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Finishing Acrylic pens

PensFromNo11

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I've finished a couple of Acrylic pens now and they look great to the naked eye, but under magnification I can still see scratches.
I sand with Abranet to 600 in both ways, then wet miromesh to 12000 and finish with an acrylic polish.

The results are getting better so;
is it just another skill to master?
I'm expecting to much using this method ?
should i be doing something else ?

any advice will be appreciated
Darren
 

flexi

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mark
I use a liquid polishing compound from Machine Mart in course and medium, but wipe down clean before moving to the next grade
 

SorinS

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I've finished a couple of Acrylic pens now and they look great to the naked eye, but under magnification I can still see scratches.
I sand with Abranet to 600 in both ways, then wet miromesh to 12000 and finish with an acrylic polish.

The results are getting better so;
is it just another skill to master?
I'm expecting to much using this method ?
should i be doing something else ?

any advice will be appreciated
Darren
I'm not sure what you mean by "in both ways", however, you should sand it in rotation (from one side to another) and stationary, along the fibers, for each grit! Do this until you'll see an uniform sanded surface all over the pen, then go to the next grit. Do this for both dry and wet sanding. When you sand it wet (1200 to 12k micromesh) do it a little bit longer than when sand it dry, but do not exagerate! Wipe it in between grits. Also, I use around 1000 rpm when sanding, sometimes even less, 800.... Finally, check the micromesh, if they are too worn, they will not sand well. My advice would be to practice on a piece of scrap wood , ideally paint it in black if is too light, so you'll see easily if there are any scratches remained at the end
 

PensFromNo11

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I'm not sure what you mean by "in both ways", however, you should sand it in rotation (from one side to another) and stationary, along the fibers, for each grit! Do this until you'll see an uniform sanded surface all over the pen, then go to the next grit. Do this for both dry and wet sanding. When you sand it wet (1200 to 12k micromesh) do it a little bit longer than when sand it dry, but do not exagerate! Wipe it in between grits. Also, I use around 1000 rpm when sanding, sometimes even less, 800.... Finally, check the micromesh, if they are too worn, they will not sand well. My advice would be to practice on a piece of scrap wood , ideally paint it in black if is too light, so you'll see easily if there are any scratches remained at the end
Both ways is as you described in rotation and stationary left to right.
Is it possible to get a flawless finish? I'm practicing on a solid coloured acrylic at the moment and to my eyes its looks flawless but under magnification there's still a little scratching.
If flawless is possible I guess I just need to keep at it.

Thank you
 

Phil Dart

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Not to take away from your sence of perfectionism, but is there a need to finish to a level that you can only see under magnification? Micromesh 12000 sands to 1 micron, so it may be that you're not being as thorough as you think you are with previous grits, but if you are and you can still see scratches, they can only be 1 micron deep.

If you're convinced that you can't improve with any of the grits along the way, have you tried inspection BEFORE the acrylic polish? It could that that which is letting the side down.
 

PensFromNo11

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Darren
Not to take away from your sence of perfectionism, but is there a need to finish to a level that you can only see under magnification? Micromesh 12000 sands to 1 micron, so it may be that you're not being as thorough as you think you are with previous grits, but if you are and you can still see scratches, they can only be 1 micron deep.

If you're convinced that you can't improve with any of the grits along the way, have you tried inspection BEFORE the acrylic polish? It could that that which is letting the side down.
Opps... I've also been reminded this end i can be a little obsessive. I guess at 40x magnification I will see 1 micron and if that's what we are aiming for, i'm getting there.

ignore me i'm new at this....

thanks Phil, Mark and Sorin for your help
 

ValleyBoy

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My advice is to take your micro mesh pads, carefully stack them all together neatly, making sure they are all perfectly aligned, and then drop them into the nearest bin 😊. Or alternatively, a more fun approach is to propel them one-by-one like little frisbees (put the bin as far away as you can to make it more interesting).

I’m joking of course, and I know lots of people swear by them, so take what I’m saying with a pinch of salt. They are just not my preference.

