Bamboo rod reconstuction project.

Hi, I want to refinish a bamboo fly rod and I have a few questions? Someone did a bad job applying an epoxy finish. Does anyone know how to get the finish off without doing harm to the bamboo? What about sanding? Also, I want to remove the seat. Should I try the boiling technique? I Im happy for any imput on this. Thank you.
I just removed a reel seat from one of my rods (bamboo) and I just cut and ground it off. Of course I wasn't trying to save it. If you want to do that I have no suggestions other then to say I think you will have your work cut out for you, as they say. Same goes for the epoxy finish. Are you sure it's epoxy? That's pretty unusual, I've never herd of that before. I removed old varnish one time from a bamboo rod by using paint remover. I let it sit on no more than 5 minutes at a time and wiped it off with scotch brite pads rinsing with a wet cloth. It took it all off but if you really have epoxy, man I just don't have a clue. I would probably try a combination of scraping ans sanding I suppose. What kind of rod are we talking about, brand? model?. It would be worth knowing if we should go hunt down the person who put epoxy on this and kill him....
Oh, when I said I "cut it off" I didn't mean all the way through. Just the reel seat. I stopped cutting when I hit the bamboo and then filed, ground, and sanded the rest offr. Then just glued on another reel seat. quick and painless. Depending on the type of rod you have there , boiling the seat could possiblily delaminate the bamboo, though if that happened only at the reeel seat area I would not think it would present too much of a problem. Also, when you say epoxy, it got me to thinking. Maybe you are just talking about someone putting epoxy on the guide wraps only? if so this shuldn't be too much of a problem. Just cut it off with a razer blade getting close to the cane, then sand to the bamboo with sandpaper on a hard block. Using a hard block will help you to keep from sanding the softer cane before you remove all the epoxy. If the in fact epoxeyed the whole rod, then my previous post stands un edited, which offered no real help in this respect.
martin (aka BambooBoy on other forums)
The rod dosnt have any writing or brand name on it. I got for free from I guy I used to tie flys for. Someone did put epoxy over the entire darn thing. I wonder
if I could try and use the paint remover or try sanding the thing? Its a nice looking rod, and because I got it for free it might be worth the effort.
Well if paint remever works on epoxy, I would use the same proceedure I have used in the past, which is to NOT let the stuff soak in and do some damage. Better to use up a lot of it with a few coats. I would put a little on and leave for no more than 5 minutes approx, then wipe off with a scotchbrite pad, a course one at that. You might also try the paint remover on just a really small area to make sure there is no adverse reaction with the epoxy which would hurt the blank. I have no idea what reaction paint remover would have with epoxy, there are so many types of epoxy out there, it would be worth investigating first I think. What length is this rod? 9 ft 3 piece maybe?

Scott Behn

Active Member
Ron your too kind...

Lucky Day if your going to use a stripper for removing the finish, be careful of what you purchase. Most strippers will be harmful to the glues used in the construction of your grass. I have used 3M's Safest Stripper. It is a water-based stripping compound and is safe on boo sticks. I have also, and still employ this method, taken a brand spankin new xacto blade and very slowly scrapped off the varnish. I have never resorted to sanding for fear of harming the power fibers. If you do sand yours use something along the lines of 200 grit or finer.

I agree about strong paint strippers. That's why I suggested leaving it on the rod no more than 5 minutes. I don't think that 5 minutes would give it time to soak into the bamboo any appreciable amount, at least it hasn't when I used it. I used it on a 60 year old rod (minimum) with no issues. Basiclly it just softened up the surface and made it easier to remove with the scotch brite pad.

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
I've never refinished a bamboo rod, so take these comments with a lump or two of salt.

First, cane rods from the 1960s and earlier were built using old-style glues made from hide or other natural materials - not the much better synthetic adhesives available to makers today. I'd be REALLY careful about using any kind of chemical to loosen the finish on an old rod for fear it might also dissolve the glue holding the strips together. Might be a good idea to test it very carefully in an unobtrusive place, like the butt under the reel seat.

Second, bamboo rods are usually made from six tapered strips of cane milled into a triangular cross section and glued together into the final blank. When you see one, notice how the entire blank has six sides, like a pencil. When you're sanding or scraping, be VERY careful to strip off only the flats on each of the six sides, NOT the corners where each flat meets its neighbor. Aggressive sanding and scraping that turns the blank from a hexagon into a cylinder will remove many of the power fibers and quite possibly ruin the rod as a fishing tool, no matter how pretty it may look afterward.

I agree with Scott, the only stripper I have ever used on Bamboo is the 3M safe stripper. I have never had it damage a rod.
Also try to avoid sandpaper, no matter how careful you are the edges get rounded and that is a sure sign of a poorly refinished rod. Get yourself a high quality cabinet scraper and ever so slowly work the old finish off.
I also use heat to remove parts, take your time and if the rod gets hot to the touch it is probably too hot. practice on some parts that have been epoxied.
Chances are if the rod is unmarked it probably is not to valuable, but a good practice rod and no big loss if you mess it up. You might want to have someone look at it before you destroy it to make sure.