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Decal & Brush Epoxy Blues - some Q's

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#1 Hatchet Jack

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 11:03 AM




I'm using ThreadMaster Lite, seems like decent stuff.


This is basic for you accomplished rod builders, but I am having a horrible time

applying a thin layer of epoxy over decals. I've made gravy less lumpy than this .

Three decal attempts later & it looks like I'll be ordering more from Charlie.


How are you applying epoxy over the decal?


What do you chaps recommend for a brush? Please, be specific so I can get a good match -

brand, model #, etc..


What do you use to clean & dry your brushes?

I was using acetone & paper toweling but I think it's introducing micro lint into the brush.



Thanks gents.





"Oni byddi gryf, bydd gyfrwys...If you can't be strong, be cunning"

#2 rrjansen

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 11:26 AM

That sure can be frustrating.  Things I would try would be to:

1.   Use acetone as you are to clean your brushes but use a soft cloth, not paper towels.  Also "wash" the brush with Dawn afterwards and then dry.

2.   Add a few drops of acetone to your epoxy as it is mixing to try a thinner coat.

Just my thoughts.  Good luck!

#3 steeldrifter


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Posted 31 March 2017 - 11:27 AM

In order of your questions-


1- I heat the finish in a hot plate full of water for about 10 mins before mixing it. After it is warmed and mix then I apply it while rotating in a rod dryer. Long as the decal is applied properly and does not have any bubbles and is not printed on too thick of a paper then it usually will only take two coats to cover a decal properly. If you are getting lumps then it's either not burnished down properly or its printed on too thick of a decal paper to start with.


2- Walmart pack of 30 brushes for $1 in the art dept. Same as these only cheaper at Walmart https://www.amazon.c...t/dp/B003QMMJYY No need for anything special or fancy when it comes to brushes. You could apply finish with your finger and get good results so don't overthink it when it comes to brushes. All a brush does is carry the finish from the mixing cup to the rod, nothing more so don't waste time or money trying to find a "good" or special brush.


3- I don't. See above. Use it and toss it in the trash and use a new one on the next build.


“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you'll spend your life completely wasting your time. You'll be doing things you don't like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don't like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life, doing what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way." - Alan Watts




#4 John T.

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 01:07 PM

I clean my brushes with DNA before using them.  Then I trim the end with scissors to a point- wide part for applying and the point for the edges and getting epoxy in the guide foot.  I use cheap brushes from Oriental Trading and toss them when done.  You get 100 for a couple of bucks.  Sign up and they sometimes have free shipping.  To me, it's too much trouble to clean them.

John T.



Marriage is like a deck of cards- in the beginning, all you need is two hearts and a diamond.  In the end, you wish you had a club and a spade.

#5 jsid6g

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 03:33 PM

just a side a lot of people don't use BRUSHES at all , an it works ,they use a metal spatula like artist use for painting,    

#6 John T.

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 05:18 PM

I used a spatula at first but didn't feel I had control over it.  However, there are different styles of spatulas at Hobby Lobby and art supply stores.  Some are pointed which would make them good for working around the guide feet.

John T.



Marriage is like a deck of cards- in the beginning, all you need is two hearts and a diamond.  In the end, you wish you had a club and a spade.

#7 dkoenst

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Posted 31 March 2017 - 06:13 PM

I learned this the hard way....

DO NOT add any solvent to your epoxy if you want Charlie's beautiful decals to survive.

When using Golden Touch decals I clean them after application with a lint free cloth and 91% isopropyl, then apply epoxy. If I skip this step I get fisheyes and epoxy smoothness issues. I have never noticed any problems with different brushes. I use paint brushes intended for acrylics, they have white bristles. I clean them after every use with denatured alcohol and blot dry with a lint free cloth.

#8 Greg LaPolla

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 07:47 PM

I use a spatula.  I apply a thin coat of epoxy and let it dry 24 hours.  Then apply the decal.


Use a burnishing tool over the protective cover of the label, work the edges very well.  Then apply another thin coat of epoxy over the decal.  


I use a bubble buster and blast it about 1/4 to 1/2  inch above the epoxied area to remove the bubbles and level it out.


BTW, don't use acetone it will damage the adhesive on the decal and the finish on the blank (Don't ask how I know).  I now only use DNA or 90% isopropyl.  




#9 Night-Life

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 08:36 PM

A little trick that I have been using on my labels for some time is to put a piece of clear scotch tape over my decal first before any epoxy is used. Once your Epoxy is on simply turn the Rod as always and once dry the tape will be invisible sight in seen and no lumps at all.

Cheap bushes work good.

