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Post 18 Aug 2021, 10:22 • #1 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/09/15
Posts: 523
Location: Arkansas
Finally moved to a rod that costs a bit more than the others out there. I’ve been building to improve my skills before really spending $$$ on blanks and components. Thought I was ready for the big time build.

I am into my 15th build and figure this now should not be an issue. Even when working with a natural silk for “invisible” wraps, I had come into the issue of bunching or striations at the bottom or near the top edge of the guide foot.

1. Is there a manufacturer producing a stripping guide that provides a proper taper/form for silk as it transitions from foot to blank?

2. Does a certain thread diameter for silk work best when laying thread for translucent finishes?

3. Does anyone here utilize a little trick of wrapping thread just a little under the tip of the guide and then wrap over the guide foot - leaving the tip exposed? (When utilizing thread with color). I think one shouldn’t have to but guess if it works . . .

4. This issue had me contact my optometrist to upgrade into multi-focal contact lenses.



Pictured here is the McFarland 733. A highlight of the build is that this bubble is the only one. :). See the striations?

This issue is mainly with low profile stripping guides. I used a Dremel and files to provide a good transition. On this rod, I had ground and filed the stripping guide but it still did not provide a good transition - so, I bought another one to start over. The first had been manufactured with rounded feet and this one has been made with pointed and more tapered feet.

Anyways, I rewrapped the feet several times. I do utilize a lamp the illuminate the rod so that I can see gaps and issues. Everything seemed proper before applying thread finish.

However, once moving out away from my work station, the issue is definitely noticeable under different light.



Pictured above is a guide that I spent ages on with a grinding stone to make a gradual angle/decline and more level area for silk. I just don’t think you should have to spend so much time doing this stuff to guide feet.



In this photo of my Blue Halo (lighter shade of thread and smaller diameter), I also worked with a stone on the feet.

Anyways, hope I haven’t thrown to much at y’all or confused ya.

As always, any feedback is appreciated and thanks for reading.

*I don’t build to sell. Lucked into a buyer when lawn casting in a field prior to a school event. And I’ve given 2 away to family. Hoping the kids pick one or two out.


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Post 18 Aug 2021, 10:24 • #2 
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Looks good to me, and thus worth the effort. Nevertheless, I don't think the job should be so laborious. Start with a much coarser stone, then medium grit, and on to as fine a grit/polishing stone as you want. Some tips here, and plenty more in this section of FFR: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=47946&p=199500&hilit=thread+ramp#p199500

Not sure this is what you are referring two, but a thread ramp up the foot is what I like to do, and variations are discussed in several other threads.
viewtopic.php?f=6&t=41375&p=149975&hilit=thread+ramp#p149975

Your job sure looks nice to my eye, and consider, you will never look at the wraps so closely again. Take the rod outside along a stream in natural light where it belongs and you will be even more delighted by your results.


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Post 18 Aug 2021, 12:39 • #3 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/09/15
Posts: 523
Location: Arkansas
whrlpool, I’ve read about your ramp. That was a while back when I first began having this issue. I have books on rod building too. That always seems to go out the door and I get tunnel vision.

The wraps do look gorgeous when illuminated in the sun. But other than that sheesh. Who knows, maybe I’ll build a McFarland 4 weight and it’ll all fall into place. I do have a Lemke reel seat and components ready to build on a McFarland 5 weight.

I watch Chasing Classic Cars. Last night, in a recorded episode, there was a gentleman selling a 57 or 58 Jaguar that he spent 10 years restoring. It was impeccable. They figured to get at least $350K. Anyways, 10 years for this car restoration. I received these blanks in June ‘20. I’ve had a lot of time to think about the build. I’ve been trying to approach these builds in a way that isn’t rushed. I do try my best to prepare and be thoughtful of the processes. The one thing I still struggle with or dislike dealing with is thread transition. No issues with nylon thread but obviously with silk, things become more noticeable.


