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Wraps - Finishing - Epoxy

Quick question. Has anyone ever placed an overcoat of varnish on top of Flexcoat? I guess the real question is did it work?  (Mike Shay)

    Hey Mike. I built that canoe on my web site and put 5 coats of marine spar over the epoxy used to fiberglass it.  It is recommended for that boat. Don't know about the chemical composition of Flexcoat.  (Randall Gregory)

      My understanding is that Flexcoat is an epoxy, and if so, it probably requires UV protection.  I know that in the boatbuilding industry, all the various epoxy formulas lack this protection and must be overcoated with a varnish product.  So, there's nothing unusual or incompatible about this.  (Bill Harms)

    Through a serious error in judgment, I need to remove some guides that were coated with Flex-Cote. I promise never to use it again. Does anyone have any tricks for getting it off the rods? I am using a scalpel, but it is going sloowwwwllly...(Jeff Schaeffer)

      Varnish striper will work - orange (BTX ?) let it really soak in and scrape it gently with something like a soft plastic card. I mean apply it thick, every 10 minutes for 4-5 times and wait an hour. I have also use a razor to get under it and peel it off in a ring , then unwind thread.  (Rex Tutor)

      Don't know if this can be done with bamboo or not. With G------, I have soaked the rod in White Vinegar. It don't take too long to soften the Flex Coat.  (Tony Spezio)

      I made the same mistake once.  I don't remember who it was, but someone on the list told me what to do -  Cut the thread next to the guide foot on the inside of the wrap (the end of the wrap toward the loop of the guide).  Once you get the thread started pull it out toward the guide.  You can unwind the thread and pull it out from under the epoxy, leaving a tube of epoxy around the rod over the guide foot.  The thread will come out and separate the epoxy from the rod, and you can just peel the epoxy off.  Then it's much easier to scrape off the ridges that are left in-between the windings of the wrap.

      My solution was to simply strip the rod down to bare wood, wrap it again, and then dip the finish over the wraps.  (Robert Kope)

      My favorite trick for getting rid of epoxy that has cured on guide wraps is to use an old cork ring.  Shave the threads and old epoxy off the guide foot with a razor or a scalpel.  Remove the guide and remove all the thread and as much of the cured epoxy as you can.  Then take an old cork ring and briskly "erase" the epoxy.  The friction from the cork creates a lot of heat that breaks the epoxy down.  Takes a little bit of elbow grease if the epoxy is really thick, but it works really well and leaves a nice clean surface.  (Jason Swan)

      My post about removal of flex coat ended happily thanks to great wisdom from a large number of people.

      I used flex coat because I was in a rush to complete a rod for a fishing trip, and ran out of time. I did the butt section, and one tip, then ran out of material. When mixing the second batch, a big glop sort of popped into the cup, resulting in an uneven resin/hardener ratio. Like a fool I used it, and the stuff never set. It remained sticky for months. I finally decided to redo the entire rod, and had a hard time getting it off the first guide. I posted one of my perennial "help me please" requests and got some good ideas:

      1. Heat it with a hair dryer until it softens.
      2. Use that orange varnish remover.
      3. Soak it in vinegar or alcohol until it softens.
      4. Cut the thread at the guide side, and pull thread out from under the coating which will then peel off.

      I tried number 1 and 2, but it was going slowly. I found that if I used a hook blade scalpel, I could insert the blade between the guide foot and the rod, and slowly and carefully make long slit along both guide feet. I then rocked the guide back and forth until it broke free, and this also raised the thread and coating as one single sheet that peeled off easily. This was risky because it would have been fairly easy to cut myself, cut into the rod, or break the tip as I rocked the guides. But I managed to do get it done without incident. I will use varnish remover to spot-remove the remaining material. I will probably re-dip the rod (it had a very thin coat of PU), but I was able to preserve most of the finish. The guide wraps should cover the gaps, so even this may not be needed. One of those all to rare happy endings.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I had this customer who did his own wraps with Flexcoat on a Shakespeare. There were bulb shaped and I told him I would redo them but he just wanted a varnish. The varnish I dipped on coated the rod and the wraps. It seemed to work but He has not fished this rod so The varnish on the  wraps  may come off but I think it is OK.  (Rex Tutor)

    What I do to remove Flex coat is heat with alcohol lamp and then remove with Exacto knife, just cut a little slit and it will peel right off.  (Dave Henney)


When building my  first rod I let the Epoxy build up too much, so with this one I tried to use it sparingly on each wrap.  When it set up and I examined it I found a few places where it was too thin and the thread wraps were showing.  So I decided to add another thin layer, and this is when all hell broke loose. The second layer didn't cure.   I talked to several people to get options for a fix, some said try to get it all off with Epoxy cleaner, others said "Just put on another thin third coat, and it will cure.  So  I added the third coat.  All of the wraps looked good after a few hours so I decided to clean up the work bench while it was rotating.  There was some thread scattered about that I lined up neatly on the wall opposite the rod.  I didn't notice that a stray thread from one of the rolls had fallen over a wrap and was quietly spooling as the rod turned!  It had made ten rotations around the rod when I finally spotted it and pulled  the plug.  I pulled on the thread to get it to unwind from the rod, but pulled too hard and the rod jumped from the drying base and fell, wet and sticky, onto the workbench where the epoxy gathered up stray sawdust left from a previous sawing job!  So I really had a mess.  I picked out the sawdust, tried to smooth out the tacky epoxy as much as possible and mixed up my fourth batch of epoxy for touch up.  The third coat cured well, but the fourth  (touch up jobs) didn't.

