Bamboo Tips - Tips Area
Finishing - Buffing

< Home < Tips Area < Finishing < Buffing


This tip was posted in response to a question about buffing out some blemishes in a rod finish:

You're not going to do it at all with the 3F. It is much too abrasive. You can use a wool felt pad with the 3F to remove the bubbles, then use 5F to bring back up the shine, but you're never going to be able to match the gloss as it comes from the varnish left to dry naturally. You can use various plastic polishes too, and these work quite well, needing heat to be generated in the polishing process, but even at that you will not get the gloss back to original -- close but no cigar I prefer the look of varnish that has been worked, rather than the glossy look. You may have a different idea.

Oh, yeah. It does depend upon which varnish you are using. Polyurethane's are harder to polish out, but can be gotten to the point that any rubbing is barely noticeable. A true Spar is easier to work, but won't polish back up to the point of original gloss.  (Martin-Darrell)

    Spar varnish polishes back to the original shine to the point where you can't tell it's been polished with 3x magnifiers, that's what I like about spar. Just use 3-M's Perfect-It and Finesse-It polishing compounds, they work like a charm.  (John Channer)

      I agree that any marks can be rubbed out, and this may have something to do with the spar I'm using, but there is a distinct difference between the gloss out of the can and anything I can create by rubbing, and I've tried many different compounds. Based on your experience, I suspect it's the varnish I'm using.  (Martin-Darrell)

        In the instances that I do you spar, such as restorations and such, I use McCloskey's Man-O-War and if I need to polish it, it comes out perfect. I use the same polishes that John does... Perfect-It first, then Finesse-It. Actually, I find the spar varnish MUCH easier to polish out to original shine than Varmor R-10.

        I use the polishes to polish out both spar and Varmor R-10 finishes, when I need to polish.  Varmor is my main finish for my new rods, I use the McCloskey’s for restorations it flows to the corners leaving a valley so sanding and polishing is pretty much a must with it.   (Bob Nunley)

        I used to use Man-O-War and it polished very well, the only problem with it is it tends to pull out to the corners and leave a little valley over the flats,  kind of makes the rod look clover shaped or something. On the recommendation of Ron Kusse (a little harmless name dropping there), I've been using Last & Last Marine and Door Spar Varnish and it not only polishes out great, but it lays flat on the rod, no valley to sand down to. Try it, you'll like it.  (John Channer)

    I've always wrapped my tube in that low-heat no-freeze electrical pipe wrap you can get for pipes which are in unprotected areas of a home.  It's thermostatically controlled (though I've never seen any where you can adjust the thermostat) and it raises my dip tube to about 90 degrees or so in a basement that's probably at about 60 or so. I think it's named Zero King or somesuch. Check a Home Depot or Lowes or someplace like that.  (Art Port)

    With this talk about drain tubes and bubbles, I thought I would put my .02 worth in.  To get the bubbles out from my tube I just run a hair dryer at  medium heat up and down the tube.  The bubbles rapidly move to the surface and burst. If I get a guide that seems to take too long for the film to break, I use the hair dryer again.  Just warm the area of the tube where the guide is and it will pop. (Tony Spezio)

    Actually a clear plastic tube allows a 360 degree view with the drain method.  I actually let the rod sit in the varnish until I can see zero bubbles. If there is a persistent bubble I simple pull the rod out "pop" the bubble and reinsert the rod. Check to make sure no bubbles are present and drain away.  I then put a cloth over the  top and a remove the drain and put a sock over the bottom. It will dry with NO dust and no runs. A clear tube make it easy.  (Adam Vigil)


I'm a bit frustrated. I just finished what is easily my best rod yet. Dickerson 8615, 2/2, flamed. Everything is damn near perfect-but when I went to rub it out, I had some problems. I used the Kusse varnish, Last-n-last marine and door gloss. The flats are all fine. I used 1000 grit with some linseed oil to rub out some specks, followed with rottenstone and linseed oil, and then finished with Perfect-it 3. Where I used the 1000 grit on the ferrule wraps and hook keeper wraps, I can't seem to rub out the dullness. The flats are easy to generate some friction and the sanding scuffs came out fine, but I don't want to get too aggressive near the ferrules else I scuff the blue off and I can't generate enough friction at the hook keeper because of the grip and hook keeper itself. I thought about using my Dremel with the buffing bit, but it seems a bit risky.

