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Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Tom Harder (---.hsd1.mn.comcast.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 01:14PM

As the title suggests, have any of you abandoned using a brush to lay on your thread finishes?

I'm new here but I've been building fishing rods since I was 17 years old. That's now 44 years that I've been building fishing rods.

Have any of you tried using different application "sticks"? For example, the thin white, round plastic mixing sticks that you buy from Mudhole or Anglers Workshop and the like. I think they are a Flex Coat product. They claim that they minimize bubble formation. They probably do. Even those little sticks can apply a significant amount to smaller guides. Furthermore, they do a great job of spreading a straight line on the edges of your guides. Even the thinner finishes apply well with these little sticks. Spatulas can apply even more finish for larger areas like your decorative wraps. It's the decorative wraps that really present the biggest problem with bubbles. I'm sure you've all used either a low speed hair dryer (too much particle disruption), heat gun or one of the small alcohol burners or the little alcohol torch (bubble buster). They all work.

The reason I ask is that I believe it's your brush that introduces the majority of the bubbles we all have to address as we finish our rods. Now, even with that, I've learned over time to quickly get your finish on and leave it alone as quickly as possible and the bubbles almost always disappear on their own. But, brushes make getting your edges nice and straight more difficult than a hard surface (like a stick or spatula). Thinner and more pointed seems to work the best for me. I prefer the spatulas but for small guides I'll use the little white sticks to better control the amount of finish being laid onto really small guide feet (like fly rods). Plus they can remove finish too by just using a paper towel (automotive shop paper towels, the blue ones - no lint) to remove all the finish and then just dabbing the tip or using the length of the stick.

I'd like to hear your of experience on experimenting with finish application tools. I'm certain I'll learn much from you guys. Thanks for your replies.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/20/2018 01:17PM by Tom Harder.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Phil Erickson (---.dsl.pltn13.sbcglobal.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 02:38PM

A lot of thoughts on this subject are opinions from experience such as yours, however in my case they differ from yours. As I only build fly rods, I do not deal with long decorative wraps, very large guides and large diameters.

I find good quality brushes (sable) work best, with different sizes for the application size. The no-no with brushes is, brushing the applied epoxy, it creates bubbles. Tom,s article on epoxying wraps covers this subject wonderfully. I have tried spatulas, think it has less control due to their rigidity. Especially for the guide tunnels.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Lynn Behler (---.97.252.156.res-cmts.leh.ptd.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 03:25PM

Did six 3/8" sample wraps yesterday and applied the finish with a skinny stick. (Walmart craft dept.) There are no guides on this, but the finish turned out great. I also use those pointed bamboo food skewers at times with good results when working around guides. I'll never give up on brushes entirely, but sometimes there are better ways. Don't get bubbles whichever way.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Spencer Phipps (---)
Date: September 20, 2018 03:40PM

I use a spatula modified as per the Rod Maker article from years ago. The pointy side works great on the guide tunnels.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: roger wilson (---)
Date: September 20, 2018 03:50PM

Tom,
I have tried everything that has been previously suggested.

However, I continue to go back to very inexpensive children's art brushes which I obtain for a few cents each.

I use one brush for each coat of finish. If I happen to be doing two or three rods at the same time I will use the same brush. But, I never clean brushes, so as soon as the finish gets tacky, the brush is thrown away.

That means that I don't have to ever worry about using any sort of cleaning chemicals or soaps or similar products.

Basically use once and pitch.

For example:

[www.walmart.com]

This means that the brushes are ten cents each.

I think that these are essentially the same brushes that are sold by flex coat in their stand a lone catalog listings, or in their finish kits.

or:

[www.michaels.com]

This means that the brushes are seven cents each.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Tom Harder (---.hsd1.mn.comcast.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 05:41PM

I like all of these methods. I use Sable brushes as well. In fact I've never used any other brushes. But, it is my opinion that you never get these brushes completely clean, regardless of how hard you try. At least for me, that's what I've experience. Plus regardless of how hard I try some of the epoxy somehow hardens deep down into the bristles. I use 1/4" brushes and even after one use and thorough cleaning, once dry, they get wider. For me they are frustrating. I've always figured it's just the cost of doing business. But it's worse than that in that, they have some (even a little bit) cured epoxy that releases particles on subsequent uses. So, I'm liking Roger's solution as I read it.

