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Heat Treating - Coloring

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My buddy wants me to make him a chocolate brown rod. Do I accomplish this  by flaming, or by baking in the oven. If its by flaming, I understand the process, but if its by baking, I am worried that the time involved will trash the strips. The test strips I have done on blonde strips, only have changed the color a few shades to a nice golden brown. This is for 20 minutes at 350. Any more, and I feel I might be asking for trouble.  (Mark Bolan)

    This might send some into a low orbit.  In a convection type oven, I have cooked bamboo for 2 hours @ 250, 1 hour @ 300, then 1 hour @ 400. The result was a deep chocolate brown which was quite attractive. For other reasons the 5 foot section was not immediately used. One day on a whim I bent the section into a complete circle. Upon release a set was noticeable but the section became straight again by the next day.  It became a 5 foot 4 wt which cast very well. The same heat process has been used several times since to make rods with alternating strip colors without problems. There is a word of caution in that all ovens are not the same. I am sure there are stories of disaster with lessor temperatures.  Good luck and watch the color.  (George Rainville)

    I was able to dye a blank dark brown by soaking it in dark walnut wood dye powder from Woodcraft, dissolved in water.  Depending on the glue you use, you might want to do the strips before glueup, then dry them out again before gluing.  Some of the wood dyes are soluble in either water or alcohol.

    Experiment with a couple scrap strips first, of course, to make sure you get the color you want and find out how long to soak.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)


A couple of months ago I posted about how to get an even tone while flaming and some suggested leaving the cane in the oven during the tempering stage longer to get the desired tone.  I did a little experiment this afternoon during an extended lunch break to see what I could come up with.  I took four sections of bamboo, scraped off the enamel and labeled them Natural, #15, #30, and #40.  I put the #15, #30, and #40 in my heat gun oven and turned it on.  It takes roughly 10 minutes for the oven to get to 350, the temperature I have been doing my heat treating.  I left the first piece in for 15 minutes after the oven reached 350, the second for 30, and third for 40.  In comparing them for color, the 15, 30, and 40 all look very similar with the 40 being just slightly darker than the other two.  I have yet to break them to see the difference in brittleness.   The flaw in my experiment and how I normally heat treat  is when I introduce the strips to the oven.  Normally I let the oven heat up first, put the roughed strips in and wait until the oven gets back to 350 before starting the timer.  .  It usually takes about 5 minutes for the oven to get back to 350 at which time I set the timer for 15 minutes.  When I do it this way, my blanks have come out very close to natural and nowhere near as dark as #15.

Since the board is kind of quiet and everyone has their opinion on heat treating I thought I would pose these questions.

1.  When do you put your strips in the oven? Before or after your oven has reached your designated temperature?

2.  How long do you leave them in the oven for adequate tempering purposes and does the time start when they enter the oven or when the oven returns to your designated temperature?

3.  How long do you believe you can leave the sticks in the oven at your designated temperature before they become too brittle to use?  (Greg Reeves)

    I always heat my oven first before I place the blanks in

    Heat to 190c
    Place sticks in
    I do 10 minutes only
    Blanks come out blond

    If I want a darker color I flame and only do 7 minutes in the oven to finish. I don't know about anyone else but I would say 30 to 40 minutes is to long. If I was to do 30 minutes I would reduce the temperature. Lets see what others say.  (Gary Nicholson)

      Very close to what I do.

      After some experimentation

      I always heat to temp first

      Blonde - 10 minutes

      Golden honey - 17 minutes

      Dark - I flame and reduce treatment to 7 minutes  (Ren Monllor)


        I have done a bit of playing about with the times and also the temp over the years. I find it pays not to over do it.  (Gary Nicholson)

      I think its worth pointing out a heat gun oven will in effect dry your strips out faster. It's a bit like putting your washing out on a windy day.   (Gary Nicholson)

        It is well worth remembering Gary's comment. I do 7.5 minutes at 330 degrees in my heat gun driven oven to get the light tan I prefer. 9 minutes gives me very dark and brittle strips that break across the strip and have little flexibility.

        Clearly each oven will vary and trial and error is the only way to find out how much.  (Ian Kearney)

          If you get that much cane darkening and damage at 330 degrees then I suspect something is wrong with your thermometer.  (Larry Swearingen)

            I would second that.  My test strips were in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes and when I snapped them, they still had a fibrous break.  They were stiff, but they didn’t make a clean break in the slightest bit.  (Greg Reeves)

              Like I have already stated It depends on your oven. If I did 40 minutes in my heat gun oven the strips would be useless.  (Gary Nicholson)

          Your thermometer isn't set to Celsius by any chance?  Mine can read either one.  You can test it in boiling water, it should read about  212 degrees F. or 100 degrees C. +/- (probably somewhat minus) depending on your altitude and the barometric pressure.   (Neil Savage)

    I set my thermostat to 425 degrees to preheat my oven. I have installed a small pilot light on the control box, the light goes out when the set temp is reached. I have the strips in the fixtures and slip them in the oven. Reset the oven for 375. The indicator light is still off. When the indicator light comes back on, I start timing at that point. The fixtures and strips have absorbed the extra heat. The indicator light will go off when the set temp is reached and will come back on when it drops below the set temp. This tells me when the strip is on or off. For the "honey" color I like, I heat treat for 14 minuets. If I want a bit darker, I go for 15 to 18 minuets. The darkest I do is 20 minutes.. I can't be sure that my oven is 375F as I have no way other than what the thermostat is set for. This is the regime I have been using for years.

    I have a heat strip oven.  (Tony Spezio)

    I like a nice brown tone similar to what Orvis rods have.  I heat my oven up to 370 and then put the bamboo in for 30 minutes.  I have never had a problem with breakage or charcoal sections.  (Tom Peters)


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