Wood Into Sawdust

I take good wood and turn it into sawdust

Finishing Wooden Bottle Stoppers

I like to make bottle stoppers and I like to make pens.   They are a great way for me to “warm up” after taking a hiatus from woodworking and they make great gifts. I’ll make them when I am stressed.  I’ll make them when I want some instant (or as close to instant something can be in woodworking)  gratification.   I’ve never really sold any until now.  Actually, I didn’t sell any.  My wife did.  A few of her coworkers noticed one of the pens I made for her and inquired about them.  Next thing I know she is rummaging through my pen blank/bottle stopper blank box and snagging half of them to take to her work.  She came home with orders for a half dozen or so.

I find it ironic that now that I have my shop setup and I am ready to work on something for me, not for the house, but for me, my wife comes home with a chore – make pens and bottle stoppers for her coworkers.  Sigh.  On the plus side, she sold them.  The downside is that most were with acrylic blanks.  I can understand why.  Everyone tends to be dazzled by the colors and patterns that can be achieved with acrylics.

I don’t mind working with non-wood materials, but some of them can be a real bastard to work with.   I have about a dozen or so blanks that I just can’t seem to turn without destroying them.  I’ve used traditional gouges and I’ve used carbide cutters. I’ve gone fast and I’ve gone slow.  No matter what I do, I basically get them to blow apart.   They are not the traditional acrylic, but marked as inlace or some other marketing/material name.   So, of the few in that material, zero are going to be delivered.

As for the other items, standard acrylic worked well. Other than having to go slow and sharpen my gouges a few times, nothing of note occurred.

And when it comes to using actual wood, yippee!   Wood is so much easier on the tools and tends to be more forgiving.  When a mistake is made, I find I can repair the mistake much easier/faster in wood than with other materials.

One area that is very different between the materials is finishing.  For non-wood materials, I usually wet sand up to 1200 grit using standard wet/dry sandpaper and then to 12000 with micro-mesh.  When using wood, I stop around 400 grit for closed grain and 800 grit for open-grained woods.  Then for bottle stoppers I use my “dip” method using General Finishes Wood Turners Finish.  This finish comes out feeling like I sanded it to 12000 grit without any additional sanding.  For those wondering what it feels like, envision a pen finished with CA glue.  It’s got a very similar feel, but visually it tends to be glossier.

Below is a link to a video where I show the dip process.   I made a few mistakes in the video when describing the process, but I eventually get around to correcting myself.  If you don’t want to watch the video, the TL;DR process is:

  1. Turn blank
  2. Sand
  3. Dip in finish
  4. Put on lathe at slow speed for ten minutes – turning prevents drips, runs, etc
  5. Turn off lathe and wait 15 or so minutes more for finish to dry
  6. Repeat steps 3 – 5 six more times

Dip Video Link

Now that I’ve completed most of the order, maybe I can get around to making something for me.


September 6, 2017 Posted by | bottle Stoppers, finishing, pens | , , , , | Leave a comment

Shop Update for July

Hi Everyone,

Here’s a video on the state of my shop.  Suffice it to say that it is now fully functional.  I just need to make a few items, such as clamp racks,  and then I’ll be back into project mode.   Enjoy.


July 29, 2017 Posted by | garage, Shop Equipment, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

New Year, New House, New Shop

I kicked off the new year by moving into a new house.  And I do mean a “new” house.    One of the downsides was having to move all my tools and downsize my shop.  Now, when I say “shop”, I really mean garage.  Previous house had a 3car garage that was 22ft deep and 40 some off feet wide.  The new house has a 3car garage, but it’s only a doublewide with the 3rd bay being a tandem.  The 3rd bay is smaller (about 16ft deep) so I do lose a chunk of square footage.

Not only do I lose space, my wife wants to be able to park in the garage.   This means that everything has to be on wheels.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I am getting air conditioning installed.  In fact, it was installed today.  Here is a quick shop tour before the A/C installation.

I’ll post follow-up pictures and videos so you can see how it progresses from a garage to a shop.