One of the difficulties I found with using them is, because you are wet sanding, it’s hard to see any scratches because water/liquid really isn’t your friend when trying to examine your work. It makes everything look perfect. You have to dry it to really see what’s going on. So it’s quite a faff and takes way too long for my liking. (Probably poor technique on my behalf of course).

Instead I find what works best for me, and I would encourage you to look into, is getting yourself some buffing mops and compounds. The three wheel system that is readily available is excellent, and you can hook it up on your lathe easily.

Wet sand your acrylic to up to 800 grit while it’s spinning, and then lengthways with the lathe stopped with the 800 grit too (there is really no need to do it for the lower grits, it’s a waste of time with plastic). Then onto the mops. The first grit you get with 3-stage polishing compounds easily buffs out 800 grit scratches. Then onto the next two wheels. No more than about 3-5 minutes and it’s done.

The best thing about this is you’re holding the workpiece in your hand, and it’s dry, so you can move it around freely, examine it and see your progress and any scratches very easily. Personally I think it’s a lot easier and your finish, even under magnification, will be perfect. (Yes I inspect to that level too).

Cheers
Ash
 

PensFromNo11

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Wet sand your acrylic to up to 800 grit while it’s spinning, and then lengthways with the lathe stopped with the 800 grit too (there is really no need to do it for the lower grits, it’s a waste of time with plastic). Then onto the mops. The first grit you get with 3-stage polishing compounds easily buffs out 800 grit scratches. Then onto the next two wheels. No more than about 3-5 minutes and it’s done.
Ash glad i'm not the only one slightly obsessed...

What compounds are you using is it the standard - White diamond, Tripoli and Carnauba wax or somthing more exsoitc?
I will definitely be giving this a try Thank you
 

ValleyBoy

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Ash glad i'm not the only one slightly obsessed...

What compounds are you using is it the standard - White diamond, Tripoli and Carnauba wax or somthing more exsoitc?
I will definitely be giving this a try Thank you
The honest answer is I’m not quite sure as they were given to me by my late grandfather. The first one is definitely a Tripoli (dark brown) and then there’s a buff colour and a yellow (increasing grits). I don’t tend to use wax as that’s really for wood. I think Axminster do lots of different compounds and if you search “compounds” on there it’ll show you the best ones for plastic and what stage to use each. (Tripoli and Buff are probably enough).
Cheers
Ash
 

PensFromNo11

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The honest answer is I’m not quite sure as they were given to me by my late grandfather. The first one is definitely a Tripoli (dark brown) and then there’s a buff colour and a yellow (increasing grits). I don’t tend to use wax as that’s really for wood. I think Axminster do lots of different compounds and if you search “compounds” on there it’ll show you the best ones for plastic and what stage to use each. (Tripoli and Buff are probably enough).
Cheers
Ash
thank you, that makes sense. I tried a hybrid method of what i had been doing and your suggestions (not quite ready/confident for target practice with the miromesh) finishing with a buff with tripoli and im getting close. I have got the Buff compound but didn't have a clean mop to try on, one ordered and magnification at the ready.

really appreciate your help
Darren
 

Bill Mooney

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I don’t use micromesh, like Ash it’s not my preferred method. At 40x magnification you’ll always see scratches. It’s enough that the naked eye can’t see them. Your question is valid as you are seeking an answer so you can progress in your turning & enjoy the experience more.
 

PensFromNo11

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Darren
I don’t use micromesh, like Ash it’s not my preferred method. At 40x magnification you’ll always see scratches. It’s enough that the naked eye can’t see them. Your question is valid as you are seeking an answer so you can progress in your turning & enjoy the experience more.
It's great being able to get answers to questions you ponder when your alone in your workshop. I'm not new to turning, but am to pen turning and Acrylics is a whole new medium to me. Being able to try different methods suggested by the guys on here has definitely accelerated my progress. I'm now able to get pretty good fininsing using Ash's method and haven't found much difference using micromesh, its clear a good buffing is the key.
 

alan morrison

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You can't beat a good buffing!!!!!

I had an old bench grinder which I put the Tripoli and White Diamond mops on and attached to a spare piece of wall ( the small mops)
I finish the blanks back on the lathe with wax. ( I only turn wood)
 
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