While working at a lathe in our booth at the 2009 AAW National Convention, I had several inquiries about the finishing techniques I was using on my CA finish. I finally came to realize that there are several turners out there that weren’t familiar with the CA finish. They wanted help and demonstration. At their request, I’m writing this article to assist them and all others in learning the techniques involved in creating “My Simple CA Finish”.
Start off by turning your blank to its finished diameter and sand it with 220 grit sand paper with the lathe in rotation. Stop the lathe and continue sanding left to right with the same grit until your blank is scratch-free (see Fig. 1). This creates better adhesion for the CA.
After removing all of the dust from your blank and lathe, turn your lathe speed down to approximately 500 RPM. Get a finger-sized plastic bag and your medium (gap filling) CA ready. Most of the little plastic bags from your pen kit will work just fine. Place the bag on your finger (see Fig. 2). This is for smoothing out the CA from the bottom as it’s applied from the top. The smoother you apply the CA the less sanding you’ll have to do. This may take some practice. You can always sand away the CA and reapply. With the lathe on, place the nozzle of the CA on the top of one end of the blank and your bag finger on the same end at the bottom (see Fig. 3). Apply a decent amount of CA across the top as you smooth it out with the bag on the bottom. This is done in one motion from one side to the other. Spray a light mist of activator (or wait) to get the glue to harden a bit faster. Using the other side of the plastic bag (if it’s clean), apply another coat of CA (see Fig. 4).
Now it is time to turn your lathe speed up to approximately 1800 RPM and sand your blank for a few seconds with 400 grit. With your lathe off, sand left to right to remove all shiny spots, scratches, and pits in your finish (the pits look like white dots, they will come out. (see Fig. 5). This may take some time depending how smooth you applied the CA. Be careful not to sand away all of the CA. Once you are finished, remove all the dust from your blank (see Fig. 6).
You are now ready to wet sand. Soak your micro mesh in clean water, leaving out 1800 and 3200 grit. With your lathe on, grab your drenched 1500 grit and start sanding 2-3 seconds per grit in a circular motion, left to right, on the bottom of the blank (see Fig. 7). Once your 12000 grit has been applied and your blank is dry, you will have a very lustrous and attractive finish (see Fig. 8).
Removing the bushings from your blank isn’t tricky at all. Remove the knurled nut from your mandrel and pull your blank off so one bushing is off the mandrel and the other is on (see Fig. 9). Wiggle up and down till you hear a snap or see that the bushing has freed itself from the blank. Do the same with the other side.