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I have been looking at purchasing an ultra sonic cleaner to thoroughly clean parts before bonding to the blank. Any models that anybody cares to recommend or not? Harbor Freight has three models to choose from and I was wondering if the smallest one is strong enough/adequate? Also, they have a powder cleaner they recommend to go in the tank. Any thoughts on this or possible cleaning solutions to put in with the parts?  (Scott Bearden)

    I have used ultra sonic cleaners for a number of years, although they were not from Harbor Freight. After messing around with (and spending lots of $) on dedicated cleaning agents I found that Simple Green worked as well or better than anything. I did very scientifically measure it out by pouring 2-3 glugs of simple green and filling the remainder of the approximately 1 quart container with water.

    More importantly I would question whether ultra sonic cleaning would actually do any better (or even as well) as an acetone bath with a little scrubbing followed by a denatured alcohol bath. I am assuming that you are looking to clean ferrules prior to gluing, as I cannot think of anything else requiring that level of cleaning.

    If you choose to pursue this avenue I will say that I have a cleaner I will sell for $30 plus postage. Works perfectly, pictures available.  (Steve Shelton)

    Not to put down an idea, but why?   (John Channer)

      Tim Abbott brought it up this summer at the Catskills Gathering. He said something along the lines that it will get your ferrules and reel seat cleaner, which will produce a better bond than other techniques. In fact, if he is on the list I would love it if he could touch on this again since I seemed to have lost my notes from the gathering and he said an awful lot that I scribbled down.  (Scott Bearden)

        I attended the workshop as well and my "take away" was clean the ferrule ID's w/ a grease cutting detergent and "Scotch Brite" pads.  Avoid anything that could leave a residue.  (David Van Burgel)

    As a follow up on this thread, I never did buy one. Too many people privately emailed me and talked me out of it. Being the gadget freak I am though I may break down in a moment of weakness though.  (Scott Bearden)


What is the recommended solvent for degreasing ferrules, reel seat caps etc. before gluing? Or doesn't it really matter? I use alcohol because I figure its pretty harmless to my internals.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

    That's what I use, denatured alcohol, more important is to take some 180 or 150 grit sandpaper, roll it up into a small cylinder and scratch the inner surfaces of the ferrules,  then clean with a Q-tip. The reel seat cap are a little easier to sand 'cause they are a bit larger, but the same process. This has served me well. (Joe Arguello)

      A stainless steel .22 brush in a drill doesn’t hurt, either, in moderation.  (Steve Yasgur)

      I use methol ethyl ketone (MEK) to clean mine.  (Bret Reiter)

        Please look at a "Caution Sheet" for the MEK. If I recall correctly that stuff is a potential KILLER for people with heart problems!  Silent, unpredictable, and sudden. Don't know where I read it, but it's enough of a memory that I can't sit on it, even if I'm wrong.  (Art Port)

          I always wear a respirator with this stuff.  I am almost out of it so maybe I will switch to something less toxic.   (Bret Reiter)

        MEK is nasty stuff. Didn’t know the average person could even buy it anymore. It will certainly degrease along with dissolving the metal the grease is on if left soaking over night. Also will turn your skin texture to look like a sick off-color sponge in a few minutes. It is fast working though.  (Don Schneider)

          I usually just let these things go and no offense intended, but you have MEK confused with something else. It is certainly not as nice to humans as water and reasonable vapor control needs to be exercised, but it will not eat metal. In fact it is sold in metal cans at most paint stores.  Now I wouldn't go out and buy it for degreasing metal parts for gluing. It is far too expensive and volatile for that use in my mind. Maybe ultrasonic acetone followed with boiling isopropyl and a vapor dry  :-)

          Alcohol works just fine... and if you use the ethanol variety you can drink it when you have a bad day in the shop.  (Larry Lohkamp)

            The MEK I remember from 25 years ago in the aerospace industry was as I said. We used it to strip aircrart epoxy paint from units we were overhauling/rebuilding and it would eat aircraft aluminum if left soaking in it overnight. Maybe there is a milder version of it for the common public on the market today.

            Anyway, thanks for setting me straight.  (Don Schneider)

          MEK is widely used in industry for different purposes, if anyone needs exact information the first thing to do is look into the material safety data sheet. The other question is how to use it safely. Looking under paragraph 8 there is always a recommendation for suitable glove material (here butyl rubber). If you are providing sufficient ventilation or do your work outside and using personal safety equipment like safety gloves and safety goggles there is no big hazard.

