Noted on the wood pens page, I've used domestic and exotic hardwoods but am transitioning to the exclusive use of domestic wood. This is to avoid impacting tropical species and the difficulty of interpreting CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).
Along this line and new for 2019, I have started wood stabilization. This process involves drawing liquid resin under vacuum into porous wood or things like conifer cones. The resin impregnates the material and is then cured with heat. Stabilization allows me to use punky wood or wood with voids that would have been wasted. The cured resin imparts a higher density to the wood. It works well when combined with colorful acrylic resin to fill the voids.
As mentioned on the color acrylic pens page, I use acrylic resins made for pen makers and other artisans. The acrylic resin blanks are generally small batched which means replication of an exact hue is difficult. The patterns and swirls can never be replicated.
I also pressure cast clear acrylic pens. In this process, thin items like playing cards are affixed to brass pen tubes then encapsulated in resin. Turning these blanks can be challenging since the thickness of the resin barely exceeds the encased item.
Making a Parus Pen
Below you will find information on things like materials I will or won't use and pen platings. This information will leave this page and be found in the Best Darn Pen Blog.
Whether acrylic resin, antler, or wood, tool marks always remain after turning on the lathe. Sanding begins and becomes polishing at some point.
My work in wood is sanded through six progressively finer grits. Stabilized wood is often taken beyond this through three more very fine grits. I end with multiple applications of oils, shellac, and wax over days in conjunction with buffing. This creates a finish that retains the warmth and feel of wood. Wood pens are meant to be used and handled. Over time, this handling, chemicals on your hand, and exposure to sunlight will impart a patina to the wood. Despite claims to the contrary, no wood finish is permanent. I believe a wood pen like heirloom furniture should age with use and retain the warmth and feel of wood.
My acrylic resin pens are sanded, polished, and buffed through 16 steps. No finish is applied to acrylic resin. They provide their own luster with a good deal of coaxing.