I purchased blue and gold silk as colors for a rod I am building. The blue, after varnish looks fine but the gold looks transparent. Does anyone have a suggested color of silk that they have experienced that would look good with blue and will hold it's color after varnish. I don't want to buy a lot of silk colors to see what holds it color and what doesn't.  (Mark Dyba)

Apply a few coats of Gudebrod 840 to the wraps before applying varnish. I just finished a rod a few weeks ago with blue silk wraps and gold silk tipping.  The gold did not become transparent.  (Tony Spezio)


Rod #1 is being wrapped now and I have run into a problem, I think. I'm using clover maroon, and tipping it with gossamer black. I'm using helmsman on the wrap, also in my tube. I put the first coat on the wraps last night and the wrap went very dark. I was thinking that it would do this, and when it started drying the color would come back. This morning the color isn't back at all. My question is this,  as the varnish fully cures,  will the color come back? I have heard of people using a color preserver, should I cut all the wraps off and start over using something different? I hate to think that I wasted all that time wrapping and adding the tips to only get a "black" wrap that is a little darker at the ends.  (Robert Hicks)

Speaking from past experience...  I wrapped a rod that used gray for the main, and black trim wraps.  On a bright sunny day, you can almost make out the black trim...  It looked really nice before I put the varnish on it...  So, to make a short story long, what you see now, is what it look like.  (Mark Wendt)

Unless you use a preserver, they will change colors, but often times they are very pleasant! On cane rods, it's usually accepted, although some companies did preserve the colors. Probably whatever color they are right now, is what they will be.  (Jerry Andrews)

I used a preserver on my first rod, 5 coats of Gudebrod, but it still didn't work 100%.  There are a few dark spots on the wraps.  I think the best way is to make a test strip with the thread you are going to use, maybe 1/4 inch wide wrap,  and try varnish on it.  What you see is what you'll get.  Maybe some other color preserver would work better?  Any suggestions?  I'm wrapping with Pearsalls gossamer in chestnut with cardinal tips.  Comes out brown with black tips without C.P.  I like it, but sometimes I'd like to keep the copper and dark red thread colors.  (Neil Savage)

If you were using that white stuff, I feel your pain. I've never been able to make that stuff work. I'd use either blond shellac or Dave's Rods should have a formulation based on lacquer by Mike Brooks. I've gotten good results with nitrocellulose lacquer, but it tends to be too brittle.  (John Zimny)

A good wrapping job is not a waste, even if the color is darker than you wanted. The upside is, that yes, it will lighten a bit as it cures, and it will look better in bright daylight than it does inside with artificial light. keep this rod as it is, fish it, and use the time to go on to making others.  If you try a quick drying poly, thinned, as a first and second coat on the wraps, it will darken, but will be a bit lighter than with spar.  (Steve Weiss)


Well it seems I learned a nice lesson this weekend. While dipping my first rod this weekend the nice colors I choose for thread (Clover/Tire silk) turned out a ton darker (dark Green to almost Black) then I had hoped. Oh well, lesson learned. I think tonight I will do up some wraps on a dowel and use that for my next color pallet.  (Scott Wolfe)

Good idea.  Use several colors and write the color or color code beside each color silk on the dowel.  Without color preserver, you'll find that almost all bright silks drastically darken when varnished.  Some of the browns will become honey colored, some chocolate... At least with the dowel you'll know what you're going to end up with.  (Bob Nunley)

I Knew beforehand that the threads would darken so I made up some color sticks but couldn't get just the right shade of green.  So I reverted to color preserver.  Well the color came out great except in some places.  I had a number of darkened areas.  So the moral of the story is:  If you want your cake and eat it too, you better find a damn good preserver and talk to someone who has used it to make sure you know how to use it.  I apparently didn't.  (Al Baldauski)

I think one of the tricks to color preservers is to not dip the rod in a tank full of varnish afterwards. If you look at old production rods that came with color preserved wraps originally, the varnish was invariably either brushed or sprayed, very few makers and none of the high output companies dipped their rods.   (John Channer)

Hmmm...  To play "Devil's Advocate" for a minute, it seems to me that it really doesn't make a whole lot of difference how the varnish is applied. You invariably end up with a layer of wet varnish over top of the color preserved wraps.  I suspect in some cases the action of the solvents in the varnish dissolve the preserver, either partially or totally, and the oils and resins get in, ruining the preservative effect, or the preserver hasn't completely sealed the wraps and varnish gets in underneath.

