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Airbrushing refurbished spoon blanks

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Hello All;

SaugeenDrifter here;

I am new to the site and have been filtering through; great reads.  I know there is a pile of knowledge on here and am looking forward to learning. Have some salmon spoons I want to redo.

I currently have airbrush, compressor, acrylics from moms craft store to learn airbrushing with. I was thinking of getting in to createx/wicked/autoair once I get accustomed to the airbrush but only because the video's I watched use them. My goal is to recycle/repaint many of the salmon spoons I don't use. Only certain colours produce and I know I purchased them for me and not the fish! LOL. I have stocked up on unpainted blanks from luremaking store as well.

My plans are (i) soda blast old paint off or scuff surface to remove clears if base is already glow, (ii) wash with dawn (iii) hit with etching primer if bare metal if not then opaque base (iv)toaster oven/blow drier to set (v) opaque or transparent base depending on desired affect (vi) use some kind of adhesion promoter if needed (will I need one)? (vii) paint away and let set until dry (viii) use diamond clear coat; again only because I have seen it on video and heard good things

My questions:

1- what paint is recommended (Auto, water based acrylic, urethane) ? I wanted to stay with water acrylic for safety reasons and ventilation/space restrictions but it needs to be tough, for those who don't salmon fish think of it this way, a salmon can destroy a bait at almost the same level as a pike or walleye (pickerel) so it needs to be durable.

2- is there anything special I need to do to the spoons due to thermal expansion and contraction? Reason I'm asking this is this, when body bait fishing or casting you are 30ish feet deep or shallower, water may get down to 10degrees cooler than the air, I will be taking a spoon at 25C (77F) and dropping it down to 120 feet deep on downriggers at 7C (46F), then bringing it back up and throwing it in the box. They need to be able to handle quick temperature changes.

3- any other tricks you can think of or just attach the links to read through?

4- what type of glow paint is recommended for airbrushing? This is a tricky one, too much glow is no good, too little is a waste of time, thoughts?

5- is there an airbrushing UV coat to enhance its UV colours? Not looking for UV protector but UV promoter.

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I’ve painted jigging spoons with acrylic latex glow paint and topcoated them with moisture cured urethane.  No special technique or procedure required and the spoons have performed flawlessly for years.  I used Dick Nite Fishermun’s Lurecoat MCU, not KBS but don’t know if that matters.  If you use lacquer paint, it is more like a factory finish but acrylic worked just fine for me.  Lacquer is thinner and tougher though.  With acrylic the finish lasts exactly as long as the topcoat protects it from water infiltration.  Lacquer is waterproof, so maybe more durable. But MCU is a very tough topcoat and protects paint better than any other coating on metal.  If you want to go that way, Dick Nite sells the lacquer colors and MCU he uses on his own line of spoons.  Good luck with it.

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Anyone on here know of a supplier of Dick-Nite products in Ontario or Canada. Paying for the shipping across the border is killer especially since the USD is 140 per CDN right now. Its a great product Im not sure but can a consumer have it shipped over border? Some things are not allowed to cross border for individuals but companies can manage.

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Im going to keep a running log here so anyone else who steps in here can follow my pro's and con's. I have looked for months, found very little info on refurbishing trolling spoons. I am cleaning, prepping and repainting 2.75 to 5 inch trolling spoons and 1.75 to 3 inch casting spoons.

I have successfully achieved cleaning the spoons, I have used 2 methods;

METHOD 1: CAUTION: Lacquer thinner and Mineral spirits have safety and health risks associated with them, handle with caution. Wear proper PPE when using these materials. Solvent based gloves for lacquer, heavy vinyl disposables for Mineral spirits, respirator and safety glasses, long shirt and pants. Well ventilated area! Reason for disposables is after stripping/de-greasing/de-waxing and cleaning I do not want a dirty pair of gloves to dirty my clean lures.

Dip and fully submerge the spoons in lacquer thinner for 1hr inside a stainless martini glass using a scotty clamp, I can put 2 spoons on each clamp facing opposite directions, put on the martini cup lid, dip for 1hr, 4 spoons at a time fills the glass. I pull them out using heavy duty solvent proof gloves and wire brush them in to a stainless pot with a stainless steel brush. NOTE: only brush away from yourself in to stainless steel pail, thinner is still on the lures.  I wear a respirator and safety glasses as well.

PRO's; cleans them very well, sometimes they need a second dip, surface metal is not affected unless heavily scrubbing.

CON's; laquer thinner and minerals spirits cause respiratory issues and are harmful/poisonous/flammable. USE WITH CAUTION.

I then set the lures in a container to air dry, then with vinyl gloves on wipe them down with mineral spirits and clean paper towels and store them for future use wrapped in paper towels and stored in a plastic lure box.

METHOD (2) sandblaster box and soda blasted the spoons with sodium bicarbonate,not yet tried to paint. Wear your PPE, a mask and safety glasses are needed, something on your head will help keep the dust out of it.

