Which CA glue thickness is best?
As you probably already know, CA glue comes in several different types based on its thickness. The most common varieties are thick, medium, and thin. Each thickness has its place in the pen turners arsenal depending on what it is being used for.
CA glue is often used to glue the pen tube into the wooden pen blank before turning down the blank. One of the benefits of using CA glue for gluing your pen tubes is speed. You can often begin turning your pen within 5 minutes of gluing the pen tube into the blank. For gluing pen tubes into wooden blanks I prefer to use medium CA. It is thick enough to fill the area around the tube without soaking completely into the wood grain, but thin enough that it sets up quickly.
Medium CA glue is also my choice for gluing together wooden pieces to make a segmented pen blank. You can also use thick CA glue for this purpose, but I like to use the medium CA glue because it seems to penetrate the wood grain better for excellent adhesion. It also is thin enough that it does not show up as an obvious glue joint once the blank is turned into a pen.
Which thickness should you use for a CA glue pen finish?
This site is about finishing wooden pens with CA glue, so you probably want to know which thickness to use for finishing your pens. As you can imagine, there is much discussion (maybe even controversy) about this topic. Some pen turners use thick CA glue because it builds up quickly with fewer coats than the thinner varieties. Others feel that the medium viscosity is the best compromise between thin and thick.
I have experimented with all three varieties as well as a combination of the three and I can say with confidence that thin CA glue is the right choice for achieving the best CA pen finish results. Let me explain why.
I am a home builder/remodeler and I have a lot of experience with applying paint, polyurethane, drywall mud, and other types of finishing products. This experience has taught me that multiple thin coats of almost any finishing product yields better results that fewer thick coats. The reason for this is that thinner coats cure more quickly and thoroughly than thicker coats. And most products do not perform properly when they are not fully cured. This is especially true of products that have to be sanded such as drywall mud, polyurethane, or CA glue. If you have ever tried sanding polyurethane or drywall mud before it has completely cured you know what I mean. It is still a bit soft below the surface and does not sand properly.
This is exactly what happens if you try to finish a pen with thick or medium CA glue. The coats build up on top of each other without fully curing. Then when you start sanding, all sorts of strange things happen like white or cloudy spots appearing. You will also find that your CA finish results will be very inconsistent. You will get some good ones lots of bad ones.
Try using only thin CA glue to finish your pens and I believe you will enjoy more consistent results!
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