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Finishing - Waxing

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The first and second rods I ever made I used multiple coats of a amber based finish, polished them out, then waxed the rods repeatedly. I've fished those rods in pouring rain all day, and never have noticed that either suffered anything detrimental.  (Martin-Darrell)

    Someone with more experience than I can add to or correct what I read, but I DID read somewhere (in a furniture restoration catalog or book I think) that if done correctly, there should never be more than one coat of wax on a piece. The idea of an application is to rework the undercoat and/or remove it with the new! The conclusion was that it's pointless to wax several times in a row as, if you're doing it right, you wind up with the same thickness film as you had after the first app.  (Art Port)

      If you put multiple coats of wax on a rod, you will have wax buildup around guide feet but some flossing with a soft cloth takes care of this. The coat will get thicker if you don't buff enough, as well. Just some experiences I've had with Butcher's.   (Reed Curry)

        A stiff toothbrush for removing the wax or polish from around the guides works real well.  Never thought of flossing.  (Tony Spezio)


Got a rod here I want to polish a little, but it has already been waxed a few times.  Is it necessary to remove the wax before attempting to polish the varnish?  If so, what will safely remove wax without harming the finish?  (Harry Boyd)

    I do not think you have to remove the wax but mineral spirits (sub turps) will do it.   (Marty DeSapio)

      I would say that you do have to remove it, and either Turpentine or mineral spirits would do the trick.  (Ralph Moon)

    Turps.  (Reed Curry)

      Yeah.  Or mineral spirits.  (Brian Creek)


What is a good brand of wax for use in protecting the finish on a rod?  (Kurt Clement)

    Butcher's Brand Bowling Alley Wax seems to be working just fine for me. Home Depot sells it; it is the white container. I cannot remember who recommended it, but several on the list have said they have used it for years.  (Bob Maulucci)

    I have used Butchers wax on my rods for over 30 years and I think Jack Young recommended it to me.  (Bret Reiter)

    We had this discussion several months ago, and at the risk of starting another wax war, the more pedestrian types on the List use Butcher's Brand Bowling Alley wax, or something named equally obscure and common, while we effete snobs use Renaissance Wax, by appointment to Her Majesty, The Queen, of course.  (Martin-Darrell)

      Or, of course, Briwax, which is a double threat/benefit; you can get high on the solvents in it while you're polishing the rod!  (Art Port)

      I guess I must be pretty pedestrian ...I've been using Malm's classic car wax  :-}  (Dennis Higham)


Those who wax rods for added shine or protection, what wax do you use?  (Henry Mitchell)

    I really like Antiquax from England. It has Carnuba & Beeswax in it.

    You can get it from most woodworking stores.  (Jeff Fultz)

    I use Birchwood-Casey gun stock wax.  (Tom Bowden)

    Butcher's bowling alley wax is super stuff. Hard! I waxed all my first rods. If I had to do it over again, though, I would not do it. Why? Because these rods have received heavy use over the years and I would like to put another coat of varnish on them.  Before varnish can touch them, I need to make sure all the wax is off the rod and from around the wraps and guides. That is a pain. Not impossible but I had not thought of it ahead of time.  (Timothy Troester)

      Turpentine takes wax right off.  (David Zincavage)

    I use Butcher's wax. Take care to avoid getting any on the cork, however.  I think the wax has a certain amount of turpentine in it (to keep it soft), and that solvent is rough on cork.

    It's a good idea to wax one's rods.  Moisture could otherwise penetrate  a slight chip in the varnish,  and  the wax extends the life of  the varnish.  Since Jim Payne's varnish is both delicate and irreplaceable, I am especially careful to keep my Paynes waxed.  (David Zincavage)

    Any paste wax will work just fine. I wouldn't use Pledge, but since I haven't used it, I can't say for sure that it wouldn't be just fine too.  (John Channer)

      Pledge contains silicone. Don't use it on your rod!  (Scott Bearden)

        Why not? I can understand not wanting silicone on a rod before varnishing or in the shop but once the rod is finished, what harm does it do?  (Jim Lowe)

          Silicone is extremely hard to clean up.  It repels water very well, but it also repels varnish and some thinners. If it isn't thoroughly cleaned off a surface you will get fisheyes in the finish. Everything can look clean and you won't know there is some residue until its too late. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. At some point every rod will need to be refinished. Pledge makes a great polish, no doubt, but it won't ever touch anything but my furniture.  (Scott Bearden)