April 14, 2017 Posted by | garage, Shop Equipment | , | Leave a comment

My 2nd Annual Pen Turning Marathon

For the past two years, I’ve taken vacation from roughly Dec 24 thru Jan 2. One of my vacation highlights is turning about a dozen different pens using the same wood. This serves a few purposes:

  1. It allows me to see how the same wood looks with different pen kits. I find some woods look better in larger profile pens, others in the smaller profiles.
  2. It allows me to use up any oddball lengths of wood that I have lying around.
  3. It’s fun.

For my 2014 marathon, I decided to use a long piece of hard maple that had been lying around my shop for over four years. In preparation, I went to my box of pen kits and chose a dozen kits ranging from the basic slimline all the way up to a Nouveau Sceptre.

I moved on to the next stage of preparation by laying the kits out on my bench with their respective bushings and manuals. To complete the setup, I staged all the necessary drill bits at my drill press station.

Blanks cut, tubes glued in, barrels trimmed. Ready to turn!!!

For the most part, everything went well. I did run into a few gotchas along the way such as having a few of the kits turn out to be the SAME kit, just a different name/reseller (which is very annoying BTW).  I also should have re-read the instructions for each kit first because it would have saved me from making a few mistakes.

For example, one kit looked like a regular slimline, but wasn’t. It was meant to be used with a larger bushing set because the center band was bigger. And I messed up on another pen where I had to turn a tenon to hold the center band. For that particular pen, I actually had highlighted in yellow some of the instructions so I would know to pay attention to them.  Here’s a photo of the two pens:


Click for larger photo


Reminds of an old saying: Complacency and comfort breed errors.

In the end, after all my grumbling and cursing was over, I had ten complete pens. None of them look stunning in hard maple so I’ve learned not to do that again.

Here are pics of this years marathon:

Click for larger photo

Click for larger photo

Here is a pic from last years marathon.

Click for larger photo

Click for larger photo


March 17, 2015 Posted by | lessons, pens, Projects | , , | Leave a comment

Working with Spectraply and using General Finishes Wood Turners Finish

Over the last four years or so, I made a few slimline pens using Spectraply blanks. I recently decided to go a bit larger in the format and made a few Navigator style pens as well as a few bottle stoppers. While I was at it, I turned a few bowls and used General Finishes Wood Turners Finish on them. And finally just for grins, I used the GF finish on a Spectraply bottle stopper to see how it would work.

Let’s go in reverse and start this post with the General Finishes Wood Turners Finish. I actually picked up a can almost a year ago and used it on a bowl I made last spring/early summer. I didn’t know how to apply it so I took a paper towel, dipped it into the can, and wiped some onto the bowl (spinning slowly on the lathe). Did this four or five times and got a decent finish. That was it. I sealed the can and promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward to this January where I was working on another bowl and came across the GF finish in my chemical storage cabinet. I thought to myself that since it worked well last time I’ll try it again. As is my usual, my results were not repeatable. I don’t know why, but my paper towel wipe on method did not work well. So I perused some websites and saw a video on using an airbrush system to apply the GF finish. Just so happens my local Woodcraft was having a 15% off sale so I took advantage of it to buy an airbrushing system.

I sort of got lazy when turning the bowl and left a few tearouts. I tried cleaning them up, but just had no luck. Well let me tell you, I had such a horrible time airbrushing that by the time I had actually finished the bowl, it was nice and smooth. Each attempt at airbrushing either resulted in bubbles/orange peel type finish or massive runs. I increased airflow, decreased airflow, increased amount of finish, decreased amount of finish, and multiple permutations thereof. Still got a sucky finish that had to be sanded back down to bare wood. I must have sanded the bowl at least six times, thus eventually taking care of the tearouts.

So what did I do? I tried another paper towel and as my usual karma, this time it worked. %&#*@!    Nice, smooth finish that feels quite durable.

Now let’s talk Spectraply.

