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Old 03-01-2014, 04:25 PM
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Default Varnish Refinishing

I've been trying to clean up a bamboo rod that I've had for a couple of years and make it presentable for use.
It's a Wes Jordan, c1939, South Bend #25.... 7'6", 2/2, "Doublebuilt"
It's in excellent condition excepting the varnish is dirty and discolored.

On the "classic" forum most folks seem to recommend denatured alcohol for cleaning and a citric based stripper for dissolving old varnish. My fishing partner who restores rods professionally uses pure turpentine.
Although I haven't tried the citrus stripper, I've tried both alcohol and turpentine along with mineral spirits and they do nothing.

Fromby's Furniture Refinisher is the only stuff that I have thatseems to work, but even so it's pretty harsh and the bright orange silk wraps aren't cleaning up as well as I'd like.
Plus there's no way that I'm going to use a stripper on the writing and decals.

Anybody got any other suggestions on safe cleaning of 75 year old varnish ?
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Last edited by Rip Tide; 03-01-2014 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 03-01-2014, 05:11 PM
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Default Re: Varnish Refinishing

Old Varnish - Rod Building

This flybuildingforum has helped me alot.
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Old 03-01-2014, 05:15 PM
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Default Re: Varnish Refinishing

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Originally Posted by kayo View Post
Old Varnish - Rod Building

This flybuildingforum has helped me alot.
No, I saw that.... I don't want to re-warp, I only want to clean it up.
The rod is in excellent original condition and I'm not willing to ruin that.
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Old 03-01-2014, 05:25 PM
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Default Re: Varnish Refinishing

Are you hoping to get the varnish off the wraps without damaging the wraps or just clean up the blank areas that aren't wrapped?
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Old 03-01-2014, 05:39 PM
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Default Re: Varnish Refinishing

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Originally Posted by williamhj View Post
Are you hoping to get the varnish off the wraps without damaging the wraps or just clean up the blank areas that aren't wrapped?
I've gotten the open blank sections clean. The Formby's refinisher worked great for that.
Right now I'm still trying to "brighten up" the wraps. At this point you can tell that they're orange not brown
Plus I haven't touched the decals/ writing yet. That area is just taped over and I'll probably not try to do too much there as I'd likely do more harm than good.
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Old 03-01-2014, 06:07 PM
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Default Re: Varnish Refinishing

I haven't messed with cane rods for ages and never really did a restoration, but my experience was with normal maintenance, in other words preparing the rod to be fished for the up coming season. So for what it's worth...

Have you got a bench grinder and a buffing wheel ?

Maybe some Pledge or Butchers wax ?

I could check down at Rick's and see what he's doing, if anything, but I know he spins and polishes on a bench grinder ... they are closed until Monday. If you want I could ask him?
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Old 03-01-2014, 06:16 PM
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Default Re: Varnish Refinishing

I've got a ways to go before there's wax involved.
Right now I'm still trying to remove dirty varnish from the wraps
Then I'll need to restore the varnish finish.

Waxing isn't even in the equation at this point.
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Old 03-01-2014, 06:21 PM
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Default Re: Varnish Refinishing

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Originally Posted by Rip Tide View Post
Right now I'm still trying to remove dirty varnish from the wraps
That's why I suggested a bench grinder and a buffing wheel.
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Old 03-01-2014, 06:24 PM
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Default Re: Varnish Refinishing

I'm using Q-tips to clean the silk wraps and being extremely gentle about it.
Wiping with a cotton cloth was more than they could handle.
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