In the second mode of action above, I could see where dipping might cause some trouble due to the more complete application of varnish, plus the added pressure of the column of varnish on the wraps toward the bottom of the dip tube.  On the other hand, at least in the case of brushing, even with a soft brush, there's some mechanical contact between the brush and the rod, and, if the varnish softens/dissolves the color preserver, you're pretty certain to get in trouble, due to the "abrasiveness" of the application method, and the thinness of the preserver coating.

It would seem to me that the most effective color preserver would be one that both sealed the wraps, *and* was resistant to the solvents in whatever varnish you were using.  Not sure what the solubility of something like shellac is in mineral spirits/turpentine/xylene or any mix thereof, but that could be tested easy enough.  Butyrate lacquer like "Aero Gloss" is supposed to be "fuel proof", and thus is probably pretty resistant to attack by varnish solvents and oils.  Using something like that, any breakdown in the preservative action is most likely due to insufficient  and/or poor application, IMHO.

Now, I'm NO expert, so I could very well be full of shine-ola here. Just seems to me that the function of a color preserver is to keep varnish out of the wraps, and if whatever one is using doesn't do that, the combination of varnish and preserver are incompatible and/or the preserver incorrectly applied.  Method of varnish application most likely has very little to do with it (unless, perhaps, one applied varnish with a pad of steel wool...  :-) .

One man's opinion...  :-)   (Todd Enders)

Though I can't claim to have varnished color preserved wraps on hundreds of rods, I have done several dozen, both refinishes and new rods, and dipping afterwards has been the downfall of many a wrap in this shop. I've learned the hard way that the pressure of a varnish tank can penetrate even thru 3 coats of color preserver and 2 or 3 more coats of needle applied varnish before dipping. What I finally found out was the door for varnish to get under the wraps was the entrance to the tunnels along the guide feet and the edges of the wraps themselves. In order to get the wraps to come out with no blotches I took to putting 3 coats of old formula Varathane 900 over the color preserver, making sure  the tunnels were sealed and letting the 900 run out onto the blank at all edges of the wraps, then scraping the bamboo clean before dipping. I should have just bought an airbrush and put 2 coats of lacquer on the wraps like Heddon and been done with it, I have never seen a Heddon with blotchy wraps. I only go thru all that now on refinish jobs on decent grade rods, low end rods come out with blotchy wraps just like they came from the factory, new rods get transparent wraps.  (John Channer)

Indeed, if there is any point where the seal is not good, varnish is bound to creep in.  Pressure helps, no doubt.

On the other hand, if the color preserver had fully impregnated and sealed the thread, it would seem to me that it really wouldn't matter if the varnish got under the wrap or not, it couldn't penetrate the thread (which is what ultimately causes the blotching).  As I say, I'm not an expert on this, so a grain of salt or two are doubtless necessary, but it seems to me that an "ideal" color preserver would soak well into the thread, carrying whatever resin, etc. with it to saturate/impregnate the thread without changing the color very much.  Sealing the thread to the blank, and sealing the guide tunnels would also be nice, but if the thread itself were resistant to varnish penetration, it wouldn't be necessary.  Then again, the more and deeper the preserver penetrated the thread, likely the more it'd change the thread's color, rather defeating the purpose.

Don't know that the "ideal" color preserver exists.  Seems the color preservers in use are more of an encapsulation of the wrap, rather than penetrating the thread.  If the encapsulation isn't absolutely perfect, varnish will get at the thread underneath, especially if the varnish is under pressure.  Would almost wager that if the varnish were thinned sufficiently, it'd cause problems with spray or brush application as well.  (Todd Enders)

I agree that uniform coating of each thread wrap, inside and out, is most likely to give best results and even work in a dip tank.  I do believe, though, that the "right" preserver will penetrate and exclude the varnish without affecting the color.  I believe it has to do with matching the index of refraction of the thread with that of the preserver resin.  (Al Baldauski)

Perhaps the pressure of the column of varnish in a dip/drain tube might be enough to force some it (varnish) through (very) small breaches in the preserver.  (Roland Cote)

I have been reading the preserver posts and began to think (dangerous for old "fart" professors) that a color preserver does not penetrate the silk or nylon thread, but provides a sealing coat around the thread to keep the varnish out. Now why do I say this. First from experience, if one does not get the preserver under the guide feet and thread edge, the wrap will get blotchy in looks - some dark some light. Second, if one is using nylon threads, then folks use NCP which is pretreated for maintaining the thread color. If one coats nylon thread, it also darkens in spots, and I have  had the same blotchy experiences with both silk and nylon.  So,  is this  thinking correct on my part - what one is trying to do is to provide a sealing coat to the thread (silk or nylon) to keep the varnish from penetrating and darkening (or lightening) a wrap?  (Frank Paul)

I have been reading the preserver posts and began to think (dangerous for old "fart" professors) that a color preserver does not penetrate the silk or nylon thread, but provides a sealing coat around the thread to keep the varnish out...

