will have a good gloss/patina from use and skin oils, so it's not noticeable.

Lastly Lacquer is a better finish than CA for that wet look .. nothing like it but it is much slower to apply. You can still fill pores with dust/oil or fill with lacquer like a french polish, you need that flat surface for the depth. However Tom's got it right, if you want the ultimate look of a wet gloss, hi-gloss lacquer can't be beat.

John Hart
08-17-2005, 8:14 AM
This thread oughta move over to the Finishing Forum....My fault...I should have opened it there in the first place. Thanks Mike. Good insights. I'm definitely gonna have to get on the laquer technique if I expect to do some high-end stuff. Oh...by the way. Thanks much for your advice on the American kits. I went out and got the Titanium Gold. I'll be turning a few this week if I can get this finish ironed out.

Tom Mullane
08-18-2005, 8:31 AM
John, my lacquer finish for pens goes like this...
I sand the wood to 12000 Micro Mesh, the top finish is only going to look as smooth and sweet as the wood does... the smoother the wood the nicer the top finish will be... at least on pens...
I then apply 2-3 coats of Mylands Cellulose Sanding sealer, let dry for about 10 minutes and sand from 4000 to 12000 Micro Mesh... again you will have a finish that almost looks like glass...
I then turn the lathe to it's slowest speed and use Deft High Gloss Spray and give the blanks 3-5 coats of lacquer about 15 minutes apart... with the lathe running all the time... after the final coat is dry to the touch (15-20 minutes depending on shop conditions), I take the blanks off the mandrel, put them on a holding block I have with dowels to keep them in place and forget about them for about 5-7 days... it takes that long for the lacquer to cure properly before final buffing and polishing...
If you did the lacquer spray correctly the blanks will need very little final polishing... I can usually go straight to automotive white polishing compound applied with an old damp tshirt. Wipe off the blanks with a clean damp piece of tshirt.. then use some Hut Plastic polish or a good grade of automotive anti-swirl cream to get the final super gloss...
As I said this is not a quick process... but it is pretty.. see the pics below
http://www.myfavoritepen.com/images/GoldAmboynaBurl.jpg http://www.myfavoritepen.com/images/JrGntSpltRedElm.jpg

John Hart
08-18-2005, 9:32 AM
Thanks Tom! That sounds (and looks) very worthwhile. I don't mind spending the time when it comes to the high-end pens and other cool items. Thanks so much for the procedure....I'll give it a try.

Ernie Nyvall
08-19-2005, 7:05 PM
Thanks for starting this thread John. Lot of great information.


Jason Christenson
11-08-2005, 10:19 AM
I tried this finish last night and it worked great (I had plenty of other problems though! See my new thread.) I only used one coat of BLO and CA glue but wondered later if I could have or should have used more. If I do will it add depth and shine or just screw things up?


John Hart
11-08-2005, 10:46 AM
Recently, I've been experimenting with depth as well Jason, and it does add some depth if you do several layers. I've even alternated layers with shellac as well. Lacquer seems to win out in the depth department though!