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Some list members may remember the "Don't raise the rod, lower the varnish" dip tube arrangement I came up with. I was painting my house, and for parts of it I used an airless spray gun. One of the things you need to do is check the viscosity of the paint with a little cup - funnel arrangement. You time how long it takes the paint to run out.

Well, it occurred to me that I didn't need the valve on my dip tube arrangement, just a hole of the right size.  I tried it out on a scrap strip, and it seems to work fine. with the viscosity of the varnish I have - and it can vary a great deal, so experiment first - a three sixteenths inch hole runs out at about four inches a minute.

So, all you need to dip finish your rods is a length of PVC pipe, an end cap, a stand to hold the pipe, a cork, and varnish. Dip finish your rods for less than ten dollars (not including varnish).  (Darryl Hayashida)


I think I found a solution to the problem of seeing when the rod guides are at the point of exiting the varnish in a PVC drip tube.  Although I don't use the drain method, I think this would work.

Look in the lighting section of the hardware store.  There you can find clear polycarbonate tubes for protecting fluorescent light bulbs.  The 4 foot tubes cost $1.99 each at my hardware store.  I then went to the plumbing section and  found that these tubes fit 1-1/4" PVC fittings.  They glue up to PVC fittings using regular PVC cement.

These tubes are not as thick as PVC and care should be used if storing varnish in the tubes, but they work fine otherwise.

I use the more conventional dipping apparatus.  I cut about a 10" section of these tubes and used these on my existing 1-1/2" PVC dip tubes so that I could see when the guides reach the top of the varnish.  I  simply  cut  some  of my  existing  tube  off,  and  used 1-1/2" connectors and a 1-1/2"x1-1/4" bushing to insert the clear tube into.  A 1-1/4" cap and some plastic food wrap seals the whole deal up and an old dark sock over the top keeps the UV light out.

Give it a try.  I know the tube are easy to find in 4' lengths.  I assume they make them in 2' and 8' as well.  If you need a longer length, you can always use a 1-1/4" PVC connector to put a 2' and a 4' together or whatever.  (Rick Crenshaw)


I had the distinct pleasure for watching the 'master' Tony Spezio, varnish a rod this past Wednesday, in his shop. He doesn't drop sections down the tube or get varnish on his cork and his method is clean and simple. He uses a "drip tube" of clear plastic that allows him to see the section(s) being lowered into the bubble free varnish and observe the 'popping' of the film that develops in the guide eyes and the ends of the guide wraps. I think he has posted his method on the list and Power Fibers. Try it. You will thank him.  Thanks again Tony.  (Don Greife)


For the past four years I have been using Scotch Brand masking tape from the paint department at Wal M--. Have had absolutely no problems with the tape and varnish. Yesterday I ran out, I had some masking tape on the shelf that I purchased at a discount outlet. It is marked "Made In China".

I had the two tip sections ready for the drain tube and used the MIC tape to bind them together as I normally do. Used it to wrap the two ferrules with the spacer in between and a string loop for hanging the sections. I kind if overfilled the tube so when installing the tips the varnish got up on the tape. No problem I thought, this has happened before. This time it was different. The MIC tape started to unravel. It loosened up enough to release the string hanger, the tip sections went to the bottom of the tube, the MIC tape was soaked. Drained the tube down to the bottom of the tape and finished draining as I would normally do, stopping at the wraps and guides. I was able to remove the tip sections with mechanical fingers without hitting the sides. Thought , got it made, hung the sections up with clothes pins and left the room. I checked on them this morning and they looked pretty good. Took them down and noticed that  there was a sticky  area up near the ferrule. It looked like someone had thrown sand on about 4" of each tip section below the ferrule. That was the end that was taped with the MIC tape. It appears that the tape released the sticky part and it drained down with the varnish. The rest of the tip section is real smooth and a good finish. As of an hour ago the sticky area is still sticky. Andrew, now I know what you meant in your post last week. It is a mess. Just passing on info, I hate for this to happen to someone that is doing his first rod. Will just clean up the mess, get new varnish and start over. Lesson learned. Stay with what works.

