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I sign my rods in black India Ink as follows:

Harry Boyd, Jr. Maker
3901-WC 93-4

The numbers mean: 
“3901” I am 39 years old , and this is the first rod I built this year.
“WC 93-4” Wayne Cattanach taper, 93" 4 weight.

Also, a local jeweler engraves the butt caps with Harry Boyd Maker in three lines. (I tie flies for him and he doesn't charge me.  Can't beat that deal!)

Hope this gives you an idea.  Let us know what you come up with.  Who knows, you may even develop some sort of standard.  (Harry Boyd)

The first flat will read something like

7'6" 5wt JP101 or 6'3" 4wt PY
7" 4wt. pr#5

“JP” stands for Jim Payne or Paul Young...
“pr” stands for "proto rod" which really means it is something I have come up with taper wise or some other experiment.

The second flat will read something like

0104 Larry B. Love

The first two digit of the number are based on the year of completion  (00, 01, 99). The last two digits indicates annual out put as finished (not started), fifth rod is number 5, first rod number 1.

Please note that PR rods are not signed, but they are numbered.

I have started using a smaller .25 mm tipped pen made by Zig, I used to use a .5 mm Pilot pen. (Brad Love)

Steve Trauthwein ~ Maker
7042 01-1 323

This is an example of how I sign my rods now. I used to attribute the taper with the builders name on the rod. After reading that this could be construed as a marketing devise I no longer do this. This rod is a 7' 4 wt 2 piece. The first built in 2001 to a taper of Wayne Cattanach's.  (Steve Trauthwein)

PS:  Name and Maker is in script.


I use a Pigma Micron to sign rods.  The "005" model has a .20 mm width line, and the "02" model has a .30 mm width line.  I primarily use the "02".  I'm told that they have been used by the US Presidents to sign important documents due to their waterproof and fade proof ink.  They are usually available at art supply or stationary stores.  With bamboo, if you slow down your writing stroke you will get a darker build of ink with this pen.  (Chris McDowell)


Can someone give me the name of a good pen for rod signatures.  Is it common to use a quill pen with India ink or are there felt tip pens that will do the job.  (Mark Dyba)

    I just go to an Architect supply house and buy Technical pens. Depending on how wide you want your script, you can get .005's for the wide or .001 for a very fine line.  (Bob Nunley)

    Try Pigma Micron .001 in black, available from places like Michael's and Hobby Lobby, as well as the stationary and scrapbook stores my better half sometimes frequents.  (Harry Boyd)

    Dude!  I would go to the local art supply place (Michaels etc.) and get an "Art pen" or Lettering pen, a separate handle and a brass nib, and a bottle of India ink and use that. Quill Pen?  come on!  If you really want to, you can do that, get a goose feather or a turkey feather, use a pocket knife to cut the base of the quill and make it into a pen point, but most are supply stores have drawing pens for cheap prices, a couple of bucks should do it!    (Mark (the mysterious one))

      If you do go that route,  you might consider the "Testers" model paint.  I know black India ink is the tradition...  Anyway, I have been using that model paint and a calligraphy pen with a small nib for years to write on my graphite rods.  It comes in some nice metallic colors or good solids.  It is also fairly resistant to solvents once it dries, so it goes under varnish and polyurethane really well.  It flows from the pen nicely, too.  Very easy to write with, just make sure there aren't any drips on the tip of the pen before touching it to the rod, or you get a really thick stroke.  (Jason Swan)

    Rotring Rapidoliner   -  available at drafting supply or good art shops.  About $17  and disposable, but mine has been going for over a year without clogging or drying up.  They come in various point sizes - black ink. Other technical pens will work also - I have a Staedtler marsmatic700 refillable, but it tends to dry out and clog.  (Kurt Clement)

    ZIG Millennium's in the 005 size work well for lettering on rod blanks. They are readily available at office supply stores and they do not fade or bleed.   (Brad Love)


I'm about ready to start finishing a rod I'm working on.  When does everyone sign their rods?  Before the first coat of varnish, after the first coat, etc. (Todd Talsma)

    After the first.  (Tim Watson)

      Steelwool or lightly sand the area first then after the ink dries I spray varnish over the area... well, that's because I don't dip and drip.  (Timothy Troester)

    I know many of the classic rodmakers signed or decaled their rods before varnishing,  but for what it is worth, I prefer to do it after all else is finished.  Thus there is varnish below the signature and above.  If It is ever necessary to remove the inscription, it can be done a great deal easier.  (Ralph Moon)

    I usually sign my rods before I finish it. However I just completed a rod for a fund raiser where the rod was displayed before  the raffle. After the raffle I signed the rod with the winners name and coated it with one coat of Varmor.  I use a toothpick to apply the varnish and therefore never have problems with bubbles. If you sign a rod before varnishing it and you wish to redo it you can remove the ink with sandpaper easily. I use a Koh-i-noor Rapidograph pen with an unbelievably tiny tip .13 wide. They are expensive pens but the super thin line allows you to write very small. They can also be refilled with ink for pennies.  One of the things people often comment on about my rods are is the tiny writing I put on them. (Dave Norling)

      I think the main problem with signing an unvarnished (unsealed rod) is the good chance of having the ink run by following the grain of the bamboo. I always seal the blank by rubbing Waterlox sealer with my fingers as this as possible on the blank immediately after removing the string and glue residue. You can sign right on top of the sealer (the sealer is really tung oil varnish).

      Thanks Dave!  (Marty DeSapio)

    I've been signing mine before vanishing. If you let whatever media you are using dry well it comes out fine. I've done three rods that way and as long as  I didn't finger it while wet it worked.  (Bill Bixler)

    I sign after the first coat.  (Dave LeClair)

    I sign after the first coat.  I use a Pigma Micron and the ink bleeds into the raw cane.  The varnish keeps the lines crisp.  (Bill Lamberson)

    I always sign mine after sanding the first coat of varnish.  Works well. 

    I buy Technical pens from an architect supply house.  What I get are "Staedtler" MarsGraphic Pigment Liners in size .005.  The .01's are easier to find and look fine on a rod, but I do like the finer lines of the .005 better.  If you can't find the Staedtler brand, then read on the pen and make sure it's a Pigmented ink, Waterproof and Lightfast.  Just looked in the wrapping table drawer, because I knew I had another brand around somewhere that worked really good.  It's called a ZIG Memory System Millennium in Pure Black, size .005 (most companies leave the decimal off and just call them 01 or 005).  The Zig works just as well and it Pigment ink, acid free, Lightfast, waterproof.  I actually think Billie got the first of these for me and she ran across them at WalMart in the arts and crafts department.  (Bob Nunley)

    I like to put a good first coat on to seal the "pores" of the bamboo. Doing so allows me to scrub the ink off quickly if my handwriting gets especially sloppy.  The Pigma Micron pens I use wipe away with a little scrubbing with denatured alcohol.