    Wayne's microwave wax as described in his book! Best stuff in the world and you make it yourself!  (Joe Arguello)

    I have used Butcher's wax on my rods for over 35 years & I have had no ill effects.  It will clean up on the rod with mineral spirits if you want to take it off.  (Bret Reiter)

    Renaissance wax from Woodcraft. It's a hard wax, lots of carnuba in it.  (Steve Weiss)

    Thanks for all the wax suggestions. I had some Briwax at home and wasn't happy with it's shine, then read the fine print and it said not to use where it might get heavy water exposure. I fall in too much for that.  (Henry Mitchell)

      I have some Briwax, too, but I found that I didn't like it so I went to Minwax Paste Finishing Wax.  It works extremely well.  (Hal Manas)


Any recommendations on a wax for the rod I varnished.  (Ren Monllor)

    Butchers Bowling Alley Wax.  (Pete Van Schaack)

      I use a mix of beeswax with lemon oil.  (Barry Demmers)

        Orange wax... almost identical... from Golden Witch.  (Mike St. Clair)

    I wax my rods with Butcher's Wax, but be careful: don't get it on the cork.  The turpentine, I guess, which keeps the wax pliable will clean the patina right off older cork, and then start eating holes in it.  Put it on the rod only, and wipe off all excess with a paper towel.

    It's actually important to keep rods waxed.  Imperfections, little breaks and worn spots, in the varnish of older rods are not uncommon.  Suppose you wind up fishing in the rain.  If water really does get through to the wood, that cane can soften and become limp, then bend and break.

    The one and only rod I ever broke a section of broke at a ferrule because I had been in the habit of leaving the rod strung up and leaning on the wall of a damp and humid Connecticut garage.  I used to live on the mighty Aspetuck River in Redding, Connecticut, back before many here were even born.  The rod was a Hardy Marvel.  Marty Keane threw in an extra rod, when I bought a Marvel from him. The second rod was rewrapped, lacking its markings, and had one short tip, so I got two butts, two mids, and five tips for the price of one rod that day.  I originally looked on that second Hardy as a throwaway junker.  Well, the mid bent slowly at the ferrule and broke off, while I was bringing in a 19" brook trout, whom I had caught and released at least twice before.  (I lived right above a stretch of  water company property leased to an exclusive private club. As a matter of fact, it was the same club whose water James Posek got caught poaching, but he was poaching a different piece of water.  I sometimes fished right down into that club's water, and nobody ever caught me. There are some paintings by Bob Abbott of the Aspetuck River.) Suddenly, I was devastated. I realized now that my previously despised old clunker Marvel had been absolutely perfect. I could make beautiful 60' casts with it. It and I always had been meant to be together. It was the rod of rods. It wasn't a junker at all. It was the apple of my eye.  So I took the fractured rod up to T&T and paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars to have the poor old clunker fixed up, a new mid built, the whole thing rewrapped and revarnished.  Naturally, this was a complete waste of money.  It never felt the same, and it looked different. And I found that you just can't fix these things sometimes.  So avoid breaking them!  (David Zincavage)

      Thank you not just for the recommendation but for the little story also.

      You know it’s funny because the very first cane rod I ever made, I thought was a great first rod but as time went by, a bit of a disappointment comparing it to the rods I’ve recently built.

      I took it to the shows I’ve done but would not really show it much or even mention it unless asked about it.

      Well, the last day of the show here in Lakeland, Florida I had purchased a 6 wt. silk line off a fellow on Ebay, and thought What the heck, let me put the line on my clunker and give it a cast. Well, much like your rod, it could throw a line much farther than I would care to fish., and all in all, I was put back by how well the rod cast the silk line. It loaded the rod like it had never been loaded before and for the first time it actually felt synchronized to my casting efforts. Now I had a Sylk line from Cortland I had been using and it was a 6 weight line but the difference was absolutely incredible. Truly acted like a completely different rod.

