Finishing Bamboo Composite Rods

There are five different finishing procedures I use on my rod building projects.
While 5 different finishing procedures may seem like a lot dont be overwhelmed, Each procedure is easy to do and will make your finished rod both functional and a work of art.

1. Finishing the reel seat
Since the reel seat is a small piece I prefer a dipping tube. I made mine from PVC pipe. I  have a screw on cap so when not in use the finish is easily stored and not wasted. (Always clean the threads of any finish and the course threads on the PVC fittings will always work) I use a spar type varnish.

2. Finishing the cork grip, While many prefer to not put any finish on the cork grips I do. Over time and use the cork can wear and get dirty. I use paraffin wax (a good hard wax candle will do) I then rub the cork with wax and then I use a heat gun to melt the wax into the cork. Once the initial wax rubbed on the cork melts additional wax can more liberally added. Over waxing is not a problem as the excess can be melted off. After waxing I then use a soft rag to somewhat polish the finish. Waxing still leaves the cork with a natural feel unlike using a varnish type finish.
It is easy to subsequently clean and re freshen the grip after use and the grip is also protected from moisture while fishing.

3. Finishing the snake guides,
In the classes and workshops I teach I have been using a stainless steel wire for my snake guides. It is a bit heaver than is actually required but it works great for learning to twist, hammer and shape the ends and prepare for mounting. I have found that learning by starting with a bit thicker wire is easier for students to learn the shaping process. I use a stainless steel polish readily available for cleaning stainless steel pots, pans and kitchen equipment. I do some polishing before shaping by drawing the wire piece through a rag with the polish on it. Afterwards I use a Dremel tool and a buffing wheel to polish before mounting the guides to the rod.

4. Finishing the rod blank and wrappings.
I do not use a dip tube for finishing my rod. I prefer to start by putting a few drops at a time on the wraps. When I have a good even and through penetration of finish on the threads I then have a holder to hold the rod vertical and brush thin coats on the rod. The finish will naturally flow and drip off the rod. Make sure you have a drop cloth to catch any drips and go slow so as to minimize excess finish and dripping. 4 coats of finish letting each coat dry before applying the next coat. Use fine steel wool to smooth the finish between each coat.
There are several types of finishes available. Since the strand bamboo is impregnated with resin I have found a lacquer based gloss finished works the best for the rod blanks.

5. Finishing the hardware fittings.
The hardware I am making is wrapped with carbon fiber over metal. I first use a clear resin over the carbon fiber so some of the fabric shows through. I then add a colorant to resin and coat any metal exposed edges. After the resin is cured and hard I then put on a fixture and mount in a drill and wet sand to smooth out the fitting. When complete I use a clear finish coat applied to the fitting.

Please note, The information provided on this page is only a basic representation of the subject. My plan for this blog is to expand on each topic by presenting new rods being built, trial and error experiments with bamboo, composite materials, tools and techniques.

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