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Post 18 Aug 2021, 19:52 • #4 
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Joined: 06/10/09
Posts: 1540
Location: US-OH
The finer the thread, the more flush the tip of the foot must be with the surface of the blank. First, check flatness of the stripper by placing it on a machined surface like the table of bandsaw, drill press, or table saw. Bend to flatten it if necessary. I will then place some 220 grit black paper on the machined surface of my bandsaw table and gently flatten the bottoms of the two feet a bit so it sits flat. For fine silk the ends of the tips should be tapered to a knife edge and both should be touching the flat surface when sitting flat. I use small abrasive impregnated silicon disks in a variable speed Foredom flex shaft tool but a variable speed dremel would work fine too. I find this easier than using a stone or file. Then when you wrap up the tips with thread, don't be too aggressive about packing the thread - you don't want to shove the thread down the ramp and cause it to bunch up. Don't tension the first foot so tightly that it raises the other tip by flexing the guide. Nylon is way more forgiving about ramping up due to its larger diameter.


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Post 18 Aug 2021, 22:39 • #5 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/09/15
Posts: 523
Location: Arkansas
Tiptop - thank you very much. I usually have to sand down the bottom of the feet or even do a little bending to get the feet to lie flat. I do think that bunching could be an issue. I also wonder if somehow my taklon brush is too stiff or pointy on the first coat and causing thread to shift.


At times, the irregularities are more noticeable. Just has to do with the light. This photo is in the shade. I’ll live with it for now. If I could just get the blank back a it’s original surface. I’d rewrap but that’s a struggle for me. I’ve done it with stripping guides but only when rewrapping with Natural 212. Removing thread finish from a blank is a tough one for me. This thread needs a smooth, unblemished area.

This build is still gonna look so good.


Thanks for your input. Greatly appreciated.


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Post 19 Aug 2021, 12:11 • #6 
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Joined: 07/11/14
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Location: urban Colorado
whrlpool wrote:
Your job sure looks nice to my eye, and consider, you will never look at the wraps so closely again. Take the rod outside along a stream in natural light where it belongs and you will be even more delighted by your results.


this is an important point.. refinished a cane rod with silk once, got obsessive with the wraps, and finally decided on this approach ;-)
The wraps look fine, better than 99% of anything else I see, and no-one else is going to see the flaws..


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Post 19 Aug 2021, 22:10 • #7 
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Joined: 09/18/09
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Location: Washington DC Region
Stripping guides are a PITA. Prep work is vital. You can sand down more of the guide if you want. Lower tension (to get rid of the striations) as well as not touching the thread (the oils from your fingers can cause problems) and just luck.

Also read through the old posts. let the finish wick from outside up the guide. Put more finish on than you need and then remove it (wick it off) after the tunnels are filled. Also, not using a thinner works well.

Just as a note. There are a handful of people who get better results than you did. Often, they will notice the bubble first and cut the whole thing off and clean with DNA an rewrap. They don't necessarily have better technique, they just are more !!!!.


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Post 24 Aug 2021, 21:21 • #8 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/09/15
Posts: 523
Location: Arkansas
Carlz, thanks for the compliments. And to everyone, thank you for the help.

I did remove the wraps.

1. Sanded bottom of guide on sandpaper which was taped to a flat surface. Did some light sanding on end of guide feet with 200 grit.

2. Bent guide a bit so one foot would lie flat with the other. On first go round, I do remember pulling the tape tight to get the foot to lay down. It may have raised back up and caused the issue.

3. Didn’t apply much tension when wrapping up the guide foot. Initially, I didn’t transition. There was a slight gap until the thread slid down in it’s own as I wrapped up the feet. I also burnish a bit when I wrap.

4. Burnished, burnished, burnished.

5. Light use of a new soft Taklon brush.

I just applied first coat and can already see the improved transition and lack of striations or irregularities. Still got a bubble but the wraps look a lot better to me.

