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I was wondering if there would be adverse results if I used one brand of spar varnish to finish wraps and another brand in the drip tube.  I am about ready to get the drip tube up and running, but have one blank that the wraps are finished with another brand of spar opposed to the brand I'm going to purchase for filling the drip tube.  Any opinions on this?

Any suggestions on which spar to use in the drip tube?  The local options are Helmsmen Spar, Valspar, or Ace brand from the local hardware store.  The other choice is Minwax's Poly as that can be had locally too, but I have never used Poly before.  (Brad Love)

    The last couple of  rods were finished off with two different spars. The Man o War in the tube had, er, expired. I had already coated the wraps with MoW.  Some time back, Chris Lucker had told me about a couple of varnishes he had tried. One was, I hope I get this right, Spitanni's made in Italy. I could never find it. The other was Interlux "Schooner". I found Schooner in a marine hardware store. The VOC's are higher than the current MoW and the application and color are great.

    Anyway, I had no problem with compatibility. Sorry, I haven't used the products you mention, perhaps others can help.  (Mike Shay)

    The ACE hardware brand of spar is not a favorite with me..  Otherwise I'd mixum' if the need came.  I found the drying time excessive (soft to the touch for 5 days), the color unimpressive, I scraped it off on the 6th day.  (Don Greife)


My dilemma today is with regard to uses two different finishes on one rod.  I just finished a rod using spar varnish again and am completely satisfied with the results, however, I am a little bit frustrated with all the work involved in getting a good finish (namely buffing all the small blemishes that comes along with using spar).  I also like very much that transparent look on the wraps that you can only really achieve with spar.  Here is what I am thinking of doing.  Has anyone used polyurethane on the blanks and then wrapped the  rod and coated  the wraps with spar?  If so; pros, cons, horror stories.  Do the wraps still achieve that transparent look?  All help is greatly appreciated.  (Robert Cristant)

    The lumps and bumps aren't the fault of the spar, unless you let it get that way in the tube. Flaws come from not having the rod absolutely clean before it goes into the varnish, or letting dust and lint get on it after it comes out of the varnish. Do your varnishing in a clean environment and make sure it is clean before you varnish it. To answer your question, there is no reason why you can't use polyurethane on the blank, then finish the wraps with spar, it will work fine.  (John Channer)

    Spar and PU works just fine for me. I use Minwax Helmsmen PU on the blank and MOW spar on the wraps. I have also started using Mike Brook’s Walnut Oil Wrap Varnish as a first coat on the wraps. They are all very nice. I have never had any bad cross polymerization bad stuff doo-hickey happen to the rods by mixing the varnish types. I do the wraps last however, as the PU does add a tinge of color to the blank or whatever is underneath.

    However, I would give the spar another chance on the blank. Why are you unhappy with it? I find that the spar will buff out more easily than a PU. If you are “satisfied” I would not change your setup. Work on the cause of your blemishes, and keep the varnish you like.

    I have been using the same PU more or less since the beginning. I continue to use it because I know how fast I can do coats, how fast I can get to buffing, etc…. I just accept that I have to rub the rods out, and I get to it.  My best advice might be to tell you to familiarize yourself with a good polishing routine that works with your varnish. I never worry about dust or blemishes anymore because I know I can rub most anything out to a decent result.

    The worst things I have ever done in rod making have been to change my routine. More often than not, I get problems. Familiarity is the rod maker’s best helper.  (Bob Maulucci)

    If you use a polyurethane such as Varmor R-10 on  your blanks, you can dip some out of the tube and use it on your guide wraps. It is almost as transparent as spar. Varathane (a poly)  is compatible with spar for guide wraps, but that product gives a semi-opaque look that pretty much preserves original thread color (just a shade or so darker).

    Your best bet is actually test whatever combination of spar and poly you have by making some wraps on a dowel,   doing your wrap finish, the dipping it. The time it takes do this is small compared to getting a bad finish off the rod (Don't ask how I learned this).  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    Why do you want two different kinds of varnish? I usually varnish my rods with PU varnish (I rub it on, works ok for me) and then I wrap the rod. Finally I varnish the wraps with the same PU varnish. I apply it with a 'bamboo brush'. I am thinking about making a slow turning motor for varnishing the rods, especially the wraps.  (Geert Poorteman)

    That's the way I always finish my rods. I coat the blanks with three coats of Spar Urethane and then wrap the guides and coat them with usually five coats of Marine Spar Varnish. I like the translucent look on the wraps that you can only get by using Spar Varnish on the silk. You can't get that same look with Urethane.  (Dave LeClair)


Can one mix a spar varnish like Epifanes or MOW with oil based spar urethanes like Helmsman or Varathane Premium spar urethane.

I'm cleaning my shop have have come across several cans of varnish I didn't remember having. (Jim Lowe)

    Give it a try on YOUR next rod and let us know if it works -- I have a similar collection. Somehow I doubt the crosslinking of the different resins would match up but one never knows. Might be an opportunity to try a method other than dipping. I finally broke out my airbrush yesterday and shot some MOW and am happy with the first coat on a test scrap. Sure uses a lot less varnish than a dip tube.  (Larry Puckett)

      You'd be surprised what you can do with paints.  I decided to paint the floor in my rod shop with some leftover porch and deck enamel. I had two mostly full cans, two different brands, so I decided to mix them to get a uniform color.  After I mixed them up without any difficulty, I was surprised to notice that one was oil-based and one was latex!!  They were completely compatible, rolled onto the floor just fine, and now after 15 years it's still holding up like steel.  The only noticeable difference was the finish came out with very little gloss.

      I'm not suggesting that all paint are compatible and don't recommend   mixing   them   willy-nilly,   but   mixing   oil-based  with oil-based may not be such a stretch.  (Al Baldauski)


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