Pros: Excellent protection and easy application
Cons: Somewhat toxic
Pen Turning is a wonderful hobby. It takes little time to make a pen and a gift or even sale is ready to go. Making wooden pens uses beautiful hardwoods sanded and polished to smooth finish that highlights the wood’s natural beauty. But a pen is made to be used. It is handled, dropped, smudged, and otherwise manhandled. To keep the pen looking as good as it did right off the lathe requires a good protective finish. Craft Supply in Provo, Utah has now packaged an answer to the need.
Insta-Bond CA Pen Finishing Kit
For years turners have used Cyanoacrylate glue (Super Glue) as a finishing method for their projects. Now Craft Supplies has put together a package of everything needed for this finishing technique. Any of the parts of the kit can also be purchased separately for refill purposes or if the turner already has some of the kit. The kit includes:
Insta-Bond CA Glue Thin 1 oz
Insta-Bond CA Pen Finish 1 oz.
Insta-Bond Aerosol Activator 3 oz.
Abranet Sanding Screen Sheet 320, 400, 600 grits
MicroMesh Polishing Sheet 1500, 2400, 3600, 4000, 6000, 8000, 12000 grits
20/20 Plasti-Polish 2 oz.
The result of its correct use is a plastic-look coating that is perfectly clear so that none of the woods beauty is marred.
Using the Insta-Bond CA Pen Finishing Kit
We usually start with square wood that we insert a brass rod through and mill the ends to make them flat and at right angles to the rod then mount them to the lathe with a mandrel and bushings that set the diameter of each pen piece. The next step is using lathe chisels to size and shape the piece, making it essentially round instead of square. The finish is applied while the wood is still on the lathe. The wood is sanded to 400 grit and then a tack rag (we use plain unscented drier sheets) is used to get off all the sanding dust. A coat of thin CA glue is applied with a paper towel and spritzed with the activator to make it dry almost instantly. This step is similar to applying sanding sealer in other finishing methods. We turn the lathe on at a speed of 500 rpm for the remaining steps. Using a plastic bag (we use a surgical type glove) we apply a thin coat of the CA Pen Finish while the lathe is turning. We spread it with the plastic and then apply activator. We repeat this until we have five coats of the finish on the pen and the last coat hardened.
The rest of the process is sanding. We use the sanding screens to get the finish coat smooth without sanding clear through the finish. Once this is accomplished the polishing sheets are used in order from 1500 to 12000 to successively erase the scratch marks of the previous sheet and make smaller scratch marks. By the time the 12000 grit sheet is used the scratch marks are so tiny that almost no light scatter occurs. Ending with the plastic polish results in a finish so clear and transparent that all of the beauty of the wood with its color and grain is displayed. The deep shine makes the wood look almost plastic. The coating is tough not brittle and helps filter UV rays to slow color changes in the wood. It easily wipes clean with a damp rag no matter what the fingers that held it last had on them.
On the lathe this finish is easy and quick to apply. We find it a nice touch to a gift for someone special.