buffingtonwa

Sealing And Finishing Detailed Balsa Crankbaits

24 posts in this topic

I'm experimenting with balsa crankbaits with a bit of raised detail on the sides, and I would like to know what all you "gurus" out there would suggest for a sealer and finish and how many coats of each. My end goal is to produce a bait that is super hard, has a great finish, but I still want the details in the bait to be as prevalent as possible. Currently I am using devcon 2-ton for both sealing and finishing.

Also, when I seal with Devcon the baits sometimes do not seem to be as smooth as before I sealed, i.e. the surface is much more rough. Any suggestions on that?

I know I will have to experiment a bunch to get all this right, but any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. I also understand that I may have to exaggerate my details to support this.

Thanks in advance for the advice!

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First when you seal a bait thats made of wood the fibers in the wood swell and thats why it feels rough, A light sanding after sealing

with 400 grit will smooth it out. As for the detaits when i carve a bait think how to hi-lite them with your paint job so thay POP OUT at you shadows behind the gills, or a lighter color at the jaw line ,paint is a great way to make your carvings stand out be it a lure or a

carving of something think of shadows and light and how it will work to your advange.Also you can thin your

d2 with da and that helps too being its not so thick

Edited by crankpaint

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X2 on Crankpaint's post

Just would like to add there are few ways to get those fibers taken care of before sealing with the devcon 2ton. One way is with water. Just run or dip your bait in water for just a second or two. Let the bait dry and sand down everything that pops up. Repeat this process two or three time until no more fibers stand up. Another would be to use thin super glue on the bait. Then sand down the bait after super glue has dried. A third would be use paint to raise the fibers.

Basically your raising the fibers before the devcon and setting them in place. That way when you put the d2ton on you should get a smoother finish to start painting.

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Thanks for the advice, I'm going to try the water technique pre-sealing and see if that helps with the issue. What kind of finish should the balsa have after the sealer has been applied. Of course, I'm getting the the hairy rough finish right now, but I would think that all the pores in the wood would have to be filled and smooth for it to look good after paint job and finish have been applied, but of course i want to try to preserve my bait detail.

My current D2T/DA ratio has been 1 part DA, 1 part hardener, 1 part resin. I use syringes to measure each, mix, apply with a small paint brush, and then put the bait on a turner. I usually wait about 12-24 hours to paint. Same ratio for the finish (though I'm going to experiment with a few other finishes I've read about on here for future baits.)

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The DA in your mixture is causing the wood grain to pop. I use D2T to seal baits but only put in sufficient DA to get the mixture thinned enough to flow well and extend the brush time so I can seal 4-5 baits; the DA is never more than 10%. I would recommend a non-alcohol solvent like MEC or lacquer thinner - but in my experience nothing works as well as DA. As far as preserving 3D effects, D2T is the thickest, best leveling topcoat around, so if 3D preservation is critical to you think about using a different topcoat like moisture cured urethane (eg Dick Nite S81) or an automotive urethane. There just aren't that many categories of topcoat that meet the needs of crankbait makers.

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That seems like an excessive amount of DA to me as well. Like Bob I only add a few drops of DA to the epoxy.

Ben

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Thanks, I'll give all of your suggestions a try and report the first chance I get...I've been pretty busy so I haven't had a chance to yet.

BTW, has anyone out there milled balsa baits with a CNC? I've been reading about it, and thinking about buying one so that I can duplicate discontinued baits, create custom lexan lips, etc.

Edited by buffingtonwa

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when i make my balsa lures i leave in propionate over night then sand then dip and sand again then dip about eight more times for the finish i will use 4 coats of epoxy etex lite total of 32hrs rotating this takes a lot of time but should ensure the lure is properly sealed .i only do this as a hobby but hope to sell the odd lure to cover some of my cost of materials

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When I dip lures in propionate dissolved in acetone, I just dip them for a few seconds - I don't soak the bait in the solution. I'm looking for the prop to adhere well and acetone is a thin enough solvent that it penetrates immediately, transporting some propionate into the wood fibers and forming a good bond. I generally do as many as 10 dips to get a good smooth film, then let the lure rest overnight to allow all the acetone to evaporate and get hard. If you saturate the lure with acetone, I would worry that some will inevitably be left sealed inside the wood, which might cause problems with the finish or cause the prop or epoxy to soften later. I think the soaking idea is originally from saltwater bait makers who soak cedar lures in linseed oil, let them dry for a few weeks, and paint them with solvent based paint to guarantee against water damage when fishing for toothy critters. Don't know what you fish for in Ireland, maybe your method makes sense if it's mostly pike, but if so I would probably not use balsa in the first place.

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the reason i leave them is to make sure there is no air left in the balsa i had trouble when i just dipped them with the odd air bubble affecting the prop .After i have soaked them I will leave them to dry for the day.i have not problems yet but will keep an eye on them .bob why would you not use balsa for pike

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Thanks for all the posts. For me, I've found a thin layer of super glue prior to applying the seal coat helps smooth out the fibers and a light sanding after it hardens takes care of the rest.

