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    I've been using those small micro-mesh pads for sanding my pens. I saw a pen-turning demo a while ago in which the demonstrator kept those pads in a bowl of water, and used them sopping wet to sand his pens. I thought I'd give that a try yesterday on a rosewood pen. To my surprise, it turned it black. I let it sit overnight before finishing it, hoping it would return to the original color when it dried out, but it didn't. Is this a unique characteristic of rosewood, or do other woods permanently change color when they get wet? Is this something I should not have done? Should I have used distilled water instead of tap water? Is using those sanding pads wet normal procedure?

    Just for reference, these pens were made from the same block of rosewood, and turned, and finished the same way. The only difference is that the one on the left was sanded dry, and the one on the right was sanded wet.
    • CommentAuthorJPG40504
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2009
    Whatever caused it, I LIKE the result!
    • CommentTimeJun 8th 2009 edited
    True rosewoods (genus Dalbergia) are loaded with extractives -- chemicals embedded in the cell walls. (See ) Any one of these chemicals may have reacted the minerals in your water or the aluminum oxide in the abrasive and produced the black color. My first guess is that you have iron in your water from the delivery pipes and it reacted with a tannic acid in the rosewood -- this produces a black stain. And yes, it is permanent. Most chemical stains are. Wet sanding is an odd method for smoothing raw wood; I don't understand the benefit. I frequently "raise the grain" to prep for a finish -- wet the wood with a damp rag, allow the water to dry, and sand with your finest grit. The only time I've ever wet-sanded was to rub out a deep finish.

    If you continue with this method, you may want to use distilled water -- that should be free of most of the minerals that will react with the extractives. If the color still turns, then the extractives are reacting with the fine abrasives. If this is the case, wet-sand with a rubbing oil such as tung oil. In fact, you may want to give tung oil a try just for giggles. Master turner Rudy O'Solnik liked to turn with tung oil mixed with a little spar varnish -- two tablespoons spar varnish to one cup tung oil -- and his results were spectacular.

    With all good wishes,
    • CommentAuthorAijca
    • CommentTimeAug 9th 2012
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