When wrapping, I use a magnifying lamp. However, switching to multi-focal contact lenses (essentially tri-focals), I can focus a lot better - with or without lamp.

I considered leaving the first set of wraps alone but I wanted to conquer this issue before moving onto the next build which is a McFarland 8’ #5. I already have the blanks and reel seat.

The trim band on one side is a little thicker. It seems the thread was a tad frayed. I’m going to leave it alone. I can only tinker so much before I go nuts or ruin it, ha ha.


Thanks again. Very much appreciated.


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Post 16 Sep 2021, 08:52 • #9 
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Joined: 03/13/15
Posts: 245
Location: Germany
Hello panfish74,

there is at trick to a smoother wrapping over the edge of a guide foot not mentioned so far:

Make at least 5-7 turns of thread ( the finer the thread, the more turns are needed) towards the edge of the guide foot until you reach the edge. The next 4-6 turns are on the ramp leaving a small gap between the wrapping on the blank in front of the foot edge and the turns/wrap on the ramp. Take a knitting needle and move the needle on the ramp wrapping towards the gap until the gap disappears. Then go on wrapping and finish the wrap. Last step is to "harmonize" the whole wrap by moving the needle over it.
Hopefully I could give an idea of what I wanted to describe, the trick works well for me so far....


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Post 17 Sep 2021, 05:49 • #10 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 06/10/09
Posts: 1540
Location: US-OH
"Still got a bubble but the wraps look a lot better to me."

You can avoid the bubble:
position rod with guide facing up
put a drop or two of lite epoxy on the end of the foot
carefully apply some mild heat with a heat gun set on low to reduce viscosity and aid penetration
add another drop, repeat - watch the air bubble travel toward the center of the guide
don't put a drop ahead of the bubble or it will trap it
when the tunnel is full, proceed with coating the wraps as normal
both feet can be done at the same time
I will do this to all the guides at once on the rod section I'm working on

This sounds like it would take a long time but it doesn't once you get the hang of it. It avoids using solvent to dilute the epoxy.


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Post 17 Sep 2021, 21:26 • #11 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/09/15
Posts: 523
Location: Arkansas
tiptop, thanks.

I use heat and thinned epoxy. I also used a fine tip Taklon brush. I do also work along the guide foot before moving to threads. I think it comes down to a steady hand. And things like not having bunched thread wraps. Also, I’m trying my best to focus. I had to purchase multi-focus contacts. A magnifying lamp is also what I utilize for good vision. Dare I say that my floaters have increased.

Just some struggles but I’m working through them. I use to get about 3 bubbles a build but I’m down to 0-1. Luckily, I’m not a small business or boutique builder. I’m experimenting with thinning the epoxy more - on the first coat - I do apply 3 thinned coats for better air bubble management and for better epoxy management for clean finish and cure. I may just need to work slower too. Maybe manage heat better.


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Post 19 Sep 2021, 00:11 • #12 
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Joined: 09/18/09
Posts: 5140
Location: Washington DC Region
Too much thinning causes problems. And heat causes epoxy to cure faster. Expect to mix smaller batches and get fewer guides done per epoxy batch.

As for focus? I use a head strap magnifier from harbor freight. It's beats a magnifying glass or reading glasses.


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Post 19 Sep 2021, 09:37 • #13 
Master Guide
Joined: 12/31/15
Posts: 965
Location: The Rockies
I think it’s worth emphasizing that any thinning causes problems. It changes the chemical composition of the epoxy. These epoxies are formulated for rod building already, and I don’t think it’s wise to change that.

FWIW, I’ve been using the exact method tiptop describes with very good results. I also wipe all the excess off, so that I can finish the wraps with varnish after the epoxy cures. This isn’t necessary if you want to finish wraps with epoxy (even though I prefer to do it with epoxy too, before adding more coats).

