How do you finish your pens?

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Forum topic by EricRFP posted 01-31-2010 06:09 AM 2863 views 1 time favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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106 posts in 3057 days

01-31-2010 06:09 AM

I’m new to turning. So far I’ve make about 30 bowls. Here are a few of the bowls I’ve made so far.




I just turned 2 pens(my first) but before turning any more I want to find out a few options on finished. Of course I want a high gloss finish that will be durable. What are my finish options?

Thanks, Eric.

-- Eric, NorCal

14 replies so far

View Padre's profile


930 posts in 3453 days

#1 posted 01-31-2010 06:32 AM

CA glue is a really durable, high gloss finish for your pens. So is woodturners polish followed by hard carnuba wax.

-- Chip ----------- 6:8

View EricRFP's profile


106 posts in 3057 days

#2 posted 01-31-2010 06:51 AM

Thanks Chip. What type of CA, thick, thin, gell? How do you apply it?

-- Eric, NorCal

View swirlsandburls's profile


114 posts in 3360 days

#3 posted 01-31-2010 09:01 PM

Hi Eric, I shy away from CA. I don’t like the finish; my take is that it is too shiny and “plastic” looking (it is basically an acrylic, after all). It is also very unfriendly stuff to handle. CA is very durable, though, and I do use it for stone inlay work and crack-filling in pens. On my pens, I sand to 2000 grit, then I use two drenching coats of high cellulose shellac (0000 steel wool in between), followed up with friction-applied Renaissance Wax, and then Beal system’s three steps. The final finish is Beal’s buffed-on 100% Carnauba wax. I have found it gives the pen a super-smooth glossy finish that is very luxurious to handle and plenty durable. My customers love it, and the pens I use myself every day are holding up well.

-- patience is a virtue ... in woodworking, cooking, and life in general

View grub32's profile


215 posts in 3012 days

#4 posted 01-31-2010 10:31 PM

I also use CA glue…you can check out my pens in my projects and I have a video on youtube on how I put it on…very easy, very durable.

Good luck,


-- Educator by Day, Wood Butcher by Night!!

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3332 days

#5 posted 01-31-2010 10:52 PM

I just use Crystalcoat, it is a friction polish that is easy to use and available at any woodworking supplier.

View tooldad's profile


660 posts in 3679 days

#6 posted 01-31-2010 10:55 PM

I just use shellawax cream. I 8oz jar did about 50 pens. Not cheap at $25-30 a jar. It is easy to apply, friction finish. I know there is a top coat you can put on, but I keep it simple for the students.

View Ken Waller's profile

Ken Waller

91 posts in 3134 days

#7 posted 02-01-2010 05:39 PM

I use a padding lacquer (Lee Valley’s Turners’ Polish) for all my pens and small items. I get a hard glossy, thin finish that I can apply, dry and polish in about 20 seconds. It givers me a nice shiny finish without the plastic look of a varnish.

PS: Nice bowls. The finish is very good.

-- Ken in Sharbot Lake, Ontario

View EricRFP's profile


106 posts in 3057 days

#8 posted 02-02-2010 06:06 AM

Thank you all for the input. I’m going to try several of your ideas and see what works best for me. That’s what LJ’s is all about right??!!!


-- Eric, NorCal

View AeroClassics's profile


15 posts in 3331 days

#9 posted 02-04-2010 02:18 AM

I also do not care for CA as a finish. I don’t use polyurethane on furniture either. I tried Crystal HUT but didn’t get the shine I wanted. I am using Myland’s now and get a very nice shine. However, I think I like the lack of shine that Hut gave me. Looks more “natural”.


-- Doug, Carrollton, TX.

View a1Jim's profile


117061 posts in 3541 days

#10 posted 02-04-2010 07:45 AM

Wonderful turnings

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Mogebier's profile


170 posts in 2997 days

#11 posted 02-05-2010 03:47 AM

I use Crystalcoat. It’s very nice and durable.

-- You can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4, than you can with just a kind word.

View bill1352's profile


130 posts in 3085 days

#12 posted 02-05-2010 04:25 PM

I have trouble getting the same results all the time with CA. I did try a new way and got the best finish yet. i put a coat of BOL to seal it first. I hand turned the lathe and spread 2 coats of thin ca. i used a plastic bag the parts came in. i then hit it with accelerator. i sanded it smooth with 400 then 600 grit and took a few more scratches out with hut plastic polish. i then put 3 coats using the BLO and medium ca method on youtube only at a little higher speed. the second pulley in on the fast side. that filled in any scratches left and put 2 nice smooth coats. i finished with the hut plastic polish and a coat of renaissance. i buffed it with a dollar store flanel dusting rag. the wood was redwood burl which i can never get as shiny as i’d like too.

-- Keep Your Stick On The Ice

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3445 days

#13 posted 02-05-2010 05:08 PM

I’ve used Shellawax paste and liquid as well as Mylands High Build Friction Polish. A bottle of Mylands is $20 and it lasts a long time. I usually do 3 to 4 coats on my turnings. If I need something a bit more durable, For the tool handles I’m made, Then I’ll apply polyurethane first on the lathe, like a friction polish, then after it dries, I brush it on to give it a final shine.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View Necro's profile


16 posts in 3008 days

#14 posted 02-08-2010 12:18 AM

After 30 bowls and with at least 3 looking that good, you can’t say you are new to woodturning anymore :)

Those bowls look great!

I use a friction finish on pens.

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