CA glue as a finish coat?

soundmind

Well-Known Member
This stuff is harsh! Anyway, oil first then CA glue? or just CA glue?

I'm not sure if the wood will take the glue if it's oiled.

Thanks for the help
 

soundmind

Well-Known Member
Why would you want CA glue as a finish?
My understanding is that it penetrates and hardens in the wood - so kind of stabilizing it. When I used it before (once on rosewood) it brought real beauty and depth to the wood grain. I didn't use oil that time.

It may not be a good choice for a top coat. I do see some cracking on that peice. The best I can describe it as a pickled orange peel in some spots - but not real noticable until you look close. And that may be because I found it in the sink under water a couple times even though I told my kids not to do that with the knives I'm making.

The other option I have is clear epoxy - "finish coat." It has a deep lusture, too but when I used it it had lots of air bubbles. The CA glue was thin and absorbed right in without any of that.
 
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Bruce McLeish

Well-Known Member
I'm thinking there are better methods available. CA is very brittle and prone to yellowing. My favorite finish for wood scales is Tru- oil. Easy to apply and won't stick your fingers together.
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
I've seen CA glue used on custom wood pens. The CA glue is applied very thinly while the finished wood is spinning on the lathe. Then it is sanded to like 5000 grit and buffed. It leaves an extremely lustrous beautiful finish. Almost plastic in appearance.

So presumably you could do it similarly on a knife handle, albeit without the spinning. I think you want to keep it extremely thin and sand between coats. I think.

Mostly what I see CA glue used for on knife handles is as a filler.
 

soundmind

Well-Known Member
I don't like just oil as a finish - at least in my own experience on my own knives. But on the other hand, I don't really know what other makers do - how they finish with just oil.

I was thinking I wanted a hard durable clear coat of something as a finish - not just oil. But I can experiment with more coats. I've only ever done five coats max.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Bruce Bump did a tutorial on how he does it. Done right it works well
While I personally do not like nor do CA handle finishes, what I pasted in bold above is the key..... and as with most things, requires a significant amount of time and effort to come out smooth, even, and looking good. I'd recommend folks give it a try, just to see if they like it...... it just wasn't for me/my knives.
 

Retroguy

Well-Known Member
I've seen CA glue used on custom wood pens. The CA glue is applied very thinly while the finished wood is spinning on the lathe. Then it is sanded to like 5000 grit and buffed. It leaves an extremely lustrous beautiful finish. Almost plastic in appearance.

So presumably you could do it similarly on a knife handle, albeit without the spinning. I think you want to keep it extremely thin and sand between coats. I think.

Mostly what I see CA glue used for on knife handles is as a filler.
I make pens once in a while and I have used the CA glue. It does come nice. It helps that the lathe adjusts to keep a nice slow spin to apply evenly. I actually thought about making a knife handle on the large and using that technique.
 

Randy Lucius

Well-Known Member
I've done a few with CA finishes. I really like them. I use thin CA and sand between coats with 800 grit. You end up sanding about 95% of the CA off leaving a very thin coat. When sanding the goal is to get a very even dull finish. If you have any shiny spots they will show up in the finish as dimples and look terrible. Shiny spots are low areas. Continue coating and sanding until they are gone. After sanding I buff with white and pink "no scratch" compounds.
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Bruce McLeish

Well-Known Member
Thanks Jesse. I'll search the tutorials.

Thanks folks, I appreciate the help.


Hi Bruce, one last thought, Just curious how you've seen it yellow and crack. I'm wondering exposure to water and sunlight?
Years ago , I was making wood pens. I was using the CA as a filler/finish. Customers started bringing pens back to me after a year or so for repair or replacement. Some of the pens showed this yellowing and orange peel effect and the only thing I could attribute it to was the glue. After I replaced their pens, I switched to the Tru-oil finish and never had a failure. I do believe that , applied correctly, this is one of the best finishes available. Take into consideration that this was 20 years ago, so the CA of today may be (and probably is) better.
And to actually answer your question, who knows what a customer does to your product once they get it home? My best guess would be UV exposure and probably moisture caused the failure.
 

Jesse Latham

Well-Known Member
I do a fair amount of CA finishes. I use the super thin 3-5 second type. The 1-3 second dries too fast to get an even coat. I tape off the tang on full tang knives and coat one side at a time doing two coats. Once both sides are coated I allow the CA to dry then sand and reapply as needed before polishing. The only issues I have had are spots where I have sanded through the CA. They show up after handling as dull spots. So every knife with this finish gets a fair amount of time in my hand before I let it go.
 

KenH

Well-Known Member
Something I've done with CA is use the thin, put a liberal coat on wood, then wet sand before the CA dries. This creates a bit of sanding dust mixed with CA to fill any pores in wood. Once dry, sand until all CA is gone - well, there will be dust/CA mix in any pores or cracks in the wood. Might even do this wet CA sanding twice if needed to get good fill. Once it's fully dry, sand clean back to bare wood leaving only CA/dust mix filling any pores or cracks. Now finish as normal, I like Tru-Oil finish.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
Every one should do at least one CA handle. It's great experience. It's a very tough finish and can leave a deep gloss that is hard to achieve otherwise. It's also nasty, smelly and you will glue your fingers at least once. Use Nitryl gloves. Sand with a very fine grit and use several layers. There are a lot of guys that use this process to make some nice looking handles. I've done it a few times and my preference is tung oil cause I got tired of gluing myself to the knife.
 

soundmind

Well-Known Member
Yeah I take back what I said about not liking an oil finish. I'm too inexperienced in the matter to say I like or dislike this or that. As with CA glue I need to do some oiled finishes "correctly" to really know.

The knife I did was my own. On this one, I did three coats with light sanding. I noticed the cracks after about four weeks. But like I said I found it sitting in water a few times in the kitchen sink. I told them not to do that with the knives I'm making. I also left it on the window sill finish drying, too when I used it - so that's a lot of water and sunlight.

I'll have a look at the links. Thanks again for the help.
 
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soundmind

Well-Known Member
I read Jason's link and found where Bruce Bump showed how he used it.

It seems like it depends on the kind of wood. The OP in Jason's link was worried about it not taking to oil like I was. I wonder if it doesn't work well on oily woods?

I experimented a little today. I'm using Black palm. On this one I think I'm going to work the CA glue in as filler I finish sand and then finish with tru-oil.
 

EdCaffreyMS

"The Montana Bladesmith"
Just a note ..... a CA finish will not allow any oil type finish to adhere/absorb.

If you use the CA as a "filler", and then put Tru-Oil over it....... what you'll get are very high gloss "spots" where the CA is..... and the Tru-Oil will be more mellow/satin looking. I would encourage you to give it a try, but I just wanted to share my experiences.

Earlier I spoke that CA finishes were not for me, and I think that deserves further explanation..... In general (and IMO) CA makes handles look like they've been coated in plastic. For some materials/knives that's not necessarily a bad thing, but for the type/style of knife I produce, it's just not a look that enhances my knives.
 

soundmind

Well-Known Member
a CA finish will not allow any oil type finish to adhere/absorb
I know finish oil doesn't take the wood where there's glue. The glue needs to be sanded away first. I don't know why I didn't catch that. Maybe I was thinking of all the dust in there, still taking the oil. I'll experiment a little more with this.
 
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