View Full Version : Dang rod epoxy!! A question...
Well, I got to the finishing part of building my first rod and did several of the top wraps. I knew this wouldn't be my best work since it was my first time. I followed every tip, website suggestion, and instruction I could find.
I got whipped. Man, did I ever get my a$$ kicked by that stuff. I got lumps. I got bubbles. I got application inconsistancies. However, I did get better.
I did use heat to get rid of bubbles after applying epoxy but still had too many. I mixed in small doses in small plastic cups like the ones you get at fly shops when you buy flies. My second batch I mixed in that cup and poured it on to aluminum foil and kept it warm over a candle. This helped.
My questions are these:
How can I make the portion of finishing the rod go better?
Could you use one of those coffee cup warmers to lay under the aluminum foil to warm it up?
Will heat damage the epoxy?
How can I get rid of the "lumpy" spots if I put too much on there (before it dries)?
What is the best tool to apply the epoxy?
Any answers will help me on the rest of my project.
Thanks for the help-
11-29-04, 08:41 PM
Oh, I feel your pain, my friend. ;) I've been through it all, and have yet to perfect finish application. Let me see if I can't help a little, though. I'll run through my routine and you can give it a try, but I'm sure you'll have to tweak it a little to suit you.
First off, I like to warm the epoxy SLIGHTLY before mixing by letting the full syringes sit under a 60 watt desk lamp for about ten minutes. Keep in mind that the warmer your epoxy is, the faster it cures. Empty both syringes into some sort of small cup (a shot glass works great). Mix by holding a butter knife or an artist's pallet knife against the inside edge of the cup while slowly turning the cup. **** the cup at an angle while doing this, and mix for three minutes.Pour the epoxy onto a smooth piece of foil and let sit for a minute or so. If small bubbles are present, you can pop them by simply exhaling on them. There should be no big bubbles.
Now, apply the epoxy to the rod while turning in a motorized rod dryer. I like to use a small pallet knife for this. Many like to use a brush, but I think the brush puts more bubbles in the finish. Simply pick up a small amount of epoxy and touch it to the wrap. Let the rod pull the epoxy from the knife rather than trying to "paint" it on. You may have to push the epoxy around on the wrap a little to get the edges. I like to go about 1/16" or so over the edge of the wraps. Once the wrap is covered, let it go. The epoxy should level itself. If there is too much on it, let it level off some, then take some off by holding the knife under the wrap and letting the epoxy roll back off onto the knife.
Once all the wraps are covered or the epoxy begins to get too thick to work, whichever comes first, go back and inspect your work. At this point you can use a little heat to pop bubbles if needed. Don't overdo it though, as too much heat will cause the epoxy to boil and create more bubbles. You can also add or remove a little epoxy from any wraps that need it.
Now let the rod turn until the left-over epoxy is no longer sticky to the touch.
If this isn't clear (probably isn't), or if there's anything else I can help you with, feel free to e-mail me and I'll send you my phone number.
11-29-04, 10:09 PM
Great tips from Danny. I use a very similar routine. Here are some things that I have learned along the way.
btw, which epoxy did you use? Some of the epoxies, for example, should not be heated. Also, when you say lumps, what do they look like - nabby or fish eyes? The reason I ask is that different lumps can be caused by different things.
I avoid plastic cups and use a shot glass like Danny. Some of the cups not made specifically for mixing finish will have contanminates like silicone that will cause fish eyes. Also, it's a good idea to not touch the thread after wrapping because you can introduce oils and other contanminates. I like to wash my hands frequently and rinse with isopropyl alcohol.
Again like Danny says, "Folding" the finish rather than stirring it helps to keep bubbles out of the mixture. If you can avoid bubbles while mixing, the fewer during application.
If my work room is cold, I heat an old piece of tile and put it under the AL foil.
I use the cheap plastic pallet knives too. You can also cut up old plastic credit cards into different widths. Collar stays work too. When I used brushes I was too tempted to brush. If you do use a brush, fill it and let the finish be pulled off, basically using it as a spatula.
I work from the edge toward the guide foot. There is air in the thread and it helps if you push it out through the tunnel made by the guide foot. After the main wrap is covered then I seal the tunnel with a little finish on a bobkin. You can see the finish climb the foot when the tunnel is full.
I think until you get use to the finish, it's best to use 2 thin coats. For a long time, my eyes would fool me (still do). I would keep adding finish to a wrap until it looked "full" while wet, rather than realizing the the finish would self level and fill in most of the drier spots. Too much finish causes lots of problems that are tough to fix. Too little just requires a thin second coat.
If your current wraps have bumps and are dry, you can use a very sharp razor (one side of a double edge) to cut them out and apply another thin coat.
btw, I hand turn my rods while applying and until tacky. I turn a 1/4 turn each time. I watch to see if the finish is starting to sag on the bottom then turn. It's every few minutes at first then the intervals increase. I've just found that this slower turning lets me head off any problems early, like too much finish. Plus, for the finish I use, it seems to level better. Just personal choice that works for me.