    One hint.  Practice a few times on the area that will be under the reel seat so you'll have the best chance of getting it right the first time.  (Harry Boyd)

    I finish my rods like Wayne Cattanach.  Two coats of varnish both sanded almost completely off.  These seal the imperfections and if you sand carefully you have a perfect finish for the final coats.  I put on my guides etc. after these first two coats and sign the rod.  Then after 4-5 coats of finish on the wraps I dip again.  Usually two dips on the butt and one on the tip.   (Dennis Aebersold)

    I find it cross-bleeds along the grain and sometimes balls up on bare cane. I generally put it on after the first coat.  (Art Port)

    Signing with a pen: right on the blank - make sure it's a tad rough.  I've used Tjose gel pens, but my handwriting is so bad that I went to decals.  I guess if you used some kind of pen that bleeds, then a coat of varnish would stop that.

    Using decals:  need one coat of finish first, or the color of the wood will be different under the decal area.  (Jerry Madigan)

    I like to rub one coat of varnish lightly onto the cane, but only in the area where the information will be.  This seals the fibers, prevents your ink from "smearing," and keeps your lettering crisp.

    Then I go ahead and apply the first coat on the rod.  When this dries, you'll see that the lettering and the varnish over it are not exactly smooth.  The lettering will be raised (like braille) because of the thickness of the dried ink.  Use a small square of 1200 grit paper with a drop of mineral spirits to level this, but take care not to go through the ink itself.  Then a second coat will flow over the whole rod,  and the lettering will no longer stand out.  Or, if it does, you can easily sand the area flat again before final polish.  (Bill Harms)

    I do the signing and inscription before the last coat of varnish.  (Tony Spezio)

    Seal the bamboo (epoxy, really thin varnish, clear acrylic paint, etc.), let it cure, and start writing. You don't want, nor need a buildup of this finish. Just enough to seal off the bamboo.  Just make sure your ink is dry, and is of a type that is impervious to the varnish solvents, before applying your finish coats of varnish. You can test on scrap pieces of cane.  (Martin-Darrell)

    I am just a beginner, but Jerry Madigan demonstrated the decal process, which produces a really neat result. The demo was done over varnish. If you are interested, I am sure he would oblige with info. He has recently put me in touch with, where the water slide decal paper is available. My packet arrived  here in NZ 6 days after order!  (Dave Kennedy)


What does everyone use for signing their rods? Is there a particular pen brand or ink that seems to work best?  (Dewey Hildebrand)

    Try a ROTRING RAPIDOLINER sized at 0.18 mm.  This is a technical drawing pen with a self contained India ink cartridge, colors available are black, red and I think they now do white (Paul Blakley)

      The one I like is a Pigma Micron in size  .01 or .005 (.25 mm or .20 mm). Micron pens are also disposable technical drawing pens with permanent archival ink in a variety of colors and cost about $2.50.

      I used to use a Rapidograph pen, but I had to fill the pen before, and clean the pen after each rod.  The disposable pens last for years and they work great.  (Robert Kope)

    I have tried pretty much every pen (technical and otherwise). I like the Staedtler Pigment Liner in 01 mm and 03 mm  sizes. Available in various colors at Staples.  (Marty DeSapio)

      I use a Pigma Micron 005 made by Sakura Color Products of Japan which I got at the local arts store. Very fine pen that works very well. After I use it I spray the lettering very lightly with lacquer, before dipping, and have not had any runs.  (Jack Follweiler)

        ......and this reminds me to advise that I coat the blank with polyurethane varnish before lettering and then final varnishing.  The reason for this is that in my experience the ink gets absorbed into the bamboo without an undercoating and after a few years the lettering all but disappears......(Paul Blakley)

        Don't worry about it, the Pigma Micron ink doesn't run when you varnish the rod.  (John Channer)

          It won't run with a water-based varnish or an oil-based varnish, or both?  (George Bourke)

            Oil based, I use spar varnish, dipped, and do the writing between coats, never had it run. Water base varnish is junk, don't use it on anything.  (John Channer)

    I settled on a Rapidograph refillable technical pen, size 00.  Seemed to give me the nicest line size and ink flow with India ink.  (Mark Wendt)

    Here is what I have been using. A tan bodied, Pigma Micron 01. Sakura Brand. .25 mm Archival Ink.

    I have also used a similar one from them in the gray bodied pen, and it was just as good. Not sure the difference. These are available at Michaels and other crafts stores. I have also purchased them from the Buffalo State College bookstore. They are $2.50-$4. They are very nice for sketching as well, and they last a long time. Here is a link to get them on-line.

    I also have a refillable Staedtler, and it is not worth the hassle of refilling at $25.  (Bob Maulucci)

    I used the Rapidograph for years and it works well. I have switched to the Pigma Micron 01.

    Things I didn't like about the Rapidograph, it's a pain to keep clean if you don't use it frequently, Ink dries inside and must be cleaned out before it can be used. If you make a mistake on your rod, it has to be sanded off, if you don't it leaves very small scratches on the blank which might  cause a  problem when you re-sign. What I like about it is, great line size, good quality waterproof ink.

    Things I don't like about the Pigma. Ink is soluble with thinner. That was a bummer!  I found that out when wiping down the rod prior to dipping! Presto, unsigned rod!

    What I like about it is, very inexpensive, no maintenance, good line size, apparently waterproof ink.  (Mike Shay)

    I use a steel quill pen and India ink. Density is great and results better.  Of course I began using this type many years ago in high school drafting courses. I've tried cartridge type and have not been satisfied with results.  (Lee Koeser)


My preference for a signature is no signature at all. Why? Because I make cane rods to be used. If there is a signature with line weight on it people will look at it, read the signature, read the line weight, and put it back in it's fancy rod tube. Now if somebody pulls a cane rod out of a PVC tube, sees there is no signature, no line weight, he is more likely to say "Well, lets see what line weight this rod casts.", take it out and lawn cast it. Hopefully he will say "Wow this thing casts pretty good. I wonder what it is like to fish with it. Hmmm.... no maker signature, can't be too expensive, I think I will try fishing with it." If that happens just once, I'll be happy.

The reality is with all the rods I've sold the buyer wanted it signed. But that doesn't stop me from leaving my own rods unsigned.  (Darryl Hayashida)


How are you guys signing Bamboo rods?? I have heard of a template for signing, anybody doing that?? Also anybody using decals on bamboo rods?? If so how are they applying decals, procedure??  (Dave Henney)

    I use a Micron pen. I do have a K&E lettering kit, but I have not used it yet. Mark Petrie showed me his rods signed with the kit a while back. It is a great tool, but I have not worked out the kinks yet. Mark’s lettering looked great. Try eBay for a kit. Also, is a neat site for old catalogs and what not.  (Bob Maulucci)

      I spent some time on a drafting table 30 years ago and got a chance to use a Leroy lettering set then.  Took a little to learn how to use it but makes beautiful letters.  At SRG someone demonstrated using a Leroy and I came home and found one on eBay for $30.  Not too bad when you consider brand new these sets run $250 to $260.

