What are some safe cleaners for CA glue finished pens?

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Forum topic by Thuzmund posted 07-08-2020 07:53 PM 601 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Thuzmund's profile


177 posts in 2437 days

07-08-2020 07:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: penturning ca glue ca finish

Hi everyone,

I got a good question from a buyer about what cleaners to use for pens with a CA finish. He works retail and wants to remove germs more than grime/dirt.

He was looking at citrus based cleaners (all-purpose spray), and I found that 3M makes a much more powerful citrus cleaner that claims to dissolve glues and replace acetone, among other chemicals. So I recommended to avoid citrus based cleaner for now, even though it seems to be much weaker than 3M. I figure over time it might cause the same problems as the more powerful cleaner.

I wasn’t sure about which cleaners might be safe though. I know we should avoid petroleum-based substances on CA, and obviously acetone. What about alcohol or bleach? And any thoughts about a hard-surface cleaner sold in stores that someone could safely use? I would love to be able to make a clear recommendation, at least about what chemicals are safe vs. not safe if I can’t recommend a common product.

Rest assured I have spent a couple hours googling “chemicals that affect cyanoacrylate” and “will citrus dissolve CA glue,” etc. I haven’t been able to find a definitive list or anything like that. So I would really appreciate any experience you can share!

-- Here to learn

10 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5829 posts in 4472 days

#1 posted 07-08-2020 09:20 PM

No experience in this, but would suggest you contact the manufacturer of the CA you are using. They should know the chemical properties of their products and the way various cleaning solutions would effect them.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Snowbeast's profile


138 posts in 2147 days

#2 posted 07-08-2020 10:33 PM

Ask this question over at the IAP.

If someone there can’t answer this, no one can.

View Thuzmund's profile


177 posts in 2437 days

#3 posted 07-09-2020 12:13 AM

Great ideas! Thanks

-- Here to learn

View Wildwood's profile


2878 posts in 2943 days

#4 posted 07-09-2020 12:26 PM

Not sure what kind of care & cleaning instructions will find over at IAP today. So other that telling your customer not to let customers use your personal pen can not help you.

Have never given care & cleaning instructions whether gave away or sold a pen! Worst complaint ever had was someone stole my pen. Remember back many years ago some turners posted their detailed cleaning care & cleaning instructions for pens they sold. Some things listed just common sense other bordered on ridiculous.

A woodturner over at posted his experience with Jr. Gent with CA finish after 5 years of daily use. The fit & finish was in humble condition even after reapplication couple times, also talked about pen components he replaced during this time.

CA glue while acts same as other film forming wood finishes! CA glue never meant to be wood finish! Only two advantages to using CA as a wood finish is easy & quick! It is no more durable than other film finishes. Russ Fairfield used to say some people’s skin is so caustic only pen surface that won’t destroy is a PIC! That so many years ago but still true today!

JMHO, there is nothing out there that will allow you to clean a pen’s wood surface after each use that’s not going degrade a pen’s finish. Depending upon the kit plating might also degrade that finish too!

You might make a case where acrylic pens may hold up better with proper cleaning after each use! I really don’t know! Only finish ever used is acrylic pens is HUT Ultra Plastic Polish on acrylic pens.

-- Bill

View Thuzmund's profile


177 posts in 2437 days

#5 posted 07-09-2020 11:37 PM

Just an update from a manufacturer that citrus based cleaners will dissolve CA. Confirmation, I guess. But nothing yet about what substances are safe…

-- Here to learn

View Redoak49's profile


4812 posts in 2797 days

#6 posted 07-09-2020 11:50 PM

Perhaps make some trial pieces and do tests.

View Wildwood's profile


2878 posts in 2943 days

#7 posted 07-10-2020 09:11 AM

Think you are beating a dead horse!

Any industrial cleaners, solvents, thinners going to degrade wood finishes with constant use! Time it takes to degrade a wood finish might be immediate to taking prolonged use. Probably need a degree in chemistry to find a safe product.

If want a repairable wood finish look at Tung and or Walnut oil.

-- Bill

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3374 posts in 2303 days

#8 posted 07-11-2020 06:28 AM

Not a pen turner. Just a amateur polymer chemist who occasionally beats dead horses. lol

The acrylate in CA cures to make the finish an acrylic. Acrylic is not a very durable plastic. If you end up with a porous acrylic film, it will let the cleaner reach the wood and could create adhesion issues which makes cleaning tougher?

From a chemistry standpoint, would suggest the best cleaner options would be same recommended for cleaning acrylic (plexiglass) windows?
Which means don’t use glass cleaner, acids, ammonia, or acetone. Usual recommendation is only mild soap and water. Have used small amount of kerosene to successfully clean tar off plexiglass (acrylic) windows with out damage; while naphtha or gasoline will make the window cloudy.

Acrylics are sometimes used in car bezels. There are a couple of plastic polishes like Brillianize and Novus the car folks recommend as safe for cleaning most vehicle plastics. Might be worth testing how they work on your CA coated pens?

Just thinking out loud about what I would test/use.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View greenacres2's profile


354 posts in 2977 days

#9 posted 07-11-2020 02:44 PM

If the objective is to kill germs, for me the answer is to not share the pen to start with—especially now with the Coronavirus. My unscientific guess is that pens will have reduced likelihood of “disappearing” now, as we become more sensitized to the risk involved. I haven’t been in many stores lately, but the credit card signature pens really creep me out—may start carrying a stylus pen to see if that works.

View Wildwood's profile


2878 posts in 2943 days

#10 posted 07-12-2020 12:12 PM

Captain, enjoyed your post, thank you for the information.

Using Novus #1 cleaner and not using #2 & #3 might work for occasional use. Have seen Novus products use by pen turners years ago on acrylics pens at IAP. Brillianize also sounds promising too. Those micro fiber cleaning cloth towel for wiping on the product would preclude everyday use.

While CA may harden just like other acrylics, durability always questionable due to actual use, application, and other environmental factors. Quality of pen platings another factor.

When started turning all three main suppliers of kits and supplies had a plating chart in their catalog & online. Talking about Berea Hardwoods, Craft Supplies USA, and Penn State Industries (PSI). Only found these on line today:

Plating charts:

PSI kit platings were always considered least durable than Berea, & Craft Supplies. Well today the big three and their resellers also offer economy line kits that have least durable platings you can find.

See not the only one recommending don’t let customers use your pen. Back when sold pens did lay out a pad for folks to try my pens out before buying. Today would tell them buy then try!

-- Bill

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