At this point I gave up and decided to give it a week and see if the tacky spots would dry.  Of course they didn't, so now, a year later, my rod has some really ugly spots on some of the wraps, not to mention several "pregnant" wraps from too many coats of epoxy.  (Submitted on a non-bamboo list by an anonymous source)

    When using epoxy rod finish it is important to stir it well before using. If you don't it will not dry. Stir it and then stir it some more. I'll bet everyone who has used epoxy rod finish has had to find this out the hard way.  (Dave Norling)

      The other problem that could cause the epoxy to not set up or dry is if the two parts (A & B) are not equal in quantity when mixing.   This I have learned in the past when building the plastic rods.  (Tom Bowden)

        I have found that using too much hardener (Catalyst) will result in unhardened hardener in the resin.  This will give the impression of unhardened resin but it is not.  Using more hardener does not necessarily mean the resin will go off faster.  If you use too much resin the epoxy may take longer to harden and remain unusually soft, almost tacky, to the touch.  (David Gerich)


Can anybody tell me why it is such a huge no-no to use 2 part epoxy varnish to coat and finish the wraps on bamboo rods?

I use polyurethane spar varnish to dip finish the rods, and at this point I laboriously apply multiple coats of various mixtures of polyurethane spar to fill and finish the wraps.  (I dip and finish the rod blank before I attach  the guides, by the way).  The final result is nice, but it is a real pain in the bum to do, and requires such a lot of sanding and polishing.  To me, multiple anything multiplies the chance of something's going wrong.

So, I was playing around with some practice wraps on a bit of scrap hex stock, and on a couple of them I applied an initial coat of  traditional spar followed a day later by one application of 2-part epoxy.  The particular epoxy allows for thinning with the appropriate thinners, and on one of the tests I thinned it to the permissible limit.  Obviously, I was not trying for the spherical, glass bead look so favored by the makers of graphite, but for a low profile, traditional appearance.

And, in my humble opinion, I got it. Honestly, at  the completion of  the exercise I couldn't tell which was the thinned sample and which were the full strength ones; and all of them looked fine - even, smooth, blending nicely with the varnish on the shaft.

A few days later I pulled off one of the pieces of the epoxy, to simulate replacing the guides, and it came off neatly and in one piece.

Of course, this stuff is plastic when you get right down to it, and though I have not polished it at all as yet, I don't see why it would not respond to the Perfect It / Finesse It routine as well as does poly spar or conventional spar.

Soooooo ....... ?

Why not?  (Peter McKean)

    My opinion is that there are a couple of good reasons why varnish is used as opposed to epoxy. One is tradition. Duplicating what the old masters did is no simple task and requires patience, skill and artistry. Secondly, during the refurbishing of hundreds of old rods some of which had epoxy on the guide wraps, I found it to be a much more difficult job than if varnish had been used.  (Ray Gould)

    I guess because it's new-fangled and the old farts don't want to give in. Everybody on the list is using animal hide glue, tungsten steel snakes and spar varnish on their rods. If you like it use it.  (Marty DeSapio)

    If you aren't a regular reader of www.rodbuilding.org, then at least go there and search the site for posts on epoxy finishes, you'll find many more horror stories about it than any you've experienced with varnish. I don't know why anyone uses epoxy, it seems to be a major p.i.a.  (John Channer)

      Hey John,  I tried your link to www.rodbuilding.org and got a few great ideas for my next rod.

      1.  Sprinkle glitter on the wrap coatings.  Real sparkly

      2.  Add red wet and wild colored nail polish to the coating material

      3.  Dip a toothbrush in paint and splatter the whole rod.

      I imagine there are others but those inspired me.  I guess that there are a lot of ways to hokey up a rod.

      LOL  (Ralph Moon)

      I used to spend a bit of time on that board when I was building my graphite rods. After reading all those discouraging posts I was afraid to touch the stuff. Then I finally said what the heck and just did it and mine turned out fine without any problems. My general take on most of the horror stories you hear are due to one problem - real men don't read the instructions! This leads to mixing it incorrectly in the wrong proportions, not stirring it long enough, getting too much air in it, applying it incorrectly with the wrong brushes, not using a turning motor/setup, and applying it when it is too cold. Sort of like all the precautions bamboo rodmakers have to be wary of when applying a varnish. Personally, I think there are just as many questions on this and Clark's list about which varnish to use, how to get transparent finishes, how to dip a rod, how to sand/rub out a finish, etc. as there are about epoxy on the other list. It's surprising that we've been applying finishes to wood for several thousand years now and we still have trouble doing it.  (Larry Puckett)

        I've used a bunch of different coverings on rod wraps.  I don't like the two part epoxy for a simple reason.  You've got to get the mixture just right or it never dries.  One of my old plastic rods had this problem.   And once it's on and not going to dry, it's hell getting it off.

        Having said that, Dave Lewis, a graphite rod builder has great success with FlexCoat. He's been using it for years.  It's been around for a long time and stands up well. 

        But it might react with some finishes,  I don't know about that.

        I'd guess the main reason for staying away from Flexcoat is tradition.

        I think that whatever works for you, works for you.   (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    I tried it on my first rod, John Long said to use "Flex Coat" on the wraps.  I don't know what he's using now.

    Anyway, about two years later it started coming off in chunks!  I had to refinish several wraps.  I don't know if it was incompatible with the Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil finish I used, or what, but the rod wasn't fished hard at all.

    I don't like a high-gloss finish on cane (or on most wood for that matter), I think it makes the end product, whether it be a rod or a piece of furniture, look like plastic.  I use an oil finish of one sort or another on most everything I make these days.