I have plenty of other issues with a nice smooth finish, but this has resolved all my problems with the first coat.


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Post 19 Sep 2021, 21:06 • #14 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/09/15
Posts: 523
Location: Arkansas
I do think overall, I have got to slow down. I tend to panic and begin applying epoxy to push the bubbles out. Sometimes, I do get to work slow but it’s all about practice or putting my time in. I will definitely start with a small drop, let it sink in and then another drop and so on. I can definitely take my time on it. Lots of great feedback.


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Post 20 Sep 2021, 07:43 • #15 
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Joined: 01/25/13
Posts: 302
Location: Avondale Az
I have been thinning for years, and never use heat for anything other than maybe as an aid for seat, tip, or epoxy removal and have never experienced a single issue


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Post 20 Sep 2021, 20:16 • #16 
Master Guide
Joined: 02/01/12
Posts: 824
Location: Upstate NY
There is no need to “thin” 2 part epoxies. Even the standard viscosity types will penetrate a thread wrap if you are not using color preserver.
Monkeying around with it, using the brush to remove bubbles, will cause more bubbles in the finish. Also applying to much finish will also lend towards more chance for bubbles. Apply a “light” coat, first coat should be just enough to saturate the wraps, that is it, let it cure for 24 hours and apply a second coat.
If you see a bubble in the finish, use a straw or length of tubing to blow bubble out, do not blow down onto finish, do it from the side so you don’t blow spit into the finish.
It should be no issue for a hobby builder to apply finish in one sitting to a 9ft or longer fly rod.


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Post 21 Sep 2021, 10:07 • #17 
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Joined: 04/12/07
Posts: 1238
Location: western Massachusetts
I once did a search for truth and beauty in using epoxy finish. The best thing to do is apply the finish with the rod turning, use the cheapest brush you can find, and get away from it (don't keep going over it with the brush).

If you want to thin the finish use dna, or acetone, whatever you are comfortable with, and let it turn for 6 hours because it will dry more slowly. If you are worried about bubbles at the guide feet of the stripper, apply the thinned finish to each guide foot working from the tip back to the heel, then start the rod turning and apply the rest to the wraps.

And remember, the fish don't care.


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Post 22 Sep 2021, 05:00 • #18 
Master Guide
Joined: 03/09/15
Posts: 523
Location: Arkansas
I live in the South. If we really wanna get into semantics - The air conditioner makes the thread finish thicken quickly. It was still 90°at 10 pm the other night.

During the Winter, it’s a lot easier to manage the epoxy because the room stays warm. So, when the air conditioner is on and when necessary, I use a hair dryer.

I probably need to purchase a warmer. And read and digest all this wonderful input for the next build.

Thanks to all.


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Post 22 Sep 2021, 20:46 • #19 
Master Guide
Joined: 02/01/12
Posts: 824
Location: Upstate NY
Optimum room temp is 70, that should give you a decent amount of “working time” with the epoxy until it begins to cure and “thicken”. One thing that can extend your working time is to make a foil “tray”, or cover a small dish with aluminum foil and pour the mixed epoxy onto the foil. Remember to have the dull side of the foil looking up, the shiny side has a “release agent coating” on it, so it does not stick as you unroll it.
Pouring it out will extend the working time, and slow down the curing, when it’s in a small container, your mixing cup, you’ll notice the cup will get warm, trapping the heat from the reaction, out in a more open area will slow this down.


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Post 26 Sep 2021, 10:19 • #20 
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Joined: 09/18/09
Posts: 5140
Location: Washington DC Region
wjude, You mention that standard 2part epoxies will penetrate thread fine. I know I should listen to you, but I've had problems in the past.

I suspect the problem has been too much tension or getting oil from my fingers on the thread, but I have had problems with it in the past. I'm going to try pouring out my epoxy next time (I had never thought about the heat building up, but it makes sense) and thanks for the warning about the side of the foil.

Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge.


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