Bamboo Tips - Tips Area
Finishing - Varnish - Varathane

< Home < Tips Area < Finishing < Varnish < Varathane


I’m looking for information on Varathane (Liquid Plastic #90).  I used this on Rod #1 and need to repair a hook chip and to finish Rod #2 (if I ever get past the final planing stage!). 

The stores we picked this up from before don’t carry it any longer and I understand that Varathane has repackaged some of their products and names might have changed.

Does anyone have any information on this product?

Where I might pick some up from?

What name it might be called now?

I’ve heard that there is a #900 product around, is it the same?  (Scott Turner)

    I can't help you very much, but no has responded on list to your post, and I know how it is to be waiting for a reply. Varathane 900 is a clear gloss poly that is used primarily as wrap finish. It is the ONLY Varathane product that will give you color preservation. It darkens wraps just a shade darker than traditional color preservers, and it makes the wraps "semi opaque". It is compatible with Man O War, and probably other spars, but that is the only spar I have used it with. It was in the 2004-2005 Golden Witch catalog but is not on their web site (at least I can't find it).

    And now, opinion and advice that you did not ask for:

    Do not get hung up on a particular brand: go to the most convenient place that sells varnishes, and use what is easily available. The quality of the finish is not based on which brand you use, but how well you apply it given conditions in your shop. I have NEVER seen a post that said " don't use brand x on rods. It sucks and flat out did not work".

    Of course, this doesn't help you with the hook chip problem, I oversimplify everything, and probably deserve to be flamed for it. But if there are other rodmakers who disagree, it would be discussion worth having.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

      In one of the last Golden Witch fliers, they mentioned they would no longer be handling the Varathane 900 as they (Varathane) were not going to be making it any more. If you really need some, you might call Russ and see if they have a quart or two laying around, though.  (Dewey Hildebrand)

        I found a supplier for the Varathane 900.  It apparently has a new name now that Rust-Oleum is the owner, Varathane Elite Diamond Finish. I ordered a half pint.  Here is the link.  (Paul Franklyn)

          The Varathane elite diamond etc. that I have used is water based, and makes an excellent color preserver.  It is very thin, so don't touch the wraps with anything abrasive until you've built up some thickness with spar or poly!  (Yes, that was the voice of experience talking....)  (Brian Creek)

            Elite Diamond is not the same stuff as Varathane 900.  This is water based -- the 900 is oil-based.  I've tried it as a color preserver and it holds the colors almost as well as well as Gudebrod 811  (which has nearly perfect color retention).  So, the Elite Diamond will not darken the thread as much as the old 900.

            The true test is how well will it hold up in the dip tube.  I've never had a dip tube failure with Varathane 900.  (Rich Margiotta)

              I went to the local hardware store, here in Seattle, and just had them order me some, no problem. the wraps shown on the golden witch web site for silk has been treated with Varathane. Russ put it on there to show how little it darkens.  (Patrick Coffey)

              No flaming... but there are finishes and methods that are better than others. So you should have a preference (and any of us being conducive to that prospect should agree about your preference).

              Personally, I'd want no part of a rod with wraps finished with either varnish or Varathane. Nowhere near tough enough. We DO want that wrap finish to be tough, because to a very substantial degree, the finish itself serves to resist opposing guide feet moving under reversing cycles of compression and tension. We've all seen varnished/varathaned guide wraps with the feet sheared from where they were mounted by either the reversing cycles of compression inherent to casting, or by impact of necked fly gear diameters.

              As far as Varathane goes for finish, as far as my understanding and experience would demonstrate, its adhesion is far inferior to true tung based varnish. Varathane will chip off a dense surface when impacted.

              Theoretically, although I varnished my rods, impregnation is possibly the superior "finish" ("if" a rod needs one). Why? There's no protective coating, but, because the material is so dense, little weight is added to the sealed instrument, and particularly, resistance to compression should be very moderately augmented. A rod with less weight of "finish" along for the ride is a better performer.

              As far as methods of applying finishes such as varnish go, some people have done well with spray, but for my time and money, dipping readily achieves perfection in every respect, particularly as it presents the opportunity to rectify the slightest imperfections at application time.

              All this means, if you finish it, varnish adheres (maybe you wouldn't have a chip to fix if you varnished, and certainly the adhesion of varnish would be beneficial to your repair). Dipping easily gets you where you need to go.

              If you don't finish it, you are going to impregnate. Even the oil finished E. C. Powells then are a very attractive alternative, with very little weight to be added in finishing in that style. E. C. did a very smart finish, in my opinion.  (Mike Montagne)

              Apparently this stuff is water-based. The old 900 is oil-based.  (Steve Weiss)

    I called the Rust-Oleum technical support line and received an answer to my question (below).  The new product is called:

    Rust-Oleum Varathane - Premium Polyurethane - Classic Clear #90 (oil based) - formerly called "the Original" Flecto Varathane Liquid Plastic Interior Wood Finish 90 Clear Gloss.  (Scott Turner)


Just finished installing a hard wood floor in our living room. I used Varathane Floor Finish on it and it looks great if I do have to say so myself. The stuff is an oil based clear gloss finish number 1300. I don't know if this would be so good on a rod blank but thought it might serve well as a finish for reel seat inserts. Has anybody had any experience with this finish?  (Jerry Drake)

    I just did a couple reel seats with Varathane diamond clear classic.  They were among the best looking ones I have ever done. Then I stirred the can. Big mistake. It had either started to go bad, or there was spew from some previous reel seats I had dipped. It was less than clear, and the finish was hazy. But I will probably try it again. It is the one thing I found that gives a glasslike surface, and faster than repeated coats of true-oil, which I also like a lot.   (Jeff Schaeffer)

      The great gloss without too many coats is why I was thinking of giving it a try. Should be a very durable finish.  (Jerry Drake)

        Hold the reel seat by inserting a sharpened pencil into the bore. Dip it into the varnish, and place it upright on a dowel. I made a jig to hold a bunch at a time. Mop the end with a coffee filter, otherwise you get finish build up at the base and will have a hard time getting the cap to fit without tearing into the finish. I scuff with steel wool between coats, and rough it up with sandpaper where the cap will be epoxied. And when dipping, try not to get any on the cork check.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I have had experience with it professionally while a contractor.  It goes on easy and gives a great finish on floors and is very durable.  I would not see why it wouldn't work on a rod.  (Bret Reiter)


I have been trying to find somewhere to get a rodmakers size container of Varathane 900 varnish for coating wraps and I don't have much more hair on my poor old head to pull.  The retailers all want me to order 6 quarts at a time and I cannot find it online.  Does anyone know where to get it?  (Dave Kemp)

    The two places I can get it here on the edge of nowhere (Durango, Co) are the local lumber yard and the Ace Hardware. Last N Last Marine and Door spar varnish I order from one of the local mom and pop paint stores one quart at a time. Try the non chain stores in your area and see if they're a little more willing to help than the big guys.  (John Channer)

    Varathane seems to be made by RustOleum.  I don't see Varathane 900 on their web site anymore, so maybe it's discontinued?  (Neil Savage)


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