ROD BUILDING TIPS
Finish Bubbles

By Tom Kirkman

Here's a question from Volume 4, Issue #3 Issue of RodMaker magazine:

"I wrote to you about a month ago concerning the rod I was building. I was having trouble with the finish drying properly. Well since then I have completely redone that section of the rod and had put on my first coat of finish. I used a hair dryer to try to get the few bubbles out that I had. I also purchased a new finish, LS2000, to use this time.

Well, I'm writing this to you cause I'm still having problems. Even though I used the hair dryer and got out all the bubles I could see under a 3x lens there still seems to be some bubles that remained. The few places I am talking about are more like if the bubbles burst inward and the finish didn't fill in the area.

I am about at the end of the everything I have read. I know it's not the finish as the cup that I use as a test pot looks great.

Are there any other suggestions you can offer? . . . " Tom . . . Malvern, PA

RodMaker Magazine

Bubbles in the finish are a constant headache for rod builders. The LS2000, and the newer Supreme are great at releasing any introduced bubbles, but the heat you applied may have contributed to the problem. Let me explain.

Most epoxy rod finishes of late can be gently heated in order to reduce bubbles. This gentle application of brief heat will temporarily reduce the viscosity of the finish which allows any bubbles to rise to the surface and escape. However the LS epoxy finishes are made with a different type of amine in the hardener, which actually boils at about 160F so any addition of heat that raises the temperature to that level can actually create more bubbles rather than eliminate them. Notice the finish in your cup, which I assume you didn't heat, does not have any bubbles like the ones on your wraps. See the connection?

Luckily, the maker of the LS finishes formulated these epoxy finishes to release bubbles on their own, without any need for the application of heat. All you need to do is reduce the depth of finish so the bubbles can rise and leave the mix on their own. After mixing in your cup or shot glass, pour the mix out onto a flat piece of aluminum foil. Let it sit for a few minutes and watch the bubbles race to the surface and disappear! (This procedure works well for any epoxy finish, but take the working or pot life of your particular finish into account lest you allow the finish to sit too long before you begin working.) Next, take care not to do too much brushing as you apply your finish. I like to load my brush, hold it above the wrap and bring it down onto the wrap as I rotate the rod underneath it. One or two revolutions is all it takes. If you apply the finish like you would brush on paint you will introduce more bubbles into it. Some rod builders have dispensed with brushes althogether, preferring instead to use non-porous items like metal spatulas. Give that a try sometime - it might be for you.

Using a toothpick to mechanically pick, poke and pop bubbles is fine. Exhaling on the finish will also get rid of bubbles to some extent. But whatever you do, if you are using the LS finish, resist the temptation to apply heat from your hair dryer or similar device. ~ Tom Kirkman


Publishers note:
If you have any tips or techniques, send them along! Help out your fellow rodmakers! ~ Publisher, FAOL

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