Bamboo Tips - Tips Area
Finishing - Stripping

< Home < Tips Area < Finishing < Stripping


What are some of you guys using as drying cabinets? I noticed So I tried to brush some spar onto my first rod sections and it came out like crap.  I thought I would try this method before using some of the more novel methods from the list.

I let the sections dry for a day and a half in my toasty (80 degree) apartment.  Then, I attempted to sand the rods down to almost bare.

Well, there were some yucky bumps and ripples that WHEN I SANDED, revealed their more liquid/sticky cores. 

It was only after I smeared this all over a few flats that I realized that there must be another way to deal with big bumps that contain unset varnish. 

What do you guys do?  Single-edge razor?  Golden Witch style triscraper?  Just sand it?

Thoughts and comments are appreciated.  BTW, I am now rubbing my blanks with a plastic bag.  Thanks for that tip.

A QUICK THOUGHT-  For people with relatively limited vertical space, a dip tube in its common configuration is just about impossible.  Has anyone tried just having a 5' "trough" (made from 1.5" PVC pipe split in half) in which to "horizontally" dip their rods?  Bad idea?   (Joe West)

    If you haven't wrapped the guides onto the sections, I would use paint stripper.  Several coats, wipe off with terry cloth, then polish with #0000 steel wool.  (Ted Knott)

    I must have missed the rubbing a blank with a plastic bag tip. What does that do for you?

    Way back on my second rod I used spray varnish - hung the blanks up from the rafters of my garage and sprayed it with a varnish sold in a spray can just like the spray paint graffiti taggers use. Worked fairly well, but it took many coats to to get a normal thickness of varnish without running.

    For the limited vertical space problem try a drip tube. It's sort of like the instead of raising the bridge, lower the river idea. Check out Todd's tip site for a few different ways people have done it.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    I have tried brushing, the best results I got were from using a foam brush. What I do now is even less conventional, but so far has worked for me.

    For the wraps, I tear off a 3"x.5" piece of paper towel and fold in half. Dip in varnish and dab around the wraps and guide feet keeping the varnish to a minimum. 3-4 coats gets to the thread lines just about gone. Lightly steel wool 0000 the wraps and remove any drips or build up. For the rest of the blank, I use a little wider piece of paper towel folded in half dip in varnish and wipe down two flats at a time, one pass, over the wraps and all, Guide side you need to hurdle over. Hang to dry, steel wool lightly #0000, the repeat.  (Pete Van Schaack)

      The same thing happened to me while using a foam brush. I discovered that it was in the foam. It would happen ever four or five rods. Check your brushes carefully for lent. I stopped using foam and went to a drip system which I like very much. I mark the glass tube every inch and check the drip against my watch to get 3 inches per minute. Its an inexpensive system and it works like a charm.  (Mark Dyba)

        If you have 8' ceilings, how the heck do you get the rod sections in without spilling the varnish everywhere???  (Joe West)

          By making a 6' drip tube.  I pour my varnish in with the tube standing up, and extract the sections by leaning the tube over against something.  Unless you are making single piece rods longer than 6', you really shouldn't need to make it longer.  In fact, when I replace the current varnish tube, I'll probably go to a 5' tube.  If I get much over 8', the rods will be three piece.  (Mark Wendt)

      If you are not heart-set on using spar....

      Just after Christmas I brushed the first coat on a bamboo ice rod ALA Bill Harms' method.  While my results did not show the practiced refinement that Bill attains, I must say that I was truly impressed and can certainly see how one could become very adept at the  technique in short order, and after a few minor "mistakes."  Bill demonstrated the technique at this year's Catskills gathering and I am indebted to Lisa for watching and retelling what she observed.  I was apparently off doing something else, probably playing with magic wands.  One thing that I liked was the "Fast Dry" Urethane that he used.  That and the probability exists that the 4 bucks or so I spent on the Polyurethane will last forever or until it goes bad given the small amount you actually use.  I have a fly rod blank awaiting the same method of finishing as soon as I get going on the wraps.  (Carl DiNardo)

    Yes, bad idea... You'll get lots of drops.