Did not use this tape on the butt section, it came out fine.  (Tony Spezio)


Who out there is using a drip tube? 

What have your experiences (both good and bad) been with the drip tubes?  (Joe Byrd)

    I have been using mine for almost four years. Did close to 50 rods before changing the tube. The big drawback is having to be careful in removing the wet stick from the tube. The stick can be left in the tube to dry, I find it takes longer to dry that way.

    The big thing is, you don't need an elaborate set up.  (Tony Spezio)

      I dry mine inside a 4" piece of PVC that has a coffee filter across the top, and the bottom raised an inch or two.  I got the advice from someone here to remind me that the solvents were heavier than air, and the flow would set up a convection to draw air in from the top; the coffee filter holds out the dust.  I had tried at first to dry in the tubes, but after a week they were still gummy, and I tried this approach.  Worked great, and no dust on the rod - probably due to the fact that the varnish was already mostly dry, but a good result regardless.  (Greg Kuntz)

    I have been using a drain system for about 3 years now.  The main advantages is that you do not need a high clearance to accommodate the length of the blanks being pulled out of a dip tube.  Another advantage is that you can leave the blanks in to dry, thus controlling dust.  I have recently gone to a two drain tube setup so I can varnish the tips and the butt section at the same time, therefore I can fill the tubes once each time I varnish the rods. This leads to one disadvantage; having to fill the tubes up, and wait for air bubbles to clear every time you varnish.  Another advantage is that you drain into the original paint can and you can add some paint thinner or turpentine on top, close the can and not have to worry about your varnish skimming over in your drain tube.  Your varnish goes bad in your paint can you say, no problem, buy a new gallon.  You also get to filter your varnish every time you pour it into your tube, which I think is a good thing.  With a decent valve you can control the rate of draining quite easily.  I make my tubes from dust collection clear tubing (so I can see the flow rate), some PVC fittings and a ball valve.  (Robert Cristant)

    I made my only varnish tube as a drip/drain type after joining the list around 5 years ago.  Made it from a see-thru fluorescent light tube protector.  Still use it, works well for me.  Got the idea from postings by Darryl H., Tony S. and Bob M.  Prior to that I applied varnish with a foam brush.  (Ed Riddle)

      How do you control the speed of the drip?  (Mark Dyba)

        Actually it is a drain tube. The varnish does not "drip" out , it runs out, the flow is controlled by a petcock or other type valve. I use a lever type petcock valve. I have a short length of graphite rod attached to the lever for easier handling. The lever is slowly turned to the open position till the varnish in the tube drops about 4" a minuet. Stops are made at each wrap and guide to let the varnish run off the guides. This keeps from getting runs. I drain back into the original can. Others might have a different way of doing it but this works very well for me.  (Tony Spezio)

        I have a manual adjustable flow  drain cock on the bottom of the tube.  It's made of brass and works like a water spigot.  I capped the the bottom of the tube with a PVC cap using PVC glue and tapped the drain cock into the cap. I use a clear tubing (approx. 12") that tight fits over the drain cock exit nozzle to feed the varnish into a container for collection.   Seems like the drain cock cost about $3 (US) at Lowes.  I remove (unscrew) it from the cap and disassemble after use and clean up with mineral spirits.  The manual adjustment works great for stopping flow at the guides and wraps if you're coating a blank after guides are attached.  Stop the flow while it takes a few seconds for bubble to pop in guides.  Then allow varnish on the blank to catch up to overall level before opening again. Let me know if I need to go into more detail.  (Ed Riddle)

          For those of you contemplating the use of a drain tube for the first time, I picked up a great tip from Tony Spezio when I started out and that is the use of masking tape (topped by cellophane tape) on the ferrules and sticking 3 or 4 straight pins through the tape to act as buffers to keep the blank away from the tube.  I also tape up the grip when doing refinishes/restorations to avoid any tackiness there.  I extract blanks and have them dry in separate tubes. Robert Cristant's point regarding straining the varnish each time filling the tube is good advice.  Details in the archives or will explain further if asked.  (Ed Riddle)

