How to finish pens with Super T CA glue and NCF Quick from Satellite City Instant Glues
Master pen turners use Satellite City's Super T CA glue and NCF Quick accelerator to protect their pens with a durable, high-gloss finish. Barry Gross of BG Artforms has over 30 years of experience. He has published over 50 articles in various woodworking magazines, been a guest speaker and instructor at numerous venues, authored several books and created two instructional dvds on pen turning. Barry has made pens for Steven Spielberg, former Vice President Dick Cheney, Jimmy Buffet, Greg Norman, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, concert pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, and other well-known people. To get the absolute top-quality finish on his pens, he uses Satellite City CA glue and accelerator. You can see our instant glues in his excellent books and instructional dvds.
New users are often amazed at the results. After getting turned onto Satellite City CA glue and accelerator, Charles Huchette of Stylink wrote,
"Fantastic! I finished 4 pens today in 5 hours, and this is with 20 to 25 coats of normal CA glue pen blank. (see below 4 pictures attached)
The NCF accelerator is a must for pen turners, the application is flawless,
uniform, you're in control! I believe in good tools, they make all the difference.
David provided top notch replies to all my questions, I was amazed,
knowledgeable people are rare these days."
I have finished many pens using Satellite City Super T medium gap-filling CA glue and the NCF Quick accelerator because these adhesives give me consistent results. I am able to get a hi-build finish with three coats, giving the finished piece some depth. With these directions and a little practice you will be able to give your pens a very durable finish that maintains a high gloss after many years of use.
Sanding produces dust both from the wood and from the Super T CA glue. The Super T produces fumes while curing and
can splatter and fly all over the place when the lathe is turning. Take some precautions. A dust mask will help
with the dust. Proper ventilation will remove the fumes. A face shield and safety glasses will prevent glue from
splattering in your face and eyes. It is also good to keep some US-1 Super Solvent debonder on hand just in case
you need to remove glue from a surface or your hands.
After turning a pen to the final dimensions, start the sanding
process. Cut little strips of sand paper in the following
grits: 120, 220, 320, 400, 600, 800, and 1,200. Start sanding
with the 120 grit and go up through 400 grit. Make sure to
wipe the dust off the blanks before switching to a new piece
Applying the CA glue finish
It is very important to use the Super T medium gap-filling CA glue because the Hot Stuff Original is very thin and
will wick down into the bushings and glue them to the mandrel. Take a paper towel and fold it up into a small
rectangle. With the lathe running slowly, hold the CA glue above and the paper towel underneath and touching
the blank. Begin applying the glue with the paper towel catching the excess. Move both hands evenly; you
want to apply a nice, smooth, even coat, and you only have about 5-10 seconds to make a pass back and forth
on each blank. Then pull the paper towel and the Super T bottle away from the blank. You can either let the CA glue
dry naturally, which will take a couple of minutes, or you can spray it from 8-10 inches with a little of the NCF
Quick Accelerator (let me emphasize LITTLE). If you spray too much or too closely the finish will cook off and
turn white. Apply three coats using this method. The paper towels soak up a little of the Super T, but you end
up with a very smooth surface.
Sanding the finish
Now sand the finished surface. Start with the 400 grit paper and wipe the blank between grits up through 1,200.
On each step up in sandpaper look for an even white glaze on the Super T surface. Stop the lathe when you have
finished sanding, you should have a nice, even surface with a dull whitish appearance. Repeat the application
and sanding of the finish to achieve the depth desired. I recommend three coats.
Buffing and Polishing
To finish up the pen, use a two-step buffing and polishing procedure with a Red Rouge and White Diamond
compound. These are available in sticks and are sold at hardware and woodworking stores. Run the lathe in
reverse, leaving the blank mounted on the mandrel so it is easier to hold onto while buffing. Hold the mandrel at
a 45 degree angle and rotate the blank while buffing. Buff with the Red Rouge first and then the White Diamond,
using a separate buffing wheel for each compound. When you are finished, you should have a beautiful, smooth,
high-gloss finish. If you do not, look below for the solution to common problems.
Dull spots in finish
It is possible to sand through the finish which will cause dull spots. The way to fix this is to sand with 400 grit
paper and then reapply the finish.
White spots in finish
If you apply too much accelerator or spray from too close, it will cause the CA glue to turn white. Use less
accelerator and spray from 8-10 inches away.
Bumps are usually caused by too much CA glue. Apply less glue as many light coats are better than one heavy coat.
Sand the glue up to 400 grit and reapply the finish.
Problems removing the bushings
The Super T will attach the bushings to the pen. Take a skew chisel and with the long point down, lightly score
the joints between the blanks and bushings. Also make sure to use the Super T medium gap-filling glue because
as mentioned previously, the Hot Stuff Original is designed to be very thin and will wick into the bushings,
bonding them to the mandrel.
Fixing cracks in the blank
Take a bit of wood shavings and grind them up in the palm of our hand. Rub the dust into the crack and follow
up with some Super T to seal the dust into the crack. You will have to go back through the sanding and
polishing process again, but this is a better solution then scrapping the blank.
About the author
Emory Mclaughlin teaches classes at the Woodcraft Supply store in Jacksonville, FL. He has demonstrated at
the national level and has been published in American Woodturner and Woodturning Design. To find out more,
visit Emory Mclaughlin's website, As the Wood Turns.
Satellite City is veteran-owned. We thank and support those who suffered in service to our country.
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