          Here is a link.

          To find the right safety gloves follow this link and download the Chemical resistance guide.

          You would find the safety glove: Chemtek butyl (permeation time 183 minutes)  (Christian Meinke)

            Thank you for your interest in my comment(s) regarding the hazards of MEK. You are certainly correct in citing the common usage of MEK (and other hazardous materials) in industry. Undoubtedly in this day and age, industry has a vested interest in the health of their employees (Ha?), and issue all sorts of admonishments about unsafe use of such materials, and take measures to insure proper and safe practices. BUT ~ to choose using said materials in home/hobby applications would seem inappropriate,  if not downright foolish to this person. The industry wherein my experience with MEK derives, neither warned nor took precautionary measures for safeguarding employees from such risks, and one may only wonder what litigious actions might ensue today.   (Vince Brannick)

        Methyl ethyl ketone is not too bad.

        Methyl ethyl ketone peroxide is about as dangerous as it gets without being radioactive -  corrosive, explosive, biocumulative.  You name it, it does it!  (Peter McKean)

          Please don't advise that MEK is "not too bad".  It is VERY bad!.   Wouldn't recommend using it even with a respirator.  (Vince Brannick)

            The truth of this issue relative to MEK is that you are probably at as great a health risk using cyanoacrylate glue as MEK.

            MEK is a skin irritant, and may also irritate the lungs of some, but this typically requires a prolonged exposure. On the other hand, methyl ethyl ketone peroxide is very nasty stuff; even explosive, and can cause blindness. Just be prudent in your use, and handling of the various chemical compounds we use and you should have no adverse effects from the use of any of them.

            If it has a MSDS Sheet, is has been deemed safe for public use by the EPA.

            Think about it for a minute, water and oxygen are both toxic to man. I don't plan on quitting partaking of either any time soon.

            Let's keep things in perspective.  (Frank Schlicht)

            Interesting. You can buy the stuff everywhere, Lowes, Menards, Home Depot etc. Yes, it smells bad. Like all solvents, you must use care and good ventilation when using it.

            If it was so bad it would be banned like the best cleaning solvent for cutting grease was a few years ago. It would be in the same predicament as carbon tetrachloride or 1, 1, 1 trichloretheline and a number of other solvents.

            By the way, MEK is a better thinner for epoxy than either alcohol or acetone.  (Jerry Drake)

              I too have found MEK to be a better thinner for wrap epoxy than alcohol or acetone -- you don't need as much to get the epoxy to flow.  Set up takes a while -- 24 hours at least.  But the flow out and bubble reduction are worth it.  (For the record, epoxy is only used on the fiberglass and occasional graphite blank I build out -- never on bamboo).

              BTW, MEK is also the solvent/thinner for Pliobond.  (Rich Margiotta)

                Instead of arguing about the health hazards of MEK, look at the MSDS here.  It doesn't sound any worse to me some of than the other solvents we use.  BTW, IBM used to ship 1, 1, 1, trichloroethane to us in 6 oz. and 1 gallon cans.  (Neil Savage)

                  What one might want to look at for comparison  is the MSDS for acetone.

                  So we compare acetone, a.k.a. dimethyl ketone to MEK, a.k.a. methyl ethyl ketone, obviously chemically related.  According to these MSDS's OSHA says permissible vapor concentration for acetone is 1000 ppm (parts per million) versus 200 ppm for MEK. So MEK is worse than acetone, but the quantities and duration of exposure that would happen in a rodmaking context have to be pretty small. How many ferrules is one going to degrease in a day, a week, a month?  (Mike McGuire)

                    For me its the rigamarole factor.  I'd like to degrease something at the basement workbench, without putting on protective gear and going outside. That’s why alcohol is nice.  But if its not up to the job I'll have to use something stronger.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

    Alcohol is not generally a good oil or grease solvent.  If there are cutting oil residues on your metal parts you would be better off using mineral spirits.  If you prefer to use a less harmful solvent (mineral spirits is relatively low on the list) use a liquid detergent followed by thorough rinsing.  Either blow off the remaining water or use alcohol to rinse it off.  (Al Baldauski)

      I have heard and probably even agree that alcohol is not a good solvent, but I have used it for 18 years and only had one ferrule come off, and I think I forgot to clean that one! I think the roughing up of the inside has a lot to do with that. So I really don't see a reason to use anything more volatile than that even thought I have acetone on hand! Like they say if it works don't fix it.  (Joe Arguello)

        Like they say if it works don't fix it.