I'm inclined to agree with you, at least in the case of most commonly used preservers.  Certainly seems more of an encapsulation of the wrap rather than making the thread resistant to varnish penetration.

So, is this thinking correct on my part - what one is trying to do is to provide a sealing coat to the thread (silk or nylon) to keep the varnish from penetrating and darkening (or lightening) a wrap?

For commercially available preservers, I'd say yes (though I'll freely admit I could be wrong!  :-) .  There is probably some thread penetration going on as well, but clearly not enough to prevent varnish infiltration into the wrap if the seal isn't perfect.

Would that we had the "perfect" color preserver -- one that was readily available, impregnated the thread sufficiently to keep the varnish out, and sealed the wrap to the blank.  Foolproof, easy to apply, and would withstand dipping the section.   As long as we're dreaming, might as well dream big...  :-)   (Todd Enders)

It certainly would be an interesting study for some enterprising (bored) individual to do a head to head test of various color preservers for Power Fibers. I'm thinking you could do a bunch of wraps on some old guides on a dowel or bamboo tomato stakes and use a selection of the various CP's that folks commonly use. To make it really interesting  you could do several tomato stakes and then hand brush the varnish over the CPs on one, spray another, and dip a third. For a really comprehensive test you'd also want to use several of the most commonly used varnishes or at least one spar, one polyurethane, etc. If some (fool)hardy individual would agree to do this we could all volunteer to send him a small container of their favorite CP and varnish to use. Any volunteers out there with way too much free time on their hands?  (Larry Puckett)

A bored individual?   Hey, I resemble that remark!

Actually, I partially did the test you suggest a while back.  I did not over varnish or dip, just one coat of each color preserver to see the effect.  I used Janome gold silk thread #010 on birch dowels.  I used gold because it darkens substantially.  The numbers I assigned don't mean anything in the absolute sense -- they're meant to give a sense for how dark everything got relative to each other.  I used a reference value of 100 to represent "raw" thread.

Brilliance II (Clemens) 99
Gudebrod 811 99
Aerogloss Clear Lacquer 98
Al's Color-Rite 98
Varathane Diamond Interior 97
Folk Art Exterior Craft Varnish 96
Glass Coat 95
Gudebrod 822 95
Gudebrod 840 95
Varathane 900 94
Marine Shield Water-Based Spar 94
Super Blonde Shellac 93
"Bone Dry" Shellac 93
Bullseye Clear Shellac 93
Guitar Varnish (spirit-based) 93
Mike's CP 92
White Shellac 92
Spar Urethane 90
Man-o'-War Spar 88

(Rich Margiotta)

If you want to be real precise about it, glue up 3 blond strips with 3 flamed.  Wrap each color twice on the dowel, then put color preserver on one wrap.  You should then be able to tell what the wraps would look like whether its blond, flamed, color preserved or not.  (Tim Wilhelm)


What's your favorite/recommended color preserver?  (Scott Wolfe)

There are many good color preservers out there.  I experimented with several of them and found a few that retained at least 98% of the original color of the silk.  The one I use the most is "Aero Gloss".  I have one bottle diluted to 50% strength that I use for the first coat then I use it full strength for the remaining coats.  Very good penetration and excellent preservation of the color.  Too, the Gudebrod color preserver is very effective as well and cleans up with water or alcohol.  I am sure that there are many many others out there with excellent recommendations that will work just as effectively.  Just be sure that you get good and adequate coverage or you will have some "bleed" in the dipping process that will ruin an otherwise good job.  (Leo deMonbreun)


In reference to Chris Carlin' wraps, I notice that the main wraps are almost all Pearsalls Antique Gold but they all look very different.  Does the finish make that kind of a difference? 

(1) Am I right by looking at the photos that "Varathane Diamond spar-urethane" seems to make that wraps more opaque while thinned spar varnish makes them more transparent?

(2) Also, I'm thinking of building a drip set up this weekend.  Is MOW the varnish of choice for dripping/dipping?

(3) Looking at the Varathane web site, is "Varathane Diamond spar-urethane" a water based product?  Can it be used to coat wraps on a rod that has been finished with Tru-Oil?

(4) I've read lots of reference to Varathane 900.  I understand that this was before Rustoleum bought the brand (right)?  Does this varnish still exist?  Is it the same as the Varathane Professional?

