Finishing Between The Feet

By Tom Kirkman

Here's a question from the Volume 4 - Issue #3 issue of RodMaker magazine:

RodMaker Magazine

"Fairly new to rod building, I'm starting to get the hang of finishing when it comes to getting complete and level coverage. However, I still have trouble getting a cosmetically good finish between the feet of the guides. On the outer edges of the wrap, a finish with a crisp and straight edge is simple enough. I hold my brush still and turn the blank. Between the fore and aft foot of a double foot guides, things get a little more complicated. If I underwrap, the finish will cover the space between the feet and it's not so bad. But, if I don't underwrap, getting that "finish - bare blank - finish" with a straight edge gets time consuming and difficult. As you know, simply rotating the rod in this area will not allow the finish to get underneath in the tunnel between the guide and the blank. Dabbing Flex Coat with a toothpick sometimes leaves a glob that can be hard to control. One slip and the finish will get on the part that I want to be bare and getting it off is a "bear." In my area (South Mississippi) humidity and temperature is high most of the year. This gives me little time to work most finishes. If I make this job too tedious, my finish will set in the cup before I get through with all the wraps.

So, is there a trick? I've seen you mention in RodMaker and on the Rod Guild message board that you can get the finish on your wraps in a matter of minutes. Can you help me speed up my process without sacrificing quality? I build casting rods mostly and Flex Coat is my finish of choice.

Tom, IMHO, RodMaker Magazine is the best thing going. Keep up the good work. If the preceding question imparts too much on the time that you spend with RodMaker, ditch the question and I'll figure out something. By all means, don't let my trivial problem hold up as great a production as RodMaker. I mean this with all sincerity and eagerly await the next issue.

Thanks again and Best Regards," Greg . . .Moss Point, MS

You're already on the right track, but need to modify your technique just a tad in order to get a nice, square edge on the inside edge of your wraps. First, you are finishing correctly when you load the brush and hold it above the wrap, rotating the rod underneath and letting the finish flow down and onto the wrap. This is the quickest way to get good coverage and a square edge. For a steady hand, place a block of wood or some other stable item directly behind the wrap and use it to rest your forearm or the heel of your hand as you hold the brush above the wraps. Move it along as you go. This will help greatly in getting a crisp, square edge on your finish beyond the edge of each wrap.

I personally like to use flat brushes rather than round ones. Normally I use either 1/4, 3/8 or 1/2 inch brushes depending upon the size of the wrap areas I need to cover. If you will hold such a flat brush so that just one edge barely overlaps the inside edge of the wrap and the blank, you should not get any finish into that area between the guide feet. The amount that will get onto that particular blank area will depend solely on how far past the edge of the guide wrap you hold the brush.

As far as filling in the tunnel between the guide feet and the wrap you can do this with a toothpick or other pointed instrument. Just get a small drop of finish on the end and push the tip of the instrument against the tunnel opening and hold it there. The finish will be sucked into the tunnel opening. You can add additional drops of finish until the tunnel will accept no more. This isn't hard to do, but you have to do it before the finish gets too thick and hard to manage. Otherwise instead of a drop, you'll get a string of finish that is hard to place anywhere.

Working in a cooler area will extend the working life of your finish slightly, as will pouring it out onto a flat surface of something like aluminum foil. Humidity has no effect on your epoxy rod finish. If the working life of your particular brand of finish is still creating problems for you, then you must either work faster, change finish brands, or finish your rod in two or more stages with a fresh batch of finish for each stage.

Everyone develops their own technique for finishing as they progress. My own method consists of getting the wraps well covered quickly, (spending perhaps only a few seconds per guide wrap) and then going back and touching in any dry areas and filling in the tunnels. I find that a finish that provides even 15 minutes of working life is more than adequate for my personal technique. The finish you are using may require you to adjust your technique slightly or your technique may require you to select a different finish altogether. ~ 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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