    Just my $0.02.  (Neil Savage)

    A number of clichés come to mind. Tradition: like the old masters did it: and on and on. Those reasons beg the question of what would the old masters do IF they had modern materials? Would they continue to do things the way they had or take advantage of what technology has to offer?  Would the old time gun makers eschew modern technology? Do knife makers?

    If the wraps are what you like, go with it. If later you have problems: well, another learning experience. Your experience might be helpful for others.  (Rich Jezioro)


I have been reading the archives concerning wrapping and finishing rods and noted that most threads referred to the technique of putting several coats of varnish on the wraps independent (in addition to) of the coats put on the bamboo and how they sanded between coats etc. and it seemed as though this was the only recommended method to treat the wraps.  Clear coats seemed to be the most popular.

Now for my questions:  I am curious about two part epoxy coatings such as the high build formula polymer rod wrapping finish made by Flex Coat (and perhaps others).  Does anybody use these finishes for bamboo or are they seen as incompatible aesthetically or technically and only for plastics? 

I would like to hear some commentary if some of you would be so kind.  (Dick Steinbach)

    I use Flexcoat, but not the high build. I like a lower profile for my wraps. Polyurethane varnish sticks to it, no problems.  (Darryl Hayashida)

      That would make sense. I presume too much build up would add unnecessary and possibly detrimental weight to the smaller rods which could affect performance?   (Dick Steinbach)

    My personal opinion.

    Before I would use Flex coat, I would try the Gudebrod 840 rod finish.

    Wanting to get rod #  1 ready to use on the weekend I finished it,  I applied the Gudebrod 840 water base rod finish on the wraps. It did a nice job. Filled the wraps with just a a few coats. Rod # 1 was not varnished, it was finished with a couple of wipe on coats of Formby's Satin Tung oil finish. I still use the Gudebrod 840 if I want to keep the wraps close to the original color. It also makes the wraps opaque and I don't have the problems I had with color preserver.  When I do use it for the initial coats, I apply two coats and then go to the Helmsman that I normally use for wraps and rod finish. I have had no problems with putting the varnish over the 840. Rod # 1 is now six years old and has been used a lot, it still looks like the day I finished it.

    I have now gone more traditional and use varnish on the wraps from the start. In a pinch I have applied the first coat of Helmsman, build up with the 840 and finished with Helmsman. So far, no ill effects. The reason for using the 840 for build up is drying time. The 840 is dry in about 20 minuets.  I know this is not traditional at all but at times I do deviate. I have had no problems doing this.

    I only did one rod with Flex Coat. Not for me on Bamboo.  (Tony Spezio)

    I find I dislike epoxy on wraps. It doesn't look right on bamboo and I don't even use it anymore for "plastic" rods (if I make one).  (Frank Paul)

      Used correctly, that is thinning it and brushing off the excess, epoxy wrap coating is the very best way to achieve translucent wraps. Special oils, etc. aren't necessary.

      To use it, mix 1/3, 1/3, and 1/3 denatured alcohol. That's a tip I read on another site by Jeff Hatton. Put on a fairly heavy coat but don't try to do too many guides at one mixing. 6 or 7 maximum. Then go back (by now it will have soaked all the way through the wrap) and using a brush, remove as much of it from each wrap as possible. I use Flex Coat Light and have never had any problem getting varnish to adhere.

      Since the beginning of this list it's amazing how many of the "old truths" have been broached. Many of us still cling to tradition, but soaking, sanding nodes, using bench planes, nylon thread, sawing strips, etc., are widely used and accepted. I don't like the "high build' look on any rod but I'll use a modified epoxy finish from time to time.  (Winston Binney)


I recently saw a post that referenced this site.

The idea is using flex coat mixed with acetone or denatured alcohol to give a fantastic translucent look to wraps.  Has anybody tried this technique? Next question is can you dip your rod sections after using this technique?  Will the flex coat and spar varnish be compatible?  The web site does not really address this other than saying finish as usual.  (Gary Stillman)

    That post was by listmember Chris Carlin, he'll probably jump in here to give you the answer. I've just started using a product called Threadmaster finish,  which I'm guessing is about the same, in that there is a resin and a hardener that have to be mixed together in equal parts (and a little thinning with denatured alcohol) and it turns Pearsalls white gossamer into water clear wraps. No bubbles, no shimmers and its compatible with varnish.  BUT I do my wraps after the finish is on the rod and then once the Threadmaster sets up, a coat or two of varnish over that. Thanks for the tutelage Harry!!  (Will Price)

      For some reason I always looked at dipping as a before the wraps or after the wraps proposition. For some reason I never thought about the approach you mentioned!  I am anxious to try that approach to dipping sections.  (Gary Stillman)

    I have not had any compatibility problems with any varnish or polyurethane varnish that I have tried as long as you give the FC a few days to properly cure.  I usually apply the FlexCoat then add a few coats of Varathane 900 or Varathane Diamond water based urethane to build up and smooth wraps a bit, then dip the entire rod in MOW, Sutherland Welles or Helmsman's.

    I have also done as Will mentioned and finished wraps after dipping, also without any problems.