PRO's: way faster than soaking, I can spray one clean in 2 minutes.

CON's: soda gets everywhere and leaks out of top cover and clogs filter, The soda takes the chrome shine right off the spoons but I'm planning on completely painting the spoons so that's not an issue. The soda will not remove lure tape but strips off powder paint and lacquer/enamel/acrylic paint no problem.

In order to make it less messy I had to put a vacuum in the vent filter, reason I did this is the back dust filter was allowing soda to freely escape. I also had to tuck tape the lid closed and tuck tape over the rear dust cover.

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Scratch test; Note this was performed in outside building during a rain/thunder storm so the worst possible humidity. Temp as 21C

Took 7 spoons and stripped them, painted them in varying ways, all started with a stripped brand name brass spoon wiped with mineral spirits. Materials used, Autoborne transparent sealer, createx fluorescent green, autoair pearl silver, liquitex gesso

  • sealer,paint
  • gesso, paint
  • primer, gesso, paint
  • etch, gesso, paint
  • etch, paint
  • etch, pearl
  • etch, sealer, pearl

Did a scratch test with dental pick on all, the ones finished in pearl were the best, finger nail scratch discoloured the paint but not the pearl, gesso made little difference. Sealer with paint seemed to be the brightest green but the brass reflective is likely the reason. Etch was harder to cover due to colour (it was a dark grey), starting with a white would have been best if I could have found any. Following scratch test I have cleared all with 2 coats of diamond coat. I will report back once i have results after drop test, scratch test, hit test etc.

Gesso was hard to spray, I will not be continuing with this step in the future. Had to heavily thin and then it was skim milk and would not cover.

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NOTE: My testing will be done with acrylic, I am limited to my ability and desire to work with enamels.

Can't seem to edit above post, I made an error when posting them. Here are my paints and numbered to reflect below info.

  • 1) Trans Sealer + Fl Createx
  • 2) Auto Pearl + Fl Createx
  • 3) Auto Primer + Gesso + Fl Createx
  • 4) Etch + Fl Createx
  • 5) Etch + Gesso + Fl Createx
  • 6) Etch + Gesso + Auto Pearl
  • 7) Etch + Auto Pearl

Now the testing, sorry about the re-write, can't edit my prior.

  • Scratch Test over Diamond clear; my conditions were very humid and hung to air dry in garage, temp was 20-25C, dried for 15hrs
  • TEST 1- With a dental pick I scratched the surface
  • TEST 2- dropped the spoons from 5ft on to concrete floor on painted/sealed convex side
  • TEST 3- Held a 1ft bread knife at the but and allowed it to guillotine on convex side of spoon resting on work bench 3 times
  • TEST 4- Use same bread knife as saw using its own weight to saw over convex side of spoon

LEGEND FOR TEST: Fail (F), Pass (P), Best (B),

        Number       TEST 1         TEST 2        TEST 3          TEST 4

  1. ALL P-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  2. ALL P-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  3.                      F(A*)               P                   F                      F
  4.                      P                      P                   F                      F
  5.                      P                      P                   F                      F
  6.                      B                      P                   B                      B
  7.                      B                      P                   B                      B

(A*) this was the autoprimer, gesso, paint, it was the worst overall,paint peeled right off like orange peel, no bite at all

NOTE: overall the autoborne pearl was the best and had the most durable coat prior to and after sealing. It was also the most expensive.

What I have noticed is that the autoair overall had the hardest coat prior to and after sealing, it was scratch resistant and covered very well over the dark etch unlike the Fl. Createx. Using a white background would have improved colour which I attempted with the gesso but it was medium Liquitex gesso. I am not well versed in paints yet so I'm not sure if a fine gesso would be better if that is even an option. 

I have reached out to several established lure makers with emails and had no responses, everyone has their secrets and needs to keep the info they have for themselves (not you local hobby guys I'm talking larger distributors). I will figure this thing out and keep you all informed. I'm doing this for myself but also for the next guy/gal who decides they want to challenge this. I can already see by my experimenting that I have wasted funds which we never want to do.

Another things I have found out why 3 failed so poorly. Spraying acrylic over enamel based primers/paints will not give the bite needed to hold the paint, likely why it failed so easily.


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One of my experiments (from my way to long todo list) is to use flat white powder paint as a primer then paint over top then either a clear powder or MCU as a top coat.


I tried self etching primer and regular paint but that failed (user or system failure IDK)

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Hey Aulrich;

I am using self etch primer (rustoleum spray). Its easier for me; saves time on setting up an airgun and cleaning etc. I hit 36 spoons or so per batch. Time and material is just easier..

I have also thought of using powder paint but not there yet; I am refurbishing already owned spoons; many of which are previously painted or powder painted.