Glenn McMurrian

#10 Hatchet Jack

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 08:40 AM

After also talking with Charlie/Golden Touch, I finally got it down.

The biggest help was to use a soft brush & apply the epoxy laterally in

long smooth strokes, as opposed to barber-poling it on as the rod turned.

Just put it on, then warm it gently with some heat, and leave it alone.


I did find an old box of Kim Wipes and these proved to be relatively lint-free compared to

the paper toweling. What I thought at first were bubbles proved to be tiny strands

of 'lint' coming off the brush onto the epoxy. Every time I cleaned off the brush

with the paper toweling, it introduced a fresh crop of lint, gawd what a mess!


BTW, if you've never done business with Charlie, you're missing out. Very reasonable

prices for good quality decals, plus he is an absolute gentleman to work with!


One can buy all kinds of doodads and tools to help build

a rod, but there's nothing like good old-fashioned trial/error/practice

and skill building. Thanks all, gents!





"Oni byddi gryf, bydd gyfrwys...If you can't be strong, be cunning"

#11 shfishinsticks

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 09:59 PM

My decal procedure:

All finish is applied with those fake credit cards that used to come in the mail every other day.

Figure out where I want the decal and apply a bunch on TM lite as a base coat. Stop rotation and allow finish to sag to the bottom. Take credit card and wick off the sags from the bottom. Rotate rod 180° and repeat. Allow rod to turn til finish is set up enough to stop turning. About 24 hours after applying the base coat, apply the decal. Repeat the above instructions with TM regular.

#12 Golden Touch Decals

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 11:07 PM


. . . . .and Thanks for the kind words of appreciation Hatchet Jack.


It appears that the issue is getting a "thin" coat of epoxy over a decal. The plan should be to get a "thick" coat of epoxy OVER the decal-not at one time, but eventually. The thin coat goes UNDER the decal. Threadmaster Lite I feel is very good but I only use Threadmaster Hi-Build. The decals I supply on 3M vinyl measure out at .0017" including the adhesive layer. A thin coat of anything won't cover the decal properly for good protection. If I am applying a decal past a snake skin application or a heavy thread wrap, I may end up placing up to 5 layers of epoxy to make sure all elements of the layout are level. Imagine how many layers of a Lite viscosity epoxy it would take to equal that level of coverage.


I have always used a brush to apply epoxy. . . .more than likely a cheap brush as I throw them away after each use.  The leveling properties of the epoxy finishes today are so wonderful that an expensive brush is way overkill.  If you use varnish as a finish, then the expensive brushes are likely to be needed.


I apply the first coat of epoxy over a decal while the rod in NOT in a rod dryer. That way I can control the epoxy application with long strokes along the axis of the rod. I place it in the dryer to do the guides.


I mix usually no more than 1CC of each part, and have been for years, blend slowly for 2-3 minutes and then add 2 or 3 drops of Sherwin-Williams' #54 Reducer which is DESIGNED for epoxies which helps the leveling properties happen much quicker. ...(these thread finishes are not true epoxies but this is a much closer chemical make-up than DNA or Acetone for thinning these finishes. It's not as "hot" as Acetone so it doesn't harm the decal in any way-it's way too dilute)


If you are intending to add a thinner to the Hi-Build varieties, do so at the beginning, shortly after initial Part A & B mixing is complete before the cross-linking of the epoxies gets ahead of you - usually nor more than 15 minutes after the mix is complete. If you wait toooooo long, then the "thinner" is not very effective and the quality of leveling will be harder to obtain - then you got problems....Time to make a new batch.  The Lite varities would be good for a final coat when you really need a thin coat after fixing a dust spot, "bug" in the finish or other small defect.


Really, the solution to any epoxy application is at your fingertips . . . .KEEP THEM CLEAN. Use home-made soap or at least natural soap to get all of the oils off of your hands. Clean the areas of the rod that will need epoxy with 93% Isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel - I don't worry about lint, fuzzies or anything else that falls out of the towel because I will remove it with good quality masking tape - not the cheap stuff. I only touch the tape with one hand and areas of the rod that won't get epoxy with the other....then I don't touch the epoxy places with my fingers until I am done. I know where the rod has been but I don't know where my hands have been all the time. A short time before you epoxy will save you hours in the shop.


Hope this helps and thanks for reading as this is what I have learned by experience through lo these many years.

Thanks,   Charlie


PS: Make note of my new website and email below.

Charles Armontrout

Sweetwater Fly Rods &  Golden Touch Decals



"I'll create your custom rod decals so you won't have to"

                                "The best decals are the ones you STICK with....."




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