What is a pallet knife? Is that like one of those razor type modeling knife?
If you mix in a shot glass, do you worry about the old epoxy that is drying in the bottom or do you line it with aluminum to mix it then throw away the foil when you are done?
I used the flex coat rod finish and had about 3-5 minutes to work with the finish before it got too sticky. Do you guys use the same finish or do you use something else?
I really appreciate the help and look forward to doing the rest of the wraps with a little better success. You can bet your last stonefly nymph that I'll never use a brush to apply the epoxy again. If you have any other suggestions..........I'm all ears!
12-01-04, 04:36 PM
They are artist pallete knives used to mix art paint colors. You can find them in the art sections of craft stores (Michaels) or craft sections of big box stores. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. My favorite is the plain flat one. It looks kind of like a plastic food knife without the serrated edge.
I pour my batch of finish out of the shot glass (or sometimes a large stainless measuring tablespoon) onto a flat piece of foil that is on a tile. I spread it out into a very thin layer. This allows any bubbles from the mixing process to escape easier. Also, if left in the mixing container, the curing of the closed in mass of finish generates more heat than a thin layer and significantly shortens the pot life. While I'm letting most of the mixing bubbles escape (they all will not escape), I wipe the mixing container out with a paper towel soaked in denatured alcohol.
I'm surprised at the 3-5 minutes. Flexcoat High Build should have a pot life of 20-25 minutes. I think if you pour it out into a thin layer, it will help a lot.
A thinner, low viscosity epoxy finish with a longer pot life is LS Supreme. It's very clear and self-levels nicely. A lot of builders who like a low build finish on their wraps prefer it, usually 2 very thin coats. I use it on long butt wraps on conventional and spinning rods because it is easier to get a very thin coat on a longer length without a lot of build up.
On wraps, I personally like Glass Coat or the new Pac Bay Rod Smith. Their viscosities are kind of between low and high build so for me it's easier to get a low build wrap finish in one coat. I really like the clarity of Glass Coat and think it self-levels a little better than most other finishes. It does however have a very short pot life for some reason so depending on the length of the rod and number of wraps, I may have to mix multipe batches to complete the wraps. I just keep turning the rod while mixing up the new batches.
Another tip is to keep a short section of a drinking straw handy. This is a good way to target exhaling on stubborn bubbles. Just don't get carried away and spit on the wrap (don't ask how I know :) )
12-01-04, 09:17 PM
Good advice from GTS.
The pot life of your epoxy should be WAY longer than 5 minutes. I can usually finish at least half a rod out of one batch, and I don't work fast. Make sure you measure both parts as accurately as possible, preferably with syringes. Also, this is why I don't like to heat the epoxy with a candle, cup warmer, or whatever. Heat speeds up the curing process. If you like the better flow of warmed epoxy, try a thinner epoxy such as FlexCoat Lite instead.
Here is how I do it (whenever I'm not finishing with varnish). Follow this simple method and you should end up with beautiful wrap coatings, and don't worry it takes longer to read this than it does to actually get "perfect" finished wraps.
-light a small ALCOHOL lamp and let it burn
-Use Flex Coat Hi Build (you can always put it on thin if you want)
-Using separate syringes included ,put EXACTLY 2cc of each part (un heated, cooled, thinned or otherwise messed with) in small plastic mixing cup.
-Stir THOUROUGHLY (with little mixing sticks which come with the cups) trying to avoid bubbles but no big deal if you don't, just get it mixed completely.
-Get rod section turning in cradle (whatever you used to wrap with) on 16 rpm rod turner. The turners aren't too pricey and this step is vital.
-Using cheap plastic brushes (also sold on rodmaking sites) apply the epoxy to the wrap by holding your steadied brush against the turning wraps. Don't brush just guide the flow towards the edges (bubbles and all).
-work quickly to complete the section applying the epoxy as thin as possible but still giving the coverage you want (depends on number of coats your up for, usually better to do a couple coats on butt sections). When the epoxy begins to lose its self leveling properties and way before it gets gummy...your done. Usually it's no problem to complete one section per batch of epoxy.
-Clean up any over spill with a paper towel edge dipped in mineral spirits. Just hold it against the turning rod and slide towards wraps.
-By now you should notice a couple of things 1)the turning has leveled most the epoxy lumps 2) most of the bubbles have also found their way to the surface and popped themselves 3)you alcohol lamp is burning a nice BLUE flame.
-As the rod turns take three quick passes over each wrap with the flame from the lamp. Pass the flame right over and through the wraps giving equal exposure all the way around (don't touch the wick to the wraps...and don't ask how I know not to!) This will further level the epoxy and remove any remaining bubbles.
