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In his book George Maurer recommends allowing 3-6 months for the varnish to cure on a rod before using it. So how much time have you found it necessary to allow your finish to cure before using it? I'd be interested in what specific varnish you use an whether it is a spar or spar urethane varnish or some other concoction.  (Larry Puckett)

    The last time this came up, I contacted George about this.  If memory serves, he said it was a typo and the correct time period was 2 to 3 weeks for a full cure.  (Todd Talsma)

      Now that makes a lot more sense. I'm not sure I could ever hold my water for 3-6 months while I waited for the varnish to cure! Only thing I could figure is he made his own very slow curing varnish.  (Larry Puckett)

    It depends on the varnish.  PU varnishes are probably cured enough in two or three days.  Old spar may take a lot longer, but 3 to 6 months seems like a great deal of overkill to me.  (Ralph Moon)

    I will fish the rod as son as my fingers don't stick to it anymore. I use Helmsman spar urethane. It dries in a few hours but there is a big difference in the varnish at six months that is markedly different than after a couple of weeks.  (Timothy Troester)

    It all depends on what kind of varnish you use, the temperature, the humidity, the air-circulation, and the UV exposure. That is, we really don't know....

    I use Minwax "Fast Dry" poly, and while my drying time is usually one-to-two days, another week is needed for curing. Even so, that's probably not "full" cure (indeed, if we can ever tell when full cure is reached).

    If you use a pure, natural-oil varnish, and your drying room is too cool, too humid, has no exposure to natural light, and no circulation, you may need to wait many weeks for significant (initial) hardening. Lord only knows how much longer "full" cure might take under these conditions.

    Others will need to chime in with their favorite varnishes and waiting-periods, but I doubt any of us waits for 3-6 months before using a rod. Shit, man! There's fish out there!!!  (Bill Harms)

      It all depends on the varnish. But why use spar on a rod use poly it dries a lot quicker. The rod never really gets that wet anyway to warrant using spar on the blank.  (Gary Nicholson)

        I use Helmsman, air dry overnight, then put in my oven at 200 F for 24 hours and it’s ready.  Hard as nails.  (Al Baldauski)

          Do you do anything to prevent getting any screen or rack marks on the varnished rod while its in the oven?  (Wayne Daley)

            I just support the section on two cedar blocks.  No marks to date.  (Al Baldauski)

              I use Last and Last Marine Spar you think I could try this oven treatment?   (Wayne Daley)

                I don't see why it wouldn't work on any varnish.  Some cure more slowly than others and would be more likely to get support marks, but you could try it on a scrap of some sort first.  (Al Baldauski)

                  I use MOW and I think that it is a Helmsman product. I hang and air dry by the oil furnace for about a week and then the rest of the curing is done on my favorite trout streams. Have never had a problem.  (Jack Follweiler)


Is there a way to tell, or is there a forgiving amount of time the varnish or poly (Helmsman in this case) is stable but not cured so that a second coat will adhere without having to sand it?  (Henry Mitchell)

    The new can says within 2 hours or wait two days. No need to sand after only 2 hours. Need to sand after 2 days. (Timothy Troester)


Being a newbie, I have heard several comments regarding cure time of a rod before you cast it and/or fish it.  I have heard from immediately to 3 to 6 months curing time.  Anyone had first hand experience?  (Grant Adkins)

    I glue up my blanks with Titebond III, let them sit for 24 hours, take them out of the binding string and go right to work on them putting on the handle, reel seat, ferrules and guides. I then varnish them with at least 3 coats of spar. I let that dry for about 24 hours after the last coat and go fishing. Been doing it that way since 1991 and I have not had a problem yet. Hope that gives you an idea. I'm sure that you will hear many other ways of doing this but this is what I have always done. Not the only way. (Joe Arguello)

      Same as Joe for me, except I wait at least a week for my TBIII blanks to cure.  That's probably overkill but I don't want to risk flexing a TBIII joint before it cures.  Flexing a TBIII glue joint after it sets (about 10 minutes) and before it cures will weaken it.  The cure time will depend on the climate you're in.  Put a two inch blob of glue on a piece of paper when you  glue up the blank and watch it change colors.  It will darken as it cures.  When the whole blob is a consistent darker color, it's cured enough.  That might take 24 hours or maybe a week depending on the climate.  But if you'll put that blob on the shelf for a few months and check it again, you'll notice that it continued to harden.  It will never get as hard as URAC, but it does get harder with time.