      The old sets had what is called a tubular pen.  These look like small funnels with a pin in them.  Because most drawing are done by CAD these days, you can't easily buy new tubular pens.  I ordered some and got the last ones the distributor had in the sizes I wanted.  For what we do, I think sizes 000, 00 or 0 would be the best sizes.  A Leroy set comes with about 10 tubular pens and each holds a couple drops of ink.

      You can use a technical pen, but if you aren't using it on a regular basis it can get gummed up or dried out.  With the tubular pen, once you are done for the day, you can wash out with water what ever remains of the 2 or 3 drops of ink in the pen.

      So those of you who might want to purchase a Leroy set off of eBay want to bid on one that has the smaller tubular pens.  (Tim Wilhelm)

        Do you use a jig to level and hold the rod?  (Steve Weiss)

          Sort of.

          I had a piece of wood about 12" wide that I had routed a square groove in all ready.  Taped one of the templates parallel to the groove and slid the template I used to letter along it.

          I'm going to take a parallel rule and attach one rule to a board and use the other rule to slide the template against.  The parallel rule will allow me to adjust it a little.  I'll put a slot in the board for the blank and haven't quite figured how I want to hold the blank in the slot.  Have a couple ideas, just haven't figured out which one will be the easiest.  (Tim Wilhelm)

            I use a piece of the anti slip stuff they use in motor homes with a round lead weight on top of it.  I place this on the far end of the board on top of the rod, it is out of the way. Easy to move and not connected to anything.  Works for me. I can send you a photo if you would like. BTW if anyone has an extra 80 scale I would be interested in trading a 100 scale for it.  (Tony Spezio)

            If you're making hex rods, use a sign makers bit to cut the slot.  It will put a 60 degree groove in the board.  That will keep the section from turning while you're lettering.  For quads, a square groove would work.  (Mark Wendt)

    I have started using decals for signing rods because my writing is horrible.   I use the water slide decals that can be printed on either an ink jet or laser printer.  The decals can be purchased at most local hobby shops and are different for an ink jet printer or laser printer.

    I make two lines with the first line describing the taper(PHY Driggs River Special, Dickerson 8013 etc.), the length and the weight.  The second line shows who the maker is.  I put each line on a separate flat of the rod. You should adjust your spacing between lines so that the decal will fit nicely on the two flats.  I set up a page of different tapers and then print it out to see how they look and how they will fit on the flats of the rod.  Once you are satisfied that they are ok, you can then create a file on your PC to save for future use.  If you have an ink jet or laser printer at home, you can print them at home or take the decal paper to Kinkos etc.

    The decal paper that I have been using comes on an 8 1/2 by 11 size sheet and you can put multiple tapers on the same page and then just cut out the one you want to use, soak in water for about 30 seconds and then slide the decal off of the paper and onto the flats of your rod and carefully smooth out any wrinkles in the decal.

    Another nice thing about decals is that you can use different fonts and sizes.

    The decals work very well and are transparent after a couple of coats of varnish.  (Tom Peters)

      I've been signing this way for few years and have had good luck with laser decal material, but you have to get the right kind or they will run.  Also, you must varnish one coat under the decal before application.  (Jerry Madigan)


Well, scrounging around on eBay, I've managed to snag a couple of K&E Lettering kits.  One set came with lots of templates and two scribers but no case.  The other was an older kit with lots of tubular pen tips, one scriber and a beautiful wooden case.  The templates of the uncased kit were in less used condition.  I'm going to put a single kit together from these purchases and then sell the other useable pieces either on the list or on eBay.  I'd just as soon sell to someone who wants one on the list.

What I need to know from current K&E users is what size template have you found most useful.  It would seem to be the size 60 or 80 template.  I have two of each of those now.  I also have two size 100 but I'd think those would have to go on swelled butt rods or 5 weight or better.

Please let me know what sizes you are using so that I know what I am putting together or selling.

BTW, if it works out that I have extras, they would be very reasonable.  (Rick Crenshaw)

    Somebody please explain to this ignorant country boy just what a K&E lettering kit is!  (John Channer)

      For years Leroy lettering sets were used to put text on technical drawings, maps and blue prints.  With the advent of the computer, CAD software and wide body printers, they are pretty much a thing of the past.  Those of us that have used them will tell you that, when used properly, they result in absolutely perfect lettering.  Each character is an exact and uniform height and the lines are a uniform width or what is call line weight.  Those of us that look at drawings a lot can pick out lettering that is done with a Leroy real quick.  Hand lettering the drawings (freehand) is much quicker and most draftsman develop their own style of lettering.  Some of these styles can be pretty elaborate and you can see examples of this on some of the patent drawings that float about on ferrules and reels.  Since the draftsman is working with ink on vellum or Mylar, a mistake means you pretty much start from scratch and some of the draftsmen of the past were pretty anal about how their drawings looked.

      I found a fairly good description of the Leroy Lettering Guide.  That should give you a basic understanding of how it works.  If you want to know what the font basically looks like, check your word processor and see if you have the font Arial Rounded MT Black.  It's pretty much a dead ringer for what you'll get with a Leroy.

      Since I broached the subject of anal draftsmen, I've heard of a fellow that collects North Arrows.  Like I said, draftsman tend to develop their own style and a lot of that can be seen in the North Arrow that is put on a drawing or map.  This guy apparently has catalogued the unique ones he has seen in his life and if I am not mistaken has hundreds of them.   Plans on publishing a book one day.  Who knows maybe Hoagy will help him write it and we all may be out in our garages making North Arrows one day.  ;^)  There is something for everyone in this life, isn't there!  (Tim Wilhelm)

    What lettering fonts did you end up with?  (Mark Wendt)

      Just hobbled to the back room to see what is on the templates.  Seems most are 3240 - xxC.  I guess the 3240 is the letter font, but I have one 3240-60C and one 0250-60C which seem identical to me.  I only have a few that have caps AND lower case.  Most templates are way to large to use on a rod as you are probably aware.  I do have a few templates that have engineering and mathematical symbols which are of absolutely no use to me.

      The size 60 fonts seem quite small, but very readable and may be the most useful size.  The size 80 fonts seem about what you'd use most of the time, but I don't know for sure.  Can't make it up to the attic to get a good rule to measure the actual height of the letters. The size 100 may be a good size, too, but from just looking at it without the benefit of being near a good rule or a finished rod, I'm not sure if it would work in all situations.

      I'm thinking a 4/0 or 000 pen with the above sizes would be what you'd need for most rods.  (Rick Crenshaw)

        I use a borrowed 80 and a 3/0 Rapidograph pen for most of my writing.  The 100 with a 2/0 pen is OK for large rods.  (Tony Spezio)

          Maybe you could elaborate for the guys who are looking for the small size (000 or 00) K&E pens.  I haven't gotten to the local drafting supplier yet, but I think the style W pens intended for Calcomp plotters might fit into a K&E unit; I know the pens for the Houston plotters are too thick, necessitating filing open the hole in K&E cursor assembly a bit like I did.  (Jim Utzerath)

            The pens I am using are the Rapidograph KOH-I-NOOR pen #3165BX for the 1/.50 I would guess it is a 1/0 , I don't have any other info on the 2/0 and the 3/0. They are just marked Rapidograph KOH-I-NOOR. The 1/.50 came on a set with ink and the number is on the box, the other two are separate pens that I bought at craft store. The 1/.50 has a black band, the 2/0 has a yellow band and the 3/0 has a tan band. If I can get a scale smaller than an 80 I will see about getting a 4/0 pen. That would be a real fine line. These pens fit the pen holder (Plotter?) perfect.  (Tony Spezio)

              I will ask the local supplier about that part number.  FYI, from the sheet that came with my plotter pens (which don't fit my K&E) 1/.50 means a number 1 point with a line width of .5 mm or .020".  The very fine point you speak of is a 4x0/.18.  It says it is not available in every series.  (Jim Utzerath)

        Are most of the fonts a block font, or do you have any italics or other special type fonts?  (Mark Wendt)

          They are all block fonts with a definite slant to the left.  (Rick Crenshaw)

            I wonder if the geometry of the pen holder makes them block letters, rather than slanting to the left when the lettering is actually done.  It's been many years since I've used one of the things (Drafting class in high school...  Back before the days of AutoCad).  Have you had a chance to play around with it yet?  (Mark Wendt)

              I spent many hours with Leroy lettering sets, when I was an undergrad geography student.  You could adjust the slant of the letters by adjusting the angle of one of the legs of the pen holder.  I forget if its the one that follows the letter or the one that follows the straight groove.  Just loosen the knurled screw and move it.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

                I thought I remembered something like that.  It's been about 25 years since I've used one of those sets, and the memory gets a little foggy once in a while.  (Mark Wendt)

              The letters are straight when printed.  (Tony Spezio)


I'm looking for suggestions on how to "fix" India ink inscriptions on the "first bamboo rod."  I need to fix the writing so that I can further varnish without messing up the writing. I have already tried an artistic fixative, but these have a small amount of acetone in the spray and it makes a mess. Any one's input or suggestions would be welcomed. My alternative that I have used successfully on graphite rods is to use acrylic artist paint - this works and can be fixed. My problem here is I have white and yellow in my shop and need black. Will need to get black tomorrow or Monday at the artist store for a traditional look.

I am semi-please with my first rod - not cast yet - maybe by Monday. I would grade a C+ to B-. Nodes and bamboo surface irregularities are the biggest negatives in my opinion.    (Frank Paul)

    I use India black ink in a technical pen upon a lightly sanded section for inscriptions.  The ink dries quickly and you can speed it up with your heat gun.  Inking is the last operation before doing the third and final dip in spar varnish.  If the ink is dry there is no bleeding or smudging.  (Ted Knott)

    I wipe softly with Formby's Tung Varnish. After the ink is dry. This seals it before final varnish.  (Tony Spezio)


I'm just curious as to which flats you all sign/write on...

If the cross section of a hex rod is viewed as a clock face and the flats are 12 2 4 6 8 10 (with 6 being the side on which the reel attaches, the bottom) which flats do you write/sign on?

Things like model, rod owner's name, maker's name, etc...

I did a few searches and could not come up with any kind of consensus (if there is one).  (Patrick Mullen)

    Which end of the rod are you viewing your "clock" from?  As viewed from the butt, I write on 2 and 4.  (Carl DiNardo)

      Viewed from the butt... (Patrick Mullen)

    2  (Ralph Moon)

    On a similar note.  If you build a rod on another maker's blank, how can you sign the rod while giving credit to the maker of the blank without implying or causing confusion that the rod was totally constructed by the blank maker?  Is this clear as mud?  (Doug Brooke)

      Made by: Maker, Built by: Yerself  (Mark Wendt)

    Whichever flats I can't see when I'm fishin'.  (Mike Shay)

    If I am signing a rod with handle to my left, I sign the flat on top opposite the guide flat. The flat underneath that I sign the model, line weight, serial number, and date. So for example on the Heddon 7' Folsom I just planed out, I wrote:

    R. Maulucci - maker

    JH 704 #66 2004

    (JH for James Heddon, I guessed. I use EG for Garrison tapers, PHY for Youngs, LD for Dickersons, and DAX for my own. The serial number is simply the rod from the total number I have made. The next three numbers are length 7' 0" and the Line weight 4)    (Bob Maulucci)

    12 o'clock  "Pickard 7024" (L+2pc+wgt) then on 2 o'clock right below, the persons name if they want . (John Pickard)

    2 & 4

    If the rod's for me - Rod# and Date near grip. My name, name of rod (e.g. '8014G' or 'Sir D' or something cryptic like 'L290/068'), and rod length written about 1/2 way between grip & signature wrap.

    If the rod's for somebody else - My initials, rod# and date near grip. Owners name, name of rod, and rod length 1/2 way between grip & signature wrap.

    Things I never write on a rod are the line weight and another rod maker's name. I think line weight is subjective - "one man's 6 weight is a another man's 7 weight." I've been known to change my mind about the best line for a rod after several fishing trips. I wouldn't want anyone to pick up one of my rod's and even consider that it was made by somebody else, especially a famous maker.  (Tom Bowden)

    12 - 4 - 8  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    4 - 6 - 8 for me.  (Mark Wendt)

    The guy who helped me build my first rod (graphite) uses 2 and 4 or 8 and 10 depending on which hand you fish with.  His argument is that if you have a photo taken of you & rod & fish, a right handed  fisher will display the 2 & 4 o'clock flats (IE: reel to his own right, tip to his own left - which shows the 2 & 4 positions.  A left handed fisher would tend to face the camera with the reel end of the rod towards his left - showing the 8 and 10 o'clock positions.

    Made sense to me.  (Greg Dawson)

    2 and 4.  (Robert Cristant)


I'm finishing up my first rod.  I used a black fine point sharpie to sign it.  The ink is inconsistent and thin.  I don't like the way it looks.  I had hoped for simple black lettering.  What should I be using to make it look decent?  (David Bolin)

    Go to an office supply or crafts tore and get a Pigma Micron pen in the smallest size, I think it's .005 or 05, something like that, makes a nice line, cleans off with alcohol if you flub, and doesn't run in varnish after it dries.  (John Channer)

    I use a pigment ink also called "china ink"  You can find this in any good art store. (Michel Lajoie)


I've just realized that I should have signed my first rod before applying Tru-Oil as finish. What would be the best way of signing now?  (Stephen Dugmore)

    Scuff it up a little with very fine steel wool.  Sign.  Apply a couple more coats of Tru-Oil.  (Harry Boyd)


I have a dark flamed rod blank and want to make the signature in white. What kind of ink or paint are useful for that? (Markus Rohrbach)

    I just inscribed two dark rods last week. I had been using Water Base White Out. What I had dried up and was not usable. Could not find any more water base White Out typing correction fluid, it is all alcohol base now. Dries too fast to use with a pen.

    I finally found a stationery store that had White Ink. I used it with my Kilroy lettering set and it worked fine. It also works good with a Speedball pen.

    The brand is Higgins Super White non Waterproof Drawing Ink # 4015. I apply several coats of Formby's Tung Varnish on the rod before writing on it. This seals the bamboo, steel wool wipe with denatured alcohol and write. If you make a mistake it is real easy to erase with a damp paper towel. After the varnish is applied over the ink, it is waterproof.  (Tony Spezio)

    I had asked the list about a month ago with how to best get a signature on a graphite rod. I had many good responses, but one was the simplest for me to pursue. I used a white gel pen and sprayed a clear coat of acrylic over it. Looked like a million bucks, my pal was thrilled. I am sure it will work on cane. The brand name was "Gelly Roller" or something like that. White is a common color. You might find white India Ink, but the gel pen was a good $2 alternative and that was for 5 pens, the rest which thrilled my five year old.  (Bob Maulucci)


I'm selling a rod which is based by PHY taper. What is the right way to sign it, "Paul Young taper Driggs River", or just "Driggs River" and "Maker - Me". Or "It's me, I made it, me, me, me <g>? (Pekka Hyvonen)

    Good question, which I haven't seen addressed. The approach I've taken so far has been the initials of the taper's originator and the rod model. I feel credit should be given even if the taper isn't an exact copy, whether the curve smoothed or the length or line weight changed. I just finished a "J.P. 98/5" and earlier built an "L.D. 7914."  Is there a standard for nomenclature or does everyone have his own style regarding this.  (Henry Mitchell)

      It can get even more complex. What if you do a rod based on a Sir D which is a modification of a Cattanach modification of a Payne 100 (if I remember correctly).  (Larry Puckett)

      Clarifying previous comment, I do sign my name so that it is clear who butchered the taper.  On the other hand if it comes out totally different then I don't reference anyone else. Paul Young would roll over in his grave if he knew the dimensions of what started out to be a Midge: it's only 5' 10"!  (Henry Mitchell)

        If I do a good job on a rod and I'm proud of my  work I sign my name of it no matter who's taper it may have been  originally.  If I botched it, I sign it with Greg Shockley's  name.  (Ed Berg)

          And here I thought we were signing "The Nunley" on botched rods...   ;-)   After all, wasn't he rescued from a certain island on the Norfork river a coupla years ago?  (Mark Wendt)

    It depends on who you ask. Personally, I've never felt comfortable riding another’s coattails, using their reputation to sell my (possibly nowhere near as good) rod. So I just sign my own name and that's it. If the new owner wants to discuss what taper I started with , then I will tell him, but I won't put it in writing on the rod. There are so many variables in a bamboo rod that I don't think that anything I make will turn out much like any originals it may have descended from, I have a bad habit of changing tapers just to see what happens anyway.  (John Channer)

    I believe the maker should sign the rod some way or other. If you made it you should sign it. The buyers are interested a lot more in who made it than what taper it is. Some also mark the rod with a model number or name so that they can identify the taper.  (Ray Gould)

    You should give credit to the originator of the taper Paul Young taper - Driggs River. Then sign your name as the maker. Pekka ~ Maker  (Pete Van Schaack)


For three or four years I have been trying to improve the quality of finishes on my rods.  My goal was a perfect, blemish-free finish.  Some of the more humorous aspects of that trial and error process have been chronicled here.

Well, I'm finally getting close.  I have concocted a witches brew of varnish, Penetrol, and artist's grade thinners.  Add in a little dumb luck and you have the ingredients for a nearly flawless finish in my particular setup.

Over the last few weeks I have been working on the finish on two 7'9" hollow built, swelled and morticed butt five weights.  Both of these rods are supposed to be presentation grade.  One is for a customer, another for an auction.  You know the type, fancier than usual wraps, super-select reel seat fillers, engraved hardware.... the works.

Because of the color combinations I have decided to wrap the rods after varnishing, thus avoiding dip tube problem with color preserved wraps.  Two coats of varnish on the tips, and three on the butts.  And finally --- Eureka!  Hallelujah! --- I have what appears to me to be a flawless finish on the butt sections.

Last night I took the butt sections in the house to begin wrapping guides, ferrules, etc.....  and it hit me.  Duh!  You forgot to sign the rods.  You know the old saying "make a preacher cuss"?

So here's the question.  Rather than sanding down a flawless coat of varnish and dipping the butts again, I am thinking of lightly scuffing the signature area, signing the rods, and adding a coat of varnish by hand over the signature area only.  Any suggestions?  Should I use a very thin varnish that will flow and self-level quite well?  Could I use something like Tru-Oil?  Or another wiping varnish?  If not, should I use a sable brush, foam brush, or -- heaven forbid -- epoxy?

Any help appreciated.  I REALLY don't want to sand these down and add another coat.  (Harry Boyd)

    Congratulations Harry.  I am sure you will share?  I think if you very lightly scuff the area for the signature and then use a very thin coat of varnish with a sable brush.  I think you are looking at a single stroke - no back and forth.  However, I have always felt it necessary to do a check signing first on an old rod section.  Sometimes the ink will bleed when the varnish is applied and then you have a real mess.  Now send me one of those presentations rods for helping you out.  (Ralph Moon)

    I did that so I scuffed the varnish with some four zero steel wool only on the flats I needed to label and wiped the dust off carefully and put on the data.  When everything was totally dry I brushed on an unthinned coat of varnish over the area (all six flats), while it was turning on the rod drying spit (you know, like a barbecue and let it spin until fully dry.

    Now comes the good part:  Since that part of the rod will be one coat thicker than the rest, you need to visually disguise that problem, so you frame the Signature etc. on either side with a nice little pair of wraps of your choice. Perhaps a quarter inch or more so it looks like a custom label.

    You can treat the wraps in the same fashion that you do for the guides etc. from that point on, Or you can do what I did and use a little high build finish on those two particular wraps.  It might look a little too gaudy relative to the rest of the design but I suspect you will like it.  (Dick Steinbach)

    PS: A little warm heat when doing those high builds; skid your fine tip brush over it while turning and you can drag off the excess and any air bubbles that may crop up very easily.  Hope that helps.

    All is not lost. Actually it's better to have a coat or two of varnish on a rod before signing it in ink. The nib tends to scratch the surface of bare cane and makes a wider and less appealing line. Just scuff it a bit and sign it and varnish over the ink when dry.   (Ray Gould)

    Why not get the reel seat hardware engraved instead?  (Bob Maulucci)

      Good suggestion, but it already is engraved.  One has the fancy fleur de lis patterns, and the other has a simple oak leaf pattern with the customer's initials on the butt cap.  And he wants his name inked on the shaft.  (Harry Boyd)

    Been there, done that. Use your regular varnish, cut it about half with thinner and use that over the signature. My signature area has a wrap closing it, so it was fairly easy for me to varnish from the hook keeper wrap to the signature wrap and from corner to corner, it made for a place to end the varnish. I put two or three very thin coats over it, let it dry for what seemed like forever, but was probably only a week,  then polished it out, very carefully! and it turned out pretty darn good for a mistake.  (John Channer)

    Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.  I assumed (and you know what that makes me) that you were already wrapped.  Right or wrong, I wrap and sign then put on a final dip coat so I thought that's where you were.  So like others have suggested, lightly scuff the area to be signed, SIGN IT, varnish and put on trim wraps and nobody is the wiser.  (Al Baldauski)

    How does wrapping over the varnish work out?