This stuff is a dream to turn. Super easy, no noticeable degradation of my tools, and it sands real easy too. Too easy actually. I normally don’t notice any major wood dust coming off my pens at around 600 grit or so. Yes, I see the dust on the sandpaper, just not flying off into the air. With Spectraply, I was well into the middle grits of Micro Mesh before I stopped noticing the dust flying off the wood. Makes me wonder if I should have been wearing a dust mask to augment my dust collector.

Anyway, for the pens I used my typical CA finish. The pens came out really nice and I have to admit that I like the looks of the “rainbow” Spectraply.

For my bottle stoppers, I used the GF Wood Turners Finish. Using the paper towel method, I found that the green color ran. I couldn’t find any staining on the bottle stopper, but I did end up with green paper towels. After the fourth coat, I decided to try something new that I have never done before and that is: the dip method. Yup, I took the bottle stopper and dipped it directly into the can. To prevent runs, I put the stopper back on my lathe and let the lathe run for 10 minutes at 55rpm. After another 30 minutes of drying, another dip into the can. Rinse, Repeat. I did this for about 10 coats. I must say that this produced a wonderfully smooth finish that feels quite nice to the touch. Yes, it feels a little plasticky (like plastic) but I am OK with that. I’m going to try a few different woods with this method of finishing and if they turn out just as nice as the Spectraply, I will be very happy and say that I have a new favorite finish & method of finishing bottle stoppers.

Here’s some photos (click on them for larger images):


March 16, 2015 Posted by | bowls, finishing, pens, turning | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mr. Murphy, Please Repeal Your Law

I got lucky around tax time and received permission from SWMBO to buy a new lathe. I was previously using a Jet midi lathe that was causing me a few problems when attempting to work on larger bowls. No need to get into the details, but the problems were nothing that a larger lathe couldn’t fix.  🙂

I did a lot of research, talked to lots of people, and suffered through my usual “paralysis through analysis” before finally deciding to purchase a Jet JWL-1642-2EVS, 16″ x 42″ EVS PRO. It’s got the swing I am looking for, the ability to move the headstock to the end of the bed for some really large turning if needed, plenty of horse power, and it’s a brand that I am comfortable with.

As seems to be my lot in my woodworking life, purchasing and using a new tool is fraught with peril. To start with, when I placed my order with my local retailer, I asked for it to be drop shipped. No problem, but the retailer gave me the standard disclaimer that I may need to unload it from the truck since their freight company is not obliged to unload at residential locations. No problem I said.

A few weeks later, I get a call from the retailer telling me that my lathe had arrived. “Great”, said I followed by, “When is it going to be delivered?” Nothing but silence from the other end of the phone. (Murphy’s first appearance) I reminded the retailer to check the paperwork about drop shipping. A few hours later the lathe was delivered to my house.

After it was unloaded, I had to call a neighbor for some help with assembly. The main part (bed and headstock) was quite heavy so I needed a bit of muscle to get it out of the box and up onto my workbench

Lathe in box

Lathe in box

Once on the workbench, I was able to assemble it by myself, but needed my neighbors help in getting it off the workbench and into its final resting place. We had to move it from the front of the shop/garage to one of the back corners.


Did I mention that this lathe is heavy? Good thing I had a few homemade furniture dollies in the shop. Once it was in its final resting place, Murphy made another appearance.

I didn’t think about it until a few weeks later, but that spot also serves as my spray booth. With my previous lathe there, whenever I needed to spray, I just moved the lathe out of the way. Real easy to do. Not so with the new lathe. Oh well. I can always move the booth somewhere else. In the meantime, it serves as a shavings catcher. No more cleaning up in strange places.


Anyway, back on day one…Lathe assembled, check. Lathe in place, check. Lathe wired up for house connection, check. Chuck mounted, that’s a negative. Murphy checked in one more time. Turns out my midi lathe has a smaller spindle. Had to run down to my retailer to purchase a new insert. Before I made the 25 minute drive, I called ahead and inquired about a new, much larger chuck made by Oneway. “Sure”, said the retailer, “We don’t sell too many of that one so we have it in stock.” Famous last words. I made the drive to drive to find out the chuck was not in stock. After much hemming and hawing, I settled on a SuperNova2. It may have been a bit fortuitous in that regard because it allows me to use the jaws from my smaller chuck, which was also a Nova brand.