The way I put epoxy on I'm not sure the brush really matters. I get it on thick, I let it absorb for a few of minutes, then I remove the excess. Now, at that point I float whatever tool I use over the epoxy without even touching the thread. It's just sliding epoxy around to balance and make perfect (this is where a hard, pointed, narrow tool shines). Have to make sure the raised thread by the guides are adequately supplied as it soaks in, so you just drag a little. I work with every guide right up until they cannot be worked any longer. You can easily feel it. Yes, very fussy. I'm sure you guys are as well.

Since I only use a brush to get large amounts on I'm very interested in how Roger does it. I'd love not to have to deal with those sable brushes. I think they create more trouble than they solve. But I also saw Billy and others leave there brushes in the epoxy cleaner at all times. I haven't tried that yet but I think I will. As it stands, every order I make for guides of whatever, I add 2 sable brushes...irritating.

Edited to add; And Phil, it's those small guides where I see the spatula really shine. Quicker, smaller, easier...for me anyway.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/20/2018 05:44PM by Tom Harder.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: September 20, 2018 06:01PM

I use a brush, but I do not "brush" the finish on. Rather, I use the brush to carry the finish to the wrap and then allow the rod underneath it to sort of pull the finish off. Like this:

[www.youtube.com]

...............

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Phil Ewanicki (---.res.spectrum.com)
Date: September 20, 2018 06:02PM

The creation of bubbles in the finish is due not only to the implement of application - brush, stick, or spatula, but the viscosity of the finish and the temperature at which it is applied.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Tom Harder (---.hsd1.mn.comcast.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 06:07PM

I also want to add that I wrap my guides just beyong the end of the guide foot so they're as small as possible. I've switched over to REC Recoil guides for almost every rod I build (except my high buck 7/8/9/10 weight fly rods and Spey Rods, then I use two of the Fuji K series Titanium Torzite guides. And if I have a "tool" fisherman I'll use two of the 2 foot REC Recoils).

I dislike thread windings that do nothing so I crop them very close to the feet. By combining grip coring and minimizing every single thing we put on these rods makes them much lighter than anything available on the Market today. I'm very proud of how light my rods end up being. I even grip core my fly rod handles.

This is partly why I use the pointed spatula (or a clean mixing stick) for the guides. A 1/4" brush ends up being too wide for the guide feet I wrap unless I turn it to the narrow edge.

And yes Tom, that's another good way to describe it. I think I got the grip coring from an article you wrote on Rodmaker Magazine (didn't I?).



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/20/2018 06:13PM by Tom Harder.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Tom Harder (---.hsd1.mn.comcast.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 06:14PM

Phil, how does temperature create bubbles?

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Matthew Paul (---.lightspeed.milwwi.sbcglobal.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 06:41PM

Gave up on brushes long time ago back in the 70's I use a spatula that I make out of vinyl plastic top from a food container NO it doesn't have any silicone on it or in it as it is food grade and nothing that would contaminate the epoxy it is stiff enough to apply and flexible when it is needed cut out different lengths and widths with a scissors and they fit in one of the barrels for an exacto knife the up side is you can make then in different sizes for applying to small wraps or to long decorative wraps , gives you good control of the epoxy being applied to any of your wraps bubble free and I do apply to the guide tunnels first so that it can flow deep in to the tunnel and will push out any air that would be other wise trapped in the guide tunnel doing this assures that you have good wetting of the wrap with epoxy and no latent bubbles showing up during the cure process. but this is just what I do to each their own

The best day to be alive is always tomorrow !!
Think out side the box when all else fails !!!
Wi.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Tom Harder (---.hsd1.mn.comcast.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 06:57PM

Yes Phil, how does temperature create air bubbles? I understand that cooler temperatures thickens epoxy and therefore is not as able to release air bubbles in the epoxy as easily as warmed epoxy (that's why we use a heat and air) but I don't understand how temperature "creates" bubbles?

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Tom Harder (---.hsd1.mn.comcast.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 06:59PM

Great information and ideas Matthew!