      I’ve caught many a Florida largemouth on it since and is my go to rod if I’m fishing for bass.  (Ren Monllor)

    I've been using Butchers wax for over 30 years on my rods.  (Bret Reiter)

    Wayne's microwave wax, directions in his book, easy to make and works great.  (Joe Arguello)

    Renaissance Wax,  I bought mine from Woodcraft. It's a hard wax, lots of carnuba.  (Steve Weiss)

    I use Minwax furniture paste wax.  Any good paste wax will do.  (Hal Manas)

    I like Carnuba Auto-wax. It's available at most Auto Supply stores and a little goes a long way.  (Don Schneider)

      This is probably bad, but I use Turtlewax.  (Rob Clarke)

      The product I use, Egale1 Non Abrasive Carnuba Paste Wax. It's made from leaves of Carnuba Palm Trees in Northern Brazil.  (Don Schneider)


I never use wax in the belief that if the rod ever needs to be revarnished, the varnish wouldn't stick to those areas where wax has been applied to the bare cane where the varnish is off. BS or not? What are your thoughts?  (Don Anderson)

    I think if you use the right kinda wax it won't be a problem, just nothing with silicone. I really like Wayne's microwave wax made with lemon oil and beeswax.  (Joe Arguello)

    One would just clean wax off with turpentine if one needed to get rid of it. I expect removing the wax  before revarnishing would be necessary.  (David Zincavage)

    Any kind of finish over wax in a no-no, but all is not lost. Washing the rod wish a strong soap or trisodium phosphate will prepare you for a beautiful surface to refinish  (Ralph Moon)

    I agree but for a different reason.  Refinishing is refinishing. I kinda go along with the guy  who originally disagreed with waxing, in general, as a waste of time and elbow grease since you just wipe it all off anyway.  As this original thread said - Wax on, wax off.  (Darrol Groth)

    Can't answer that but I do know that each time you apply new wax you're supposed to strip the old. (Jim Lowe)

    The residue from a good wax like Butcher's or Johnson's Paste wax can be easily removed with mineral spirits.  (Mark Wendt)


How important is waxing and polishing, etc, after dipping bamboo rods?

I am a beginner having finished 7 rods in the past year or so.  I started out shooting for function and what I hoped might be "production rod" cosmetics.  When I read threads on finishing, I see problems with corners, sags, shimmers and such.  If I am having these problems, I may be so inexperienced as to not recognize them.  I do flame the bamboo and heat treat, but have come to the conclusion after reading these threads, that the moisture is going to return eventually.

I'm gluing up with Epon, scraping the glue off with a razor blade or utility knife blade at 12 hours, cooking for 4 hours, scraping any beads of glue along the corners that occur, wiping a light coat of Helmsman spar urethane.  Will use 4-O steel wool, wipe with a little mineral spirits, put on the guides and hardware and dip the tips twice, and the butt three times pulling about an inch a minute. I use Darryl H's dip tube setup, pulling the section into a larger PVC pipe.  I let each coat dry about 8 hours in the tube between coats.  No sanding, thinning, heating or mixing of the Helmsman.  It's the gloss stuff, and haven't touched it since I put it in the tube a year ago.  Don't use a drying cabinet, just hang the sections from brads.  So far  have not used wax nor rubbing compounds, etc.  Figured the shine would eventually come down with use, so haven't bothered with this.

But recently have been wondering if I should be waxing and such.   Is there nirvana experience with waxing and such? Does it make much much of a difference?  Is the bamboo going to deteriorate?  Thoughts?  (Dave Kemp)

    I think waxing rods is a very good idea.  It helps a lot with the waterproofing of flaws in the varnish of older rods in particular. The only rod section I ever broke came about via my leaving an old rod (a Hardy Marvel) in poor condition set up in a dank CT garage, all ready to use. Humidity got into the cane through varnish imperfections, and the tip bent and broke right above the ferrule* as I was landing a 19" brook trout (for the third time) in my home pool on the mighty Aspetuck.  Back in the late 1970s, I used to rent a little house in Redding Ridge that came with a stretch of the Aspetuck, bordering that water company property that James Prosek was caught poaching.  I used to fish right down into the posted area, but my own stretch was even better. While I lived there, I noticed that I quit bothering traveling to fish.

    One thing. Do not get any of it on the cork. The turpentine that makes wax soft eats cork.