            A couple of minor changes that works better than the pins. Took a short length of graphite rod tube about 1" long. Drilled through the bottom end and inserted two pieces of 1/8" dowel to form an "X". The length of the dowels are just long enough to fit in the tube. The setup is taped to the lower end of the rod section instead of the pins. Lot easier to use and works better than the pins. For the tip sections, I do them both at the same time. The graphite tube is taped between the two sections and the center hole in the graphite tube acts as a drain between the two tip sections. This assures me that both tip sections has the same amount of varnish applied. For the grips, they are wrapped with cling wrap. Any brand works, I buy the least expensive brand I can find A little tip when using the tube to keep varnish from getting on the grip. Lower the rod into the tube about a half inch short of the varnish from the winding check or grip end. Squeeze the bottom of the tube till the varnish rises to the check or the end of the grip. Slowly release the pressure on the tube to have the varnish flow down over the wraps It is real easy to control the height of the varnish.

          As I mentioned in the other post about the number of rods you can do with a tube, I actually did 51 rods in the first one. I changed it when it developed a crack where I would squeeze the tube.

          I started draining the varnish through a filter when it is draining back in the catch can. Then run it back through the filter when filling the drain tube. Have not had any problems with trash on the rods.  (Tony Spezio)

          And there are some really good filters out there now to use for filtering paint.  Don't have the info in front of me at the moment, but I found some really fine filters that are lint free, made by Gerson (sp?), and they're available at your local auto body repair supply store.  They will filter out very tiny particles from the finish.  (Mark Wendt)

      I use a water line valve, the same kind you use inline to your faucets or to your toilet.  Works very well.  (Mark Wendt)

    Go here to look at the pic's of my drip tube. If you click on one of the pic's, there's a narrative I wrote when I submitted the shots. The only thing I've changed is that I've gone to a 1" clear PVC tube because I can fill it with 1 quart of finish Vs. the 3 quarts it took before with a 1 1/2" tube.  (Brian Smith)


Many great discoveries are stumbled on - take for example the world changing Post-it developed by a 3M scientist who screwed up an adhesive experiment.  Well, I may have discovered a new method of applying varnish to a rod.

Yesterday on a gorgeous 65 degree morning here in Silicon Valley I was preparing to put the first coat of finish on my latest rod.  I use a drain tube (less space) so I filled up the tube with two quarts of Helmsman and set it out in the sun to warm up and let the bubbles rise.  When all was ready I hung the section and while everything was settling I decided to adjust the angle of my valve handle - I'd replaced the old tube and the set-up needed some "fine tuning."  As I turned the handle/plug assemble the whole thing popped out and all two quarts (48") drained in about 2 or 3 seconds - not exactly the 2 to 4" per minute most of you recommend.  Thank goodness I had placed an empty can in place before disaster struck so I only had one quart running down the driveway.  Making the best of a messy situation I pulled the section and placed it in my newly constructed drying cabinet and hoped for the best.  This morning I awoke early - I was too excited to sleep in - and opened the door of the cabinet to found the best finish I have ever gotten - except for one small bubble that can easily be rubbed out the finish is like a mirror.  Now I'm not a hack when it comes to evaluating a finish - I spent 25 years as a furniture and cabinet maker so I know a good finish when I see one.  I only have one problem now, I haven't quite worked out how to get that same 18" per second drain rate without ending up with most of the varnish on the floor.  Any ideas?  LOL

By the way "Don't try this at home without proper supervision from a responsible adult - your wife/girlfriend/mother!"  (Tom Key)

    I love happy endings....some of the best ideas are learned from mistakes.  (Wayne Caron)

      As is the case with some of the best tapers! I'm convinced they came about by worn machinery or simple mistakes, resulting in missed numbers and great tapers!

      Now if this doesn't get everybody started! (Joe Arguello)

    I do something similar: first I dry fit the rod to  my turners; then I dip the rod completely for a second or two, and then pull it out of the tube and I immediately put it on the turners to spin until dry, (Of course I had appropriately warmed and thinned the mixture first).

