... is it possible to put just a pen blank on the pen mandrel without the tubes in them to try different ways and find a way that works for me.
Sure -- you don't even need to use a mandrel, save yourself the bother of drilling the blank. Just mount it between centers or grab it in a chuck if you have jaws that will clamp down small enough.
Have seen a few different techniques and even tried a couple of them.
Not working for me at all. I need tips please. I searched all over this place an everyone has their own way and ideas on this.
Any and all tips please.
I use a couple of different techniques that work most of the time.
The common factors in my method --
(1) sand the turned pen through to 400 grit (starting wherever you need to get rid of tear out and tool marks). Before moving onto the next grit, stop the lathe and sand up & down the length of the barrel to remove the circumferential scratches of the grit you just used.
Turn the lathe by hand, sanding up & down till you've done the entire surface. Wipe away the dust in between grits to make sure no coarser grit is hanging around as you go to the finer grit.
(2) Put latex gloves on. I hate when my fingers stick to the glue bottle.
(3) Take a square of paper towel, tear it in half, and roll it up into a tight cylinder about the size of a fat pencil. (Use a good quality paper towel, e.g. Bounty. The cheap stuff leaves fibers embedded in the finish.)
(4) Set the lathe turning on its slowest speed.
(5) Holding the rolled towel underneath the turning pen, drip some thin CA onto the barrel and "smooth it out" with the towel. Don't hang around, a couple of sweeps is enough. I generally put a few drops at the left hand end of the barrel and as I sweep to the right bring the glue bottle along and drip a bit more as I go.
(6) Do the same to the other half of the pen (if it's a 2 piece model).
(7) Walk away. Don't be tempted to keep rubbing back and forth. In 30 seconds or so, the glue on the towel will give off the noxious fumes and get hot. Don't think this means the glue on the pen is cured -- cellulose fibers in the towel act as an accelerant. I stay away a couple of minutes after the towel-glue smoked.
(8) Repeat steps 5 though 7 a few times, using a fresh section of towel each time. If I stick with thin CA, I normally do about 5 coats. Sometimes I switch to medium CA, in which case I'll probably do 3 coats. Note that medium CA takes longer to cure than the thin stuff, so you use fewer coats but it takes about the same time.
Sidenote: medium CA doesn't drip as easily as the thin stuff, so I apply it by squeezing a pea-sized blob onto the rolled paper towel and -- without waiting around -- spread it the length of the barrel. One sweep back, and take the towel away. I use a fresh patch of the rolled towel for the second barrel.
(9) Stop the lathe and take a look at the surface. It will have ridges. With the lathe still on slow, I use 400 grit sandpaper to gently flatten the surface. When you stop the lathe and wipe the dust away, if there are low spots you can see them because they are still shiny -- sand a bit more till the surface is evenly dull.
(10) Apply more coats of CA -- about 10 if thin, about 5 if medium.
(11) Spritz with accelerant, if I have any. Leave it alone for 45 minutes or more.
(12) Before moving further, I check that the barrels aren't glued to the mandrel or bushings. Normally I just snap the bushings off, sometimes I turn the lathe on and use a parting tool or the tip of a skew to break the glue at the very end of the barrels.
(13) Use 400 grit sandpaper again. Then go up & down the length of the pen with the grit. Wipe away the dust. Look for glossy spots, repeat as needed.
(14) Switch to wet sanding with Micromesh -- I use the kit of colored sponges (about 2.5" squares). Again, in between each grit do the up & down, then wipe away the slurry of water and dust before moving on to the next grit.
(15) As a final touch, I use Hut Ultragloss plastic polish.
Another sidenote: I often apply Danish Oil prior to the first coat of CA -- what can I say, I like the glow it gives curly maple and rosewood burl. Sometimes I use several coats -- but always make sure the surface is dry before putting CA on. I apply the Danish Oil using a paper towel with the lathe turning at slowest speed then crank up the speed and use a dry section of towel to rub it in/wipe it off.
Hope some of this makes sense and helps!