OK, back to turning. Chuck mounted, check. Tools sharpened, check. Blanks cut and semi rounded on the bandsaw, check. I proceeded to turn two bowls. One had a blowout that I filled with epoxy, the other gave me the nastiest rash all over my chest, neck, and arms that took three prescription medications and three weeks to go away. Talk about three miserable weeks. Managed to scratch myself bloody the first day. At least now I know that I am allergic to Leopardwood.

Rosewood bowl

Rosewood bowl

First day of rash

First day of rash












I have yet to complete the first bowl, but I did manage to finish the Leopardwood bowl. I actually finished it before the rash presented itself.

Since I like to make pens and bottle stoppers, I gave a few of them a whirl too. No problem turning pens. Bottle stoppers was a different story. HELLOOOOO Murphy. A lot of people make pens using a mandrel that is mounted in some sort of drill chuck. I don’t like this type of setup for a few reasons. 1st, ever had a drill bit slip? That’s what this setup is really like – a drill bit in a drill chuck. 2nd, the drill chucks are mounted via a morse taper. This means that a good catch on the material can make the chuck loosen and come out.   So to avoid these two downsides, I use a bottle stopper chuck from PSI. It actually screws on to the lathe spindle. As an added plus, it also acts like a sizing bushing. Just turn the end down to the size of the chuck and you have a nice fit. Anyway, it should be obvious to you now that I encountered the same problem from before when mounting my scroll chuck. Yep, different spindle sizes. I was able to find an adapter at my local retailer. The bottle stopper chuck cost me $10, the adapter $40. Here are some photos showing what I mean.


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Murphy only made one more appearance. I apparently did not drill down far enough into an acrylic bottle stopper blank before mounting on my chuck. Guess what happens when you try to mount something that hasn’t been drilled to proper depth? With most woods, not much. With acrylic….












So please, Mr. Murphy…Please repeal your law.





July 1, 2014 Posted by | bowls, Shop Equipment, turning | , , , | Leave a comment

My Jewelry Armoire …prototype

I usually do one big project a year.  For 2013, it was a jewelry armoire that my wife has wanted me to build her for the past five years.  I figured it would be a piece of cake since it basically a bookcase with drawers.  Nope, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

To get started, I looked around at what other people have built and even purchased a set of U-Build plans.  True to form, nothing quite matched what I wanted so I did a little redesign of the U-Build plans and got to work building.

I should have known that this project was not going to go well when my plywood decided to go all wonky on me after I had routed all the dadoes and rabbits, as well as cutting the pieces down to final size.  Nothing that a lot of clamps wouldn’t cure, but it was foreshadowing events to come.


My learning experience began with the glue-up. Two lessons were taught to me on that day. First, “never glue-up on hot days”.  For those new to my blog, I live in Arizona.  In this instance, I did my main glue-up when it was over 105 degrees in my garage shop.  As you can see from the picture below, I was not able to complete the clamping before the glue set.  So what if my armoire has a slight bow in it.  🙂  This bow would come into play later when adding the side attachments for necklace storage.  Sigh.


The second rule I learned is that “you can never have enough clamps”.  I used all my parallel clamps and then some.  Final count was 16 clamps.  I have rectified this situation and now have 22 parallel clamps.


Things went pretty smoothly making the drawers and drawer fronts.  My wife likes contrasting colors so I made the drawer fronts out of Purpleheart.  Here’s a picture with the drawers installed, but before I thicknessed the fronts down to size.


It was at this point that I learned my next lesson and that is to “Sand interior parts before assembly”.  I forgot to sand everything before glue-up and putting the back on.  I did my best, but it didn’t go well.  Thankfully, most people won’t take the drawers out and feel around the interior to see how well it was sanded.