    While turning I inspect for dust particles which I remove with the touch of a fine sable brush and I inspect the snake guides and stripper to make sure they are clear as well.

    The system works beautifully for me; I've tried it on a half dozen rods so far.  (Dick Steinbach)

    I think the "big box" stores sell empty gallon paint cans.  I also saw a program on making golf clubs a while back and they draw the shaft through a rubber diaphragm at about 12"/second.    (Neil Savage)

    Ayup.  Been there, done that.  'Cept my incident happened inside the garage, and I didn't even have the rod dipped into the varnish yet.  I sorta kinda forgot to check that the valve coupling was pushed inside the tube far enough and was in the process of pouring the 3 quarts into the drain tube when I heard a loud pop and in the process turned my shop into a skating rink.  Varnish makes a pretty good lubricant while it's still in liquid form...  (Mark Wendt)

    Let us know how it turned out a few days later.  I had something similar happen and I wasn’t using thinned varnish.   The next morning I was astonished at how well it came out.  I ran and showed my wife, who I knew wouldn’t understand, shrugged her shoulders and said “yeah. Nice.”  I went to work happy about my first rod finish.  That night when I got home, I looked and it still looked good.  The next morning however, the top of the section began to get these little sags that looked like snakes coming down the flats.  Over the next few days these snake grew the length of the blank.  Too thick of a coat and the underside that hadn’t cured yet was still trying to sag while the exterior that was tack free didn’t want to sag.  I hope that is not the case in your situation but it was with mine.  (Greg Reeves)

      I  also had a mishap, but with a dip apparatus.  I was slowly filling the PVC tube concentrating on the level in the tube.  It seemed strange that the tube was taking soooo much varnish.  When I finally looked  at the floor,  I realized I hadn't glued the plug on the bottom, I just pushed it on.

      Anyone interested in a pair of size 13  shoes with a heavy  MOW finish?  (Jim Sobota)

    Well, it was a good discovery, but maybe not soooo new.

    One method you can use is to apply finish to a vertically hanging rod with a turkey baster and let it just run back into the can. Rod is hung vertically with the tip down inside the can to keep it from flying around. I did it on a rod, and it actually works. BUT, it isn't practical because it is difficult not getting on the cork, or getting a nice transition between ferrule and ferrule wrap. I know folks who have said that you can mask those areas with balloons or masking tape, but it never worked well for me.

    Probably would work on a glued up section before any further finish work.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    So on I entertained you with the telling of the "The Great Plug Mishap" which resulted in the 48" draw down in 2.8 sec., and I reported the finish was perfect except for two small air bubbles.  After knocking down that coat with 0000 steel wool, buying a new qt of Helmsman, mixing the old and the new qts thoroughly, I checked to make sure the plug was tight, heated the varnish, filled the tube, let the bubbles rise to the top, lowered the heated section into the tube, let everything settle, and started my draining at a rate of 2"/minute - making sure to stop below each guide for at least two minutes.  Pulled the finish section from the tube and placed in the new drying cabinet that was warmed to 85 degrees.  Off to play a round of golf (good score if it weren't for the 10 penalty strokes) and when I got home I was greeted with more sags than I've seen since I quit teaching high school.  (For those of you who don't watch MTV with your kids/grand kids, or live on the west coast, that's a reference to the boyz who wear their pants below their butt cheeks.)

    Back to the finish - I'm open to suggestions since this is the worst finish I've ever had!  I'm seriously considering buy an empty gallon can at HD, along with a 2" valve, and perfecting my 48" in 2.8 sec. method.  (Tom Key)

      I found the same thing to be true when I dropped a mid section completely into the dip tube!  I had to pour out the contents into the can and felt sure the finish was going to be crap.  I hung it up to dry and it looked flawless the next day.  Not sure how this happened, but I think it has to do with the “turkey baster” finishing method, and a little bit of luck.

