Salty's Forum

General Category => Plug / Lure Building Forum => Topic started by: Salty on June 28, 2012, 08:07:15 PM

Post by: Out Fishing on June 28, 2012, 08:07:15 PM
The SINGLE biggest thing people have a problem with is sealing a fishing lure. I get so many emails every week of how to do this, what should I use, how long, what consistency, what product, etc etc.

This thread will be the do all end all of all sealing threads by the time it's done.

First, in an effort to keep this clean and keep the thread from getting mucked up, this thread will be locked. I will not accept any further questions on sealing lures when I have this thread done. From now on all people who ask will be pointed here.

Second, if your selling lures, leave now. I'm not wasting my time typing this all out for the bazillionth time to make your life easier to take food off my kids table.
Post by: Out Fishing on June 28, 2012, 08:14:32 PM
What is sealing a lure and why is it required.

All wood is composed of open cells which use capillary action to draw water up a tree to let it live. While it's good for a tree, it can be disastrous for a fishing lure to use this capillary action and draw water/moisture into the wood. Some wood is more porous than others, some has large cells, some has very open cells, some has closed cells, some have high contents of oils internally which aid in keeping water out.

I want to preface this thread with a comment based on 11 years of making wood lures.


All you can do is try to CONTROL moisture in the wood and do what you can to prevent the wood lure from acting like a sponge and absorbing additional water which causes the lure to swell in size resulting in cracks, delaminated paint, top coat, etc.

Remember this because it will come up again later. More soon.
Post by: Out Fishing on June 29, 2012, 04:09:47 PM
So today lets talk about what a sealer is made of so you can understand better what each does.

There are several types of wood sealers, the first is a phenolic (dissolved plastic) resin based sealer which is what you find in things such as sanding sealers, wood hardeners, shellacs, epoxies, etc.

The second type is drying oils. These are tung oil, linseed oil, flax, nut oils, varnish, etc.

Why is this important to know....because a resin based sealer works and dries differently than a drying oil based sealer. The easiest way to explain a resin based sealer is that it basically puts a "condom" type cap over open wood cells and hardens.  A oil based sealer however is carried by a solvent and "fills" the wood cells/pores and when the solvent dries it leaves the oxidized oils inside the wood pores.

So you might say who cares....what's the difference....this right here is what controls paint "flow" onto the surface...we'll talk more about this later too. Paint flow is the ability of the paint to flow and level itself to the surface of the wood with proper adhesion.  Without paint flow you are left with a rough finish and tend to get absorption into the surface causing rough spots not only with your primer/tie coat but your paint coat and top coat too.

Here's where special attention needs to be paid for fishing lures. Ol mr bloofish has some pretty sharp teeth that penetrate virtually any top coat/paint finish out there. While sealers don't penetrate very far and only on end grain, anything you can do to get some penetration into the wood will sure help with the longevity of your lures if and when mr bloofish or mr boulder comes calling.

So drying oils are typically the best for use in sealing wood fishing lures because of the oils that are left deposited inside the wood pores. The drawback on drying oil type sealers is that they take a long time to dry because all of the solvent which is the carrier for the oil needs to evaporate and oxidize. Depending on temperature and humidity this can take a week or even a month depending on length of dip, absorption, type of wood etc.  Resin based sealers since they stay on the surface, will dry much faster because it's easier for the resin and solvent to oxidize. This is why you see things such as shellac, or sanding sealers drying within hours.

Next we'll talk about safety before we get into specific things like how long to dip and proper storage etc. Stay tuned.
Post by: Out Fishing on June 30, 2012, 03:31:44 PM
Safety....VERY important in anything to do with woodworking...but especially so with sealing lures. BESIDES what you see on the side of the can...

The A #1 SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING to remember is proper disposal of rags or anything that your sealer drips on that is potentially flammable.
Including newspaper, CARDBOARD, rags, towels, etc.

Spontaneous Combustion is a VERY real danger. It can happen in the blink of an eye, is caused by built up heat being trapped in these items. Best thing I have always found when dealing with rags etc is to take them outside and lay them down in your driveway or on top of a surface that can't burn and let them dry in the sun for a day. Once dry they cannot easily ignite.  While many cans etc recommend disposal in a airtight jar etc soaked in water I don't recommend this. Your creating a hazmat condition now doing this. Once it's dried it's not as much of a hazmat condition and cannot contaminate anything else.

Cardboard is VERY susceptible to combustion because oils can penetrate inside the areas where there are voids and can light up very very easily.

Common sense is your friend.  Many sealers have aromatic hydrocarbons and fumes typically are heavier than air so they sink to the floor...Do not recommend any basement work, ventilation is KEY not only from a fire sense but for your lungs too. Exposure to some chemicals can cause sensitization or lung failure...

Tomorrow we'll talk about different products commonly available and what works, what doesn't.
Post by: Out Fishing on July 01, 2012, 06:57:17 PM
Ok so what's commonly available to an end user.... what works...

Unfortunately many of the good products have been removed from the market due to VOC regs. 

