I usually use a satin lacquer for natural edge. The gloss looks fake to me. For a really natural look use Krylon Fixatif. You won't even know you've sprayed it except for a possible change in color like any finish will do. Then you can buff the non bark edge to a gloss or semi gloss if you want.
Epoxy does work well as a finish but you have to be careful to not get runs. MY friend built a slow speed rotator out of a barbecue grill motor. He coats the piece when they are on this device which hold 3. They rotate while the epoxy is curing to prevent runs.
I have another friend who used epoxy as a spray on finish on larger pieces. I don't recommend it. It requires cleaning the gun agressively afterwords, using a very good respirator and having a spray booth.
I use Envirotex 2 part epoxy on my lures and like John said it has to be turned constantly for 10 hours or it will sag. After it has turned for 10 hours it needs to sit for 3 days to cure. On top of that you need to be aware of humidity and temps to keep it from getting cloudy.
I have never felt the need to use the two part stuff since I've had so much good luck with Semi-Gloss Pre-Catalyzed lacquer that I've never wanted to. But, just in the spirit of wine-stopper madness, I might like to interject a bit of information. I use a threaded shaft on my head-stock that threads right into my stopper when I turn..biggest problem was getting the stopper back off the rod..found out that if I use a simple household rubber glove (not the throw-away kind used for staining) I can get just enough of a grip on the stopper for it to come off with no problem, and no damage to the stopper...what a difference.
Try rubbing paste wax on the threads before inserting the blank. It screws off nice and easy if you do that. Good tip on the glove. I use those flat rubber grippers for getting jar lids off. There are lots of good used for those. They are about 5" in diameter. I put them over a chuck to drive natural edge bowls when I reverse the bowl to turn the bottom.
After turning and before finishing, I stop the lathe and loosen, by hand, the piece on the screw mandrel. Then I finish the sightly loosened piece. Now taking the piece off of the mandrel is simple and easy to do.
Like most I started with the damn rubber glove... Then after some reflectin on the problem it came to me that the just turned piece was easy to get a grip on before the sanding and finishing got it so smooth that a rubber glove was needed..
The end result is the same but no chance of marking the finish with the torque it sometimes took to get the damn thing off of the mandrel.
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