      I’ve gone back to my usual method of slow withdraw times and sanding between coats . . . mainly because I believe that was a fluke.  (Brian Morrow)

        Try not heating the varnish or your drying cabinet.  Warmth will thin the varnish & make it more susceptible to running.  I've found that Helmsman (like most polys) works just fine at room temperature.  If you feel that you must heat your drying cabinet, do not go above 80 degrees.

        I had the same experience as you did when I warmed the stuff & had a very warm drying cabinet.  (Paul Julius)

      Opinion only:

      Within a given brand of varnish there are 3 major factors that effect the finish.


      Draw Rate

      Surface treatment

      That the varnish is not thinned, or thinned consistently, and the temp is the same for all pulls

      You may have to slow your drain rate to 1" to 1/2" per minute. Slower draw, thinner coat.

      Assuming that your surface is clean, not polished. Although most on the list recommend #0000 wool, I don't go lower than 400 grit. The surface needs a little tooth to prevent sags.

      Others may produce better finishes than mine so their advice should be heeded before this.  (Jerry Foster)

      Another factor that may cause sag is that the steel wool contains an oily substance to prevent it from rusting.  A fingerprint or an oily spot may start a run.  It is therefore important to clean the rod before dipping.  I use a sponge with water and a little dishwashing liquid. Rinse well and dry with a 'lint free' dish towel (the hard type).  After close inspection I brush away any dust specs with a clean paint brush.  Also I do not heat the varnish, nor do I use a heated drying cabinet. I do keep everything room temperature.  (Morten Lovstad)

        If you Google "oil free steel wool" (quotes included) you will find several sources.  That would eliminate one problem.  (Neil Savage)

      FWIW this is how I varnish:

      I use Pratt & Lambert Varmor R10 straight out of the can and thin as time goes by and the varnish thickens up. This was one of many tips picked up from Chuck and Steve Jenkins.

      Like Jerry, I only sand the rod blank down to 400.

      A clean rod is important but all I do is wipe down with an alcohol soaked lint free towel.

      My Varnish tube is room temp.

      I use a motor and pulley system with a slip clutch to withdraw sections fairly fast, about 1" per second (yes that's second not minute).

      I stop at each guide and blow out the film and allow it to run down the guide. I only stop for the few seconds that this takes.

      I hang sections in a drying cabinet that is heated to around 90 degrees F and has a UV light.

      Sections are dry to the touch in about 12 hours but I let them harden for a minimum of 48 hours until I do any sanding and re-dipping.

      I put 4 coats on butts/mids and 3 on tips.  

      I've done around 200 rods this way with good results. I think the most important thing about finishing a rod is to find a method that works best for you and stick with it every time.   (Jeff Fultz)

        As long as they don't change the formula on the finish... that works great. Unfortunately, "NEW and IMPROVED!" is not always the case.  (Mike St. Clair)

        This is turning into a list of personal experiences, which is a valuable resource after all.

        I find my best results come from the KISS method of dipping - room temperature varnish, about 1" / minute withdrawal rate, and hang in an unheated cabinet to dry.

        It's worth noting that sometimes when I hang a section up the finish looks really crappy, but amazingly by next morning it looks better, and in the case of the last coat the improvement continues for at least days, maybe longer.  I redip under 24 hours, so don't sand unless I have a gross blemish.  (Peter McKean)

          I do this as well.  Heating the varnish thins it, leading to problems.  Likewise with a too warm drying cabinet.  I use Polyurethane Spar & have found that it likes "room temperature" the best...just like the label states.

          When all else fails, read the directions.  (Paul Julius)

        Are you using the "new" formulation of Varmor?  I was fortunate enough to find 2 old quarts about 10 years ago, and I'm down to what's left of my last quart.  I've thinned it with turpentine, and, with the exception of some skimming on the top, it's kept in my dip tube for almost a year.  I lost the first quart to mineral spirits gelling a while ago.

        I'm guessing that I can get at least two or three more rods dipped before I run out of the old stuff.  My next move is to put marbles on the bottom of the tube to displace more varnish farther up in the tube.  I really love the way it has finished, and hate to run out, but sooner or later, you have to face the reality that it's "all used up"...