        Isn’t that what they said about the Titanic…LOL!!

        You’re probably right Joe.

        I used Acetone to clean all sorts of shmutz and goopers off of photographic equipment, Hassie’s , Canon’s, Leica’s, and Nikons. And the reason was It definitely took the crap off without leaving any residue behind, whether it be grease or solvent. And the evaporation was such that there was never any damage to any of the surfaces being wiped. That’s why I use it for components.  (Ren Monllor)

        What adhesive do you use for mounting your ferrules?  (Mark Wendt)

          U40 Rod Bond is what I have used form day 1. Good work time sets flexible. Lasts forever (shelf life) Never have had a problem.  (Joe Arguello)

            I use the same stuff.  It is very good epoxy for ferrules, tip-tops, reel seats and adhering grips to the rod section.  But it's still epoxy, and you really don't want to "roughen" up the inside of your ferrules.  All you need is to scuff them up and break through the "polish."  (Mark Wendt)

    I have always favored solvents, the stronger and more noxious the better. In this case, however, I have not found a better description of clean or a better process for arriving there than this article. I am much less likely to reach for something requiring protective gear now.

    I will note that the water break test has fallen a bit out of favor in the semiconductor industry, but theirs is a rather extreme need, and any further definition of 'clean' requires specialized and expensive equipment.  (Larry Blan)

      I've never "roughed" up the inside of my ferrules for mounting.  I've been using epoxy to mount my ferrules since day 1.  The only ferrule I ever had come loose was one I'd forgotten to clean before mounting, and that came loose within days of mounting it.  If you are using an epoxy to mount your ferrules, all you need to do is scuff the inside of the ferrule.  Roughing doesn't work, because using epoxy as a "filler" is the weakest kind  of joint you will have with epoxy.  Epoxy makes a great gap filler, however there is no strength in the gap.  (Mark Wendt)

        Epoxy with various fillers like wood flour, chopped glass fiber, silica, etc. is quite strong in gaps, and is much used in the stitch and glue style of boat construction. Proper technique calls for making sure you don't clamp a joint so tight that too much of mix is squeezed out. Not sure this has much application to mounting a ferrule, but FWIW...  (Mike McGuire)

          What's the difference between roughing and scuffing the ferrule?  (Frank Drummond)

            Scuffing involves making that water-break surface mentioned in that article that Larry posted a link to.  Roughing is actually putting minute gouges into the surface of the metal.  About the difference between 40 grit and 600 grit sandpaper.  Scuffing basically "unpolishes" and allows that break-free water surface.  (Mark Wendt)

          That's a completely different matrix.  Epoxy mixed with long graphite, Kevlar, boron, or fiberglass threads is pretty strong too, but they're called plastic fly rods.  We're using epoxy as an adhesive, with little to no filler inherent, and all you really need is a thin film.  Epoxy uses chemical bonding rather than physical bonding to complete the joint.  Excess epoxy just adds weight, and contributes nothing to the integrity of the joint, and in fact weakens it.  (Mark Wendt)

            Interesting point. I scuff, clean and rough my ferrules. I use slow setting epoxy (Araldite 24 hour). I rough them by scratching the inside at an angle with the tip of an old jewelers. Intuitively I would imagine that a couple of ridges in the epoxy film would help prevent the ferrule from rotating or sliding if it were wont to do so... but perhaps I am quite wrong. I won't say I haven't had a ferrule failure with this method because I will then probably get one.  (Steve Dugmore)

            OTOH, you also don't want so tight a fit that you have a "glue starved" joint.  I like a nice easy slip fit.  I also scratch a small groove in the bamboo to let the air out.  It seems to me that if you force the joint together and a bunch of the epoxy squeezes out letting the air out you may not have enough left in the joint.  (Neil Savage)

              Correct.  An adhesive-starved joint is just as weak, if not weaker than a sloppy-fitted joint.  No need to scratch a small groove in the cane.  Next time you mount ferrules, apply a little heat from your heat gun to the ferrule.  It's amazing how quickly you can get all the air bubbles out of the ferrule with a little application of heat.  (Mark Wendt)

                I believe most regular epoxies recommend a .004 gap for good adhesion and as for as degreasing goes I use Coleman fuel (naphtha fuel). It doesn't leave a film residue like alcohol does.  (Ken Paterson)

                  I have been using Lacquer Thinner as described in the tutorial done on hand fitting ferrules by Denver Dave.  What is everyone’s opinion on this as a degreaser?  (Greg Reeves)

                    That's what I use too.  (Scott Grady)

    A couple perspective points on the solvents.