    I have not yet been able to try Threadmaster, though from talking with Andy Dear it sounds like it'll act about the same as FlexCoat.  I have some on order and am looking forward to giving it a whirl.  (Chris Carlin)

    It works great, and gets rid of the shimmers once and for all. Just let it cure well before dipping or varnishing the wraps. You want it to be the consistency of milk (very thin) before applying it as a first coat, and don't try and load up the thread. Just get it good and wet. I use it under spar.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    Yes, it all works as described. Make sure to let the epoxy cure long enough before varnishing, acetone or alcohol will severely slow it down. One thing to keep in mind is to keep your epoxy coat thin. It doesn't sand very well and will tend to round out the rod. I just use one base coat then finish the wrap with varnish so I can keep the wraps flat.  (John Channer)


For those of you who are using epoxy on your wraps, I saw this stuff and got some for use on my new spinning rod:

Swifty Manufacturing Diamondite

Acid Rod Epoxy Finishes

Was wondering if anyone had experimented with it on cane rods?

I did a test wrap and it came out really clear, minimally flat, shiny and smooth with absolutely NO bubbles (imagine how wet silk thread looks when you first dab on the varnish!) and cured overnight. The test wrap was with black thread for my spinning rod but I might also do one with silk to see if it gets the transparent look as well.

Obviously this isn't to everyone's taste, but there have been a few message on the last year or so with rod makers using epoxy so I thought I'd throw it out there.  (Nick Kingston)

    Here's some interesting facts about Diamondite.  I primarily use it on graphite rods but have done one bamboo and two others waiting to get done.

    Diamondite will dry quicker than any 2-part epoxy, even without a light bulb. Put a light bulb on it and/or circulating air - concrete within 2 hours or less. I do recommend letting it gel prior to putting the heat and/or circulation to it, however.  I use a 100 watt white not blue bulb in my shop light that has a metal reflector.

    Understand that it is NOT an epoxy; it is an adhesive based product.

    1. Don't over mix it, 30-45 seconds is plenty.

    2.  After mixing, allow the blended product to "mature" for 4-5 minutes BEFORE application.

    3. Don't pour it out in a thin layer like epoxy ... just the opposite; keep it in a deep container while using it. It is unique, rather like glue and paint - when in significant capacity ... it doesn't dry or at least not quickly at all. But spread it thin, and poof ... it quickly dries and sets. I use the small soufflé cups like the FlexCoat product for mixing and applying Diamondite. The  working time is about an hour, even at my shop temp of 80 degrees.

    4. It is VERY clear.

    5. It is VERY strong and hard.

    6. It is VERY flexible.

    7. You CAN apply additional coats long after the others - again, those adhesive properties kick in.

    8. It does NOT contain any amines ... no sensitivity issues.

    9. It cleans up with Acetone or Denatured Alcohol.

    10. It levels very well.

    11. It penetrates very well.

    12. It actually stays where you put it and can be applied thin or thick, pretty cool trick considering how accustomed most of us are to epoxies.

    13. It WILL slice your delivery time by DAYS.

    14. Always remember, 1 part activator and 2 parts base component. BTW, it isn't real picky about the ratio ... obviously, mix it in proper ratio - but it won't fry your potatoes like epoxies do when the numbers aren't right.

    15.  Because it is adhesive based, it does NOT have nearly the issues with being "repelled" by silicone, oils, etc. It can happen – but not nearly to the degree as with epoxies.

    16. It can be thinned successfully with Denatured Alcohol.  I have used ratios as high as 2-1-1 (Base, Activator,  DNA) with excellent penetration, drying and results.  This is what I use to finish silk threads.  It is recommended that you use Diamondite CP when utilizing their finish.

    However, I have used U40's Color Lock with good results.   And I'm trying some of my wife's scrap booking crap called "Delta Ceramcoat" that appears to be very good.  (Ron Hossack)

      Who sells this stuff?  (John Channer)

        I personally have bought from Mark @ Acid Rods and from Johnny's Pond.

        Here are a few sites  I know so depending on your part of the country.

        Acid Rods

        Johnny's Pond

        Mud Hole

        Angler's Workshop  (Ron Hossack)

          One of the big reasons I epoxy the first layers of my wraps is the way it anchors the guide to the rod. I use my own rods pretty hard and have found that with epoxy the guides do not crack at the the wraps and I eliminate casting fractures at the ferrules. If the new stuff is not epoxy is it as tough as epoxy?  (Dave Norling)

            David is correct used for the first layer it produces a better finish than just varnish because the treads do not crack around the ferrule anywhere as much. after the first layer is glued to the rod shaft then use the varnish. You will not get any more build up than 7 standard coats of varnish. I call this moving with the times and it  also improves my rods because I am using a better product. If this was available when Payne of Garrison was around I am convinced they would have used it. why use an inferior product anyway.  (Gary Nicholson)

    Using epoxy sounds good but how would you replace a guide?  (Bill Vincent)

      Same way you do with varnish.  In fact, polyurethane is much more difficult to remove than epoxy.  (Harry Boyd)


Here is an interesting article about doing transparent wraps using epoxy.  (Nick Kingston)


Has anyone tried putting Flex Coat Lite over varnish on wraps.  I have a problem with my varnish on the wraps and want some way to smooth out the wraps.  (Tom Peters)

    Civilization as we know it will end if you use Flex Coat!  Actually, I used the stuff on the last and final graphite rod I built, which was for my son.  I'd always used spar varnish on wraps, but decided to use Flex Coat "Lite" in a moment of inexplicable perversity.  I followed the directions and, in fact, even went to the Flex Coat web page for tips.  Despite warming the tubes and spreading the mix out on a flat surface (and dispersing bubbles), the stuff went on like bread dough.  Stick to a good spar varnish.  (Alan Boehm)

      Aw, c'mon, Alan... it won't end... just come a little quicker maybe.