        I withdraw by hand, stopping at a wrap, and blowing varnish out of the guides.  I had  the chance to talk with Tom Maxwell before he passed away, and he described dipping as a process of withdrawing two guides worth, dunking back down one, withdrawing two, dunking back down 1, until you were out of the tube, stopping at a wrap so as to not leave a "line" in the finish.  I see some buildup on the stripper, but if I dab it off with a q-tip right after dipping, it's usually not a problem.

        I hang my sections in a piece of 4" PVC pipe that is raised on a few 2x4's that leave the bottom open, cap the top with a coffee filter, and theorize that all of the VOC's falling off are heavier than air, run out the bottom, and create a convection that draws clean air in through the coffee filter on the top.  My results on about 10+ rods have been really great.  Like you, I do 4 coats on butts and 3 on tips and mids

        Over the weekend, I was in a hardware store and came across some Varmor that appears to be a newly manufactured product.  After getting over some excitement that I had stumbled upon a new cache of old varnish, I found that it was labeled Varmor Spar varnish.  I'm presuming it's a "new" lower VOC containing product.  Have you had any experience with the new formulation?  If so, have you thinned it?  Any observations on how it performs?   (Greg Kuntz)

          I'm using whatever I get from Pratt & Lambert. If they have changed the formula, I surely have not noticed any negative side effects. The last time I purchased any was special ordered from P&L (entire case) about a year ago.  (Jeff Fultz)


There is something that has been bothering me for years now, and while I am sure that there is a simple and obvious answer, I'm darned if I can see it.

Most people who use drain tubes in preference to dip tubes say that the do so because they have ceilings which are too low to accommodate "pulling" the sections.

So how the devil do you get the sections in to the tube, and more, how do you get the wet sections out?

What am I missing here?  (Peter McKean)

    Ah…great question Peter, and this is where the “art” of drain tubes comes in!  My drain tube sits in a base that I can tilt.  When putting the sections in, I slowly tilt the tube/base back, insert the section, and tilt back.  I keep the section from touching the inside of the tube by putting a pierce of masking tape around the bottom of the section (ferrule or tip top) and then placing two pins in a cross fashion through the tape.  This creates a “bumper” of sorts and lets the section sit centered in the tube (Tony’s idea,  so credit to him!).  Hope this makes sense!  (Louis DeVos)


Up until now I have been using the pour method to finish my rods.  After reading about Tony Spezio's drain tube, in Power Fibers, I would like to give it a go.  I like the fact that there is no motor to screw with. And, room is a factor in my Man Cave.

I have a couple of questions:

1) Is the varnish thinned to use in a drain tube?  Presently I thin my Spar about 60/40 to pour.

2) Is there a drain rate I need to shoot for?  (Pete Emmel)

    The draining concept came from a post on the list from Darryl Hayashida who mentioned it. My concept is taken from that post. I am not the originator of the "Drain" system. The original article in Jan 01 issue of Power Fibers.

    I don't thin my varnish, I use it right from the can. If I use the varnish quite a bit, it will thicken some, I will add some Penetrol to thin it back to what it was to start with. I guess at that. It is thinned till it looks right to me. A list member recommended that I get a Ford Cup to check the viscosity. One problem is exposing the varnish to air when pouring in the tube and draining, is that the varnish is absorbing air. This will cause the varnish to Gel if left for long periods in the can. That is really the only drawback I find in doing this.

    Draining time is by "sight". When I first started doing this, I put some masking tape on the tube at 4" intervals. Used a stop watch to time the rate between the strips of masking tape at 4" a minuet, that gave me a nice finish. Since then I have slowed down to something less than the 4". Slowing down the rate of flow will give you a thinner coat, speeding up the rate will give you a thicker coat and a chance of runs especially at the guides. I drain after I wrap and apply the finish to the wraps. I only drain one coat. The blanks are finished with several coats of Formby's before wrapping. The Formby's is wiped on the blank and steel wooled after each coat. It might take up to five coats of Formby's on the blank to get a smooth finish. When I am satisfied with the finish,  the rod is wrapped and varnish is applied to the wraps.

