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Pain in the A$$
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'd like to try my hand at some basic acrylic pens. I've done a handfull of wood pens, and the biggest issue I keep having is my finish. So, I thought I'd give acrylics a try. I've been told I have to use a skew for these. Well, that ain't gonna work for me :no: as thats one tool I SUCK with.

1. What are the key differences between turning wood blanks and acrylics.

2. What are the challenges I may run into?

3. What tools do you use to cut these?

4. How do you finish them? (I've been told MM, but don't know to what grit.)

Any other advice will be appreciated. TIA.
 

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I use carbide tools, wet sand to 600 and wet sand with micro mesh to 12000. I think they are actually a little easier than wood. Whatever chisel you use just needs to be sharp and spend a little extra time with the 150 grit sandpaper to get the tool marks out.
 

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First drilling is challenging sometimes. Sharp drill bit and go slow. Heat buildup is bad.
I turn mine with a carbide cutter and have no problems. But light cuts and sharpness just like a lot of turning. I would think a skew used properly just minimizes catching and chunking. I'm a newbie turner so I am sure others have better answers.
For finishing I wet sand with 400grit to level everything out then polish with mm going through the grits. Lastly I use a plastic polish for final buffing. I have found a nail buffing block at Walmart that costs $1.50 and gives me a shine as good as mm.

Anyway...good luck
 

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First drilling is challenging sometimes. Sharp drill bit and go slow. Heat buildup is bad.
I turn mine with a carbide cutter and have no problems. But light cuts and sharpness just like a lot of turning. I would think a skew used properly just minimizes catching and chunking. I'm a newbie turner so I am sure others have better answers.
For finishing I wet sand with 400grit to level everything out then polish with mm going through the grits. Lastly I use a plastic polish for final buffing. I have found a nail buffing block at Walmart that costs $1.50 and gives me a shine as good as mm.

Anyway...good luck
I forgot about the drilling. I keep a wet paper towel and cool the bit when it heats up. I probably only drill about a 1/4 inch between clearing and three times before cooling.
 

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Pain in the A$$
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the above comments guys. I currently do not have carbide tools available, so those aren't an option. Is there a different tool beside the skew that I can use? Although I know I need practice, I'm not going to use it right now. I do have 3/4" skew and every time I try to use it I end up catching the heal and ruining whatever I was doing. I'd like to use something else.

EDIT: I wonder if I got a bigger (1.25") skew if that would help eliminate my issue with it.
 

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Your skew should work. If your getting catches then your coming off the bevel or turning above center. If you imagine a center line on the cutting edge of the skew. rotate the tool so that the cut is always below this. If your gettting catchs with the short point (what we call the heel of the skew) then your probably lifting the handle so the bevel isn't rubbing which makes the skew want to run backwards and make a screw thread.
If it's not sharp enough and your forcing the cut and can dig in as well. Relax, let the tool do the cutting.
If you have a spindle gouge use that instead of the skew. Most people seem to have less trouble with a good sharp spindle gouge than they do with the skew.
Carbide scraping tools. Don't need them. If your having to start sanding with 150 grit you aren't getting a clean enough cut. With a good shear cutting tool like a skew or spindle gouge you should easily be able to start sanding acrylic pens with 220 grit. Using the Hunter Osprey tool as a bevel rubbing tool I can start with 400 or 600.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_JoR9yLiQc
 

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Acrylic acetate does NOT like heat, so my advice is to use the sharpest tools you can, take light cuts, and use a slow speed setting.

For drilling, I do one of two things:

option (1) keep a syringe of cold water close by, drill no more than 1/4" then retract the bit and squirt a little water into the hole and onto the drill bit

option (2) get a can of spray-on cooking oil (such as Pam) and use that instead of the syringe of cold water

A spindle roughing gouge works fine. I use it until I get streamers instead of chips, then switch to a skew. Instead you could continue with the spindle roughing gouge, or slow the speed way down and use a flat-ended (or very gentle curve) scraper. I've done that too, even the "Easy Wood Tools" style carbide bit scraper works ... but SLOW is important.

Note that once you're getting continuous streamers, they have a tendency to wrap around the blank and obscure your view. This is a good thing, it makes you stop for a while to clear the swarf away, and lets things cool down a bit.

When sanding, ALWAYS use water. If there are lots of tool marks to remove, I wet-sand with regular 320 or 400 grit paper held against a backing block of flat scrap wood, so it actually sands away the peaks rather than simply polishing the grooves. Then use Micromesh (again, wet) up to 12,000. Finally, Huts Ultragloss plastic polish.

Always cross-sand the length of the barrel with each grit to eliminate radial scratches before moving up to the next finer grit.

HTH
 

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If your having to start sanding with 150 grit you aren't getting a clean enough cut. With a good shear cutting tool like a skew or spindle gouge you should easily be able to start sanding acrylic pens with 220 grit. Using the Hunter Osprey tool as a bevel rubbing tool I can start with 400 or 600.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_JoR9yLiQc
Hahahaha, no kidding. That's because your better than me. I accept that :laughing:
 

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Pain in the A$$
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
First let me say thanks to everyone who gave me advice. I tried turning an acrylic pen tonight and I have the following comments:

1. Because the acrylic blanks that I have on hand were already round and with 7mm holes in them already, I didn't have to deal with the drilling challenges or trying to rough the blank.

2. The first blank I tried I ended up screwing up. I think I was taking off too much material at once and broke the end of the blank. I used the rest of the blank to practice working with the acrylic. This was valuable practice.

3. As told by many commenters above', I went very slow. Honestly this was very challenging to do as I've been learning with wood blanks how to rough them out quickly.

4. I tried using my 3/4" skew which I have never had much success with. I did okay with it and never snagged once. I was proud of this accomplishment itself. I learned (based on a comment above) that I believe I was cutting too far above center which was causing my previously mentioned issues/snags with the heal.

5. I tried using my spindle gouge with my Ellsworth sweptback wings. It seemed to work pretty good.

6. I seemed to be able to cut the best with my 3/4" curved scraper. I was able to cut pretty evenly and maintain a nice curve on the blank the best with this tool.

Mark
 

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You're getting there! This is excellent progress :thumbsup:

2. The first blank I tried I ended up screwing up. I think I was taking off too much material at once and broke the end of the blank. I used the rest of the blank to practice working with the acrylic. This was valuable practice.
Yes, the ends of the blanks are the trickiest parts -- typically you turn these down thinner than the middle of the barrel, so if there's the slightest catch it can tear out a chunk. It's easy to push too much chisel into the side edge -- you don't need to ask how I know this :laughing:
 

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It seems like I'm the odd one out again. I normally turn my acrylic blanks just as fast as my wooden blanks, which is about 2,000 rpm most of the time. I take light cuts, and haven't noticed any heat related issues with any blanks I've tried. To date, I've only had one blank fail on me and it was because I had a catch. I also start polishing with micro mesh pads and have never had to use 600 grit or lower sandpaper to get rid of tooling marks. In fact, sometimes I skip the lowest grit MM pad and start with the second one.
 

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Itchytoe said:
It seems like I'm the odd one out again. I normally turn my acrylic blanks just as fast as my wooden blanks, which is about 2,000 rpm most of the time. I take light cuts, and haven't noticed any heat related issues with any blanks I've tried. To date, I've only had one blank fail on me and it was because I had a catch. I also start polishing with micro mesh pads and have never had to use 600 grit or lower sandpaper to get rid of tooling marks. In fact, sometimes I skip the lowest grit MM pad and start with the second one.
Same here.
 
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