A few weeks ago, we discussed solving the problem of uncured epoxy. This tip
concerns itself with helping you to avoid that woeful circumstance altogether.
You will recall that the little plastic cups that are sold by many suppliers were
generally presented as unacceptable for our purposes.
The reason for this is multi-faceted, as are many of the obstacles to our success
at the bench, particularly when we are working with epoxy.
Most of us will in the course of our tying use what is termed "5 minute epoxy".
This is the most convenient for us as it sets up quickly and can then be set aside
to cure. The process of manipulation of the fly as the material "skins" over
necessitates our using small quantities of the material at one time.
We also discussed in the previous column that epoxy "sets" and "cures" by a
catalytic process triggered by the mixing of two components in "equal" proportion.
If either of the two components is not measured, or mixed properly, the catalytic
process is disturbed, and an incomplete cure occurs, usually indicated by a tacky
surface even after more than the prescribed time for curing has passed. This is where
the last tip left off, with the coating of the finished fly with Sally Hansens "Hard As
Nails" in order to put a dry coat over the poorly mixed, thus improperly cured, epoxy.
You will notice in the above picture that there are represented a two-part 5 Minute
Epoxy, a bodkin, and a "Post It Note" or as we will call them from this time forward,
Now, back to the little plastic cup for a moment. If we were mixing an entire cupful of
material, this vessel might suffice. But, as we already stated we are mixing small
quantities, and therein lies the rub. The smaller the quantity mixed the more precise
we must be. Now with the cup we can certainly measure absolutely "equal" parts
of the epoxy into it, so where is the problem. The shape however of the cup is just
not conducive to a "complete" mixing of the parts. It is round, which requires a
stirring motion, which is OK. It also has a curve at the juncture of the side and bottom,
which your bodkin simply will not reach properly. And, if you cannot mix it thoroughly,
no mater how carefully you measure, it will not cure properly.
The little "Post It Note" gives us a nice flat surface on which to blend the two components
properly. It has no nooks and crannies for material to hide from the bodkin. It allows access
to every bit of the material. Now if you will make sure you fold into the mix all of the material,
and you will stir it until it is thoroughly blended together, you will have a mix that when
applied will skin better, and most importantly will cure hard.
There is also on the market a 2000 pound epoxy, which has a working time of approximately
½ hour. I do not use this material personally as I prefer to hand rotate my flies, allowing the
material to "flow" where I want it, in a reasonable period of time. And as it offers no advantage
other than the working time, I see no advantage to it. If you insist on using a drying motor,
and can control gravity, by all means use the 2000 pound material. But, I have a feeling you
will be back to 5 Minute Epoxy in less than 5 Minutes.
If you have any tips or techniques, send them along, most of this
material has been stolen from somebody, might as well steal your ideas
too!~ George E. Emanuel
(Chat Room Host Muddler)