Applying a CA Glue Finish on a Pen




Introduction: Applying a CA Glue Finish on a Pen

There are many ways to finish a pen and I use several methods. This is one of the easiest and most common finishes. It requires you to shape the pen in the way you want, sand it, and then apply coats of Cyanoacrylate (CA) glue.

What you will need:

Sandpaper up to at least 600 grit

Micromesh pads - ranging from 1500-12000 grit

Cyanoacrylate (CA glue) - Thin, Medium, and Thick viscosities

CA Activator

Plastic Polish

Pen Blank


Turning tools

Step 1: Shape and Sand Your Blank

You'll want to mount your blank on the lathe you can turn between centers or mount it on a pen mandrel like I did and then turn it down to your desired shape.

You will then sand moving through the grits from 150-600 grit. While at 150 grit you will want to feel for and remove any high spots.

I sand straight across with the lathe turned on and then turn the lathe off and rotate backwards while sanding in a small circular motion.

In between grits you can rub down with denatured alcohol to get an idea of what the finished pen will look like, as well as remove any dust from the previous sanding.

Step 2: Apply the CA Glue

Once you've sanded up to 600 grit you can apply the CA glue.

I normally take a small bag that is included in most pen kits to cover my finger; this is to help keep it off of your fingers.

I normally will do several coats of each viscosity of CA somewhere in the ballpark of: 3 Thin; 2 Medium; 5 Thick. This will change from pen to pen just practice and get the feel of it.

Apply a small amount of CA to a paper towel and quickly move it across the blank, be careful not to stay on one spot.

I will usually do a quick micro mesh in-between medium and thick.

On the medium and thick you can use CA activator to help it try faster.

Step 3: Micromesh and Polish

Once you've applied the thick layers you will let it dry and move onto Micromesh pads. These range from 1500 to 12000 grit.

You will move up through the grits in the same fashion that you did with the sandpaper. Going straight across while the lathe is running and then small circles with the lathe off while rotating backwards.

Once you are happy with that you while apply a couple coats of plastic polish to finish. Apply with the lathe off and then buff out for 30 to 45 seconds with the lathe running.

Assemble the pen and you're done!

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    5 years ago

    where CA is water soluble, do you have any problem with the finish being touched/used?


    5 years ago

    Nice one! I've gotta try out CA finish again after reading your walk through. Good stuff! VOTED


    Reply 5 years ago

    I'd love to see you try it out, post some pictures if you do.


    5 years ago

    Activator is not a great idea when finishing pens. It can cause a milky color to the finish and tends to make the finish weaker in the long run. Also try using boiled linseed oil with the CA. When finished sanding (I tend to go up to 2k grit) rub in the boiled linseed oil with the grain (of course if there is end grain in the segmenting like that just make sure you are penetrating that well). Get that in there good and penetrated then spin up the lathe and friction polish with it until your fingers burn moving back and forth fairly rapidly. Apply one more light coat to the paper towel and do the same but this time when done apply your CA to the paper towel on the dab of BLO and apply by quickly moving back and forth. Repeat this process at least 3 times and as many as you want for higher gloss/thicker finish. You will notice two things. First the CA spreads better with the BLO acting as a carrier and there will be less streaking (I never even sand after). Second the CA will dry more quickly.


    Reply 5 years ago

    Thanks for the tips. I'll try out that method. I've not had problems with milkiness I think because I don't use activator on the thin. I just checked out your IG good stuff. I followed.