Finishing #1: CA Glue Pen Finishing

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Blog entry by Brett StClair posted 04-17-2012 01:19 PM 11808 reads 3 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
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I saw a project posting about a pen that had a CA glue finish. Someone asked how this was done.
I wanted to provide my process or rather the process I used that I got from someone on YouTube.

Materials Required:
- CA Glue (Medium thickness works best I am told. I have only used medium anyway and it works good. Someone might have good results with the other thickness’ though)
- Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO)
- Lint free soft towel or paper towel (blue shop paper towels seem to work pretty well as they are fairly soft but do not shred like normal paper towels. I get mine at Costco. Much cheaper than buying them at a hardware store)
- Disposable gloves

Use a test piece to try this process out first. You might have to play around with lathe rpm and application pressure to achieve the best results. When you have a good feel for the process then try it on a pen.

1. Shape and sand the pen or test piece as you normally would for whatever finish you currently use. 2. Turn the lathe on high rpm. 3. Fold the towel up into an application pad. I usually like between 4 to 6 layers thick. Again personal preference will drive this. 3. Put a small dime or nickel size puddle of BLO on the pad. 4. Put 2 or 3 drops of CA glue on the towel over the BLO area 5. This is the tricky part… with even pressure and a smooth back and forth motion apply the CA glue to your work piece. You will probably have one or 2 fingers on the pad right behind the CA glue / BLO spot. Disposable gloves help keep the BLO that might have soaked through the pad from getting all over your fingers and, if you are anything like me, everything else. CAUTION - The amount of pressure I apply sometimes causes quite a bit of friction heat. The heat can sneak up on you and burn a finger or 2. Be wary of this and use a thicker pad if needed. NOTES
- As you put the CA glue on you may notice a little cloudiness but keep moving the pad back and forth with the even pressure. The cloudiness usually clears up.
- I use a pen mandrel with bushings for the pen I am turning. The CA glue will collect on the bushings. You will occasionally have to clean up your bushings or replace them 6. Repeat steps 3 – 5 for a total of 3 to 6 coats to build up a good durable thickness. Fortunately this goes fairly fast as the CA glue dries quickly CAUTION – The CA glue fumes from this can be a little overwhelming. Wear a filtered mask. 7. (Optional) After 2 coats have been applied you may choose to do a preliminary surface cleanup using fine steel wool or fine grit sandpaper. This will dull the finish of course but the next coat of CA glue applied should almost immediately bring your finish right back to glossy smooth. 8. Once all coats have been applied, using a dry cloth and progressively fine grits, buff out the pen blanks. 9. Finish assembling the pen and enjoy the result.

-- "Make things as simple as possible... but not any simpler." - Albert Einstein

1 comment so far

View JoeMontana's profile


5 posts in 2677 days

#1 posted 01-07-2014 06:58 PM

This is exactly what I do with a couple of extra steps. After finish sanding and prior to finishing with the BLO/CA glue, I wipe the pen barrel with Acetone to remove any oil from the wood surface. This prevents any clouds in the finish caused by the oil leaching out during the process. Before removing the finished pen barrel(s) from the lathe, I use some Meguiars plastic polish for a final buff. This adds to the shine and makes a better looking pen.
Also, the paper towels didn’t work for me. I use scrap cloth towels that Lowes sells by the pound for cheap.
Keep On!

-- Joe, Montana

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