Pen Making and Pen Finishing

Posted by Nicholas Mayne at

During the years of making pens, it has been a challenge to find suitable ways of finishing pens. This may well depend on what material you are using.

When using wood as your main material, I still find the VSM sanding cloth one of the most effective abrasives, working down to P400 grit. You may prefer finer sanding for dense woods or acrylic materials. Some silicon wet & dry goes as fine as P2500 or my favourite is a foam backed abrasives from P600 to P1000 for dry sanding, or up to P4000 for wet sanding (ideal for acrylic).

For all materials, I find the sanding cloth works fine down to P400. Acrylic materials or dense wood show scratches more, but finer grits can be used dry from P600 to P1000. For acrylic pens, I use a foam backed, very porous sanding material, which allows water to run freely through the surface, washing away any slush created from wet sanding. Once you have worked down to P4000, then an acrylic surface can be polished using burning cream.

I have tried the micro-mesh sanding pads. Which seem to have quite a different grit numbering system. These are NOT the standard P- grit numbers. From experience, I have found these pads very fine, but not porous for wet sanding. They are a closed sanding surface and I have found that the turning speed needs to be slower to make sure the surface does not get overheated, which can cause issues if not careful. Sanding with the porous foam back abrasive allows sanding at a faster speed, with the water keeping the surface at a lower temperature.

For wooden pens, a finish is usually required. Some people use cyanoacrylate (superglue) - can provide good hard even finish with practice. Other suitable finishes are - plastic coating / acrylic sealer/finish / friction polish / varnish / .... The choice depends on how durable / glossy you want the finish and ease of use.

Pen polishing/sanding kits are available at CXS Tools.

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