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Got 4 coats of spar on some wraps and am ready to do touch up sanding prior to the last coat or two.  I've been using linseed oil as the lubricant when I wet sand with 1000/1200 grit paper.  It works pretty good, and I haven't had any problems with additional coats or dipping, but it's gotten where I don't much care for the smell of the linseed oil, sooooo, I was wonderin' what do some of you guys use instead?  Suggestions?  (Ralph MacKenzie)

    Olive oil. It was suggested by a friend and it works well enough for me, I keep using it.  (Bob Maulucci)

      I remember Nunley suggesting olive oil, once before.  What about plain ol' water?  (Martin-Darrell)

      Virgin, extra virgin, or that select stuff that is not fit to feed the dog?  (Brad Love)

    Paraffin Oil  (Larry Blan)

    Spit.  (John Channer)

    With 4 coats of spar on the thread, they should be sealed just fine. I've just used water and 1500 grit. If you want or must have some lubricant try any liquid soap diluted 75% with water. It's a lot easier to clean up than the previously mentioned oils and it will provide the "slip" you're probably looking for.  I also use the soap and water mix when I'm touching up my plane irons with the "scary" sharpening method before I hone. I got the idea from an old chef I used to work for years ago, and he used it with the old "oil" stones (gads)!. It works, save your extra virgin for cooking....   (Brian Smith)


I just came from the beauty supply store and got me a bitchin' set of emery boards. I am going to use them for smoothing my vanished guide wraps. It seems the abrasives go all the way to ~ 1500 grit (I'm guessing) As I was leaving it occurred to me that they could also double as ferrule lapping tools as well. I also entertained the use of layout dye to track my progress on the males. The problem I have run into is overlapping sandings. I can tell when I fit them because they jump at a tiny location just a little bit as I am slowly sliding them together, although they always seem to snug up when fully seated.

Now these ideas are on my list of things to do, so I can not attest to their effectiveness, but it seems they may just work.

In regards to what has already been said, when working in the land of "tenths" (that's .0001) my limited experience has taught me patience is the only way. I always tell my cooks "You can always add more pepper, you can't take it out!" Same goes for lapping...(Eamon Lee)


How long do you wait for drying/hardening time to sand between dip coats? I'm using thinned Varmor.  (Greg Kuntz)

    I'm using Behr's Super Spar varnish mixed with Penetrol (25% Penetrol). Sanding between coats is done with Norton brand #320 or #400 S/C Lub open coat paper.  This paper is designed for sanding between paint, varnish or sealer coats.   If drying conditions are good I find I can sand after 24 hours.  (Ted Knott)

    I use Varmor and wait 48 hours between coats. I sand or steel wool between coats.  (Marty DeSapio)

    Using poly I usually wait 24 hours between coats.  (Callum Ross)


Over the past few years, I have seen numerous references to sanding the rod between finish coats, usually with extremely fine grit sandpaper (1000-2000 grit). I can see this for poly finishes that might require scuffing for adhesion, but the spar users report it as well. But I can't recall a recent post where someone said exactly why they are going through the sanding process. Some things come to mind:

Rodmakers who work in dusty conditions, or don't worry about dust or blemishes during application. You take care of imperfections with sanding.

Rodmakers who use varnish brands that pull toward or away from the edges of the strips.

Rodmakers trying to achieve a mellow glow and cut the shine.

Rodmakers who want an absolutely flat surface on the blank.

The reason for this is that I put together a "hot box" and dust control system that is finally allowing me to dip rods without getting the finish trashed with dust, dog fur, and the usual things that have plagued my finishes. I use very thin, very warm spar varnish to which I have added Penetrol. The finish on the rods I have done with this system seems, well, perfect, but I feel like I should be sanding because everyone else does it. I do sand the wraps to flatten them, but it seems a shame to mess with what appears to be a decent finish other than to cut back reflectivity with some rottenstone or perfect it polish.

I do a couple wipe on base coats, then wrap, finish/sand wraps, then a final dip or two to give everything a finished look. But I don't sand.