-Let the rod continue turning for two or three hours before continuing on to the next section.
-If the dried rod shows any lumps from frayed thread, exposed tag ends, etc. use an exacto knife to cut them flush and add another thin coat.
There are a thousand other ways to do it but if you do it this way and don't get great looking wraps... well then... you didn't hear this from me.
Thanks a ton for the help!
I think I see some of my problems from your suggestions. I may have been trying too hard to keep the epoxy warm. I also didn't know how to get the epoxy off if I made a mistake which had me on pins and needles.
I'll be emailing you guys if I have any other problems but right now I'm printing the directions you gave for my next finishing session.
12-02-04, 09:10 AM
Ditch the graphite, start finishing and fishing bamboo, and you'll really start pulling your hair out. Finding the right varnish, diluting ratios, brush or dip.
Man I love it! :D
12-02-04, 09:25 AM
Bill's post is an example of why this board can be so great - clear advise from one of the best there is.
Hollis - here's a little tip concerning syringes (you may already know of it). Drill a 5/32 hole in each bottle cap and insert the appropriately marked syringe snuggly in the hole. When you need to draw the hardner or resin, turn the bottle upside down and draw out the amount that you need (btw, I very much agree with the 2cc). Carefully squirt the resin or hardner into the mixing container and immediately put the syringe back into its hole with the plunger fully down. It will be ready to go the next time.
12-02-04, 11:13 PM
You know, it always amazes me how every rod builder seems to get his best results from a different technique than the next. I'm still tweaking my routine, but its beginning to work for me. GTS's technique sounds quite similar to mine, and from the pics I've seen I'd say his results are top notch. I've seen Bill's work up close, and his rods are among the most flawless I've ever seen. What's funny is I've tried pretty much the exact routine that he suggests, but I can't make it work. I must not be holding my tongue right. ;)
In any case, there is alot of good info here. Take whatever advice you can get here or anywhere and try it all. My guess is that the routine you eventually settle on will be a combination of everything you can gather and a few tricks that you'll come up with on your own. Just be sure to share those tricks with us. :)
12-05-04, 04:15 PM
Ya know,.....there are hours and hours and hours of experience/info being given in this one little thread here at NGTO. Great thread, the knowledge shared is invaluable...it seems so simple but the learning curve doing some of this stuff is so high> Thanks Guthooked, Oyster, and Gonetoseed, for all the info. Thanks Hollis for the thread. And also, I agree with Fishnpreacher. Bamboo is great, especially the stuff coming from Oyster's shop. I felt honored to meet him a few weeks ago on the Ami.
Thnaks again .... Jeff
12-17-04, 07:14 PM
Hello guys. It has been a long time since I have posted. Too much work, and too little play, but I am getting my life back. Here is my procedure for applying epoxy. It works well.
1. I use flex coat Lite because I usually build fly rods, and it seems to level better on the small diameters, but I can do it with high build as well. Flex coat seems to level the best of the many epoxies I have tried, particualrly on long butt wraps. I start it at room temperature.
2. Use syringes. Measure exactly. It doesn't matter how much you measure as long as it is exact. Start w/ 2 cc's of each component. Fold the two components together in a shot glass until it is clear. Then add 7-10 drops of Acetone to the mix. Fold it together and pour it onto a piece of aluminum foil. Carefully mix it up a little and the bubbles disappear.
3. Brush or paste the epoxy onto each guide so that you can still see the thread bumps. The key here is a thin, thin coating. Make sure you fill the tunnels. If you need to clean up an edge, use a coffee filter (lintless) dipped into alcohol, hold the filter against the wrap where you want the epocy to end and turn the rod to make a straight edge. BTW, I do this on a power wrapper turning at about 100 RPM, and I use a spatula.
4. Take a small butane lighter. Hold the flame to the side of the wrap, close but not touching, and rotate the rod to get rid of any air bubbles and to help the epoxy wick under the tunnel and get rid of that pesky bubble that will form there if you don't. This whole process should take 15 minutes or less for a 9' rod.
5. Put the rod in a turner, and check back in 30 minutes and bust any bubbles that might have appeared.
6. After the epoxy has cured 24 hours, slice off any bumps or thread stick-ups with an exacto knife.
7. Mix up another batch of epoxy as above without the Acetone. Apply a smooth, thin layer to completely cover the thread ridges. Don't put it on too thick on the tip top, or it will football.
9. Pass the lighter by the wraps again to get rid of any bubbles, and turn it.
10. Check back in 30 minutes to fix any mistakes. If the epoxy has gelled, it can be re-liquified briefly with the application of heat.
11. Let the rod turn overnight. In 24 hours you will have a near perfect job.
The key on the first coat is thin. The key on the second coat is only thick enough to cover the thread ridges. You might have to add a drop or two on top of the guide foot to completely cover the ridges when you check back.
Then go fishing.
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