    I rub varnish on with my fingers. I first coat the rod with a very liberal amount of varnish and then run the rod through my fingers and I 'squeeze ' off the excess varnish. When there is a thin coat left, I dry the rod horizontally while turning it with my hands. I roll it slowly, left and right over a table; that is one end on the table the other in my hand. Since I use PU varnish I only have to do this for about 10 to 15 minutes. The varnish is then a bit thicker and doesn't leak anymore. Or I put it with one end on the table and another on a little box, so it stays more or less horizontal and I  turn it every couple of minutes. Works for me, but I have no intention to sell my rods.  (Geert Poorteman)


I guess I have determined that I was using WAY too thick a coat when trying to finish a rod.  Now, I'm going to have to remove the varnish.  How do I do that, exactly?  Mechanically or chemically?  I'm doing this inside, so I can't use paint stripper as it will strip the last of my wife's goodwill away along with the varnish.

On garbage rods I practiced on, I always just scraped the varnish off with a razor. 

The spar is so thick in some places that it will probably take weeks to dry...

I have those Lie-Nielsen scrapers....  (Joe West)

    First there are citrus scented chemical strippers that will work inside the apartment. Check with the paint stores or Walmart.

    Second, with a DRIP Tube you can put the rod part way into the tube and then fill the tube with the varnish and then finish lowering the rod into the tube and then drain the varnish from the tube through a valve installed in the bottom of the tube.  Most people who use this method use a semi-clear plastic tube that is used to protect fluorescent light tubes so that they can see what is gong on and they restrict the flow rate to something slow like 1 to 3 inches per minute. They really slow it down around the guides to prevent runs. After the tube is drained the rod section can be removed to be put into a drying cabinet.  (Dick Fuhrman)

    I had some lumps in my finish on my second rod... I used a popsicle stick with some fine sandpaper (400 grit??) and gradually worked out the lumps.  Then I switched varnish brands and haven't had the same problem again.

    If you're wanting to pull all the finish off the rod, the fastest way is probably a paint stripper.  Personally, I'd stay away from methlyene chloride - based strippers.  If I recall correctly, methlyene chloride is widely classified as a carcinogen  (not just in California).   The n-methly pyrrolidone strippers are "safer"  and generally don't smell  offensive, unless you hate citrus fruit.

    I used an n-mp stripper on one rod and have not had an adverse reaction (yet) on the URAC...

    I  saw a previous post re: canned spray-on varnish.  I tried this on a test piece and it was an complete flop.  Does anyone have success with this?     (Eric Koehler)

      Please explain what you mean by complete flop. When I tried it I could only put on a very thin coat or it ran. As a result I had to put on about 6 coats before it even looked like it had any varnish on it at all.  (Darryl Hayashida)

      It's been about four years since I tried the spray, but if I recall correctly, after putting on four or five very thin coats, the section maintained a "new car paint job" appearance.  That is, it had that orange peel look and seemed lacking in uniformity (which was my application error).  I'm not sure if the uniformity issue contributed to the orange peel look...

      After those multiple coats, I tried a bit thicker coat, thinking that the orange peel was from inadequate coverage.  The thicker coating caused runs in the varnish.  It could have been my error or a problem with the varnish, or both.   In any case, I ended my trial at that point as it was much more trouble than dipping.  It's just much easier to get a good uniform appearance and coverage by dipping, or with the dip-drain method that you described a few years ago.  I've used them both and am much happier with the dip results than the spray.