Waterlox Marine Sealer (Varnish/drying oil) (Good stuff, very expensive)
Tung Oil cut with Mineral Spirits or Turpentine  (good stuff, very expensive, drying oil)
Linseed Oil cut with Mineral Spirits or Turpentine (ok stuff, drying oil)
Minwax Spar Varnish (Satin finish) cut with Mineral Spirits or Turpentine (good stuff, drying oil/varnish)
Zinsser Bulls Eye (shellac based sanding sealer, good for quick stuff)
Interlux Clear wood sealer (Good product, drying oil/varnish)
Minwax Sanding Sealer (Yellow or Black Can) (Resin based, good with multiple dips by itself) Try to stay away from shellac based sanding sealers. Lacquer sealer is the best (black can)
Concrete Sealers (There's alot of these, some work better than others)
Wood Floor Sealers (Torgonol etc, most are varnishes/drying oils)
Shellac products ( ok for quick stuff, has a tendency to delaminate)
Bohning Supercoat (Vinyl solvent based works well)
Epoxies (many mfg, difficult to work with)

All of these products can be cut with a solvent to make them thinner. Ideally you want your sealer to be water thin or close to it...too thin and you lose too many solids, too thick and it doesn't penetrate the wood structure.

What doesn't work...things to stay away from..
Fence Products
Deck Products
CSI Sealcoat....(polyurethane) if you can make it work, tell me cuz it's supposed to be designed for fishing lures but it softens under water and turns milky.
Polyurethanes....again it tends to soften under water and turns milky white in contact with water. Any polyurethane that is cross linked will typically work but most cross linkers are really nasty chemicals like aziridine etc.

Many of the deck/fence products contain silicone. Very bad if you want to paint over it...Thompsons, Cuprinol, etc.

How long to dip...anything more than 5 minutes is a complete waste of time in my opinion. Sanding sealers can be dipped quick and hung, clean goobers etc off the bottom of the lures. On any sealer if you soak too long then you run the risk of the wood absorbing too much and causing the weight of the lure to increase...not good.

ALL need to dry sufficiently. Any drying oil based product needs to sit for at least 1 week. Sanding sealers etc are typically dry overnight or within 24 hours. Smell will tell you if it's dry or not. If it smells then it's probably not dry.. DON'T RUSH IT or you will be disappointed. In this day and age everyone wants something fast. Unfortunately there's some things that can't be rushed!

Many of these drying oil products will not give you good paint flow...I strongly recommend a thinned coat of sanding sealer over any of these products as it will give you a great flowing paint job.

What product you decide to use is purely at your own discretion. Salty's is in no way responsible to you in any way for something that goes wrong or doesn't work for you. I go out of my way typically to not recommend other products, it's just that there are so many questions about sealing lures it's getting crazy answering them all.

Here's a good pic I did a long time ago in this thread;topic=103.0;attach=148;image (;topic=103.0;attach=148;image)
This was a lure freshly sealed I cut in half to show what good penetration is. This was Red Cedar I believe. Notice all the dark areas, those are where the end grain absorbed the sealer.


Storage is very important. Many products that are drying oils will oxidize in the can very quickly.
I highly recommend a can of Bloxygen (argon gas in a can) to keep air out of whatever product you use. Many use canning jars, pickle jars etc, sealing with saran wrap etc to keep oxygen out.

I think I've basically covered it all here, I'll keep this as a sticky and add more if I find I missed something.
Post by: Out Fishing on July 03, 2012, 09:09:48 PM
Something I saw that I didn't expand on. Why can't a lure be sealed completely from water, and why some products work better than others.

First a piece of wood always has an inherent moisture content. Typically wood when alive is up around 60-80% moisture content. Moisture content is measured by inserting a set of probes into the wood parallel with the grain so cells are "connected" by the internal "tubes", the resistance of the electrical current sent through the probes gives you a fairly accurate reading of how much moisture is in a piece of wood. Our hardwood is vacuum dried to 6-7% moisture, wood in Home Depot/Lowes etc is in the range of 14-25% moisture content even marked Kiln Dried. I air dry my own white pine and cedar and don't turn it until it's around 10-12%. Temperature, humidity, etc can affect the amount of moisture in a piece of wood tremendously. Did you ever see your hardwood floor shrink in the winter? There's less moisture then than in the summer...different temperature.

That being said, wood is like a sponge with water, and water is one very small molecule that can get into VERY small cracks and voids, and this happens no matter what you do. So lets say you fish a lure and it soaks up enough water to gain .1 oz....that's a good sized drop of water. Next time you have your gram scale out (a handy tool when lure building) drop a few drops of water on it and see how much it takes to gain certain amounts. All it takes is one drop to soak in, the grain swells very slightly, and CRACK goes your paint, top coat, primer, all of it. It's all got to be a cohesive system in order to manage the normal wood expansion and contraction both by temperature and the exposure to water.

So there's the reason why some products work better than others, each has it's own elasticity. If it's too hard you get wood/and or paint failure. Too soft and you get paint delamination and  sometime complete failure on the the entire lure from fish teeth.
Post by: Out Fishing on September 06, 2012, 04:10:18 PM
Question asked today if the lure needs to be sanded after it's sealed.

I wouldn't, I would let the oil dry and harden fully, if you do anything to it then it will need to be wiped which can introduce all kinds of problems. Unless your making it for show I would directly prime the lure and paint it. Avaiod handling it with your hands once it's been sealed and all during painting. Finger oils can cause some nasty things to happen like fish eyes etc.
Post by: Out Fishing on January 22, 2017, 05:48:13 PM
This looks very promising as a hi tech wood sealer. Would like to see a lure sealed in this and how much water it absorbs. (