Ca pen finish. What did I do wrong?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodturning forum

Forum topic by Split posted 01-17-2014 02:32 PM 2611 views 1 time favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Split's profile


33 posts in 1764 days

01-17-2014 02:32 PM

I put ca finish onto my pen with the lathe turning after sanding up to 600. It was on the slowest speed and I put a paper towel on the bottom and wiped side to side to catch excess. I don’t know if the wood is too porua or if I should have spied some on by hand to seal first or if it was my sanding any thoughts? I sanded with 600 after ca glue ten polished with auto wax.

12 replies so far

View knotheadswoodshed's profile


221 posts in 2197 days

#1 posted 01-17-2014 02:41 PM

you need to give lots more info…whats the problem? what type of wood? how many coats of CA?

-- Randy - "I dont make mistakes, I make design change opportunities"

View Split's profile


33 posts in 1764 days

#2 posted 01-17-2014 04:26 PM

It is roaswood I did four coats of ca and I am getting white areas wherever the grain in the wood appears to be deepest.

View TheDane's profile


5441 posts in 3688 days

#3 posted 01-17-2014 05:48 PM

Are you using accelerator?

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

View Split's profile


33 posts in 1764 days

#4 posted 01-17-2014 05:54 PM

I am using accelerator. Making sure not to spray it too close to my project about 6 inches away or more.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2273 days

#5 posted 01-17-2014 07:35 PM

My CA finishes come out pretty nice. Here is my process:
First I sand the piece down to about 1000 grit – almost burnished. CA will stick to it. I then wipe it down with mineral spirits to remove all the dust. I let it spin for about 10 minutes so the spirits flash off.

Step 1 – PREP

Now time to apply. I first use thin CA. I grab a blue shop towel, fold it in fourths the long way, and rip off strips. I load the strip pretty good with the CA. Now I spin the piece fairly slow -(~600 rpm), and wipe the piece with CA. Moderate pressure and you get one shot – that’s it. Don’t even think of going over it again.

The first coat I actually let penetrate. I get the lathe up to about 2500 rpm I let it spin for about 5 minutes, then I hit it with the activator.

Now I apply 2 more coats of thin. Same method – 600 RPM but this time there is no waiting. Wipe it on, crank the speed, hit it with activator. You’ll notice the paper towel still has some dust on it after wiping. Generally 3 coats is all it takes, but apply coats until there is no more dust on your paper towel after applying CA (But do at least 3 coats)

After the initial 3 coats of thin, I sand. If there are any imperfections in the wood, it will show up in your finish as white streaks or cloudy marks. Instead of finishing, what I really just did was impregnate a little of the wood with CA. I almost want to get back down to bare wood. I start at 600 grit and go up to 12,000 grit with micro mesh pads. I wet sand using water and a little dish soap as a lubricant and it keeps the paper/pads from clogging. It’s going to look like crap at this stage, but that’s ok.

Step 2 – Finish

Now it’s time to finish. I make sure to remove any dust left from sanding, and repeat a similar process as above:
Lathe down to 600 RPM
One wipe with Thin CA
Lathe up to 2500 RPM
Spay instant activator.
I repeat this step until I have about 10 coats of thin down.
Now I move to medium CA. Same exact process. Slow the lathe, wipe it, speed the lathe, activate it, then repeat. I also do 10 coats.

Finally I will do 2 coats of thick. If you do this correctly and use moderate pressure and consistent wiping speed, your piece should look pretty good with no ridges. It will be a bit hazy, but look ok.

Step 3 Polishing

Now it’s time to polish. If you have ridges, get your 400 grit paper out and wet sand starting there. If you don’t have ridges, just use the micromesh pads.
I dip them in warm soapy water and sand the CA with the lathe spinning about 3200 RPM. Even light pressure and keep moving. Keep the pads soaking wet (note – protect your cast iron from dripping water). I spend a lot of time with the lower grit micromesh (dark brown, green, black, and light brown colored pads). After each grit I shut the lathe off and look for an even scratch pattern. If your pattern isn’t even, you will have ghosting and it’s tough to tell while the lathe is spinning.
I work through all the micromesh pads – from 1500 to 12,000. Also wipe with a wet paper towel in between grits.
Now what you are left with is pretty decent looking. There should not be any visible scratch marks unless you look at it under raking light. However you are not done.
To really bring out the shine, I use Hut Ultra Gloss Plastic Polish. This stuff is absolutely amazing. apply the polish at lower speed, then crank the lathe as fast as it will go. Remove it with moderate pressure with a blue shop towel. Don’t stay in one spot or your will get burn through. I will put it under a raking light again to check the scratch pattern. If it’s still to large for me, I’ll hit it again with the plastic polish.
Now it’s time to enhance the tactile feel and REALLY bring out the gloss. Crank the lathe and add a little bit of Johnson’s paste wax to a blue shop towel. Apply it with almost no pressure. Let it spin for 5 minutes or so then shut the lathe down. Buff it off with a microfiber cloth with the lathe off.
Now you are done. This sounds like a lot of work, and honestly it is. I am a perfectionist when it comes to finishing though.


View MrFid's profile


876 posts in 1929 days

#6 posted 01-17-2014 07:47 PM

Wow great comment Lumberjoe. Favorited for that.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View Kelby's profile


134 posts in 2435 days

#7 posted 01-17-2014 08:47 PM

Split, I’m struggling to get a sense of what you are describing. Can you post a photo?

-- Kelby

View TheDane's profile


5441 posts in 3688 days

#8 posted 01-17-2014 10:10 PM

LumberJoe nailed it … what he details (so eloquently) is very close to the finishing regimen that Eddie Castelin ( ) uses to get ‘dipped in glass’ results.

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

View Guy Belleman's profile

Guy Belleman

18 posts in 1643 days

#9 posted 01-18-2014 01:23 AM

Several different ways are available with an internet search, and I have tried them all. Some use thin CA and some use thicker CAs. I am not sure of the accelerator. I have used it and other times avoided it. My gut tells me that speeding up a hardening process makes the coating even more crystalline and brittle, and perhaps susceptible to cracking when the wood and metal underneath expand and contract with temperature and humidity. Waiting a minute isn’t a problem for me.
Methods I have seen and used:
One, is too just put on four thick coats of CA and sand through the grits to 12,000 or so.
A second, is too quickly apply thin coats and then sand, often able to start at a high grit.
A third, is too use boiled linseed oil after each coat.

They all work, they all have their limitations. Polishes and buffing also add to the luster, although they can often be temporary.

View Split's profile


33 posts in 1764 days

#10 posted 01-18-2014 11:37 AM


View Guy Belleman's profile

Guy Belleman

18 posts in 1643 days

#11 posted 01-19-2014 03:42 AM

Pen looks fine, but seeing the detail is difficult. Are you happy with the pen?

View Woodknack's profile (online now)


11777 posts in 2405 days

#12 posted 01-19-2014 08:30 AM

Sounds like moisture or air trapped under the CA.

-- Rick M,

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics