What are people using for burnishing tools?  (Taylor Hogan)

A plastic stick with lots of different shapes in it from Clemens. It has a flat, round and hard  edge.  $4 as I recall.   (Rex Tutor)

The little white plastic ones that have somewhat of a spoon shape, are narrow with  sharper edges on top with which the wraps can be packed as you are wrapping, then burnished with the rounded edge. Just about any rodbuilding supply sells them.  The agate ones from Golden Witch would, I think, work great, maybe even best, but don't have an edge with which to pack the threads.  (Martin-Darrell)

For a long time, I used a stainless steel cuticle tool (ex wife used one for her fingernails and it worked much better for burnishing silk).  Since October, I've been using a tool that I bought at the SRG Silent Auction.  It's a brass handled piece of white agate that Golden Witch donated to the auction, and it works better than any other I've ever used.  Retired the cuticle tool to the bathroom drawer and use the new one from Golden Witch now.  (Bob Nunley)

I use my finger nails to pack both sides of the wrap, then burnish with the back of my scissors, or the back of a safety razor blade, whichever is in my hand.  (Ted Knott)

When my dubbing needle broke, I glued a large leather needle into a cut off piece of butt section, the all purpose rod wrapping tool, packer, burnisher and varnish applicator all in one.  (John Channer)

Russ (at Golden Witch) also sells the cane handled brass (no agate) burnisher from the fertile mind of our own Dave LeClair. Dave was kind enough to send me one years ago and I think it epitomizes functional beauty.   (AJ Thramer)

On burnishing Gossamer: 

I made a little plastic roller tool for burnishing Gossamer, which I find otherwise tends to fluff. The little roller does the compacting of the threads very well, but doesn’t drag up the fibers.

For the best possible laying of threads, I coat before varnishing with Pale French Polish, which tacks off within a second or two. Before actual drying of the surface, I then spin the wrap in my fingers. This sticks down any loose fibers, and offers a perfect surface for varnish. There have never been any problems with compatibility between the French Polish and subsequent varnish.  (John Cooper)


Here is a tool I recently started using for wraps. It is a dentist instrument picked up at a garage sale. It is about the length of a pencil. The handle is round, very smooth and the tool is a sharp needle. I use the handle for burnishing. I use the pick for helping with the silk threads, pulling them through loops and such. I now use the pick part for applying varnish on the wraps. I have the rod turning and let controlled amounts of varnish slide from the pick to the wraps. Gently moving the pick across the threads even the flow out. I have found I have very good control with the amount of varnish as well as the spreading. My wraps are not perfect, not as good as many I have seen, but at least I getting better, and I think this tool has helped me immensely. I encourage all dentist to give up their tools of pain and donate them to rodmakers of the world.  (Taylor Hogan)


Being a new builder (asking only 1 question last year) I had to wait to see if anyone had built the same "special burnisher" I did.  I built mine very carefully from a hand selected piece (from many choices) of scrap bamboo strip. Blond, about 6" long.  Not really an engineering feat, compared to what some are doing out there, but it works, and I like it because I can trim/tune it up as needed.  I shaved one end to point and tapered it slightly (from the pith side) so that I'm using "power fibers" to pack the thread.  I use the back (enamel still on) to burnish with other end. Can't beat the price which also helps avoid bad business relationships.  (Brian Smith)


I hope I am not stepping on anyone's toes with this message.

If you are getting gaps in your finished wraps it is something that can be totally avoided. I am sure that a lot of you know about a thread burnishing tool but some may not know what one is.

It is a plastic spoon like tool. Curved on one side and flat on the other.

While wrapping I hold the tool in my right hand and make a few wraps, lay the flat side on the rod with the edge against the thread. Push the wraps against one another. When climbing over the foot, (some wrap the other way)  take a couple of wide wraps over the foot then slide them together with the burnisher. When climbing the foot, it is real easy to get an over wrap due to the thread sliding off the foot on top of the last wrap to the foot. You have to watch for this. It is just the opposite when wrapping down the foot. It is easy to get a gap due to the thread sliding off the foot.

Something else to take into consideration is wrapping from thick end to a narrow end or wrapping  from narrow end to thick end. If you are wrapping on the wider end of a wrap, like going from butt to tip, pushing the threads together requires a bit of tension on the thread. The wraps will loosen some going from wide to narrow. Just the other way around going from narrow to wide. The wraps will tighten. If you are using a real fine thread the thread might break at the apexes of the rod if it gets too tight when pushing the wraps together. When finished wrapping the spoon side is used to burnish the wraps. This flattens the wraps and closes minor gaps for a smoother finish. A burnishing tool costs less than 2.00 or one can be made from a bamboo scrap.

Gaps can be closed before finish is applied. Over wraps can't be fixed as far as I know.

Yes, I have cut off a number of wraps, I never said I was perfect. LOL  (Tony Spezio)

How do you prepare the rod for adding the wraps? Do you wipe it down with turpentine or mineral spirits to get any oil or contaminants off? How about preventing oil from your hands from getting on it? Do you then clean the wraps with anything before coating them, just in case?  (Larry Puckett)

I wipe down the blank with Denatured Alcohol and handle it by the grip or the ferrules. The wraps are not wiped down before the first coat of finish is applied. I don't see any need for that. With my wrapping rig, the thread is not touched while wrapping. I don't let the wrapped rod sit around after it is wrapped. As soon as the rod is wrapped I apply the first coat of finish. The wraps are wiped down with denatured alcohol after sanding or steelwooling before another coat of finish is applied.  (Tony Spezio)

I always called my burnishing tool "my right thumb nail."  Wrong?  (Ralph Moon)

That works great too but I rather have a burnisher to go over the threads.  We do what works for us.  (Tony Spezio)

Glass tubing also works well, doesn't create fuzzies, but doesn't survive falling off the workbench.  (Greg Kuntz)

I use the needle that Gudebrod sells for packing my threads and for burnishing thread.   (Dave Henney)


Any suggestions regarding the best shape or supplier for a thread burnisher; I like the appearance  of the agate variety, but perhaps there are better options?

Also thoughts on rod winding supports or stands appreciated. My homemade cradle seems a bit "rough", especially as the corners of the hex shape seem to create a bump in the process. I have a hunch practice makes perfect, but helpful hints appreciated.  (George Deagle)

I use an agate.  It was sold as a gold leaf burnisher but works very well.  (Gary Nicholson)

I just use a dubbing needle to burnish with. The one I originally got with my fly tying kit when I started out tying flies broke, so I made one out of a rod cutoff and a large diameter carpet needle, it works just fine. Get some sticky back felt at the hardware store and cut some strips to fit in the notches on your homemade cradle, it will smooth things out quite well.  (John Channer)

After years of using various methods and having various degrees of success, I recently reverted to putting the spool in a cup and running the thread through the pages of McClane's Fishing encyclopedia. I twirl the rod in my fingers and get better results overall.

I find I can control the angle of application of thread to rod better and get the wraps closer together this way.

I am EVERY BIT as gadget crazy as my friend Mr Wendt, but sometimes (it kills me to admit that) a chisel just works better than a Porter Cable router!  (Art Port)

If it makes you feel any better, consider this. Just because a chisel may work better than a router is no reason to NOT still have the router!!  (Will Price)

Ya got me there, Pal. Not a bit of rebuttal coming from THIS corner! As a matter of fact, I have 5 routers as of this moment, several dedicated to jigs and fixtures so they won't have to me moved and lose their accuracy  (the mortiser for reel seats being a prime example).

But sometimes I can't figure a way to get around that furschlugginer chisel! (I have a chisel for my compressor, come to think of it, but it ain't real dainty on wood.  (Art Port)

ROFL!  Say it ain't so...  I do believe there's a 12 step program suited just for you.  Besides, there's nothing wrong with hand toyls.  I might own one or two.  (Mark Wendt)

I joined that 12 step program for Toolaholics, they gave me a hand saw to use to help me break the habit, but I rigged up a motorized arm that moved the saw back and forth.

They said I was hopeless and threw me out. :>) 

Now I am thinking about a small ceramic head to put in my Dremel tool to use for thread burnishing, every tool should have a motor or electric cord. 

But until I get that finalized I use a rod cutoff sharpened at one end and coated with epoxy and I cut a small slot in the other end and glued in a small piece of my wife’s credit card to push the thread tight. Works like a charm.  (Gary Jones)

I suppose saying that I occasionally use my finger nail to pack threads would be considered heresy and blasphemy?  (Mark Wendt)

I took my wife's cuticle tool (not sure the actual name of it) but it has a softer rubber like end on one side and a hard flat plastic end on the other and it is about 5 inches long.  It's what women use when they are doing their fingernails.  Sorry for the vague description, but my point is you don't need to spend $40+ on an agate burnisher for packing threads when you may have a simple tool laying around the house that you can steal that will work just fine!  (Scott Bahn)

I took a piece of cut off blank, sanded a 45 degree chisel point on it and polished it with some 600 grit paper followed with some 0000 steel wool. Custom! you can even inscribe your name on it if you want.  (Joe Arguello)

I like to varnish my rods before the guides go on, let them dry, cut and repolish with Perfect It/Finesse It, and bind them on, finishing the wraps after the job is done,  This certainly has its problems with respect to getting nice smooth transitions between wrap and shaft, but it is the way I like to do it.

The problem is that, since this is a "thread" on burnishers, when you do it that way, the silk digs in to the varnish, which, even to a small degree, makes it very difficult to pack and burnish.

Any clues on this one?  (Peter McKean)

I have done it that way without problem. Then too I have learned to ease up on the thread tension on my wraps.  (Timothy Troester)

I don't seem to have that problem, but I use a dozen coats of Tru-Oil & it's probably not as thick  as even one coat of varnish.  (Neil Savage)

Tru-Oil is great stuff. Very light on the tips. Not the best cosmetically, but for a rod for yourself it takes some beating.  Very hard wearing stuff.  (Gary Nicholson)

If you want it to look better, use more coats, then rub out.  I polish with Meguires Scratch-X.    (Neil Savage)

Let the varnish cure a bit longer?  That's what happened to me when I tried to varnish the blank first before wrapping.  I think Al Medved does it that way too.  I could never successfully get the thread to pack the way I wanted it to, so I went back to wrapping first, then varnishing the rod.  (Mark Wendt)

Thanks very much to everyone for their posts on this thread; however, I may need a good lawyer soon.

My wife Sarah's credit card has just disappeared. This is a big blow to her, since it is just before Christmas. She did find one tiny piece that seems to have been cut out of one end of her card. The little cutout section got carelessly left on my workbench ; strange !

At the same time, someone has been messing with her make-up kit, stealing her cuticle sticks. This person also left a big glob of epoxy on the cutting board in the kitchen. If all that wasn't bad enough, someone also unraveled one of her silk stockings, thinking the thread would match an old Montague rod wrap he was redoing. I suggested if she just unraveled the other stocking the same amount, they would still match.

When I told Sarah she could use some of my "Tru-Oil"  on her cracked dry nails, she didn't take too kindly to that idea either, even after I told her that Peter in Tasmania said the finish would be tough as nails!

Well, I sure am enjoying this rodmaking hobby and hope those good suggestions about burnishing threads were also of use to others.

Only a few days left until Christmas, so guess I'd better run and scrape that epoxy off the cutting board!  (George Deagle)

Not only does it cut down on your wife’s spending, you can use that extra  money  you  have  accumulated  to  buy more tools for yourself. ;>)

Merry Christmas, hope the epoxy comes off but if not, a new one might be a nice present for the wife.  (Gary Jones)


Why burnish?  If you manage to get the wraps nice and snug with your fingernail or other tool (not that I can do that consistently, but assuming I can),  does burnishing  actually accomplish anything?  In my experience it just makes gaps where they weren't before. Maybe I need a Faberge agate burnisher instead of the cap from a Bic pen.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

Generally, I agree with you.  However, if you're real careful when you burnish, you tend to flatten the threads which gives a more uniform appearance to the wrap, less cord-like.  Is it that noticeable? Not from a distance of more than a foot.  (Al Baldauski)


I'm waiting for Frank Popeil to come out with a combination dessert fork, vibrating toenail clipper, adjustable wrench.  Now that's what I want!!!!  (Ren Monllor)

I burnish mostly to flatten the wraps, especially where the tag ends have been tucked under the wrap.  (Mark Wendt)

I can't remember who posted it on this list, but I have just started wetting my finished wraps with water and allowing them to shrink as they dry. You don't need to use much tension and the wraps are looking as smoother and more uniform as I've ever been able to do.   (Doug Easton)


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