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Part Eleven

  • Montaje de una caña de grafito

  • Signing Your Rod and Applying the Finish

    by Al Campbell


    Hopefully your new rod is starting to look like the dream rod you've always wanted.  We're almost finished, but the next steps are just as critical to a good looking fly rod as the rest have been.  Don't get in a hurry now, just take your time and it will turn out right.

    Marking Pen & Paint

    Before you apply the finish to the rod wraps, it's a nice touch to add your personal signature to your new fly rod.  For this, you'll need a marking pen and some paint.  Model railroad and model car paints work very well for rod signing.  I prefer gold or silver colored paint, but this is your rod so you get to choose the color.  Who knows, you might prefer to do each letter in a different color.  You can use any color you like, you're the one who will ultimately have to live with your choices on this one.  Marking pens can be obtained at an office supply store, a craft store or through a rod building supply outlet.

    Signing Your Rod

    You might want to make a couple of practice signatures on a steel rod or an old fly rod if you have one laying around.  Signing your name to a rod isn't as easy as it might appear.  For those of us who make mistakes, thank goodness for acetone and paper towels to erase them.  Use your rod stand to steady the rod while you sign it.

    Steady the Rod

    Be sure to include all of the rod information like blank manufacturer, line weight and length if it isn't already printed on the rod blank.  If the rod ever breaks, you'll need this information to obtain a replacement section.  Oh, don't forget to sign your name, this is what making your own custom rod is all about, personalizing it to your tastes and placing your name on your finished creation.

    Drying Motor

    After the paint has dried, you'll need to place the rod in a stand and attach the reel seat or butt to a drying motor.  If you didn't buy a drying motor, you can make one from a barbecue rotisserie, some PVC pipe and a few wing bolts.  You can't get the finish to dry evenly turning the rod by hand, so be sure to use some type of motor that turns the rod between three and thirty-six times a minute.   If you're using a cardboard box as a stand, tape a paper towel to the rod where the box will be supporting it so the finish of the rod isn't scratched by the box.

    Drying Motor Variation

    Put all of the rod pieces together and line them up with each other. When you have the entire rod level, supported by some type of stands and attached to the drying motor, you can think about mixing the finish for the rod, but not before then.

    If you want the thread wraps to keep their true color, you'll have to paint them with a commercial thread sealer (color preserver).  Be sure to use at least two coats of color preserver so the finish won't have a chance to seep behind the thread and discolor it.  If you prefer transparent wraps like you see on many fine commercial rods, or if you used NCP thread, forget the color preserver. Personally, I never use color preserver, but those who do decorative wraps on their rods must use it to preserve the true color of the wraps.

    Flex Coat Kit

    Rod finish comes in several styles and many brands. The types of finish you're likely to encounter are thick (one coat) and thin (two or more coats).  Thick finish is popular because you only have to apply it one time, but it's more likely to have bubbles in it, and it turns yellow faster than thin.  Thin finish is less likely to create bubbles, but you have to apply two coats, and it will drip if you don't keep the rod turning at least 6 revolutions per minute.  Personally, I use thin finish because it results in glass smooth guide wraps. Beginners usually find thick a little easier to use; the choice is entirely up to you.

    When you're absolutely sure you're ready, mix the finish in a plastic or glass cup (since most rod finishes are two part, I'm assuming yours is too).  If you purchased a finish kit, cups and brushes will be supplied, if not, here's a warning; never mix rod finish in a wax or paper cup, it just doesn't work well, and the finish won't cure properly.  Mix it very thoroughly for at least two or three minutes (it won't cure evenly if it isn't mixed right).

    When the finish is thoroughly mixed, pour it into a small bowl or a wide cup.  This will allow the bubbles to rise to the surface and dissipate. Turn on the drying motor and grab a small paint brush.  Start 'painting' the finish onto the wraps, starting with the tip-top and working your way to the handle.  Use the drying motor to turn the rod so you only have to hold the paintbrush steady.

    Don't paint the finish on too heavy, that would only result in funny looking guide wraps.  Apply just enough finish to completely cover the thread wraps; no more than 1/32" beyond the thread on any guide.  You'll have to work fast to apply the finish before it starts to set and get thick, but don't get careless.  You won't get second chances with the finish.

    If you're using a thin type of finish, you'll have to wait until the first coat is dry and repeat these steps.  It's especially important not to gob the finish on when using thin finish; you'll have to apply a second coat over the first one. Try to keep the thickness of the finish consistent between guides. 

    Once you have all of the guides coated, go back and look for bubbles in the finish.  You can pop most bubbles while the finish is liquid by blowing gently through a drinking straw on the bubble.  If that doesn't work, a touch of flame from a butane lighter will pop it.  Don't scorch the finish with the lighter, just getting close to the bubble usually works.

    If you missed any tags of thread before you applied the first coat of finish, you can cut them off with a razor blade after the first coat is dry but before you apply the second coat.  The second coat of finish will hide the error so well you won't be able to find it.

    Always check for fuzz and anything else that's not right before you apply any coats of finish.  Another hint be careful not to get finish on the guides, it's hard to remove and it looks like a second rate job at best

    Be sure to allow the rod to dry at least a day before you put a line on it and cast it.  It takes that long for the finish to get hard enough to withstand the line running across it.

    Hey, you're done!  How does it look?  I built six rods during this series, most of them for customers.  One of the rods was built on a Gatti blank and it's now my own personal rod.   Next week I'll review a few steps with you and show you some pictures of my new rod.  Until then, I'll be playing with my new fly rod.  It casts better than any rod I've ever owned. ~ Al Campbell

    GRAPHITE ROD BUILDING ARTICLES
    [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ] [ Part 6 ]
    [Part 7] [Part 8] [Part 9] [Part 10] [Part 11] [Part 12]

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