    I was always under the impression that the varnish would still be slightly soft until 100% cured and this would make problems in packing and burnishing the wrapping silk

    Might be wrong on that though.  (Nick Kingston)

      For what my opinion is worth, I started wrapping over the varnish on the last three rods I have built and I really like it.  I use Pratt and Lambert spar varnish and a drip tube.  After three or four coats I can really polish the varnish to a mirror finish without having to work around the guides. Wrapping doesn't seem to be any different than wrapping without varnish, the thread packs fine (Naples or YLI 100).

      I like it because it seals the bamboo under the wraps and I can get a mirror finish on the rods, plus when using the drip tube I don't have to stop at each guide so the  varnishing goes  really quick.   (Tom Mohr)


Just picked up a Leroy Lettering Device. Now I have to learn how to use it. Any helpful hints would be appreciated.

What ingenious device are you guys using to hold Leroy Lettering Device/Templates and Rod while lettering?

Which template/size/style do you prefer?

If you slant your letters, how? I would like to try Italic lettering but don't know a source for the template, anyone know?  (Don Schneider)

    There should have been a pen holder included.  It holds the drafting pen and the pen holder has two pins on it.  One on each end.  One pin follows the long recess line on the bottom of the template and the other pin follows the letter recess.

    In order to italicize your letters the pen holder is adjustable with a thumb screw which sets the angle.  If I can find my old set, I will take pictures and post.

    Being an old draftsman, I haven't used my set in about 20 years, and since I never throw anything out I'll have to dig it out.  That might take time.  (Ron Elder)

    When I get a chance I'll take a pic of the rod holding jig Morton Lovstad (who originated this idea) built me years ago.  I hope you got a 80 template with your set because it is the size you need.  Some sets don't come with the 80 size.  The wider you open the space on the duplicator, the more slant your letters have.  As for tips, practice is the only solution.  It takes some getting used to.  (Mark Petrie)

    I use a 80 template with a .25 pen. It works perfect. I started out with a 100 template and a .5 pen because it was all I had, the letters were too heavy and large.  Check my article in Power Fibers, I think it was Issue 10 or 11. I will be doing some lettering tomorrow, will be glad to send you some photos of the setup I use. Morton Lovstad helped me get setup with the lettering. I saw him doing it at the SRG some years ago.  (Tony Spezio)


I just brown toned a rod and my black 005 Micron pen just doesn't show up when signing the rod.

Does anyone have any info on a white ultra fine writing pen???  (Jack Follweiler)

    You can get India ink in White. I use a dip pen with black or white India ink to write on my rods. I think I have seen white technical pens with .05 tips on them in the art supply stores. I'll check at Guiry's this week, if you can't find something let me know and I'll send you one.  (Jeff Fultz)


I have tried several different tools/ink to write info on rod blanks. While most have worked to some extent, I recently used an office pen called Pilot G-2 05 that has permanent black ink. I came upon it by chance, as I use these while teaching a course this spring. Anyway, I suggest you give them a try. I am sure places like Staples sell these pens. They come with different point sizes (05 and 07), but I used the 05 point. It makes a fine line and does not smear if let to completely dry. When I put varnish over it, it also did not bleed. It also does not come off very easily as I have found out by doing a wrap over a dot I used for blank alignment. I had to remove the wrap and get the dot off the blank and rewrap. Just my experience.  (Frank Paul)

    Personally, I'm going to stick to  the Micron pens with archival ink.  I signed my first rod with a permanent ink Pilot -- may not have been identical ink as they make a bazillion -- but it faded in a couple of years.  No such problem with the Micron.  (BTW, "bazillion" is a technical accounting term, I learned it from my CPA son.)  (Neil Savage)


It has been some time since I put my name to a rod, I used to use a Rapidograph pen and India Ink.  What all works best for you?  (Don Green)

    I use a STAEDTLER pigment liner sizes 01 or 03.  (Timothy Troester)

    Pigma MICRON archival ink, #08 (0.50mm) or #01 (0.25mm).  (Neil Savage)

      You know, for a long time I used a Rapidograph, but the cleaning of the damn thing took about 10 times as long as the time for which I was using it;  so I bought (for bout 25  cents each) a few old fashioned steel nibs, which are available from art supply shops, and a wooden nib holder.

      Along with a bottle of good quality India ink,  this gives me a full range of thicknesses and styles from heavy copperplate ti ultra fine plain line;  and they clean with a wipe!  (Peter McKean)

        I too use the Pigma Micron.  It's archival quality ink, and the pen is disposable, no clean up involved.  I've been using the same pen for 5 or more years, and it only cost around $3 US.  (Chris Obuchowski)

        Oh, I agree, keeping the Rapidograph pens unclogged was a major pain!  A few months ago, though, I bought some Higgins Pen Cleaner.  It quickly cleaned up some old pens that had dried out on me nearly 20 years ago!

        After cleaning, I refilled them from a new bottle of Higgins India Ink.  The pens have been working better than ever, writing smoothly and not giving me the clogging headaches that used to be common place.  I think the pen cleaner must have lubricated the pen a bit, as well as cleaned off dried up crud.

        Whatever works for you, though.  Dip pens are certainly cheaper and easier to maintain for occasional use.  (Paul Gruver)

          Thanks for the tip on the pen cleaner. I used to keep the points in small containers of distilled water, but that too got to be a pain. I dropped one of the containers once and found the point bent almost 90 degrees. That can get expensive.  (Tony Spezio)


I'm getting ready to varnish a 3 piece, 2 tip rod and was wondering if the middle section should have any labeling?  (Tom Key)

    Normally, I put the serial number on all three sections, all on the same flat.  (Ren Monllor)

    I sometimes put the number of the rod on all sections, depends on my mood.  here is how I do it.  I put the rod # down in the section on the butt where I sign the rod & then on the mid & tip (3 piece) or just tip on a 2 piece I put the # again by the male ferrule on the same flat I number the butt section.  (Bret Reiter)

      I have done as Bret suggests, but normally just number the butt section.  Tastes are quite personal, but more and more I want as little written information on the rod as possible.  But as my wife says, I reserve the right to change my mind.  (Harry Boyd)


Quick question: What pen do you prefer for writing on a rod?  I have used an ultra fine Sharpie on two rods and the writing has already started to fade.  This with several coats of Spar Varnish over the writing.

I have a super fine art pen that puts down the perfect line but, it will wipe off if you even look at it.  If possible I would like to avoid fountain pens or other "Ink" pens as maintenance on them has been a pain in the past.  (Pete Emmel)

    Micron archival ink pens available at your local craft store.