Sorry so many questions, but my  planning, node  straightening, etc. is getting better and I want to get to the point where I can make my wraps look like some of the pictures I've seen. (Aaron Gaffney)

Since the wraps you are asking about are mine (thanks for the kind words!) I'll do what I can to reply.

The Antique gold wraps are basically done in one of two ways.  The opaque, or more yellow look, is using the water based Varathane Diamond urethane as mainly a color preserver and for some build up and gap filling.  In my experience, it is a very good color preserver, though if not applied with vigilance and care can be disastrous as the wraps will turn 'splotchy' if dipped in varnish.  Without the Varathane/color preserver, the wraps take on a medium-brown hue on blonde cane and progressively darker on flamed cane as it goes transparent.  Spar varnish, Flexcoat or amber oil all result in roughly the same transparent look.

I have had great luck with MOW and dipping.  Be sure to thin it 10% or so with quality turpentine to replace some of the removed VOCs (from when the product was changed several years back).  The main reason I began using it is that it is available here in Alaska, and shipping varnish and other liquids/flammables here is more difficult than it should be - especially in the winter.  That said, it smoothies very nicely, dries reasonably quickly and is very durable.

I have used Varathane Diamond directly over impregnated blanks and over blanks coated in Mike's Stuff, a hand rubbed finish.  The seal is good, and the finish holds up very well, though it doesn't bond to the cane as good as the more transparent FlexCoat.  You do have to be careful to pull the finish over the edges of the wraps onto the cane or water can work its way under the finished wraps while fishing.

Hope that helps with some of your questions.  (Chris Carlin)


Which would I get for the clearest wraps - YLI White or #212 Natural white... or maybe 239 Natural??  (Larry Lohkamp)

I have always used white, with a great deal of success. The trick is to not get any air in the finish.  (Joe Arguello)

I've had best luck with Natural. I've just had one spool of it for 5 or 6 years now, fortunately I don't do clear wraps often, but this one is about gone, where did you find it?  (John Channer)

I knew I had seen somebody that used natural somewhere. Thanks all. I suppose that I will have to get a spool of each since there are those that get good results with both.

As for a source for the natural, Golden Witch lists white, 212 Natural White, and 239 Natural. Other sources are Quilt Bug and Red Rock Threads. I'm sure there are many other thread suppliers.

I don't see a Natural Pearsall's color.  (Larry Lohkamp)

White YLI has given a faint pinkish color for me, even though absolutely transparent.  I have found #213 (very light yellow) close to colorless when transparent.  (Tim Anderson)


Does anyone have any suggestions for the best wrapping thread and finish to approximate Payne brown without having to use shellac or color preservers etc.  (Steve Dugmore)

Since the wraps on a Payne are opaque and non CP'd wraps are going to go translucent I believe you would have to do a WHOLE lot of test wraps to come close. I've yet to see those colors reproduced without using some type of color preserver.  (Will Price)

Here's the link to Chris Carlin's color preserver test.  He doesn't use any actual commercial CP's, but the results are, in two instances, at least, quite good.  You may be familiar with it already, if not, here is the link.  (Bob Brockett)

I have been testing Mike Sinclair's "Color Guard" it seems to be about the best I've tried. More testing required. Others have more experience. I don’t have a direct link to it but you can go to his "New Divine Rod Co" web site.  (Doug Easton)

I am also trying Michael Sinclair’s Color Guard.  I am restoring a Divine Rainbow (appropriate, I think) and it's wrapped in B&W Jasper with red tipping and 192 intermediate wraps... I have the mid and butt finished and it looks great!  Best color Preserver I've used to date!  (Bob Nunley)

I am using Mike's Color Guard on a restoration of a Granger Favorite, which is B&W Jasper with gold tips and gold intermediates (lots and lots of them).  I have limited experience compared to most of you guys I am sure, but it is definitely the best thing I have found yet.  (Jim Rowley)

I have used dewaxed shellac flakes (from Hock) in alcohol on a Payne "look a like" I made.  It was of some value but I should have used more coats and made sure I soaked up the "under feet" areas a bit better as I did get some blotches upon dip the rod for the final coat.

I gave some to Mike Canazon and Bob Taylor at the Catskills gathering.  (David Van Burgel)


Site Design by: Talsma Web Creations

Tips Home - What's New - Tips - Articles - Tutorials - Contraptions - Contributors - Search Site - Contact Us - Taper Archives
Christmas Missives - Chat Room - Photo Galleries - Line Conversions - The Journey - Extreme Rodmaking - Rodmaker's Pictures - Donate - Store