To make a long question short, what do you guys do to rub out/buff in tight areas on the rod?  (Eamon Lee)

PS: BTW- The nail files I used to sand the varnished wraps worked the tits. Perfect hex shape maintained all around the wraps and no bumps-nice taper to the shaft. You must pick some up at your local beauty supply store, they are great. When they load up, just hit them with a pink eraser. Serious bang for your buck!

    Cut thin strips of nylon stocking about a foot long and use them to buff like the shoe shine guys.  (Brian Creek)

    I would not even think about that Dremel. I bet it will tear that varnish right up. I use 1500 and olive oil. Then I polish with Meguires #9. Maybe you should just rotate and recoat the ferrule wraps. The Meguires #9 (Swirl Remover) really works well. I use a popsicle stick for the 1500 in tight and Bret's block for the whole blank. You might also consider wrapping the ferrule in Teflon plumber's tape so you don't scratch off that bluing.  (Bob Maulucci)

    I have been using the LnL too. I find that it buffs out very easily with Perfect It II rubbing compound followed by Finesse It II machine polish. The Finesse It is necessary to bring back the high gloss. You have just not completed the process.  (John Channer)


I am interested in the issues associated with polishing rods. Specifically, what are the issues with polishing a spar varnished rod compared with polyurethane varnished rod? Are the same materials used for both? Can both be polished effectively?  (Frank Paul)

    In my experience, both spar and poly can be polished out to their original gloss and shine.  I use two stages in polishing.  First, I use 3M Perfect-It, then follow that up with 3M Finesse-It machine Polish.  A well cured finish, whether it's poly or spar, properly polished, will shine like a new penny when you're finished.  Of course, the best way is to insure that there's no dust or anything else in the finish and you won't have to polish.  Not easy, but very possible.  (Bob Nunley)


What are some of the ways you recommend finishing off an oil based spar varnish job and putting a good polish on it?  (Kyle Druey)

    Leave it alone if possible, if you have some flaws to rub out, I like 3-M's Finesse-It II and Perfect-It II rubbing and polishing compounds.  (John Channer)

    I use Meguires #7 and then follow with #9. I think one is label "Showroom Hand Glaze" and the other "Swirl Remover." I bought my supply at the local Pep Boys automotive supply store. I like the results. If you sand out some nasties with 1500, you can get the shine back. I really do not worry as much about dust anymore because I know it is manageable afterwards anyway.  Cautious, but not crazy about it. No nylon running suits here (ALA Jack Howell's).  (Bob Maulucci)


Noticed that the tube of Flitz that I use to polish my ferrules and reel seat hardware said metal and fiberglass. I tried it on PU varnish and it works like a million bucks. 1000 grit wet dry glued to a popsicle stick as per Bob Nunley to sand down the booger and Flitz polishes it back so you cannot see where it was. Only 24 hours later too.  (Dave Norling)

    I use Flitz to polish my ferrules, checks and reel seat hardware, and I never thought of using it to polish out a bad spot on a rod.  Thanks, again... two great tips in a row.   (Bob Nunley)

    Check out the Flitz web page, in addition to the polishing compound they've got some interesting looking waxes:  (Kyle Druey)


Site Design by: Talsma Web Creations

Tips Home - What's New - Tips - Articles - Tutorials - Contraptions - Contributors - Search Site - Contact Us - Taper Archives
Christmas Missives - Chat Room - Photo Galleries - Line Conversions - The Journey - Extreme Rodmaking - Rodmaker's Pictures - Donate - Store