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I have an opaque dip tank and after dipping too many rods to count, and usually being confounded by dipping the butts either too deeply (and marring the cork) or not deeply enough, I decided today to tape a toothpick to the cork so it protrudes off the end of the handle as far as I wish to insert the rod into the varnish. When the toothpick hits the surface (where I CAN see it whereas when the cork hits the surface I can't) I know I'm  exactly as deep as I wish to go. How could it take so long to discover such a simple workaround?  (Art Port)

    Excellent idea. I definitely will give it a try. What I currently do is masking tape the entire grip and go a dipping. If the finish touches the cork no harm no foul.  (Adam Vigil)


I had a minor snafu tonight that started me wondering.  I often rig a few pieces of bailing wire and paper clips in such a way that I can dip two tips at once.  Usually things go fine and the two tips don't touch each other.  But not tonight.  Tonight I had two tips in the varnish and things were progressing smoothly till they were nearly all the way out of the tube.

Nearly through, but then something slipped, and the two tips were touching for about a foot of their lengths.  So I pulled them out and re-duct-taped 'em where they would no longer touch, and dropped them back down into the varnish.  Extracted again, and things went fine this time.  Minor snafu.  No blood.  Only sticky varnish all over me.

Here's my question.... By having the tips nearly all the way out then lowering into the varnish again,  did I apply one normal coat, one heavy coat, two light coats, or what?  By the time the snafu became apparent, the upper ends had been out of the varnish for 35 minutes or so.  And by the way, I was using Ace Spar, lightly thinned with Penetrol and Naptha.  Normal time for the sections to be dry to the touch is about 6 hours.  (Harry Boyd)

    Be prepared for the worst. When I have had similar things happen and tried to redip, I wound up with one very thick coat that sagged and ran everywhere. I find I can get away with dropping back to the last guide, but I have to let it soak in the tube for a while to melt what had started to set  before I start to draw it back out again.  (John Channer)

    Oh boy, been there and done that. What you end up getting of course depends on the characteristics of the varnish. If after you had them out for 35 minutes it will still be rather wet and by dipping them again and letting it sit for awhile in the varnish some of the surface of the varnish on the rod will even get softer and start to remix with the varnish in your tube.

    Chances are it will be a tiny bit thicker coat then usual but when it hardens a few passes with some wet and dry sand paper and you will be right back with what you wanted.  (Adam Vigil)

    The last time I did this it caused me a real problem, although it may or may not apply to you.  I was dipping a finished tip and caught it with my finger so I re-dipped it.  It was probably exposed for only 5 minutes but the result was a thicker varnish build up although it looked fine when wet.

    On a plain blank this would not be a problem but I ended up with a slightly greater build up against the last few wraps.  Again with some varnishes this would not be problem but with  Schooner it tends to surface dry quickly leaving trapped wet varnish underneath and as it hardens through it wrinkles and the end result was a mess that took a long time to dry hard enough to sort out.

    I hope that this will not apply to you but it is something to beware of.  (Gary Marshall)

      I think you blokes all worry too much about these little catastrophes.  I get all the problems, from bugs the size of Apache attack choppers through to finger marks that are a natural sequence of  (a) age and (b) too much Scotch.

      That, my friends, is what God made sandpaper for, and Perfect It, and Finesse It.

      Just sand it back, polish it, and redip if you need to after all that polishing.  (Peter McKean)

    When dipping two tips at once you may want to try this: Clamp the tips using two 1" square pieces of wood about 1/8" thick with a small bolt through a hole in the centers. This will clamp/hold the tops apart. Take a few wraps of small wire around the bottoms so that the pieces are held about 1/2" apart. The wire won't fall off while dipping like tape may.

    Just my guess, but I think you have two coats of varnish with the first one not dry and a good chance of orange-peel.  (Don Schneider)

    I have a small piece of thin wood with two holes in it for the male ferrules to fit into.  This separates the male ends. Through this piece of wood, I have the hanging loop. Dental rubber bands slipped on the ferrules keep them in place.

    On the tip top end, I have a short length of a graphite rod tube with two short lengths of 1/8" dowel to form a "X". the tip tops are placed on each side of the tube and held there with a dental rubber band. The piece of wood at the ferrule end just fits my drain tube as does the "X" dowels at the tip tops. This keeps the tips from touching the side if the drain tube. The wraps and guides are lined up with each other so that only one stop for both tips is made at each guide and wrap. Maybe I have been real lucky but I have not had a screw up yet. I have been using this system for over six years. I am not at home now, will be home about the 15th. I will be attending the Catskill Gathering. Will be glad to send you a couple of photos on how I set up the dipping of  two tips at a time after I get home.

    As for one or two coats, I will leave that to someone else to answer.  (Tony Spezio)

    Thanks for all the information guys.   Seems I lucked out, for once.  The tips in question turned out okay.  There is one small run below a guide, but it will polish out.