Next, I  made WhateverYouCallTheBoxesWhereNecklacesGo.  Remember the bow from gluing up when it was too hot in my garage?  Yep, one side closes flush, the other does not.    Other than that, the only issues I encountered were tear-out on the plywood (didn’t use my zero clearance insert) and a little too much sanding.  Nothing that can’t be fixed by using some putty, right?  Famous last words.

Things seemed to progress smoothly until it was time to flock the drawers.  I have never flocked before so I didn’t really know how to do it other than spread the color matched glue and puff the flock material onto the glue.  Did you know you really have to “force” the flock into the glue?  I didn’t.  After all my flock came off, I sent an email to the flock maker and I got the answer to what I did wrong.  Not gentle use of the applicator, but FORCEFUL.  Basically, you need hurricane class force out the applicator.  BTW, flocking is messy business.  I built a small version of a spray booth to control the “over-spray”.  It worked really well.  In fact, you can see all the leftover flock material in photo below.


Finally, I was just about done.  All I needed to do was apply a finish….and learn another lesson.  That lesson is to “Think about the finish throughout the build”.  I said earlier that I used putty to cover up tear out and some over sanding of plywood.  I should have thought this through a bit more.  Why?  Because I wasn’t planning on staining or painting.  My plan was to apply a clear coat to bring out the contrast between the maple case and Purpleheart drawers.  Did you know that putty shows up wonderfully under a clear coat?  Yep, that nice clear coat really highlights the putty.  Really, really, really highlights it.

So how did the jewelry armoire turn out?  Not too bad actually.  Here’s a few pictures.  And there is even a scale in the photo to provide scale. 🙂  You will notice that the necklace storage on the right doesn’t close all the way.  As mentioned earlier, that is caused by gluing up at the wrong time and not having got the clamps on in time.


All-in-all, it was a fun project.  One that I will probably repeat.  I made enough noticeable mistakes that I call it a prototype.  There are also a few design changes that I would make as well in areas such as the feet, back panel, and drawer sizing.  Basically, all the areas that I deviated from the U-Build plans.



March 6, 2014 Posted by | finishing, lessons, Projects | , , | Leave a comment

Life Lessons Learned from Woodworking

When I first started out in woodworking, it was all to accomplish a single task.  My pet and companion of 10 years had died.  I had her remains cremated and she was returned to me in a cardboard box.  She deserved more so I took a woodworking class in order to gain the skills needed to make her a nice box.  The class was held at a local high school via a community college offering.  Since the class was 16 weeks long, the instructor wanted me to make something a bit more substantial so I decided to make something I needed: a coffee table.  It actually took me two semesters given absences, short amounts of time in shop, etc.  The table came out pretty nice so I decided I would build a few more items and that is how I ended up with woodworking as a hobby.

As for the box…10 yrs later and I am still trying to get proficient to the level that she deserves.  Along my journey of building up my woodworking skills, I’ve built a number of projects: bookcases, some not-so-nice small boxes, a kitchen island, some shelving, cutting boards, pens, bottle stoppers, bowls, shop/utility furniture, and more.

I’ve also learned a number of lessons from woodworking that I noticed have translated into my everyday life.  My woodworking journey has become more than that; it’s become part of my life’s evolution.  Below is some of what I have learned.  Maybe you’ll find that you have also learned these lessons, but haven’t articulated them in the same way.  Maybe you are on your own journey and are in process of learning these lessons.  Either way, enjoy.

Lesson #1: I’ve learned not to purchase tools that leave me feeling uncomfortable.  While pretty much any tool can outperform me, I feel more comfortable with the higher quality products and/or those with specific features.  And that comfort level affects my work quite a bit.