      I had considered investing in an air brush set up try on rods, but the dip method works for me and I don't have to find new hiding places for any more new equipment.  SWMBO has a keen eye for new stuff on my workbench.  (Eric Koehler)

      Dipping (or drip tube) is definitely the way to go in my opinion, I tried the spray way back on my second rod before I went to the drip tube.  (Darryl Hayashida)

        I have the same problem with most spray paint.  There seems to be a fine line between too close (runs) and too far away (little bumps).  (Neil Savage)

          The problem with spray cans is the nozzle that atomizes the finish.  When you buy a commercial spray bomb, the nozzle that comes with it is not of very good quality, or probably sized incorrectly for the type of paint, causing an incorrect sized fan for the given pressure, and not atomizing the paint enough for it to tack off quick enough to prevent runs.  Spray cans that you get from auto body suppliers tend to be a little better in this regard, and better or no, the amount of pressure in a spray bomb is going to decrease as the finish is used and the propellant drains down.  You'll also lose pressure in the spray bomb due to the propellant cooling as you use it for a sustained length of time.  I've got paint guns, air brushes, and detail guns, left over from my auto body repair days, and the one I use the most for small jobs is the detail gun.  Airbrushes work fine for very small detail jobs, but you have to thin the finish quite a bit, and were really designed to do artsy type work, like they used to do on vans - sort of a water color type finish.  The detail guns will atomize the paint much better than an air brush, you can adjust the fan width, and also adjust the flow and air pressure to compensate for things.  In short, the detail gun has most of the advantages of a full sized gun, but without the capacity, which for us rod makers shouldn't be that big a deal, unless we're finishing a whole bunch of rods in one fell swoop.  If that's the case, you would be better off going with a full sized gun.  But, if you want professional looking sprayed on finishes on a budget, and you already have a decent air compressor, I'd suggest a decent detail gun.  They cost about the same as a good Paasche dual action air brush. (Mark Wendt)

      The trick to spray finishing for most semi-volatile, and even nonvolatile finishes, is to spray a tack coat on the surface, let it set up a little bit, then spray a second heavier coat over the tack coat.  You still have to be careful of not loading the surface with too much finish even after the tack coat starts to set, since gravity will always win.  With lacquer, you don't have to worry about it as much, since the finish flashes off quicker than enamel based, or oil based finishes.  I learned this lesson the hard way the first few times I shot enamel paints on cars.  Gravity can, and will, give you a bad day if you don't follow the tack coat practice.  (Mark Wendt)

    Your best bet is to let the rod dry for two weeks. Then glue some 600 and 1000 grit sandpaper to popsicle sticks for sanding. Make them en masse by spraying the back of the sandpaper with Krylon adhesive, then pressing the sticks on in a long row. Cut them out with a razor blade.  It is amazing what you can sand out, then touch up the sanded area with 3M perfect it, then finesse it polishes. It will bring back the shine, although you may have to do the entire rod with Finesse it to get an even "glow". The secret is to have the patience to let it sit until the varnish has cured. If you go at it before, the varnish will just ball up and you will end up with grit embedded in the finish. Then it has to be stripped (I like Formby's or CitriStrip) and redone.

    Don't ask how I learned this ...  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I always use a paper cutter as a scraper. Then some fine sandpaper and its good as new.  (Geert Poorteman)

    Go to Walmart and get a jug of CitriStrip.  Works great, and smells like oranges.  You can always tell your wife it's a new kind of potpourri.  (Mark Wendt)

    The best way I know of to remove finish without damaging the base material is with a razor-blade scraper.  Using a new, single edge razor blade, turn a burr on the edge by burnishing it on a 45 degree angle with a piece of smooth, hardened steel.  I use the same burnishing tool I use on hand scrapers, but a hardened bolt will do.

    I recently cleaned an old rod in about 15 minutes with one of these.  No rounding of corners, no tearout, no nicks.  We use them all the time to remove drips and other imperfections in the finish of musical instruments.  (Howard Bryan)

    Try the 3M Safest Stripper. No smell, gloves are recommended. Very controllable action. Works for me.  (Randy Tuttle)


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