      I use Flex Coat on my bamboo ferruled rods, if for no other reason than to insure that butt over tip ferrule never delaminates. I use regular flex thinned by 40 to 50% over white thread and let it soak in, then hit it again with a final coat that's thinned by about 20%. Works fine and allows me to decorate the ferrule as I see fit, whether an inlay or thread pattern over the now "clear" base wrap. (Mike St. Clair)

      You may want to sand your wraps when you have about 3 coats on. then sand lightly between coats. Don't put too much varnish on.  (Doug Easton)

        The big thing I worry about using an epoxy on the wraps, is what if you have to do a repair on a section and have to either replace or remove a guide?  How easy is it to get that epoxy saturated wrap off the rod? (Mark Wendt)

          In my experience, at least on graphite, it peels right off. I guess someone needs to start using it on bamboo so that the question, relative to bamboo, can be answered. Personally, I see no reason why it should be harder to get off bamboo than graphite.  (Frank Schlicht)

            Different surfaces, different adherent characteristics.  (Mark Wendt)

              And maybe processing silicone on the graphite?  (Dave Burley)

          I use polymerized tung oil to finish my blanks.  I do the wraps with Flexcoat Lite cut with 1/3 acetone.  I try to avoid getting it onto the blank directly (although a bit usually smoothes the transition out anyway).  If I want to remove a guide I slice along the foot with a razor blade pull the guide out and then push the wrap up towards the tip.  The wrap pop's of in one piece.  Rarely there is a bit of the flex coat left on the blank that generally comes off with my thumbnail.  Couldn't be easier.  (Jon Babulic)

            If the Flex Coat doesn't bond with the rod section, how do you avoid getting air pockets under the wraps?  I'm not sure I'd trust a wrap that wasn't bonded to the blank even a little bit to hold the guide in place.  (Mark Wendt)

              It sticks to the rod, I've never had one come loose.  It takes a bit of force to pop it off.  It just seems to hold together as one piece when it comes off.  (Jon Babulic)

              I've used boatbuilding epoxy thinned with alcohol on my wraps and it bonds like a bitch.  But with judicious use of an Exacto knife you can get an edge loose and peel the wraps off.  I LIKE the extra adhesion.

              I use alcohol to thin the epoxy because it evaporates slower, giving you more working time on the wrap.  The acetone evaporates too fast and the viscosity gets too high to allow the epoxy to flow into the wraps thoroughly.  Additionally, I once tried acetone and found it left the epoxy soft for a lot longer than alcohol.  It doesn't make sense based on the volatility of acetone but that's what I observed.  There may be some chemistry going on between acetone and epoxy that causes this.  (Al Baldauski)

              As much as this pains me to say this, I build plastic customer rods also.  So I  dabble in Flex Coat.  There, I said it. Isn't that the first step toward recovery?

              Flex coat doesn't  really "bond" to plastic rods either. It will stick to bamboo.  I have made several bamboo bodkins and covered the wraps with Flex Coat.  If you have ever removed a guide from a plastic rod, the flex coat will usually scrape off with a finger nail and a hair dryer.  Have to use the Flex Coat just like varnish.   Start at one end, of the wrap, and work the Flex Coat toward the foot to force all the air out.   Either blowing on or using a hair dryer will cause the bubbles to rise and disappear.  It biggest air pocket trap is by the guide foot.  So you can run into the same problems as varnish.  Sometimes the air just doesn't want to come out.

              Just repaired a ferrule, on a bamboo rod for a guy, where the wraps were done in Flex Coat.  Removing the wraps and Flex Coat was a bear.  Those wraps were never going to come loose on their own.  (Pete Emmel)

                I knew it made for a good clear or transparent wrap, and had seen on some of the forums the things makers/builders/assemblers had to do to avoid air bubbles and such.  As I first mentioned my biggest worry about it was the difficulty in getting it off if it formed a good bond to the cane surface.  Unlike varnish, which can be removed either with a stripper or alcohol, ain't much out there that will dissolve epoxy that either isn't dangerous around humans or wouldn't destroy the cane.  I'm assuming that sometimes you have to use a little heat to help the removal along sometimes?  (Mark Wendt)

                  I use PacBay RodSmith epoxy for wraps, so my experience might not be typical for Flexcoat, but here it is anyway.

                  The stuff sticks very well to a prefinished blank, with or without alcohol as a thinning agent.  Removal, when necessary, is very easy.  Heat the wrap with a heat gun set to about 280° to 300° F.  Lift or cut the first wrap or so and simply unwind the thread.  Evidence that the epoxy adheres well to the blank is that the unwrapping leaves a bit of epoxy on the blank.  The heat seems to soften the epoxy well enough that the thread can be unwound without breaking.  The thread I use is either Pearsalls gossamer or YLI 100.  (Tim Anderson)

                  For one reason and another I have finished a few rods with a two-phase epoxy to finish the wraps, and it has been successful.  I diluted mine with acetone and applied it in thin coats (the only way, it seemed, to avoid the dreaded "high build" so beloved of the plastic fantastics.

                  I also used a hair dryer on a lowish setting, from about 18 inches away, on the wet wraps to expand and burst the bubbles with mild heat, with the rod turning, obviously.

                  The overall result was pretty good, though I personally prefer varnish.

                  I have had to remove a few, as klutzes do tend to break tips by jerking flies out of trees with the full force of their new rods, and I have always found that they come off easily,  do not require any heat, and leave a clean bright surface.  Of course I cut through them as far as possible over the feet of the guide with a #11 scalpel blade, and then just peel the rest away.

