Jim, a custom rod builder asks:
I heard that you apply a varnish coat on your wraps before the epoxy finish. How many coats of varnish and epoxy do you apply to your thread wraps? What is the drying time between the varnish coat(s) and the epoxy coat(s)?
At CFRC we use one coat of exterior gloss spar varnish on our thread wraps followed by 2 coats of light epoxy finishes such as Flex Coat or RodSmith. The 3 reasons we varnish for first coat are:
1. The varnish is thinner and has great penetration to the rod blank.
2. It provides an even color coat, sometimes the epoxy finish will start to set up and it won't penetrate as well and you won't have an even color. Your tip wraps may be darker than your butt wraps!
3. It gives the epoxy finish a smoother surface to evenly flow and it makes applying the finish easier and quicker.
We allow at least 12 hours between coats of epoxy finish, but we feel that 24 hours is best. You only have to rotate your rod for 2-3 hours. The finish is not ready to touch, but it won't sag after a few hours. Another good thing is that you don't have to rotate your rod with just varnish as you do with epoxy.
We use and recommend McCloskey/Valspar spar varnish #7505 Man-O-War. There are other good brands but this is what we have been using for many years without any conflict with epoxy finishes.
If you have any rod building questions, send them to us and we will try our best to help you out. Email me at BobW@flyrodcrafters.com.