    * I paid T&T big bucks to rebuild the broken section of the junk rod, but it was a mistake. Tom Wolfe was right: You Can't Go Home Again. Broken rods cannot be rebuilt.  (David Zincavage)


I started to put Perfect-IT paste wax on my rods.  Finally getting with the better finish program.  How many coats do you all use?  (Dave Kemp)

    The only Perfect-It I ever heard of is a rubbing compound by 3M. I use the finer called Finesse-It. (Timothy Troester)

    I don't know Perfect It paste wax.  Is that a new product, or one that has just been slipping under my radar?

    Generally, with waxes, you can apply as many coats, with a lot of hand rubbing and buffing in between them, as it takes to achieve the finish you are looking for. Some people apply very large numbers of coats of wax, with very good results.

    I would hazard a guess that if you haven't achieved said finish by about coat #6, you may need to look elsewhere, as the finish you have in your mind's eye may not be achievable with wax.  (Peter McKean)

    Do not be mistaken, Perfect it and Finesse it are both rubbing compounds, not waxes. The difference is that rubbing compounds have an abrasive to them even though it is so fine you can't feel it. These work by cutting the surface at a finer stage than the finest sandpaper you may have used. So you don't actually build up coats like a wax you use it to rub the surface smooth. So you need to put some elbow grease to work and rub the finish until you get the shine you want and you are actually taking the product off as you go. I get a real good finish by rubbing with Finesse It. Hope this helps.  (Joe Arguello)

      I think that Dave is talking about a particular 3M product for body cars:

      the 3M Perfect-It Show Car Paste Wax. This product, according 3M, is able to "make possible to attain that gorgeous, glossy wet shine at home".

      Reading the 3M instruction you need only one application of the product to obtain the result.  (Marco Giardina)

        OK, so I guess there is a Perfect it wax by 3M, I think I would be more concerned about too much build up than anything. Secondly I would make sure that anything I put on a rod doesn't contain silicone, if you have to make a repair in the future you will find that any product with silicone are almost impossible to get off complete and any subsequent varnishing you have to do may be riddled with problems. Don't forget Wayne's microwave wax as described in his book "Handcrafting Bamboo Fly Rods" this is great stuff and easy to make. Hope this helps.

        Here is an excerpt from a web page:

        And here's the composition of the Perfect-it Wax (Paste)(Shop 3M: 3M Perfect-it Show Car Paste Wax, 39526, 10.5 oz Net Wt

        Ingredient C.A.S. No. % by Wt



        CARNAUBA WAX 8015-86-9 10-30%

        Siloxanes and Silicones, di-Me 63148-62-9 7-13%

        MONTAN WAX 68476-03-9 3-7%

        SYNTHETIC HYDROCARBON MIXTURE (NJRTK # 80100348-5009P) Trade Secret 1-%5

        SILANE POLYMER WITH SILOXANES Trade Secret 0.5-1.5%  (Joe Arguello)

          I agree with Joe Arguello regarding the use of silicone products connected with the bamboo rods, but I think that today it is a lost battle. The "contamination" of silicone in our environment is total: products for cleaning houses, cars, medical instrument, packaging, fabrics...the list is too long. I think that the only solution, in general, is to use the products used in the body car shops to remove the silicon during the painting procedures.  (Marco Giardina)

    I have tried several liquid plastic (very fine) polishes and I keep coming back to BRASSO.

    It's cheap, been around for years (mine I think is from my USMC days) and is one of the finest grits available.

    I have an extra wood lathe here and its become my dedicated polishing station until I finish my crude version of the Baginski Beveler.

    I made a mandrel of 'allthread' rod and some fender washers and nuts and mount it between the live and dead centers to mount to mount the wheels you guys can come up with some ingenious solutions.

    My first polishing wheels were via Harbor Freight and they ended up shedding more material than my dog and the garage was covered with 'fur' from the wheels.

    Get some Canton flannel buffs.

    These are GOOD, HIGH quality buffs, not your run of the mill Harbor Freight buffs or those found at Lowes or Home Depot.

    Canton Flannel Wheel

    For polishing the seats I use "Plastic" P-112 buffing compound (fine) and astick of "Plastic-Glo" P-22 (ultra fine - dry grade) these really put a shine on the seats.


    Don't want to spend the money as these are pricey you can always pick up a stick of Tripoli and white diamond and they do a very good job also.

    No affiliation with said company but a satisfied user ..  (Ron Hossack)


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