                  But no, no heat, so far at least, Mark.  (Peter McKean)

    OK, I did an experiment recently and this is one of the bases I covered. It all started out with many emails back and forth with Tom Morgan over accurately tuning his measuring block to a dedicated digital caliper taking into consideration glue, forms, etc., and to do this the way I wanted I needed to glue up a section a few feet long that is .130 flat to flat along the whole length. Anyway, that experiment is a story for another time.

    So now that I had this glued up test section, I was thinking about what to do with it, and it occurred to me that since I switched over from Gossamer thread to YLI #100 about a year ago (I just can't see the Gossamer too well anymore) and their amazing amount of colors, I should do a color sample stick - something I should have done long ago anyway but never took the time.

    I wrapped 18 different YLI #100 popular rodmaking colors onto the blank and finished them. Very cool, I was amazed at what some of the colors turned into after varnishing.

    Anyway, to make a long story short, I did some clear wraps also. I used YLI #212 Natural White, and #239 Natural. I think Bob Nunley recommended the #239 for clear wraps instead of the Natural White so I included it.

    I did two wraps of each finished with Flex Coat Lite equally mixed with acetone per Chris Carlin's tutorial on Rodbuildingforum.com. This is mixture has the consistency of water, and following his great directions, it went on beautifully. Then I finshed after a couple days drying time with 3 coats of my usual spar. Both wraps came out gin clear and I can't tell the difference between the #212 and #239. Then I did two more wraps of each, using my regular spar mixture (I use Alan's found on Dave Bolin's site) formula, then 3 coats of straight spar. Again, the #212 and #239 look identical.

    I will say that to my eye, the Flex Coat wraps have a slightly more translucent, vibrant clear to them then the spar mixture/straight spar wraps when you look at them all side by side. I am going to try this on an actual rod I'm getting to wrap and I hope the results come out as good as the test sample.  (Tom Vagell)

    Is the thinner for Flex Coat Lite the same as the "regular" Flex Coat (i.e. acetone)?  I seem to remember someone commenting that it will damage/destroy the underlying varnish.  I believe the way to use this (if, as indicated, you wish the earth's axis to tilt 90 degrees, destroy the world's stock of single malt etc. etc. :) is to use it under varnish, not over.

    But, I may well be wrong on this - it is, after all, past my bed time :)  (Greg Dawson)

      A simple test on a piece of wood should answer your question about over/under varnish.  (Frank Schlicht)

      For both the Flex coat and the Threadmaster finish you really should be using denatured alcohol instead of acetone. Regardless of whether it's the regular formula or the Lite in either brand.  (Will Price)

        I'd be interested to hear why you prefer denatured alcohol over acetone.  (Steve Dugmore)

        Number 1= it's the safer of the two chemicals

        Number 2= That's what the directions call for (at least on the Threadmaster)

        Number two is the main reason because I'm a believer in the old adage "when all else fails, follow the directions!" When I first used the Threadmaster I was told just a few drops of DNA. That might have worked for the advice giver but I didn't get optimum results. So I read the directions and they said 1 part epoxy, 1 part hardener, 1 part DNA. It worked perfectly and I have had results that were so good every time that it is the only way that I will do my wraps. No straight varnish for me. To those that jump up and down saying epoxy doesn't belong on a bamboo rod all I can say is that if this stuff had been around back in the day, masters like Dickerson, Garrison, Edwards etc., would have welcomed it with an open mind. Of course, this is just my opinion.  (Will Price)

          I personally don't recommend Denatured Alcohol ( DNA), simply because you never know what the additives are, unless you carefully read the label.  DNA is 95% (180 proof) ethyl alcohol (ethanol), the drinking kind. This is the purest form you can get without adding another distillation step to the process, which typically is not done for DNA. The other 5% is water. To this alcohol/water mix, other "nasties," such as ketones, various acetates, and naphtha, among other possible petroleum distillates, are added to discourage one from taking a nip now and then, and to avoid having to pay the very high Federal Alcohol tax on it.

          For close to 30 years now, I have been using 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to thin both the "hard" epoxies (Devcon, etc.) and the "soft" epoxies (Flexcoat, Regular and Lite)) with absolutely no problems with the epoxy turning "milky", as is often claimed if water is involved. This may be due to the fact that water and at least some of the alcohols form a very unique bond, which explains why 95% ethanol is the best you can get without a second special distillation step. Additionally, isopropyl alcohol is cheap and readily available; found wherever First Aid supplies are sold.  (Frank Schlicht)

          I've used Flexcoat Lite 50/50 mix, by weight, without thinning on all of my graphite rod wraps.  In fact I have never thinned Flexcoat and not sure if it makes any difference but have always used nylon thread for graphite rod wraps.  (I use varnish with silk wraps on all bamboo rods - tradition).

          Make sure your Flexcoat is mixed thoroughly and bubbles should be minimized, however I always keep a hair dryer handy, set on low fan - high heat and this takes any remaining bubbles out.  I apply Flexcoat and then hair dryer heat while the rod is turning in my Flexcoat dryer.

          I have salvaged guides from my broken graphite rods and use a razor blade cutting into wrap at foot of guide.  Once this cut is established, I grab a corner of the wrap and peel nylon thread with Flexcoat away from the rod.  (Doug Alexander)

            It makes a big difference on bamboo. While the football shaped wraps are OK for graphite they don't belong on bamboo. Thinning allows the wraps to stay flat, smooth and retain a well defined apex.  (Will Price)

              I find this particularly an interesting topic.

              Since we do not have a rod building store in this area any longer I don't bother buying threadmaster, flex coat or any particular flavor or brand as the cost plus shipping just doesn't make it practical.

              For wraps I using a product I at the local ACE store and  I thin it a lot and has a couple hours working time. I also use Klass Kote which is excellent.