    1. Keep in mind that the limits on the MSDS are chronic occupational limits, 40 hours / week, lifetime exposures. In developing these, uncertainty ("fudge") factors are plugged in to the equations at several points, so the actual chronic "safe" levels are probably quite a bit higher, and short term (acute) safe exposure levels would be far higher.  Since most of our uses would be very short term, not so much of a problem.

    2. The issue is risk, rather than hazard.  Risk takes into account both hazard (the capability to cause harm) and exposure.  The toxicology definition of exposure is different form the common perception; there exposure means taking into the body a dose sufficient to provoke a response.   Socrates (or one of his buddies) got it right way back then when he said "the dose is the poison", still true today.  Simply put, risk = hazard + exposure, or something to that effect (a toxicologist I ain't).

    So simply saying something is hazardous can be somewhat misleading, not that we should carelessly expose ourselves to anything and everything. I'm just saying that we should not be afraid of everything. The wife threw me out of the house a couple of weeks ago when took outof my briefcase a little container containing a gram of absolutely harmless powdered uranium, which I had brought from one of our facilities in SC back to my technical center for the lab folk to use calibrating an instrument. Made me leave it in the car overnight - my car, of course!  (Carey Mitchell)

      With due respect to Carey's "perspective points" ~ perception is one thing ~ experience is another, and truly more educational, IMHO.  (Vince Brannick)

    I have used acetone soaked cotton tipped swabs in the past and have had no problems. Any reason to change to a different solvent?  (Ken Rongey)

      Absolutely not.

      It’s what I have used for years and years. It gets the oil and grease and leaves no residue. Dries at a moment’s notice.  (Ren Monllor)

      I've mentioned this before -  I have been told and heard that Brake Cleaner spray can is one hell of a solvent and it leaves no residue after evaporating. It's used on spraying down flywheels on cars and the clutch pressure plate - again the reason they want a super clean surface so no clutch slippage and they don't want any residue after the evaporation for the same reason.  (John Silveira)

    To answer the question I originally asked, the JB weld web site recommends acetone and lacquer thinner, specifically not alcohol:


    Q: What can I use as a surface cleaner before using J-B Weld?

    A: We recommend using acetone or lacquer thinner. In the absence of these two, soap and water can be used. Just be sure that the surface is completely dry before applying J-B Weld. DO NOT use alcohol, or any other ?cleaner? that will leave a petroleum residue.


    How did we get by without Google?

    FWIW I use JB Weld for ferrules and reel seat caps. I used Brownells AcraGlas but my personal tests showed JB Weld is better. And I can get it at any hardware store. I want to try golf shafting epoxy but so  far haven't got around to it.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)


Someone wrote recently about having a ferrule come off because they had forgotten to clean the inside before gluing.  I am sorry to say, me too!  Fortunately on a rod I built for myself.  Only on one side.  I also lapped the ferrule a bit tighter than usual.  So pop! The male came off the cane, leaving the female on the butt.  I tried to get the male slide out of the female, but couldn't figure a good way.  So I removed the female from the butt as well.  Worst case I can always mount another ferrule.

Is there a good way to separate the male and female?  (Dan Zimmerlin)

    I'd like to piggyback on Dan's request for info with a ferrule separation question of my own:

    In my attempt to make sure my ferrules have a nice "Pop" to them, I have found that I sometimes make the fit a skosh (sp?) too tight so as the rods are used over and over the fit starts to get tighter until I have one heck of a time getting the sections apart.  What type of dry lubricant (ear wax, nose grease, etc), if any, might be good to keep the ferrules from sticking with use.  (Tom Key)

      I really don't think it has anything to do with use, what I really think happens is that the cane is gaining a bit of moisture and therefore swelling just enough to swell the male ferrule! Remember that the difference between a good fit and a stuck ferrule is the thickness of smoke! Anyway that's what I think and I beleive that this is an excellent time (before they really get stuck) to polish the male ferrules just a bit with some very fine sandpaper (1500 or 2000) just what I thinks backed up by having to unstick a few ferrules in my days.

      That's my story and I'm sticking to it! (no pun intended)

      PS: About the stuck ferrules that are off the rod, heat the female just a bit with an alcohol lamp, but before you do that maybe wrap some masking tape on the exposed male so you have something to hold on to. Good luck.  (Joe Arguello)

      I will stick my neck out and give advice that is based on limited experience, but I have had both of these problems and can suggest what worked for me.