To start: I soda blast some or all of previous paint off depending on what is already there. Example; if the glow paint is a good one I will just lightly blast off the original paint and on some I leave the chartreuse colors if I like them. This instantly gives a good rough surface to bite too. On some spoons I  blast to metal; wipe with minerals spirits;then etch and allow to dry, sand etch, airblast with compressor air, wipe with lint free cloth, then paint with automotive acrylic enamel white (again, I am doing 36 baits at a time so airbrushing each one is too tedious). Once I have the white acrylic down I can store the spoons to be painted whenever I get to them. I will then gently soda blast again or maybe wet sand with 400-ish before painting. Always cleaning with mineral spirits prior to next batch. If you use a spray like I do (white acrylic enamel) you need to treat the coating like a gloss. It has a sealer in it, your paints will not bond to it, it needs to be scuffed up prior to painting.

One thing I have been very diligent about is cleanliness. Before priming and before painting I wipe down with mineral spirits. I recommend always using a respirator (which I use) that is designed for this type of chemical and I have a pair of heavy nitrile gloves for hand protection (I have read that for mineral spirits heavy nitrile is recommended which I bought from automotive store). I wipe down each lure individually with paper towel, its crazy just how much dirt comes off them. Then allow minerals spirits to evaporate. I then wipe down with lint free cloth. Then paint.  From past experiences with painting cars and auto painting I learned the hard way that your hand oils can ruin a paint job. I was terrible for running my hands over the car after sanding, trying to feel imperfections. Big no no, your hand oils will cause bonding issues.

I am not sure of what you did for your paints.

For example; if you use etch it needs to fully dry prior to painting. My etch is 5 minutes before second coat, 30 minutes to handle and at proper temps and humidity and fully dry in so many hours (can't recall).  If you paint too soon it will not bond properly.

Example 2; if you paint with a gloss paint then try to paint over top of that it will not work because the next paint can not bite to it and it will fail

Example 3; if you paint with paints that do not mix the paint will fail, like painting acrylic over oil paints won't work

Example 4; if you clear coat (for example at 10 am) and let it sit for a day then clear coat again 24 hours later it will fail because the clear has 100% hardened and the second layer can not chemically bite in to the first. Each clear is different, mine says no more than 2 hrs before second coat.

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Saugeen Drifter, I live fairly close to you, Bayfield ON area, and I've tried most coatings on the market. I purchase blanks in bulk 10,000+ per size per order and hooks 50,000+ per order so I get a pretty steep discount and don't mind passing it along to you. If you need supplies I don't mind hooking you up, no pun intended, lol

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Once life gets back to normal, I will finally take a tour of the Len Thompson factory I would love to see how the pros do it.

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Thanks JR for the offer, I will PM you my email.

Aulrich, once you tour the place let me know all their secrets OK! Just kidding, Taking that tour for me is a long drive, I have seen an POV video of someone that took the tour online, it doesn't go in to great details on types of paints or procedures they follow but is a neat perspective on how a mass produced system works. There are towers of lures drying at once, pretty neat!

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So to update my log here, I am finding the one step diamond clear to be not too terrible to work with, haven't put it up against a salmon yet due to work but the "hot bite" season for kings on Huron is upon us, I will let you know how the diamond coat and the 2 step high coat rod epoxy hold up. (if I can get bit that is!)

I have purchased a bulk lot of various glows/transparent/opaque powder coats and powder paint guns. I will let you know how that works out.

I recommend to anyone that does not want to mess with setting up a paint gun for minor paint alterations that the paint markers do an OK job, I'm not the neatest person so it looks like a 5 year old did it, but if you take your time and learn the amount of paint that comes out you can easily add a colour stripe to your lure without having to paint it on. Markers come in opaque and transparent so you can get the desired results.What I did is this

(1) cover the portion of the lure you do not want altered with paint tape (soda will not go through tape)

(2) soda blast area, rinse off with de-mineralized water (not tap water, tap water has fluoride and chlorine and other stuff in it that can interfere with the bonding process and leave scaling)

(3) remove tape and wet sand entire area with 400 ish sand paper (this will allow your paint to bite in to the entire area to be clear coated)

(4) if you end up on metal then etch it with clear if you want metal or white/grey for paint bite and allow to dry for 24hrs

(5) with gloves on and mask on, wipe down area with mineral spirits (this is to remove all waxes, oils and other things that will stop the bonding from occurring), mineral spirits will evaporate very quickly, only do this in well ventilated area

(6) now you have a spoon with a good surface, you can not take out your paint marker and add your colour, different paint types take different times to dry, follow instructions for second coats and such. If you are adding a fluorescent or you want a vibrant colour you need to background it with white to make it pop.

(7) once you are happy with colour then clear it again and allow to dry, if your paint is not dry the clear will make it run, each clear has a set up time and a dry time, follow your instructions, I put 2 coats on all my lures, I give 2 hours if ambient temp is 25C and low humidity and up to 6 hrs if 20ish and high humidity, if you leave your clears too long the second coat can't chemically bond to the first.

Good Luck




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