My first tablesaw was a Jet SuperSaw with sliding table.  I didn’t order the sliding attachment and I was hesitant when I received it, but I got it gratis due to an ordering snafu on the part of my retailer.  Sliding table sounds nice, doesn’t it?  Well, when you are a beginner and every video and book out there pretty much shows jigs/methods using the left miter slot and your tablesaw doesn’t have one, what do you do?  In my case, suffer.  I’m not an engineer, so trying to modify jigs and methods of work was just plain frustrating.

Once I upgraded to a full-sized cabinet saw that had both left and right miter slots, the quality and enjoyment of my woodworking greatly improved.  I took this stance with a few other tools this year and have definitely noticed the difference.  I upgraded some of my measuring/marking tools to brands such as Incra, Woodpeckers, and Starrett and I now find that my work seems to be a bit more square and accurate.  Is it that the products are that much better or is it that my confidence in the products makes me a better woodworker?  I’m going with the latter.

So what’s the life lesson here?  For me, it’s go with my gut and buy what makes me feel comfortable and confident. Focusing on price when I have the wherewithal is bad ju-ju and brings nothing but misery.

Lesson #2: I don’t have to be a miser with shop supplies.  For some reason, I would use a piece of sandpaper until it fell apart and I would use paper towels until there was not a clean spot left.  No drops of glue and finish could be found on my bench. Yes, I was that miserly.  It’s not like I can’t afford those products. I was just being an idiot.  Rather than focusing on the woodworking and enjoyment it could bring me, I was focused on saving pennies.  There is a saying that goes something like “Don’t sweat the small stuff”.  Shop supplies are small stuff.    The real lesson learned here is to focus on the important stuff.

Lesson#3: I’ve learned to think things through a bit more.  When I first started out, I would blindly follow the project plans to a T, mistakes and all.  Did you ever notice the corrections page in a woodworking magazine?  Seems like the smart thing for a beginner to do is wait an issue or two to see if there are any corrections to be had.   Now, I read the plans all the way through before I purchase any materials and I think the process through in my head.  Sometimes I can find the mistakes, sometimes I can’t.

It’s amazing how much more successful I am in home repair, day job, and other endeavors when I take a few minute to think about what I am going to do instead of just rushing in and doing.

Lesson #4: There is nothing wrong with being efficient.  When I first started woodworking as a hobby, I subscribed to all the magazines and watched as many woodworking shows as possible.  It was clear to me that these folks were professionals because everything they did had a certain economy about it. I originally thought that this took some of the fun away from the woodworking process because everything seemed so fixed in place – do this first, do this second, etc.  I now know this not to be the case and that efficiency can actually bring more enjoyment.  Efficiency brings progress and as a woodworker, that is something I definitely want to see.

I can’t say that I see myself being more efficient outside of woodworking, but I may just need some more time for it to creep into my life.  Or I just may not be currently able to recognize it.

I am still on my journey and am looking forward to many more lessons learned.  So what have you learned from your woodworking journey that has carried over in to your everyday life?

July 7, 2013 Posted by | lessons | , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Working with Dyes

Here are a few more photos of some recent experimenting with dyes.  I chose some new colors for this round: Bordeaux, orange, green, and turquoise.  Of this batch, I like orange the best.  However, I think my favorite so far is Honey Maple.  My original post can be found here.  Enjoy.

Click on each one for a larger view.

DSC03111 DSC03112 DSC03113 DSC03115 DSC03116

April 28, 2013 Posted by | finishing | , | Leave a comment

My Quest to Make the Perfect Pen

Us woodworkers are a funny lot.  Each of us has a method of doing something.  Some insist that their method is the only correct method, others acknowledge other methods but imply theirs is better.  And then there are folks like me who believe that there are multiple equally good methods to get something done and that I’ll choose to use the method that best gets me to my goal.  That decision can be based on my skillset, time, desired outcomes, tools available, etc.  And that decision can change over time as factors change.

Here is a great example:  I make pens as just something to do.  I make them when I come off a woodworking hiatus.  I make them when I want to make something and want gratification of completing a project that same day.  I make them as gifts.  I make them just because.   And I must say I do a good job at it.  Not great, but good.  So how do I go from good to great?