      To get the ferrule apart, take two small pieces of hardwood, clamp them together and drill a hole, down the join, with a diameter appropriate for the female part of the ferrule.  Do the same for the male part.  Use the pair of blocks to clamp the two parts of the ferrule and now pull apart.

      It is not uncommon for a ferrule to tighten up some time after the rod is built.  There are various explanations, one of them being that the cane absorbs a bit of humidity and swells inside the male part of the ferrule.  Who knows?  The only solution I found when this occurred for me was to re-lap slightly the ferrule.  I did this using hand lapping methods (small strip of 600 or finer wet/dry paper and rotate rod by hand), BUT very gently and with patience.  Finish up with 0000 steel wool and polish.  Don't overdo it because the amount of expansion (or whatever) is very little.  (Tim Anderson)

        To Tim's excellent suggestion  to make and use wooden ferrule pullers, I would add the recommendation of adding a drop of penetrating oil on the welt of the female and give it a few minutes to penetrate the female-male junction. This has worked for me in trying to separate ferrules that have been stuck for years that otherwise would not budge.  (Frank Schlicht)

      If you found you made the fit just a tad tight, keep lapping VERY, VERY carefully, until it’s not that tight., and you still get a pop. If you’ve put all that work into a rod, what’s a few more minutes of the finishing touches?  (Ren Monllor)

      BTW,  keep them clean and  you won’t have a problem.  (Ren Monllor)

      I too, seem to fit ferrules too tight! Something that seems to work is to fit the ferrules on the lathe before mounting them on the rod. I lap them till I can pull them apart by hand. They always seem to grow after mounting, so I touch them up with 0000 steel wool or 1500 or 2000 grit paper. I don't know what's too loose after over lapping the ferrule on my own spinning rod! It slides perfect, well maybe a little too easy. While fishing, I have to realign the sections because they have twisted a little, but they have never came apart! I think that someday I'll change it, but since they have never came apart, well I'll just keep fishing and see how long it will last.  (David Dziadosz)

    Pop it in the fridge or ice box, then apply some heat to expand the female real quick.

    Works every time. (Ren Monllor)

    The problem that I have found in this situation is getting a grip on the two parts without crushing the exposed tabs.  I have found that you can prevent the crushing by inserting suitable drills into each part then binding with masking tape to build up the diameter to the point where you can get a grip. Add a drop of WD 40 or similar to the end of the female and let it wick into the joint, the parts can then be separated by twisting and pulling.

    If this fails, clean each part and glue  to some scrap cane with Ferrul-Tite, then you can part as normal.  The bits can easily be removed afterwards with some heat.  (Gary Marshall)

    Glue the ferrules back onto the rod, let cure, and pull 'em apart?  (Mark Wendt)

    Is there a good way to separate the male and female?

    Yes.  Glue them back on the rod sections and pull. Then pin the parts to secure long term. (Larry Swearingen)

    I tried the freezer/heat technique and they slide apart with little problem.  I appreciate the wisdom of each of you, as you have given me several ideas to try in other circumstances, from the ferrule puller to the penetrating oil.  I gotta say, I especially liked the idea of simply remounting the ferrule and pulling apart normally, since it ends up where it belongs.  (Dan Zimmerlin)


Do Ultrasonic Cleaners have any use in rod making?  I noticed that Harbor Freight has theirs on sale for 21.99.  I'm sure it isn't the greatest but it got me thinking if a quality one might be used for cleaning residue off of ferrules before bluing or anything else.  (Greg Reeves)

    Ultrasonic cleaners work great when used to clean the old ink from the rapidograph pen tips that I sign my rods with.  (Don Green)

      That's all I ever used mine for - when rapidograph got crudded up, which was all too often.  What a PIA.  Much better with felt tip India ink marker, or decals.

      Bill Fink always called the silk line era "The Bad Old Days."  (Darrol Groth)

        As an illustrator for the last 40 years, I've been thru every type and style of ink pen. Rapidographs were great... unless you took a couple days off and hadn't sealed them tightly. Or the humidity dropped... or you disassembled it and dropped the hair like plunger on your table. Split nibs had their place, too. Personally, the old Pentel pens were the best... they used a bamboo nib. One of my old bosses had a hoard of them and we gradually used them up. They stopped making them in the late 70's and went to the fiber tips, which just weren't the same.

        Now I only use Micron's. Indelible ink and a .001 nib. They last and last... and a new one is only a few dollars. (Mike St. Clair)


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