      I expect what you've heard about long cure times is specifically related to the type of varnish.  There's a significant difference between being cured enough to fish and fully cured.  Most varnishes are probably cured enough to fish in a few days.  But they will continue to cure over time.  As I understand it, it takes spar varnish several months to get as hard as it's going to get.  I'm using a urethane varnish (Varmor R10).  That stuff is hard enough to fish in 24 hours, but it gets harder after a week or two.  (David Bolin)


I was hoping to do the second dip tonight but last night's is no where near hard enough to sand. Does a light bulb or other heat source in the cabinet really help varnish dry much faster?  Its cold in the house during the day.  Or is it UV light?  Maybe a fluorescent fixture.  Would help catch the dust too, maybe.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

    I dip my rods in a large tube in the basement . . it allows me to have control over several issues that can come into Play when finishing a rod . . first it provides a quiet clean space in a less than clean shop . . then beyond that It allows me to add heat to an other wise cold space (55 degrees) . . I have the dipping tube and drying cabinet incorporated into the same . . after the rod is pulled from the good stuff I cap the varnish tube and just allow the rod to hang there . I have a dual bulb 4' florescent Sp? strip light . . the general tube temp is about 72 degrees . . but I have recently gotten an IR temp sensor and it says that the surface temp of the rod hanging there is 85 degrees at the surface . . now . . I use the good stuff varnish . . and because it is thick I dilute it 20% with a refined turpentine . . so the actual process as  it has  been explained  to  me  is  this . .  the  thinner (carrier) then outgases (evaporates and leaves) the hard crystallized tung . . Old age is setting in on me or I would give credit to the name . . Jeff #### from Oregon.. he make violins as well as fly rods . . he is the person that I had talks with about the Payne finish . . tung can be "carried" by most any liquid that evaporates . . as he said if you can put it in a dish and it disappear it can thin varnish . . so just consider this . . if one were to thin their varnish with a citric oil . . orange peal . . when the varnish dried it would leave the scent in the varnish . . it contaminates are what would not normally evaporate and would be left similar as the calcium that is left in the coffee pot . . just food for thought . . I would never say that it works or that the replication of the burnt scent of a Payne could ever ever be copied.  (Wayne Cattanach)

      And, in fact, why would one ever WANT to copy it?  I tend to bae my rods loosely on those of Jim Payne, who I think was the best rodmaker of all time.  I would just love to have someone compare my rods to his - they don't - but I'm damned if I want them to SMELL like Paynes.  It would be sort of like someone copying, say, Garrison's style of wrapping, or Winston's style of ferrule wrapping.

      Nice for the originator, tacky for the imitator!  (Peter McKean)

      Do you still use the same dip tube setup you describe in your book? When your book first came out, I related immediately to your design. Being a mechanical contractor, I had a bunch of 12" Schedule 40 PVC pipe lying around.

      What I added a few years ago was a better curtain system to keep out dust. I bought those PVC clear strips about 3" wide that overlap, the ones you usually see as barriers in grocery stores between cold storage rooms and conditioned rooms. They attach at the top with Velcro strips. Works great, makes it easy to slip your hands through without opening the whole interior to the environment.

      In my new house I sunk the PVC shell 3 feet into the slab, and with 10' ceiling I have plenty of extraction space now. I have two halogen lights in the bottom of the pipe to heat the varnish tube. I control this manually. Above where the dipping set up is I have a dual 4' fluorescent fixture. I can heat the varnish tube to 90 degrees, while the extraction portion above will stay about 80 degrees because of the rise in heat and the fluorescent fixture, as long as the garage temp is about 55/60 degrees, and this is usually where I keep it at. The PVC strips really hold in the heat too.

      There are two things I would like to improve on: first, I'd like to automatically control the lower tube temp. (halogen lights) chamber, instead of turning the switch on and off. The second would be to add positive pressure to the PVC pipe chamber from the top with a small filtered fan, just to keep out any last particles of dust.

      Anyone with suggestions on this?

      By the way, you should have seen the look on my wife's face when the concrete sawing company showed up to core drill a 14" diameter hole through our garage floor. Priceless!

