Finish for carved pens?

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Forum topic by BakerWorks posted 10-01-2016 12:41 AM 508 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 1407 days

10-01-2016 12:41 AM

Hi everyone,

I recently started hand carving pens and have really enjoyed the process. I carve down the pen blanks to a round shape, then attach the pieces of the pen kit, then another round of carving to get the shape, and then sanding.

Now the first batch I made was on a bit of a time crunch, so I sanded up to 400 grit, but did not apply a finish. On the next round, I had intended to apply a spray lacquer, but ended up sanding to 800 grit, and liked the feel of the wood, so I skipped the finish again. Now I am thinking about the pens over time and what will happen.

Is it ok to leave them unfinished if they are sanded to a high grit? Is there a typical finish used on carving? The other issue it when to apply the finish. I know that when typically turning a pen on a lathe, the finish can be applied after the shaping is done, but before the pen is assembled. With the method I have been doing, I would need to apply the finish after its all put together which would make it difficult.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you everyone.

1 reply so far

View ClaudeF's profile


797 posts in 1881 days

#1 posted 10-02-2016 12:20 AM

As with any wood object that is going to be handled a lot, unfinished wood will soak up the oils and dirt from peoples’ hands. On my carvings, I usually use a water-based varnish, diluted 50:50 with water as the final finish. Once it has cured overnight, I buff it with a brown paper bag (lunch bag or grocery bag) to remove any raised grain fibers and dust motes. This restores the satin-smooth finish. I suppose over a period of decades, this method will still allow dirt and oils to be absorbed by the wood, but then, most finishes will…



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