Apply a Finish to Wood Turned Bowls with CA Glue

Before proceeding to use thin CA glue as a finish for wood turned bowls, let us first understand some basic facts about CA glue.

  • CA glue or cyanoacrylate glue is an acrylic resin with a very fast curing rate that is usually activated by either applying pressure or the introduction of moisture onto a surface.
  • CA exists in about 6 levels of viscosity which is denoted by the term cps. Choosing the appropriate level of CA is a very important factor for a successful project.
  • The speed and manner in which cyanoacrylate glue is applied is equally as important as choosing the appropriate CA glue thickness level.
  • Always wear safety precaution clothes and gear when using cyanoacrylate adhesives as wood finishes.

Using CA glue as a finish in woodturning is not an easy process. One needs to be very patient, have steady hands and have a keen eye for detail. It is not easy to get it right the first time but with practice eventually, you are going to master the technique. This article is going to take you through a step by step process of how you can use thin adhesive as a finish for wood turned bowls.

Materials Needed


  1. Starbond Super Fast Thin CA Glue
  2. Woodturning bowl
  3. Turning tools
  4. Micro mesh pads
  5. Protective gears
  6. Premium paper towels
  7. Beall wood polish buff

Step 1 - Selecting the Appropriate Viscosity Level of CA Glue

Like mentioned before, it is very important to choose the right thickness of CA glue you are going to use. This would impact directly on the curing rate. The thickness or viscosity of CA glue is denoted by the term centipoise (cps). When you go to the store or online to purchase your CA glue, you will note that they are also categorized according to the cps levels, 5cps to 1500cps. All the levels have different curing speeds with the 1500 cps having the longest curing speed of 90 seconds.

This tutorial is about how to use thin CA glue as a finish and before we proceed to the next step, we will have to assume that you have already turned your wood bowls on your lathe and also performed the primary sanding.

Step 2 - Filling the Cracks

After you have successfully turned your wood bowls, you’re going to notice that it has some cracks. It is very rare for it not to especially for first-time turners. Fill the cracks thinly and carefully with the glue. This is going to be a slow process. Be careful not to apply too much CA adhesive when filling the cracks as it will form a skin which will cure on the surface but still remain in liquid form on the inside.

Once you have completely filled the cracks with the glue and it has completely cured, you will now perform a final sanding on the bowl. At this point of sanding, use the 400 grit mesh pad. The purpose of sanding at this stage is to create a smooth coat for the CA glue application.

Once you achieve a smooth surface, clean any dust and debris on the bowl and the lathe. Also make sure the surrounding work area is clean. This is because you do not want any dust or debris to attach to the bowl as you are applying the CA glue finish. If this happens, you will have to sand again.

Step 3 - Application of the CA Glue

Before you begin this step, it is advisable to place a towel on the lathe bed to protect it from any glue that might drop off. Place the bowl on the lathe and set it to rotate at a slow speed.

During this step, you will have to have your protective gear on. It is recommended to use a respirator and eye protector for the fumes that might come off from the paper towel.

Fold the paper towel four to five times and put a few drops of the glue on it. Preferably 10 to 12 drops.

As the lathe is spinning, just hold the paper towel onto the bowl and let the CA glue to evenly coat its surface. Do this for about 10 seconds. If you take more time the paper towel will start bonding to the bowl.

Let it cure for about 2 minutes and repeat the same process three more times.

Step 4 - Smoothening the CA Coat

Once you are done applying the CA glue, let it rest for about 5 minutes.

After the 5 minutes, take another paper towel, fold it four times and hold it on the still spinning bowl. The point of smoothening it with a dry paper towel is to remove any lines that might have been created during the application process. Do this for about 10 seconds and let it rest for another 5 minutes.

Step 5 - Polishing

Once you are done smoothening the bowl, give it a final sanding evenly with a fine grit paper and then work on it over again with a dry paper towel. The bowl is now ready for a polish.

The Beall wood polish buff has a three-stage polishing system. It has three different polishing wheels; Tripoli, white diamond, and carnuba wax. The main purpose of the Beall polish is to bring out the luster and depth of the polish.

As I have just mentioned, the Beall wood buff comes in threes. Start with the tripoli. Polishing is done just like sanding. Rub with the tripoli evenly across all the surfaces that you applied CA glue. Do the same with the white diamond and finally with the carnuba wax and your bowl finishing process with CA glue is complete.

Finishing wood turned bowls with thin CA glue is a difficult process and this is no doubt one of the simplest turning tutorials you can get. It is my hope that this guide is going to help you in your woodturning and finish projects.