    Of course my luck couldn't hold.  Spent most of the day working on reel seat inserts and I'm batting less than .500 there.  Over half the inserts I worked on either blew out in the drilling or on the router table.  (Harry Boyd)


Several weeks ago there was a discussion about runs during dipping when the rod is lowered or falls back into the varnish during the middle of a dip. One of my greatest peeves is that on a number of rods I get good results at all the guides except for the wrap at the winding check. I have had a couple of these where the finish just doesn't get as smooth there as the other guides, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. Then you have to redip, or finish the winding check wrap separately, and you get a coat you don't want, or a bad transition.

I was dipping a rod, and starting by letting varnish drain off the winding check and wrap (just that portion of the butt exposed), and it suddenly occurred to me that those previous posts gave me a solution. I let the rod hang for 3 minutes, then redipped by submerging the winding check wrap and ring again. I then finished it normally. Just enough varnish stuck from the first coat that I got the finish I was looking for.

Then I came to the stripper, and had a film of varnish between the ring and the rod. It would not pop, and I sat there forever. Decided to get the coffee filter strips to pop it, but could not find them so I grabbed an old business card and cut a strip. Worked MUCH better than the coffee filter- it absorbed the film, and was stiff enough to poke accurately.   (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I can't remember which book I saw it in, but it suggested that the part coming out of the varnish first is starved for coverage, so I've done as you've described, redip the check area as many as 3 times. I hang/pull my tips from the tip top so I redip at start up there too.  I got one of those small plastic glue applicators, the ones with an accordion action and a medal nozzle and as the stripper breaks the varnish surface film, and it has a bridge of film, I blow it out with a quick squeeze of the bottle and continue the dipping process.  (Chad Wigham)


Hey guys I'm still getting runs using the dipping method with MOW varnish from my 2" pipe tank. I've tried speeds from 1 to 3 inches per minute so it doesn't seem to be the extraction speed. Also the varnish isn't cold and I did thin it with thinner and added Penetrol.

I'm open for some ideas as to what I'm doing wrong. Please help.  (Jack Follweiler)

    Are your runs below a guide? if they are, do you stop and wait as each guide clears the surface, clear the varnish film in the guide?  (Darryl Hayashida)

    After the guide clears the surface, stop when the bottom wrap is just 1 mm above the surface. You have to wait until a)the varnish bubble in the guide pops, and b) that teeny drop of varnish from the popped bubble flows off the guide and on to the blank. If it hangs, wick it off with a strip cut from a business card or coffee filter.

    Strippers are notorious for having varnish hide all over the frame. I stop them when the first wrap clears, when the ring clears, and when the lower guide wrap clears.

    Same problem with the cork check. Let it hang for at least a minute. There is always varnish up under that thing that will give you a run at the worst place. And it will always be over the signature or rod designation.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I have read that if you blow out the guide with a camera lens blower manually operated of course then the dripping problem seems to be less. My solution, is I don't dip. I brush with a sable brush 3/8" wide.  Before I start I make sure my varnish has been sitting on a  heating pad  (type you use to keep your coffee warm) for at least 10 minutes and my rod is  been sitting in my drying booth with the heating element turned up  (the dimmer switch turned up to full power so my light bulb is  on bright and the 100 watter is in the socket) to warm the bamboo. seems  the bamboo "warm" and the varnish "warm" eliminates the miniscule runs because  the pores are more accepting to the liquid.  (Rudy Rios)


I have a few questions on dip finish. I am rebuilding a bamboo rod that was stripped completely. I have made and fitted the grip, and purchased a reel seat. These are not yet permanently attached. I have not yet installed ferules or guides. Do you dip before permanently adding grip and seat? If after, how do you keep the varnish out of these?

I understand the desired effect of dipping after wrapping guides and varnishing threads, and I could locate and wrap the guides with the grip and seat in place and then remove them for finish and permanently mount them after finish. What do you do about varnish on the guides themselves?

Any diagrams/photos of a simple dipping system?  (Chuck Pickering)

    Plug the female ferrule with a dowel or rubber plug and wrap with white plumbers tape down to the wrap. The tape is thin and will not leave a ridge at the wrap. Do the same on the male ferrule and the winding check. Wrap the grip with plastic wrap, this will keep any varnish off the cork. Of course, this is done after the ferrules and grip is installed. I wait and install the reel seat after I finish the varnishing. A reel is put in the seat and used to align the seat with the guides using the reel as the guide.  (Tony Spezio)


When you dip in varnish before you wrap do you dip to the tips of the tabs or up to where you plan to start the wrap on the ferrule?  (Henry Mitchell)

    The times that I have dipped before wrapping, I dipped over the tabs of the ferrule.  It made a nice slope for the thread wraps.  (Greg Reeves)


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