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Finishing - Prepping

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Before I dip a rod I wipe down with denatured Alcohol, then I  wipe down with mineral Spirits, then I take my cheese cloth and tack rod down, then dip. I have had no problems yet.  (Dave Henney)


After using steel wool on the rod, run a large magnet over the whole rod and work area. This really helps getting the steel particles cleaned up. It will draw and particles from around the guides if you are doing a rod with guides installed.  (Tony Spezio)


There were some questions about prepping blanks (basically removing all of the dust) before finishing.  Here are the responses:

How about a tack cloth?  I was doubtful at first.  But then there was the proof when I looked with magnifiers and then the end result after tacking, there it was.  thanks Jim Bureau!  (Timothy Troester)

    Works for me. All tack cloths are not created equal, either. Some claim to never dry out -- and do. I've found one particular one to be good, but can't recall the name at the moment. I buy them by the box. They come in a light blue box, and each of them have a blue spot in them. Dust? What dust?  (Martin-Darrell)

      The brand of tack cloth that I've been using for years is known as Surgical Blue. None of the bad stuff in these. They will, if you press them onto the blank rather than wipe with them, leave a mark, but nothing that will affect the finish. On the contrary, the stuff is compatible with the finish. They are available from auto finishing suppliers. I get mine from a discount tool supplier. Can't remember the cost, as it has been a while since I've bought any, and I buy them by  the  dozen,  but  they're  not  going   to   break   the   bank.  (Martin-Darrell)

    I have to agree about the tack cloth. I have always used one. But ... there might be another culprit at work, your thinner!  I have found that as my varnish gets older I tend to add a little more thinner to the tube.  With fresh varnish the first few rods come out pretty good. As time goes on, more "specks" on the rods as they are dipped. At first I just thought that it might be "stuff" falling, or drifting into the tube.  I have since started pre-dipping to pick up what ever might be on the surface of the varnish in the tube. A strip or two of bamboo lying around the shop simply dipped by hand and reasonably slowly drawn out of the tube picks up almost everything floating on the top of the varnish.  I have found from others on the list, that all thinners are not created equal! Several of the folks on the list have advocated artist grade thinners as they are more refined. This makes sense to me and will be used in the next batch.

    As a test for your self, take and wipe down a section with thinner and let dry as always,  then take your tack cloth and wipe it down. the section should be clean now. Take and wipe down the section again with your thinner and hold to the light, you might see what I saw and there are those little specks just waiting for a coat of varnish to bring them out into the glaring eye of you and your customer.  Thank God for the people on this list and 3M Finesse-it!  (Mike Shay)


A good tool for preparation for/and detailing the finish under guides and around wraps.

Take the scissors to one of the wife's credit cards, or you can use any obsolete laminated ID card if you don't have a wife, then, to a 1/8" wide strip of said card, apply a strip of double-sided, sticky cellophane tape,  trimmed to size after applying to card strip.  Then, apply wet/dry sandpaper to the exposed sticky side and trim w/razor blade.  I use 800 grit.  Lie like hell if she quizzes you about the card's whereabouts.  (Ed Riddle)


I have tried to use an oil heating dip stick to bring the temp of the varnish up for dipping. Problem, after about three uses, the electrical heater stops heating up. Anyone else have this problem. At first I thought it was a defective unit and I returned it. But the second one quit today. I usually leave it in the varnish for a couple of minutes after unplugging it. Not sure why they are crapping out on me. Any answers or other good ways to heat the varnish in a PVC tube?  (Ron Revelle)

    I dip my rods at about a 70 degree temperature. What I do is to leave the dip tube full of varnish in a heated upstairs room for about 12 hours prior to dipping the rod.  (Jim Bureau)

    I use a section of "Thermax"  industrial heat cable. About 35" long. It is secured to the lower PVC section of my tube (the upper 14 inches is the clear fluorescent protector tube). Nominal surface temp of the cable reaches about 180 degrees F. I secure the section of Thermax to my dip tube with nylon cable ties about every 3 inches. This way I can remove and reattach easily. Embedded into the dip tube wall and touching the inside varnish is a national semiconductor heat sensor so I can monitor internal varnish temp.

    As a side note, it has been my experience that heat tends to "gel" the varnish rather quickly, so beware.

    I have no idea what is happening with your oil heating dip stick.  (Dave Alexander)

      That may very well be what I do.

      I buy a thing called a "Brew Band" from a home brewing supplier.  It is a piece of flat section cable that is meant to be looped around the bottom of the brewing  vessel.

      What I do is cut the fastener so that instead of an adjustable loop I have a straight piece of cable.  I wind this around the lower 18" or so of the dip tube, and cover the whole thing, tube included, with some metallic-backed insulated lining sheet.

      I use a strip of heat sensitive tape, and just turn the whole thing off when it is getting too hot.  (Peter McKean)

    I put my tube in my drying cabinet for about an hour before I plan on dipping.  Brings the temp to about 90.  (Scott Grady)

      I'm a drip tube guy so I heat the varnish by leaving the can on top of the water heater.  (Mark Dyba)

    I made a plywood box to hold the dip tube that is heated with 2 light bulbs attached to  the bottom on  both sides of the dip tube. Works good!  (Marty DeSapio)

    I set mine up in the drying cabinet for a day or two  (Mike Canazon)


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