      Also, if anyone is interested in 12" PVC pipe I have scrap in the yard. Pick up in western Colorado, since it's too heavy to ship reasonably. I might be able to bring some to CRR this year, I'll throw it in the truck on top of all the food!  (Tom Vagell)

        To control the halogen lights, you can get a line voltage thermostat at your local HD or Lowes for less than $20.  This is the kind used for electric baseboard heaters and fits in a standard outlet box.  Wire up your lights to this and it will keep the temp within about 5 degrees.  (Rick Hodges)

      I'm fortunate to have a large shop, about 1200 sqare feet or so, with two rooms.  The back room is where I do all the nasty work;  Bevelling, sanding, making of hardware, etc.  The front room is for clean work; wrapping, installing handles, gluing on hardware... Within the front room, I built a finish room.  It's 4' x 8' with a 10' ceiling.  I have my varnish tube set up in there, along with dust filtering and a small heater to keep things warm in the winter.  I try to keep that room constantly between 72° and 80°.  That's the temp that I varnish and the temp at which I let my varnish coats cure.  After years of heating up my "drying box" to 90° to speed up the drying process, I got a huge tip from Ron Kusse on getting a better finish when I asked about what temp he cured  his finish...   "Read what it says on the can." he says in his what my wife, Rita, describes as his cute little NY Accent.  "Those guys know what they're talking about, you know.  They MAKE the stuff."  He was, of course, right.  Yes, it cured a lot slower than it did at 90°, but it looked completely different.  Smoother, cleaner, deeper.

      Time????  Hey, guys, what is 3 or 4 days waiting between coats on good spar?  I mean, we spend 35 to 50 hours working on a rod over a month or two months or 6 months, and all of a sudden when we get to finishing, we want to RUSH the process.  Let it cure per the manufacturers specs.  Let is set until it's cured well enough that you don't have to worry about hurting the finish when you handle it.   Patience pays dividends in this business.  (Bob Nunley)

    No matter how you do it with all of the suggested methods if you can maintain around 70°F in the vicinity of the hanging varnished sections with air flow the sections will dry properly. Look on the varnish can, it will tell you the drying temp required.

    My drying cabinet is an insulated box with no windows and a light bulb in the bottom that will maintain 70°F internal temp in the box. By playing around with different wattage bulbs you can find a combination of wattage/insulation that will work. I believe you also need air flow through the box. Since hot air rises, the hole/intake in the bottom should be filtered. The exit hole in the top doesn't need filtering. No fan required.  (Don Schneider)

    I've used UV fluorescent bulbs in my drying cabinets first to cure  varnish on musical instruments and also to cure oil varnish on rods.  It speeds up the drying quite a bit for me, usually 24-36 hours.  I try to keep the drying cabinet a around 90 degrees during dipping and drying.  For me that means 4 - 4 foot UV bulbs in the winter. My drying cabinet is above the shop in a unheated second floor.  I use  2 bulbs in the summer.   (Dave Rinker)

    I added a 60-watt light to the drying cabinet, which raises it to about 80 degrees which is speeding the second coat.

    I really think that for someone like me just building a couple rods a season, dipping is much more trouble than its worth.  Setting up the cabinet, fighting the dust,  straining the varnish, heating it, getting my puller to go etc etc Then putting it all away when I'm done and hoping the varnish doesn't gell.  And I've still got a run.  I'm going to switch to Tru-Oil or something equally simple from now on.   (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

      As I've said before, Tru-Oil works very well.  You can put on 2 or 3 coats in a day, and if you build up enough coats, it's really hard to tell from varnish applied by other methods.  (Neil Savage)

      Why don't you try brushing as Bill Harms describes on the Rodmakers web site. I have followed Bill's approach and it seems to work very well for me. Just a suggestion. (Frank Paul)

        I have had very good success using a drain tube. It is very inexpensive, takes up very little space, it is easy to use. Thanks to Tony Spezio who sent me photos of his drain tube system I have a very efficient varnishing tool. I also built a heating cabinet and keep the temp. at around 90 -95 degrees. from what I have read recently this may be a bit too warm, but the temp works for me. I have also tried the turkey baster and was not at all happy with that method.  (Phil Crangi)


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