Michael Dresdner

straight talk about wood finishing

Pen polish

Q: I am new to pen turning. Can you recommend some finishes?
A: It depends largely on the pen material. Obviously, cast acrylics need no finish and can simply be buffed. Ditto for very hard or resinous woods, like rosewood, ziricote, bocote, cocobolo, lignum vitae, ebony and even boxwood. For other woods, I tend toward simple finishes; just wax, or wax over boiled linseed oil or wipe on varnish. For a very durable finish, I also like either cyanoacrylate (CA), or a combination of boiled linseed oil and CA. The CA will instantly cure the oil into a hard solid film. Using paper towel applicators on the spinning lathe, apply a thin coat of one, then the other immediately. Add as many coats as you like, sanding for smoothness when necessary. Once cured, which takes only minutes, this finish will buff nicely.