I read a post about Amazing Clear Cast on here; from the posts it would seem that it smooths better than D2T, i.e. no bubbles and smoother surface. Has anyone used that as a sealant, or is it even appropriate as one? If so, results?

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the reason i leave them is to make sure there is no air left in the balsa i had trouble when i just dipped them with the odd air bubble affecting the prop .After i have soaked them I will leave them to dry for the day.i have not problems yet but will keep an eye on them .bob why would you not use balsa for pike

I usually see some small bubbles in the prop during the first dip as the solution initially soaks into the surface. The 2nd dip will usually pop the bubbles but I sand out any few that remain after the 3rd dip. Balsa is the most buoyant wood because it contains more air than other species. Buoyancy makes lively baits and that's the only reason for using it because it's also the most fragile wood. If you replace all the air with prop, you have a much more solid and durable bait but one that is much less buoyant since prop does not float. I don't know the buoyancy of balsa impregnated with prop but I doubt it is greater than some of the light hardwoods like white cedar or paulownia, which are naturally more durable and would require less processing. But in the end, if your baits have the action and durability you want there's no reason to second guess the wood choice.

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It's short for denatured alcohol. It's used to thin the epoxy out so that it levels a bit better and it will also increase the work time a bit.

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I make it easy. I just use a good wood sanding sealer & dip the bait in it, let dry for a couple of hours & lightly sand. Then I shoot the bait with bulldog adhesion promoter (needed to make the clear stick to the foil since I make foil sided baits) then I shoot the bait with automotive clear, paint & come back with another coat of clear. I have several baits I have kept for personal use & have caught hundreds of bass on them & they still look new. By the way I am using balsa wood.

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There certainly are lots of ways to finish a balsa bait!  I think you have 2 options about grain pops.  You can either use a thick undercoating that will over-glaze the grain pops or you can sand out any popping as it occurs before you proceed to whatever your next finish step is.  For balsa baits, I go with the over-glaze because thicker = stronger and I also want to reinforce the bait for durability.  This is also the strategy used by most commercial bait makers who have to be production-oriented.  I know this isn't the answer Buffingtonwa was hoping for but I don't know any super thin, super strong coatings that I would trust enough to preserve 3D detail on a balsa bait. 

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After lots and lots of experimentation, I've settled on propionate.  For me, it seals great, keeps the detail fairly well and gives me the best hardness I can expect when making a balsa lure with detail.  I do have to sand a little bit between dips to keep the detail sharp, but overall I like the results.  I found superglue to be troublesome for a couple of different reasons, and lacquer sanding sealer didn't quite give me the hardness I was looking for (though it is great for preserving the detail and filling grain).  I still use the sanding sealer to make the grain pop, then I sand it down really smooth and seal with propionate dips; for me it's usually 4 dips. 

 

I've also tried a bunch of different finishes (D2T, Flexcoat, ACC, ETex, and DN, to name a few)  I haven't found any that I'm totally satisfied with yet, and I may end up compromising on one of those listed, but one thing I have found is that for a raised detail bait, the 2-parts finishes do something the urethanes do not, and that's encapsulate/smooth the detail.  I really like that the detail can still be seen through the finish, but is smoothed out to the touch.  It makes a nice effect when the bait is completed.  

 

Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions. I think I tried most of them and this is what I finally decided works best for me (at least for the moment)

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Mark,  Nope.  I have a 12 oz bottle set of  D2T and a quart of MCU to work through before taking the plunge!  If it goes as usual, the quart of MCU (Garco brand) will be toast pretty quickly so I may get around to Solarez sooner rather than later.

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Mark,  Nope.  I have a 12 oz bottle set of  D2T and a quart of MCU to work through before taking the plunge!  If it goes as usual, the quart of MCU (Garco brand) will be toast pretty quickly so I may get around to Solarez sooner rather than later.

It seems like a natural for balsa baits.  And it's quick and easy.

When you get around to it, I hope it works as well for you as it has for me.

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Nedyarb mentioned low viscousity super glue. I use this method, and its money for me. Any carving with power tools, filing, or machining is really predictable; afterwards. The super glue seems to really flow right into the wood for a good distance. I think this attribute is what makes it so good. After the glue sets up, its quick work with 220 and 320 to get a very nice base. It seals so well, that I can put D2T right over it with no bubbling. I learned about this from TU, and is my favorite sealing technique for balsa. I used to work hard and use bad language sealing balsa. Now all I need is Nitrile gloves, and a cutting board (HDPE) for any drips. I hold the plugs, and do one half at a time. The fumes arent pleasant..like Wasabee in the nose!

Fast and effective.

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Be careful with super glue.  The fumes are really bad for you.

You got that rite. Gloves, plastic board, and up wind! It gets so hot it smokes.

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