              I've used MEK, acetone. DNA and isopropyl in both 70% and 90% to thin.

              I especially like using the 70% with 30 minute epoxy I pick up at the dollar store to prepare spalted wood blanks for turning.

              Mix it in a container until it is the consistency of milk and paint it on the wood and it will drink up all you can put on it and  you can turn it in an hour or so.  (Ron Hossack)

                I'm a great believer in giving the manufacturer the opportunity to comment also. I went to the Flex Coat site and looked in their rod wrapping finish tips section. I have reproduced those Tips I think are relevant to recent discussions. # 12 deals with thinning.  I have also asked the question of Flex Coat tech service about using denatured alcohol. DNA as you call it.  I find # 5 very interesting and say Huh?, ditto # 11  more info needed regarding lacquer based color preservers. 

                Rod Wrapping Finish Tips

                Getting Started

                Flex Coat™ Rod Wrapping Finish is easy to use, but it does help to understand the working properties of epoxy finishes. Over the years, rod building experts have developed a number of helpful tips for using Flex Coat, as well as countermeasures for various situations which have occurred. The following tips are from “Start to Finish Fly Rod Building” by Ryan Seiders and Dan Smith.

                Tip #5:

                If crazing and cracking of the finish around the guide feet becomes a problem, consider avoiding color preserver on the wraps that hold the guides. Also, make sure that you use equal portions of parts A and B in mixing the finish. (The component which makes Flex Coat flexible is located in part B—Hardener).

                Tip #7:

                Avoid contaminating finish with silicone. Any source of silicone such as silicone in medical syringes purchased at a drug store or silicone on monofilament can cause the finish to fisheye or separate from the rod blank and wraps. NOTE: Flex Coat syringes are manufactured to strict guidelines and do not contain any silicone!

                Tip #11:

                Yellowing of the finish can result from reaction with lacquer base color preservers, incomplete mixing, or unequal portions of resins A and B.

                Tip #12:

                For the rod builder who likes an extra thin coating on rod wraps, there are three ways to get a thin finish. Use a stiff brush which will spread the Flex Coat evenly and thinly over the wrap. Heating will also thin the finish. Thinning with a solvent such as acetone or epoxy thinner also works. Between 1 and 4 drops of solvent per 6cc mix of epoxy is recommended.  (Dave Burley)


I've been given a couple of bottles of a Canadian product called Gibbs high gloss polymer finish. I know some builders use threadmaster or flex coat for wraps but so far I have only used spar varnish on bamboo. I did use Flexcoat many years ago on graphite blanks and this looks fairly similar. It seems a shame to waste it if it's any good. Does anybody know anything about it? Should I thin it or bin it?  (Simon Reilly)

    Is this product similar to the Pour-on High Gloss Finish that cabinet makers pour on their tops that equals about 50 coats in one pour?  (Ron Hossack)

      No idea about cabinet making, this is a rod building product like flex coat or the like. It comes in 1 oz bottles.  (Simon Reilly)


Don'tcha just love it when manufacturers cheap out their products... smaller candy bars, chunk tuna with no chunks? I contaminated the bottle of ISO that I've had on the bench for years. So I got a new one at the drug store and mixed up a batch of epoxy to seal my wraps. The epoxy was milky with lots of little globules of something in it. It sorta looked like it had oil in it. I put it on the wraps any way 'cause I'm stupid like that, and it wet out to a nice translucent look. The puddle of left over still has little globules in it but it seems to be curing normal, so it just may be okay. I'm reading the bottle to see what is wrong and I realize the new alcohol is 70% and the old was 91%. That extra 21% water is what won't mix into the resin. It fortunately did not stick to the bodkin that I use to apply finish, so none made it into the wraps, but I'm not going to risk it again. That was the only alcohol at the drug store. Hopefully the paint stores have higher quality stuff... or I can really go whole hog and get some at the liquor store.  (Larry Lohkamp)

    The lack of low-water isopropyl alcohol is what drove me to plain old denatured alcohol from the hardware store.  Works great to thin epoxy.  (Tim Anderson)

      That is what I have been using for years to thin Epoxy.  (Tony Spezio)

      It is pretty well impossible to get ethyl alcohol that is anything like 100%.  Apart from anything else the damned stuff is so deliquescent that it dilutes itself by absorbing atmospheric moisture.

      If you source your alcohol (ethyl alcohol, or ethanol) from scientific supply houses rather than hardware stores you will have a better chance of buying exactly what you want.

      As an aside, I prefer acetone as a vehicle to thin epoxy.  Cheap and easy to get, very useful as a cleaning solvent for removing various chemicals from surfaces and works a treat with epoxies.  You've probably got to be a bit careful when using the stuff, but that applies to pretty well all the chemicals that we and other craftsmen use.  When I am thinning epoxy with acetone, I am a bloody sight more worried about the epoxy resins and hardeners than I  am about the acetone, and to that end I glove (nitrile) and mask, which pretty well sorts out the acetone as well.  (Peter McKean)

        Actually sourcing ethanol from a scientific supply house may get you 96% alcohol as it will contain no contaminants except water.  It isn't the deliquescence of the alcohol, but the fact that under distillation conditions alcohol/water distills at 96%+ maximum due to the formation of small associations of water and alcohol.  This water can be dried out chemically, often with quicklime ( anhydrous cakcium oxide).

        Alcohol can be distilled nearly free of water, but needs to be co-distilled with benzene or other co-solvent which pushes the water off. Such alcohol is not suitable for consumption, however and is the likely source for distilled denatured alcohol.