So why are you sanders sanding?  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    Even with spar there is only a brief window of time in which one finish coat will adhere to another without some sort of mechanical bond.  I know with the spar I use that window is only 2-3 hours long.  I sand between coats to make sure there is a good bond.  Check the instruction on the can of varnish you are using.  Chances are good that it says to sand between coats.  (Harry Boyd)

      The tiniest imperfections on a coat of varnish will be magnified by the next coat. It's best for me if I smooth out the previous coat with some form of abrasive. Like Bob Nunley I prefer steel wool.  (Dave Norling)

        Are you sure about that? I've experienced just the opposite.  (Martin Jensen)

    I don't use sandpaper.  The method I use to finish my rods put each coat of spar on extremely thin.  I just use 0000 steel wool and I don't "rub" it.  I just hold by one end and use a very light brushing motion... just enough to give the finish a little "tooth" for the next coat to stick to.  (Bob Nunley)

      I don't want to hijack this thread but it does bring up a parallel question. For those of you who do sand or "brush" between coats what do you do about the areas under the guides (assuming you put them on before dipping)?  (Larry Puckett)

        I have had trouble too trying to sand there with my belt sander. (Ralph Moon)

        Even better than Ralph's belt sander <g> is a 3M product purchased in the auto department of your local Walmart.   Called a "sanding pen", it's about 4" long, black, and hollow.  The hollow part is filled with tiny fibers of fiberglass, held together something like a paintbrush.  It'll reach nicely under guides and between wraps.  Be careful though, that little sucker is aggressive!!  And it's mean, too.  Get a completely invisible splinter from one of the fiberglass bristles, and it'll hurt for a week.  (Harry Boyd)

          Well for me, I rub the rod down with 0000 steel wool, getting as close to the guides as possible and then just don't worry about the little bit I miss under the guide feet. I'm usually able to get pretty close by rubbing on both sides of the guide foot and I am of the opinion that it is a negligible  amount that is missed. On some of my early rods I have dipped multiple times without rubbing down between coats (though it is standard practice for me now) and I have noticed no issues on rods that have been fished for almost 10 years now.  (Martin Jensen)

          I was trying to inject a bit of levity here.  Uncalled for I know <G>.  I do have a suggestion though for those of you who may be concerned.  These beauty supply shops you find in Malls etc. carry a whole slough of fingernail polishing accessories.  Some of the buffers are probably less than 10 micron. but they come in shapes that are amenable to our use.  drop in on you next appointment for a perm and shampoo  (not a typo).  (Ralph Moon)

            Micromark also sells an array of hobby items for sanding models that would work well in this application.  (Larry Puckett)

        Well, lately I have been doing wipe on base coats of 1/3 spar, 1/3 tung oil, and 1/3 turpentine. This does get steelwooled or polished with a felt pad and some rottenstone, so I guess I AM scuffing the finish before the dip. And I try to keep it to one final coat to make the finish as thin as I can. Having the belief that varnish does not cast.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    How about "because we've always done it that way?"  As I understand it, sanding has 2 purposes, one: to smooth out any drips, sags, runs, bumps etc. and two: to improve adhesion.  Spar doesn't set up hard for several days (or several hours in a hot box), so it may or may not need sanding for adhesion depending on how hard it's gotten.  Woodworking magazines say don't sand beyond #300, it isn't necessary...  I don't think the solvent in varnish will do anything to a previous coat that's completely cured, so the next coat may not adhere as well without some scuff sanding.  My $0.02.  (Neil Savage)

    I sand between coats for 2 reason's. One is to make a better, more perfect base for the next coat and the second is for adhesion. I use high gloss varnish and the manufacturers instructions call for the first coat to be sanded before applying the next coat so it bonds properly. I know some of the polyurethanes say the no sanding is necessary if the second coat is applied within 24  hours, but I don't use poly and I seldom can get the next coat on within 24 hours anyway.  (John Channer)


This may seem like a dumb question, but what are the reasons for sanding the varnish.  Is it to provide a better surface for the next layer of varnish to adhere?  If so, isn't there a danger of sanding through the initial thin layer of varnish on the wrap and accidentally sand the silk?  Or is it for leveling the surface?  This is actually more of an educational question, since what I'm currently doing seems to work all right.  (Walt Hammerick)

    The sanding levels things, removes flaws and blemishes, and provides a basis for a mechanical bond between coats of varnish.

