So as not to totally hi-jack the thread on Kevin's latest build I'll digress on a new thread.
In the topic of what finish to use on guides wraps, I know serious rod builders use epoxy or some other type product that only requires 1 or 2 (or maybe 3) coats. I've only built 5 rods (all for myself), and I stripped and re-wrapped the guides on a rod for a buddy of mine and did a rebuild/repair for Ralph (aka NJtroutbum on here). Since the first rod I did was a kit, and came with Gudebrod rod varnish, I have stuck with that. Like Cutter says it does take MANY coats to build up, but the final result (to me at least ) can be in-distinguishable from epoxy. If you're building for clients like Kevin does, then time is an obvious factor (time is money like they say), and varnish is likely not an option unless the client request it.
From what I've seen and heard from others builders on-line, to use epoxy, a rod turner is a necessity. Sure, maybe you can turn by hand, but you risk the epoxy sagging if you're not totally diligent, nothing looks worse on a rod then nice clean thread wraps, and a bad or lopsided finish job. Varnish is very thin, like medium viscosity zap-a-gap, and soaks into the threads. It takes 3 or 4 coats before it really starts to build up to even look like it's coating, and at least another dozen to look like what you'd expect a finished wrap to look like. This alone probably will make many a rod builder go buy a rod turner.
I was working on my 3rd build when my buddy came over one night. He had already seen my first 2, and when me saw me working on my 3rd he asked if I could strip and re-wrap a rod for him. It was a G.Loomis med-heavy bass rod (he's a bass master angler), and there was nothing wrong with it, he just wanted the guides placed in spiral/acid wrap stye. If you've never seen an acid wrap style, it's really weird at first, but the physics behind it make perfect sense, but that's a topic for another thread. Any way when I stripped the guides off I noticed once I sliced thru the finish (which I assumed it was epoxy being a factory rod) the thread just peeled off the rod, then the thread easily peeled of the bottom of the epoxy. Now, the thread holds the guides on fine, and the finish is there to protect the threads I know, but I got to thinking about how varnish soaks in the first several coats and have to wonder if varnish doesn't, not just glue all the threads together, but actually glue the threads directly to the blank? Ralph's re-built confirmed this knowing he used varnish on his original build, when the thread wraps were much harder getting off.
There are pro and cons to any finish, and much is also personal preference and level you want to take it to.
Beside number of coats and possible bubble issue (which varnish is not totally without) what other differences have builders experienced?
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I've encountered the same results when peeling epoxied guides off as opposed to varnished guides. Here is the first rod I ever built (epoxied guides) now rebuilt with trying my hand at feather inlays, fish length & slot markers. There are some blemishes here & there from the strip down process and multiple fishing trips but I was fairly pleased with the way it came out. I replaced the original single foot guides out to snakes which I've come to prefer for aesthetic purposes and used gudebrod rod varnish for the guides & inlays. The handle and reel seat were left from the original build. Sorry for the pic quality, these were taken on my old cell phone from over two years ago.
Cutter, I like that rod. It is unusual to see an under-wrap on a fly rod, but it looks good.
I have tried lots of finishes including brushed on spar varnish for the wraps. I think they all have their place. I have even used Clear Cure Goo as a wrap finish for quick guide replacement for customers that are in a hurry to go get skunked. It works pretty well, better than you might expect.
The epoxy used for rod finish does not have great strength. It does soak into the threads just as the varnish does and it does glue the thread to the blank. However, the thread is what holds the guide in place. The epoxy, or other finishes, protect the thread.
My turner does more for me than just keep the finish from sagging. I use a 36 RPM turner for a reason. First, it allows me to coat the threads on the whole rod at one shot. This saves time, epoxy, and money. The faster turner also helps me get a nice straight line on the finish where it rolls off the thread down to the blank. I use it when applying Color Preserver or varnish, too. It simplifies and speeds up the task.
Thicker finishes do not like a fast turner. The finish doesn't get a chance to level and you wind up with football shaped wraps. I use ProKote which does level nicely even at the faster speeds. I generally need two coats.
Thanks, the under wraps were done to camouflage some blemishes from the original build and covered a couple of other scratches from fishing use. I had done under wraps on one other rod I re-built on a much smaller scale and liked the look. I was concerned that all this under wrap on the rod shown might affect the rod action but I could not tell a difference. However I do usually over line this rod to 7 wt. to slow it down a bit. My rod turner is about 4.5 rpm. I like your ideas on a much faster turner and love your finishes. May have to look into this stuff for my next build.
In applying finish to an entire rod with the ProKote, do you feel rushed or is it forgiving on cure time once mixed? Reason I ask is when using epoxies I felt a bit rushed when trying to coat all the guides in one pass. Also do you start at the tiptop with the smaller, finer stuff and work bigger or does this matter?
ProKote does have a longer work time and it takes a bit longer to set. You should be able to get all the guides in one shot. It doesn't matter which end you start with. Start in the middle if you want.
I can do all the guides on a rod with FlexCoat. It is due to the 36 RPM turner. A slow turner is great for leveling heavier finishes but it takes forever to get finish on the rod. A fast turner is great for getting the finish on the rod but doesn't give gravity a chance to level the thicker finishes. I get good build with ProKote but it is thin enough to level on the faster turner.