    Draining with the guides, a stop needs to me made at each wrap and at each guide to  let any excess varnish drain to varnish level. The stops are made at the top of the wrap,  then at the bottom of the wrap then the bottom of the guide and again at the bottom of the wrap below the guide. My stops are about a minuet to a minute and a half.

    In pouring the varnish in the tube, A large funnel with a filter is used, This will leave a bunch of bubbles in the varnish. You will have to wait till the bubbles dissipate before inserting the section. The room I use is heated to 80 F the day before I plan to drain. The varnish, rod and everything is the same temperature before I start.

    Am getting a bit long winded here , there are a few other things I have not mentioned that you might be interested in. Feel free to get back to me if interested.  (Tony Spezio)

      At the first ever SRG 1998, I was thinking that was you that did a demo on drain systems. Apparently that wasn't you! So, I have to ask, "Did you do a demo at the SRG '98 and what was it?" And, did someone do a demo on drain systems? and if they did, who was it? I maybe WAY OUT in left field!   (David Dziadosz)

    I have been using Tony's or Dale's drain tube design for a little over a year and am reasonably happy with the design. I too try to filter the Spar Urethane each time I use it. The first can thickened in about 6 months. I followed someone's advice about storing the can upside down to allow the varnish to skin over on the wrong side. I haven't bought any Penetrol yet to thin the varnish back to its original viscosity yet but need to. The drain tube system works well enough for me but unlike Tony I do have to rub out little flaws in the dried finish with Finesse It and Perfect It. I also am never pleased with the 1st coat and almost always have to do a 2nd. I drain about an inch/minute. That may be my problem. I am constantly experimenting with my times. I hope this is a bit helpful.  (Phil Crangi)


I've assembled the necessary parts to build a finishing drain tube and was wondering if there are any hints, pointers or "gotcha's"  that I should consider before I use it for the first time.  As of now I just have the tube and various connectors and ball-cock .  I was thinking that I will need to make some kind of stand/holder for the tube.  Since my basement is below ground and not heated, (62°) would I benefit from warming my finish somehow, (by building a heat box to house the drain tube and also warm the finish inside the tube)?

What is the best "rate of drain / per inch ?  I think that I've seen any where from 1-2 inches.  Is this the most common rate?  Does anybody "thin" their first coat of finish or should I just use strait finish right out of the can?

I've made my tube  72" tall in case I ever want to finish a 6 foot one piece rod but my ceiling height in my basement is maybe only 84" so I will probably needing to tilt the tube to extract the rod sections.  How long do you leave the blank in the tube to dry?

I know I have a lot of questions guys, any help in answering them is a big help to further my young building career.  (Derrick Diffenderfer)

    I use a drain tube that is made from the clear fluorescent bulb protectors that you can get from Home depot or Lowes. I observe the varnish as it is draining and adjust the flow to about one inch per minute. I too have a cool basement but I use a small space heater on the day that I varnish that is set near the drain tube which will warm the varnish and help the flow. I do not usually thin and use the finish right out of the can. I leave them in the tube  for at least 24 hours at which time I take them out to air dry. The  "gotchas" that you have to look out for with this system are:

    1. make sure the drain is closed when you fill the tube

    2. If you use quart cans like I do, make sure that you are ready to place an empty can there when the first one is full. I usually walk away and do something else while draining away

    3. Keep your fingers off the blank when you take it out of the tube no matter how great it looks

    4. If you have one, keep the dog out.

    Don't ask me how I know about the "gotchas." (Bill Bixler)


I need some help.  I just finished my drain tube and stand today and I have a question about draining with the guides on.  Should I be tapping my agate stripper off so as no to varnish it or doesn't it really matter?  (Derrick Diffenderfer)

    Been draining rods for the past 11 years with the guides on. No problem. Just stop below each wrap and each guide  to let the residual varnish settle back to the varnish level. About a minuet each stop will do it. Drain about 4" or less a minuet. Faster for a thicker finish and slower for a thinner finish. Too fast and you will end up with runs.  (Tony Spezio)


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