        Denatured alcohol from the hardware store or paint  store is the most convenient and perfectly useful for an epoxy application.  (Dave Burley)

    I don't think the liquor store will be of much help.  At least in Washington and Alaska they can no longer sell everclear in excess of 75.5%, which means that it's 24.5% water.    Just go with denatured alcohol from the paint or hardware store.  (Robert Kope)

    As far as I know, "Rubbing Alcohol"  from pharmacies has always been 70% to prevent skin irritation when being used in massage as a coolant and skin lubricant.  70% is not very flammable.  Wikipedia says 91% is available, but I can't believe this would be used without dilution as rubbing alcohol and available from a pharmacy today.

    Denatured alcohol (ethanol, ethyl alcohol) from the hardware store is nearly 100%  alcohol -  apart from the added denaturants - often methanol or Isopropyl, and would make a good solvent for what you want.  Typical vodka is 40% (80 proof) and Everclear is around 80%, as I recall. I'd stick with the hardware stuff.  (Dave Burley)

      70% is rubbing alcohol.

      91% is readily available at most pharmacies/markets--it is used primarily for cleaning the skin prior to injections.

      Everclear is either 80% or 95%, depending on what your state allows.  It is not denatured (poisoned with methanol to prevent use as a beverage) and is, therefore, taxed as liquor.  A pretty expensive way to buy alcohol.

      Denatured alcohol is approximately 95% ethanol and 5% methanol.  (Scott Wilson)

    Can you use denatured alcohol with your wrap epoxy?  As far as I know, it has little to no water in it.  (Mark Wendt)

    I buy 91% at CVS pharmacy and sometimes at the grocery store depending on where I'm at when I think of it. Bought a new bottle the other day so its still available if you look around.  (Floyd Burkett)

    I have used 70% Isopropyl (Rubbing) alcohol for close to 30 years now to thin both the 'hard' epoxies (5-minute, 2-Ton, 30 minute) and Flex Coat, both the Hi-build and the Light formula, with absolutely no problems what so ever! The Flex Coat does turn "milky" while being mixed, but has ALWAYS dried clear for me. I routinely use the thinned 'hard' epoxy as a top coat on my balsa and cork bodied bugs, and the finish has always been glassy smooth and crystal clear.One word of caution about the Isopropyl; don't use the colored and scented varieties as who knows what the additives are and what they will do to the epoxy.

    It is relatively easy to break the azeotropic (chemical) bond between ethyl alcohol and water by adding certain other organic chemicals to the still to produce 99.999999% pure ethyl (Absolute) alcohol (100% is probably out of the question because of the additive(s), which used to be benzene!). Denatured alcohol is 95% ethyl alcohol to which various and sundry organic distillates are added to discourage one from using it to mix cocktails with; nothing more, nothing less.  (Frank Schlicht)

    Another interesting and peaceful conversation.

    Sometimes it amazes me how we become like a territorial dog and defend our 'turf' of how to build a rod.

    What is tradition anyway?  Sometimes it's whats been handed down through the years by some man who got it from some man who never received the info from the bamboo gods in the first place and we then have the capabilities of looking through the keyhole with both eyes at once and the view becomes distorted.

    Frank Schlicht wrote:

    I have used 70% Isopropyl (Rubbing) alcohol for close to 30 years now to thin both the 'hard' epoxies (5-minute, 2-Ton, 30 minute) and Flex Coat, both the Hi-build and the Light formula, with absolutely no problems what so ever!

    I use Isopropyl (70% and 90%) to thin with also most of the time.   What I really like about the Isopropyl is when I use it to give an oily blank a couple of 30 minute 'bathes' and this will draw out the oils and resins from the inside and this works for any of the 'Rosewood' family of timber so that it will readily take a finish that will last.

    One of my neighbors makes what I call high end (out of my pocket book) furniture and he has lots of finishes. The upside is I can take small amounts and play with it.

    Lately I've been playing with 'real hard' polymer coating (thick as syrup) and the Isopropyl doesn't cut this stuff so I've been using acetone in a 50-50 ratio to get the thinnest coat possible.  Upside is it dries crystal clear and the downside is it takes several hours to harden.

    I've used Tru-Oil and it is ok but I don't care for the 'yellow tint' look it gives the threads.

    Lately I've been playing with a couple of different waterborne epoxies and this shows real promise.

    I thin this 20% with water and tried a dipping a 6" piece of Big Leaf Maple to see how it adheres to the wood.

    I was able to re-dip after 15 minutes and it was dry to the touch in an hour.

    When I asked a local expert about the hardness of this new stuff he replied, "On a scale of 1 to 10 for finish hardness, I would put acrylic plastic at a 9 (only because something may come along that is harder), CA glue at a 7 or 8, the new waterbornes at a 7, and the oil finishes at a 5. The big advantage that I see over the CA glue is that CA is quite brittle, while these new ones are more flexible." (Ron Hossack)

      I would say that's pretty typical for finishes - the harder they cure, the more brittle they're going to be.  That's why you see in the automotive industry they add a plasticizer to the paint or clear coat when they shoot paint on the plastic body parts.  The newer paints will cure harder than the base plastic part, and will eventually develop cracks when the underlying substrates flexes.  Varnish may not cure as hard as the plastic finishes, but in use it can last longer due to it not cracking under flexure when the rod is in use.  However, to be flexible, it can't be hard, so you give up impact protection, which usually on a cane rod is no big deal, unless you're slinging a lot of lead or big bead head wooly buggers and are prone to whacking your rod with the fly.  (Mark Wendt)


 

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