Thanks T A
For now, I'm not worried about food safe, but that is a consideration for down the road.
"Friction Polishes are usually a combination of alcohol, shellac and a wax, usually carnauba wax. You apply it on the turning with a SMALL rag, then buff it. The heat friction of buffing evaporates the alcohol, leaving the shellac and shining up the wax until it reaches a glossy shine. Mylands, Shellawax, and Hut Crystal Coat are examples. I have Hut Crystal Coat - it is okay, but I will try something else when it runs out."
This is probably closer to what I am looking for. What is it that you are considering to use instead of the Hut Crystal Coat?
(By the way, thanks for the reminder about the SMALL rags. That was the plan, but when dealing with a total newbie to turning, it's always a good idea to make that point. I'm still really timid about anything that is spinning, and it will take me a while to get comfortable with even sandpaper!)
I bought the Hut Crystal Coat at the recommendation of a knowledgeable friend who uses it in his turning classes. He gets better results than I do, and it is relatively low cost compared with other brands.
The problem with the Hut Crystal Coat is that I get a modest gloss, but not the "high gloss" that it promises. Occasionally I get a very high gloss, but I can't explain why it happens nor have I figured out how to make it repeatable. It is frustrating, but I keep trying.
Several of my friends swear by EEE polish, followed by Shellawax. Both are made by the same company in Australia. Maybe I will try that. Until I try them myself, it is hard to give useful advice to you. Sorry.
With wood finishes, it is hard to separate the hype from the truth. There are a lot of overhyped, overpriced finishes on the market. The sky is the limit - check out the price of "Odie's Oil." Some people are "true believers" and swear by a certain finish. Many woodworkers mix their own cheap ingredients in an old jar and do as well or better. I buy commercial products out of convenience.
Hopefully others here will chime in with their favorites.
The friction polishes are fast, easy, and yield a nice shine. Because they are shellac and wax, they are not super durable for woodturning objects that get a lot of handling, like pens or the handles for bottle openers and pizza cutters. I use a CA finish on those.
The trick to effectively applying friction polishes is to flash up the friction heat quickly after applying it. That's easier said than done. If you leave the friction polish to sit or increase the friction heat gradually, the alcohol will evaporate before you reach that "polish temperature." I apply it with the lathe set to the slowest speed on the knob, smooth it so it won't fling off, then twist the speed knob to full-on fast while pinching the tiny fold of cloth on the turning to bring up the heat. Be careful not to burn your fingers, and keep the cloth moving. It happens quickly.
In addition to remembering to only very small rags, be sure to cover the lathe ways (bed) before applying finishes. I use plastic grocery bags, weighed down with pieces of scrap wood to make sure that there is no chance that anything could get sucked into the spinning lathe.