I’ve watched numerous videos, attended seminars, and more on pen making.  During a number of them, I’ve heard that a pen maker could spend a couple of hours finishing a pen.  Hours?  You’re kidding me, right?  I’ve handled a few of these pens and I can’t say that they are finished that much better than mine and I spend 30 minutes at most on finishing.  I’ve always chalked the difference up to the method for applying the finish.

So I decided to try different finishing methods this weekend to see how long they take.  I can see how some methods take more time than others, but barring the use of a medium that takes hours to dry, I still couldn’t find a method that took more than an hour.

That got me thinking about the process of pen making and the definition of finishing.  Many of us assume finishing means applying some sort of coating.  In reality, the process starts much earlier.  I would say that it starts with sanding.  Some folks who turn will say it begins with the last pass of the turning tool.  Regardless, we are both saying that applying a coating is not the beginning of the finishing process.

With that thinking in mind, I went back into the shop and paid particular attention to my “finishing”.  I found that when I was this focused, I did take quite a bit longer.  I also deviated from my normal methodology.

You see, as a person who primarily deals with the world of square I know that no matter how I sand, the last few passes have to go with the grain.  When it comes to spindle work (yes, a pen is a small spindle), a lot of us forget this rule and only sand against the grain by letting the motion of the lathe do the work for us.  I found that by also sanding with the grain at each grit added about 10 minutes to my normal sanding time of 10 minutes.  In essence, I doubled the amount of time I would normally spend sanding.

With the sanding completed, it was time to turn to cleaning the pen.  Cleaning?  Yes, of course.  I just sanded so now I had to remove all the dust from the pen.  I normally just blow the dust off, but this time I also added a step of cleaning the pen with a paper towel moistened with Naptha.  This got more of the finer dust off and helped clean out the pores.  It also highlighted any sanding mistakes that needed fixing.  This step added about 10 more minutes since I had to do some re-sanding.  Some folks use mineral spirits instead of Naptha.  Same reasons, but mineral spirits take longer to dry than Naptha.

I was finally ready to add a coating after a total of 30 minutes sanding and cleaning.  Keep in mind that this is a pen…just a piece of wood about ½” thick and 4” long.

At this point, I re-examined my method for applying my favorite pen finish: medium thickness CA glue.  I normally use a method that I’ve seen quite a bit on YouTube.  It goes like this: take a paper towel and cut it in half the long way.  Fold a piece longways a few times so you end up with a long, thin (maybe 1” width) multi-ply piece to work with. Add a few drops of Boiled Linseed Oil (BLO) to the towel and then add a slightly larger portion of CA glue.  With the lathe on a slow speed setting, rub the pen back & forth furiously with the wet towel.  After a few seconds, turn the speed of the lathe up.   DON’T STOP RUBBING THE PEN!

At this point, some YouTubers would apply an accelerant.  Me; I’ve not had much luck with accelerant so I do it the longer way.  You can tell when the glue is curing by the nasty smell that burns your eyes and throat.  A smart person wears a respirator that is designed for fumes.  Since I am a smart person, I go by the clock, not the smell.

I stop rubbing at around the 45 second mark.  My normal method is to continue on with additional coats, but in the past I’ve noticed that some of my pens (particularly open grained woods) would fog up a few hours later.  I’ve learned that this was because I was applying subsequent coats of CA glue before the previous coat had cured enough.    So for this experiment I decided to wait 3 minutes between coats.

Since I normally apply ten coats of finish, this meant I just added 30 additional minutes to the process. Factor in the time for adding the BLO, CA Glue, rubbing, etc and I came out to about 75 minutes total for the finishing process.  Definitely not a couple of hours as others claim, but more than twice my usual 30 minutes.

The results: just short of amazing.  I achieved the shine, the feel, and the look that I wanted to achieve.  It’s clear that the extra effort pays off.  Take a look for youself in the photos below.  Same pen, one with flash, the other without.

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April 22, 2013 Posted by | finishing, pens, Projects | , , , | Leave a comment