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Matthew Paul (---.lightspeed.milwwi.sbcglobal.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 07:42PM

temp does play when applying if it is below 70 the epoxy doesn't flow as easily and the wetting out process is compromised along the guide tunnels that is why I stated I do those first because the epoxy is thinnest at the start pot life what ever you call it and it flows better in to them if you coat the wrap and then do the tunnel there is the possibility of bubbles as the epoxy is curing as you apply and barometric pressure affects the flow along with temp, higher temp better flow high barometer harder to push out the bubbles low barometer easier to release the bubbles.
Kind of crazy things that can drive ya nutz . my shop is between 72-80 year round I don't care to heat my epoxy as it can shorten the pot life as it will speed up the exothermic curing of it . epoxy produces its own hear when curing and to my mind I don't need to help it along and create another problem by doing so. I have made a practice of purchasing epoxy kits in smaller sizes as then I have a supply of fresh epoxy with no discoloration or crystallization of the resin.
again these things are just what I prefer to do.

The best day to be alive is always tomorrow !!
Think out side the box when all else fails !!!
Wi.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Tom Harder (---.hsd1.mn.comcast.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 07:59PM

I agree Matthew but temperature doesn't "create" bubbles...correct? At least not in my experience. Finish epoxies develop little heat. Yes, heating it up will shorten the pot life. It also speeds curing on the rod when you use a heat gun or any other bubble busting heat methods. Yeah, me too on my shop temperature so I never have to deal with low temperatures.

Get this, it's something I stumbled on many years ago, I use a couple drops of Xylene in my epoxy and it flows and levels unbelievably well. I now know the recommendations of the manufacturers but I discovered this maybe 20 years ago, long before the internet. I'll occasionally use it now but I mostly use finishes without additives. I switched over to RodDancer finishes about 8 years ago but I just re-tried Flex Coat again and I really liked it.

Seems you have an excellent system for yourself Matthew.

Two old timers discussing our methods developed long before the internet. Back then you were on your own. Now, I'd think one could get very advanced wraps accomplished very early in their rod building avocation. Don't you think? I mean look at this forum, it's great! Sharing ideas is so easy now.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/20/2018 08:04PM by Tom Harder.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Lynn Behler (---.97.252.156.res-cmts.leh.ptd.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 08:42PM

U-40 brush cleaner works very well. Suspend brushes in cleaner so they don't stand on the bristles. It will eat some paints from brush handles. I sand paint from handles before I use them.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: September 20, 2018 09:49PM

Temperature in and of itself doesn't create bubbles, but it does affect how easily or how difficult it is for those bubbles to release from the mi.

..................

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Tom Harder (---.hsd1.mn.comcast.net)
Date: September 20, 2018 10:38PM

Hey Tom, how do you like the U-40 Epoxy? I went and watched the video. Great video. You're right, we tend to complicate the whole process. Did you make the video? Anybody else on the U-40? I remember when I started I used to rotate my rods by hand but that's over 40 years ago. I'm glad those days are gone. Along with the cup and a phone book. I usually ended up putting something heavy on them. We've come a long way since then. I remember the rotisseries were always a problem. I don't recall why though. I had reliability issues with them. Trying to get the inserts to stay in the rotisserie "chuck" were always a problem too. Well, at least it was for me until I put simple rubber bands on the square insert I'd make to work with it.

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: roger wilson (---)
Date: September 20, 2018 11:58PM

With respect to bubbles.
I mix up my finish and I am nor particularly careful about avoiding the formation of bubbles.

I apply the finish starting at one end of the rod or the other.

Then, I go back to where I started, and using an excellent magnifier, and a very bright light use a heat gun to apply gentle heat which causes the bubbles to move out of the finish which is also thinned at the same time due to the gentle heat and I am left with a perfect no bubble finish.

I use flex coat high build and for about 90% of the rods that I build, I only have to apply one coat for a perfect finish. By only having one coat and one drying time, I can ship the rods the following afternoon after the finish application.

As the saying goes - "time is money." So, in a given amount of time that means more rods going out the door.

Good luck

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Re: Have any of you abandoned using a brush for your rod finishes?
Posted by: Tom Harder (---.hsd1.mn.comcast.net)
Date: September 21, 2018 12:09AM

I'm kind of like you Roger, at least much of my process. I bought a new Milwaukee digitally controlled heat gun about 6 years ago. Boy is it nice. The low speed really is perfect for this. It's a bit big though, and as such, a little more difficult to handle. Roger how much heat do you apply? I can dial this new one up to the temperature I want but I'm always nervous about what temperature to set it at.

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