Refinishing Pens | CA Finish | Live Stream 6.30.2020

During last night’s live stream, I showed off last week’s project, which was a tiny giant that was dressed in a DiamondCast blank. After that, I did an unboxing/mail call that included items from TShadow & Co. Some of the items came in handy right away as  I used the smock and disassembly vice jaws on the live stream. Other items will come in handy later, like the magnifying glasses, braid, CA non-stick bushings, and Zona Paper.

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Refinishing Two Pens:

I started by using a set of punches and the pen disassembly jaws from TShadow & Co. to take apart the pens. Once I had the blanks by themselves, I was ready to put them on the lathe and get to work.

Sometimes a CA finish cracks or spiderwebs over time and the pen needs to be sanded down and refinished, so I did that with two pens, a zen and a mini bolt action. I refinished the pens on a mandrel, so I was able to refinish two pens at the same time, which was efficient.

The first thing I did was take some 120 grit sandpaper and sanded down the blanks to take off the existing, cracked finish. Once I was down to the raw resin and wood, I dry sanded with Abranet from 120 grit up to 400 grit. Since these pen blanks were hybrids, I wiped some denatured alcohol on the blanks to clean the dust off in preparation of putting on a CA finish. To put a CA finish on pens, I use Mercury Flex Thin CA glue. I apply seven coats and I spray activator between each coat. Once the final coat of CA was applied, I used Micro Mesh (1,500 grit – 12,000 grit) to wet sand the high spots in the CA finish. After Micro Mesh, I used Novus 3, 2, and 1 to polish the blanks. Finally, once the Novus was applied to the blanks, I took the pens over to the assembly table for final assembly and they were ready to go again.

Pressing the mini bolt action pen was pretty straight forward. I did loosen the set screw in the cap so I could adjust the bolt and reposition the clip, but then pressing the cap and nib into the blank went smoothly. After assembling the mini bolt action, I assembled the zen. The zen was super easy to assemble as all that’s required is to press the cap into the one end and a threaded grommet into the other end. I put the ink in the pen, threaded the nib onto the pen, and our assembly of our fixed pens was complete! Seeing the difference between the old, cracked finish, and the refinished pens was amazing! Here’s how the pens look after being rejuvenated with a new CA finish:

These pens were refinished on the live stream from 6.30.2020 and given new life.

If you’d like to watch a replay of the live stream, you can catch it here:


Purple Heart Cigar Pen

During today’s video, I turn a cigar pen out of a purple heart blank.  Turning cigar-style pens can be fun, but challenging if you aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing or aren’t organized.  Being organized is the theme of this article and supplemental video for a couple reasons.  If you aren’t organized, you could orient your bushings incorrectly, which will not allow the pen assembly to go as it should, or if you don’t have your pen components (kit) organized, that could be problematic as well.  However, if you’re organized and take your time, the turning and assembly of this pen shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

I started this pen project just like any other by measuring and marking the blank so I could cut the blank to size over at my band saw.  After cutting the blanks to length, I drilled out the 10mm hole that the tubes require for this specific kit.  After drilling, I used Starbond Medium CA to glue the tubes (that I scuffed up on some old sandpaper) into the blanks.  This Starbond CA worked really well as a bonding agent, but it did have an odor that caught me off guard.  Once I got used to the odor, it wasn’t a huge deal.  Once I let the CA dry, I took the blanks to the sander and squared them up so the blanks were flush with the tubes and the blanks were completely prepped and ready for the lathe at this point.

When taking the blanks to the lathe, maker sure that you have your bushings in the correct order.  At first glance, I thought there were two large bushings and two small bushings.  THIS IS NOT THE CASE.  Upon closer inspection and some research, there are actually four different size bushings that have to be in the correct order or this pen will not assemble correctly.  I number my bushings so I can keep track of the top and bottom portions of the pen.  The top portion of the pen is slightly shorter than the bottom portion, so the top is assigned to bushings 1 and 2, as shown in the video, and bushing 3 and 4 are assigned to the bottom portion of the pen.

BUSHING ORIENTATION (From Left to Right): Next to smallest bushing, Largest Bushing, 2nd Largest Bushing, Smallest Bushing.  This orientation puts your cap (top) on the left and the body on the right.

Turning the blank went smoothly and there were no real issues.  When turning this pen, just make sure you turn down to your bushings and there shouldn’t be any issues.  It might feel weird turning to four different size bushings, but it’s a relatively easy turn.  Once the blanks are turned round and to the bushings, break out the sand paper and sand your blanks.  After sanding, I clean my blanks with some denatured alcohol.

When finishing the pen, I used five coats of thin Starbond CA and three coats of meduim CA.  This is my typical procedure for applying a CA finish.  I applied the CA, then used activator after the last coat.  Once that set, I went through my MicroMesh wet sanding pads and sanded from 1,500 grit up to 12,000 grit.  When I was done with the MicroMesh, I noticed the finish was splotchy and I didn’t get a great finish on the pen.  This could be due to a number of things that I haven’t quite figured out yet.  To finish the pen, I put two coats of HUT Ultra Gloss polish on the blanks to buff the blanks and make them shine.  At this point, the blanks were ready to come off the lathe and get assembled into a cigar kit!

ASSEMBLING THE PEN: Make sure you organize and lay out your parts AND keep your blanks oriented correctly (because we have four different size bushings) so you don’t have to disassemble the pen.  If you stay organized and lay your parts out, this process goes pretty smoothly and with repetition, assembly gets easier.  This was only the second or third time I’ve assembled a cigar kit, so it did take me some time and I used a video from RJBWoodTurner to help me.

Along with the turning of this pen, Starbond sent me some CA glue to use during this pen series I started.  Overall, I like the glue for all applications except for finishing pens.  The CA was different from what I’ve used before and upon first impressions, it was just that, different.  It wasn’t necessarily better or worse.  I did like a number of features about the glue, so here is my list of pros and cons:

PROS: Great bonding glue, Different tips to control amount of glue being used

CONS: Smell, Finishing abilities, Thin CA appeared really thin

Overall, I give the Starbond CA a 3.75/5 stars upon first impressions.

Thanks for checking out the video and article!  If you have any questions, or comments, feel free to contact me!