    Sharpies fade, the rods I marked with these are still sharp and clear.  (Pete Van Schaack)

      This is what I use too.  I don't understand the numbering, it doesn't seem to correlate with the size.  Be sure you read the mm diameter.  (Neil Savage)

      I have a Micron Archival just like Pete mentioned.  Wrote on a scrap section, hit it with a heat gun and clear coated within 10 minutes.  Worked great, looks like that pen is a winner.  Don't know what I was doing wrong the first time.

      I should be a professional Beta Tester, if something can be screwed up, I can find a way to do it.  (Pete Emmel)

    I have been using a pigment liner made by STAEDTLER. I have an 01 & 03. (Timothy Troester)

    I and most of the old rods from Heddon, Hardy and Young etc uses India ink applied with an artist pen. Nib and handle. I use a Hunt 107 nib with good results. This can be purchased at Hobby Lobby or Michaels. Black india ink is waterproof and color fast. I apply it directly to the bamboo then varnish over it after it is dry. An hour or two drying I'd enough. The pen requires no other maintenance than wiping with a paper towel after use.  (Morten Lovestad)

    If you go t any technical drawing supplier's store, or most art shops, you can buy old fashioned steel nibs and pen holders to put them in.  You can use then with any color of ink;  I do mine using India ink, a friend uses white artist’s' ink.  You can buy a selection of nibs for about 50 cents each, and maintenance consists of running them under the tap  and wiping them dry.

    Once the India ink dries, a couple of minutes, you will  not smear it away easily.

    I used use a Rotring Rapidograph, but as you point out the maintenance drives you up the wall.  (Peter McKean)

      Perhaps before using any pen, the Micron Archival, nibs (the term for the pen points you buy to go into the holders for calligraphy and lettering) with holders, Rapidographs, Leroy or Teledyne Post lettering sets that draftsmen used before CADD came along I would suggest a very thin coating of spar varnish over the area of the blank where you will be writing. Let the thinned varnish dry then do your lettering. This will help prevent the ink from being absorbed by the bamboo.  As a very old art teacher and wood sculptor I have found this to work fairly well.  (Phil Crangi)

        I should, perhaps, have mentioned that.  I always do my lettering after the first dip varnish layer has applied and dried.  I also find that it helps if I polish the varnish smooth before lettering.  When prepared in this way, the ink just glides on; especially with the steel nibs, there is a marked tendency to catch and jerk if you try it on raw cane.

        Thanks for the reminder, Phil.  (Peter McKean)

    I guess I have just about tried them all and there is no better than using a cartography/artists nib and India ink. The cost of the pen (usually a simple wooden body) and a few nibs to try ( get the very finest possible) is very little.  (Paul Blakley)


Based on previous recommendations, I am experimenting with a Micron archival pen to sign my rods.  I normally rub on a coat of Formbys tung oil varnish after sanding the glue off the blank.  If I sign with this pen on the varnish, it can easily be rubbed off even 24 hours later.  I am concerned the ink will run when I dip the finished rod in M.O.W.

Has anyone else experienced a problem like this?  Do I need to sand the varnish off the signature flat first?  Can I overcoat with something like artists fixative.  (Rick Hodges)

    First off I don't think you would have any problems with the signature running if you just don't touch it before you dip it. But why don't you take a cut off blank and try it first? That way you will know and don't have to get grey hair while you are doing it? I already did that for you! One more thing that just came to mind is just steel wool that area with some 0000 steel wool? Just thinking out loud here.  (Joe Arguello)

    Cut a piece of cutoff bamboo with Formbys right on the piece when the varnish is dry. After a few hours coat with varnish and see if it runs.  (Timothy Troester)

    Try using a heat gun or hair dryer to heat set the signature.  That should eliminate the problem you have with the ink rubbing off.  (Bob Nunley)

    I've used a Pigma Micron .005(Ithink) for about 65 rods now and never had a problem with them bleeding. I always sign the rods in between the first and second coats of varnish. After the first coat, sand as usual, clean with whatever you usually use, let it dry, sign and let the ink dry thoroughly before you do the second coat. DON'T write on bare cane, if you do and mess it up you won't get it off to fix it.  (John Channer)

    You need to scuff the surface you are going to write on.  Knock down the shine with some 4/0 steel wool.  Once the ink is dry, you don't need any fixative.  (Mark Wendt)

      I use a Micron pen to sign my rods(for what it is worth, mi signature is poor at best and am thinking of having my wife do this job for me so it can be read.) Whatever pen you choose to use the surface needs to be lightly gone over with steel wool or 600 grit or lighter sand paper. Let the ink dry and then dip. Dipping or draining won't cause the ink to run, at least it hasn't for me. Do not use any spray fixative, most are made with diluted lacquer and will damage the other stuff you put on the rod originally. As an art teacher I used to use cheap hair spray instead of spray fixative on my students' drawings. it was the same stuff but way cheaper and smelled much better.  (Phil Crangi)

    If all else fails, you can "cheat" by using a small spray can of varnish. Cover the grip and put a light coat or two, then dip as usual.  (Scott Grady)

    As an illustrator, I've used India and archival ink pens for almost 40 years. They are designed to be used on something with a coarse, somewhat absorbent surface, not one like glass. I sign my rods with the Micron, give it plenty of time to dry. And then dip the rod, or spray between the signature wrap and winding check with canned helmsman's.

    If you spray fixative, it will likely water spot the ink. The solvents in the fixative do not react well to the ink on a nonporous surface and break it down again. Fixative is designed to be absorbed into paper, or canvas and bond the ink lines in between.  (Mike St. Clair)

    I experiment with the cutoffs from the rods, using a Micron pen and various surface preparations... it seems easier to use the cutoffs than to manipulate the rod section.

    Haven't had a problem with drying ink or with  running  so far.  Epiphanes varnish coats the signature nicely...  (Ken Rongey)

    If any of you "paint" with artist's acrylics, grab the Mars Black, Titanium White, Manganese Blue, or any one tube of a rainbow of colors, get a selection of quill pen nibs and nib holder (from the local art supply store)..... and just mix a dab or two of pigment with H2O and make a constancy that works/flows with the pen nib......

    OR........... make your own bamboo pen and SIG away!!!!! (The required mention of bamboo)

    The water based acrylic doesn't dissolve with the solvent in the varnish or epoxy.

    (It's way more fun than just pulling the cap off of a pen.)  (Ed Miller)


I thought I would ask which is the 'right' way to write on your blanks and the 'correct' way to number rods because I know everyone here does it properly.

Does the term "Maker" go before or after your name?

Does everyone keep records of the rods they make?

What do you record?

Does the year it was made need to be on the rod?

Does the taper get recorded on the rod and or the originator if its a variation on a known taper?  (Andrew Connell)

    The options are limitless.  I write as little information as possible on the rod shaft.  Typically I just sign my name and add a serial number (see here). The serial number is four digits.  The first two are my age (50, right now).  The second two digits denote the number of rods completed year to date (3, in the example).  The three signature wraps in the pictured rod indicate that it's a three weight.  If someone can't look at it and determine length, well, tape measures are not hard to find.

