Scratch Shave using CA Glue Finish

This is actually a total failure of a tool. Nicely made, but worthless. I post this just to show a few methods of tool making.

The shave here is just an example on a couple of finishing methods. Mostly using CA glue. CA is used by pen makers and few of them have any complaints.

Here is a set of quick instructions for one of the easiest finishes you can do. This stuff lasts. Included are a couple of neat tricks for finishing.

You need three things:

Paper napkins: I like Scott brand cause it does not shed a lot of fluff.
Super Glue: The cheap stuff works fine! Called CA by most folk that use it.
High Linoleic Acid safflower oil: This is a superb drying oil and is used in quality oil paints. It does not tend to mildew or yellow. It does dry slowly, but since mineral oil never dries then that is not an issue. If the nutritional label has Polyunsaturated fat as a much higher number (11 to 2 or so) than Monounsaturated fat then it is the right stuff. The other safflower oil (High Oleic Acid) will have the opposite ratio.

BLO handles easier than Safflower Oil, but it yellows, mildews and contains heavy metal drying agents. So I use Safflower Oil.

Here is the Scratch Shave that I am making as a simple experiment, before I make the scratch gauge that I need.

Just to show the basic mechanics, here it is with the mouth open.

Here it is with the mouth block in place:

Here is my method of resharpening my turning tools while using the lathe! The big dirty green wooden wheel on the lathe is ash with Lee Valley green honing compound.

Another picture of it, I can use the edge to hone the inside of a chisel, or the grove, face or side for most other parts. As It gets mangled, I just clean up the surface. Eventually it will get to small and I will make another wheel.

Here is another neat trick, if you use sandpaper from a roll, it works even better. You put a finger on the sandpaper over a spot that needs sanding, Then you press with the finger and pull the sandpaper. Most the sanding is done right on that spot. In this case I am using 80 grit paper to ruin the finish. More on that later.

Once again here is the stuff I use to make the finish. I have added the oil to the paper napkin. This makes it shine and keeps the napkin flexible for a while.

It will take most of one thing of CA to make this tool.

Another nice lathe trick is to burnish the wood with clean wood shavings. Note that my hand is around back of the work as I move the shavings across the spinning wood. This heats up and polishes the wood nicely. Remember to keep you hands away from danger as you work.

Here it is close up and burnished:

On the left the tool is unburnished, on the right it is burnished.

Here a couple of drops of CA are about to be rubbed into the spinning wood. Slowest setting cause you do not what to scatter drops of CA all over the place !

Here it is with the left side burnished and the right side treated with CA.

You can also rub it in without a spinning target. Here is the cap before:

Here is the cap after. This is a thick wet coating. I don’t usually go this thick, but mesquite is weird, CA stays wet on it for a while, and soaks up CA. You can coat and coat mesquite and it will still remain a flat finish after it drys.

Here it is finished.

Here is a close up. Notice the scratches left by the 80 grit paper. This is to show that CA is not great for hiding flaws. Instead it tends to protect and highlight flaws for a long time.

Before making a copy here is the warning, there is no fence at all, on this tool. It is in fact, a horrible tool. It makes a good initial scratch and then wanders wherever it wants to and mangles the surface thereafter!

It works great with a small scraper in it, but I rarely need a scraper this small. In fact, this makes this a ‘pretty’ useless tool. It holds the blade well and is solid, but apart from that, it is worthless. However I wanted to make this experiment before I put a lot of time and effort into a really nice tool. It did prove the point for myself, and I managed to put together some details on finish and method, that I wanted to present.

To tell the truth, for a lot of tools, I prefer a penetrating wax finish made from equal parts of paraffin, safflower oil and turpentine. It has a great feel, preserves stuff well, and is quite ‘repairable.’ It also does a decent job of protecting steel, although I would not use it on complicated stuff as the safflower oil sets up into a nice flexible resin. Nice stuff to have soaked into wood or on a chisel, bad stuff to have in the clockwork.

After making a few things out of ash with this wax for my wife, she wants everything in the house made with just this combination.


3 comments to Scratch Shave using CA Glue Finish

  • Skip J.

    Here you are using the CA, but not the wax….. do you find the CA to leave a tougher surface than the wax???? Which tools would you use one on? And which tools would you use the other?

  • CA leave a very tough finish. The question of which to use is aesthetic. CA is glossy, shiny and stays clean. Wax feels like the wood. It grips well, is still clean, but is flatter in appearance. For sales, I would use CA and go for glossy. For a work tool, wax is what I love. I have no good excuse for my preference.


  • Skip J.

    Ok – good article, but I think I’m going to stay with the wax. I was born and raised on wax for woodworking… using it on handles is just a natural. Boiling your handles in it is a real eye opener…


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