    Yes, you do need to be careful not to sand through one coat into the wraps or even into the coats below.  Easy does it when it comes to sanding between coats.  (Harry Boyd)


I would be interested to know what grit you use for sanding between varnishing dips?  (Steve Dugmore)

    Either yellow or white stone crushed.  Oh, waidaminnit, yer talking about sandpaper...  1000 grit.  (Mark Wendt)

    I suppose there are many who will think this is all wrong but I use 600 grit wet or dry used wet between dips. Sanding goes faster and in my opinion makes for better adhesion. I get a pretty good finish, so I'm told. I also use 150 to final sand my blanks followed with a polish with some 0000 steel wool before the first dip, for the same reasons. I also dip once in the morning or just before I go to bed and then dip again the following evening or morning without even looking at the finish between the 1st and 2nd dip. You don't want to wait more than say 6 to 10 hours between these 2 coats so that you get a good chemical bond. So in other words 2 coats then go back and fix any imperfections (sand) and dip the final time. I can get a really good finish in a short time this way.

    Last year just before Colorado Conclave I had a rod on the bench with the just the handle on it ready to wrap on Wed. Denver Dave and Frank Drummond kept bugging me to go to the Colorado Conclave. So Wed night I wrapped it and dipped it the first time, got up Thursday morning and dipped it again, let it sit all day Thursday and Thursday night, then I sanded what I had to on Friday morning and dipped it again. Took it to CRR on Saturday morning and it looked great. Fished that rod all summer long and it looked great at the end of the year. Some of you may have looked at that rod or even cast cast it at the Denver flyfishing show!  (Joe Arguello)

    The only sanding I do between  dips is of any small dust particles.  And for that,  I use 1500 grit just to smooth things out.  I use Helmsman, dip two coats on the tips, three on the butt.  24 hours or less between dips.  It makes for an excellent low-buildup finish.  (Paul Julius)

    Doesn't it depend on what you are using as "varnish".

    Urethanes/Varathanes dry time is 2 to 3 hours between coats - hard to walk on in 18 hours. Chemical bond means rapid recoat time if not sanding. Spar urethanes take much longer to dry - true varnishes even longer.

    So help me out here. What ya' using and how long you leaving it between coats/sanding.  (Don Anderson)

      I am using Old Masters spar, I used to use MOW but since they changed the formula I found Old Masters is as close to the old MOW that I used before. One thing is that it looks real dark in the can but leave a very 'clear' finish. So I guess to answer your question in so many words I believe any spar can be used like this. I think if you read the can it even says you can recoat without sanding within a certain amount of time. One of the reasons that I changed is that the new MOW says you should stir before useing as opposed to the old stuff said do not stir! (kinda hard to stir in that long tube!)  (Joe Arguello)

        I do a little bit of stirring before putting it into the tube (not much at all) then, warm the varnish up a bit using my heat gun to nix the bubbles. Insert blank and drain.

        The last blank I did, I actually let the blank sit in the empty tube rather than taking it out and hanging it, and you wouldn’t believe the difference in the final finish. Mucho dust-o en el shop-o.  (Ren Monllor)

          I use a dip tank so it works for me not to have to stir the varnish as it lives in that tube all the time, I simply add to it as necessary. I have the tank in an upstairs bedroom and the varnish temp stays constant that way. Simply uncap the tube and dip, then put the blank in the drying cabinet (old locker with a light bulb in the bottom) the more cob webs in there the better as they catch the dust!  (Joe Arguello)

            Upstairs????????? And here I thought I was well off cause the wheels has been taken off my house.  (John Channer)

              Yup, living the American dream, working all the time to pay for a house that's worth less than I owe! And like Billy Joel said "Pay Uncle Sam with your overtime! Is that all you get for your money?" Could be worse though, those who have seen me, even the most casual observer can see I don't miss too many meals !!!!!!!!!!!!  (Joe Arguello)


I was sanding a rod the other day between recoats with 600 and 00000 wool. The rod finish became matte. Anybody every left it like that?  Was thinking that a couple coats of wax over the matte finish would give a very low gloss finish that should work for skinny water browns.  (Don Anderson)

    I did one with just 0000 steel wool and waxed it with three coats of wax. It looks good and catches trout like crazy.  (Tony Spezio)


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