    Classic rod makers varied from nothing on the shaft (Payne) to voluminous information (Young).  So the choices are yours.  (Harry Boyd)

    Holding the rod in your hand as you're fishing, lets call the top flat (opposite the guides) #1.  On flat #2 I write as neatly as possible "RL Nunley   Maker"  then on flat #6 I write the serial number of the rod.  Also on the guide side flat of the tips, I write the serial number only.

    That's all I write on the rods these days unless a customer asks for more.  I figure they can tell how long the rod is and if it casts a 4, 5 or 6 wt, so I don't write that on the rod unless I'm asked.

    As for records, I keep an index card on every rod I make.  I record serial number, cane tone, length, line weight, color of hardware, type of reel seat, type of filler wood, color of wraps, name of original purchaser... basically an EXTREMELY detailed description of the rod.  I also put all of this on a "Certificate of Ownership" that I send to the original purchaser.

    The year I made the rod is kind of in the serial number.  Say I made a rod when I was 52 years old and it was the 11th rod I made that year.  Serial number is #5211.

    As for tapers, I only make my own tapers, so don't worry about recording them on the rod or in the records.  (Bob Nunley)

    Andrew Connell's being sarcastic -
    His background with fly rods of plastic
    And late conversion to the truth,
    Hath made a callow kern, forsooth!

    But bamboo men who walk with gods,
    Know what to write upon their rods!
    So guide him well, that he might know
    And knowing, gaining knowledge, show

    How he has grown in wisdom, that
    He inscribes only, upon each flat
    Details sufficient for us to deem
    The measure of his self esteem!

    Cheers!  (Peter McKean)

    For signature, and since I am a hobbyist and don't crank out as many rods, I finally settled on the total # the rod is and year of making - So the one I'm working on now (on bottom flat) will be: D. Groth 3409.  If I'm making the rod for someone who wants their name on it that goes more prominently on flat #2.  Also, if I want to honor or flatter a friend, a taper might come to be referred to as their taper, e.g. Brent's Taper.

    Some of the best advice I got when I started was from Mark Wendt to keep a journal.  All my rods are entered into this journal, in order, by number.  Initially, and naively, this started out kinda "Dear Diaryish" but now contains good information such as which adhesives, colors, varnishes, etc. were used.  It also delineates new techniques tried, What works for me and what doesn't, How I screwed up and how I can prevent this in the future. (i.e. DOH's)  It also contains pics of the rods, and tweakings of the tapers.  This becomes invaluable, such as recently, because I can look back and remember what material, glue, color, and or thread I used for a particular technique and not have to rely on this ever worsening memory.  What was I talking about?  Never mind...  (Darrol Groth)


I am making a rod for a fellow who wants all writing on his rod written by a laser. He has a source. I told him it would ruin the integrity of the rod. Actually I don't know anything about the subject. What do you think?  (Dave Wallace)

    As long as the laser does not burn very deeply, there should be no problem.  It will need to be sealed afterwards.  I scrimshaw my rod signature, which means it is scratched in and there have been zero problems from that and shallow laser etching would probably be the same.  (Tim Anderson)

    I have my pens engraved by a laser quite a bit.   If the guy knows what he's doing it will not burn deep. The best thing is that it's a flat surface and you can fill the etchings, put sealer or whatever.

    I would take a scrap piece and make a test burn to make sure the bamboo reacts well to the laser.

    Also, make sure he has a rotary table attachment and not some blocks of wood to hold the rod so that it will be sqaure with the laser.  (Ron Hossack)

RuleI have tried all manner of inks and pens to sign my rods.

Problem is that I brush finish my rods on a turner and whatever I do the ink always runs.

End up giving up and a simple Letraset PJ varnished over does for me.

Most of the people (friends) I sell cheaply to are happy with this although some want Built by Paul Johnson for etc...

Just found and ordered some ink jet paper that works like Rub on Letraset.

Print what you want on the paper apply the carrier paper and rub on like normal Letraset.

Any other suggestions or what 'am I doing wrong

Tung oil the blanks once they are sanded clean and give them a once over with 500 before whipping etc.  (Paul Johnson)

    I use the permanent Micron pens you get at a craft store. Write on a couple of coats of varnish, then with one brush stroke I cover it (let the ink dry first!).

    Any fussing ruins it.   (Pete Van Schaack)

    The Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen works well, however due to my messy handwriting I have been using Inkjet Aqua-Slide Decals put out by Papilio in Rhome, Texas for quite some time.  I use the old brush script that Hank Roberts used.  Anything you can cook up on the computer and printed on an injet printer (printing and or mayflies and the like) will make a decal.  In fact, I'm fixing too use the Pink Floyd prism logo on a rod. They carry a starter kit with the paper, slide stuff and fixative one needs.  As usual, no $$ interest on my part.  (Darrol Groth)

    Though most say that they sign between coats of varnish I have found that it works better for me to sign directly on the bare cane. The ink must be DRY before varnishing. If you can't wait a couple of hours hit it with a hair dryer set on low. Once I learned the virtue of patience I've never had any runs regardless of whether I dip or brush.  (Will Price)

    I use a KON-I-NOOR RAPIDGRAPH pen with india ink. Then mask the area and lightly spray with clear laquer. Then dip as usual.  (Lee Koeser)

      That is what I use, a 3/0 nib and India Ink.. After applying a couple of coats of Formby's, steel wool, wipe off dust and write on the rod. Then wipe on a coat of Formby's to seal itl.  When dry, lightly steel wool with 0000 steel wool. The final draining comes after wiping the rod with a tack cloth.This works for me.

      For those using the KON-I-NOOR RAPIDGRAPH  pens, if you have a bad one or a broken one, they will replace the whole pen for 5.00. You send in the pen or just the nibs with a check for 5.00 ea and they will send you a replacement postage paid. I just found out about this a few weeks ago. Sent in 4 broken nibs with a check for 20.00 and got 4 new pens back yesterday. They will only replace same type and size as the ones sent in.  (Tony Spezio)

    I use a plain old fashioned steel nib (I have them in various sizes, and they come from art shops) and genuine India Ink. 

    I polish the point of the nib very gently on a slipstone (fine Arkansas) when I buy it, and I apply the ink onto the bamboo before I put on any varnish.  I finish my blanks before dipping using a fine slurry of Tripoli (Rottenstone) in Tung oil, so that is the surface I am using.

    I find that once the ink is dry you pretty well have to sand it off if you want to change it.  (Peter McKean)

      I have never been able to write on raw bamboo without it running.  The signature must be applied to the varnished rod. Other than that, your procedure is spot on.  (Ralph Moon)

        I guess, Ralph, that by the time I have used the Tripoli/tung oil slurry and rubbed it (I use a hardwood block with a piece of leather glued on, rough side out) down pretty well, and polished the surface with a soft cloth, it is pretty well the equivalent  of a coat of varnish.  Mine certainly doesn't run,  and applying the stuff with a steel nib you do lay it on pretty thick; takes a good hour to dry, though I usually leave it overnight.  (Peter McKean)


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