Home Fishing How-To

Rod Building – Painting Blanks

Here is a tutorial on painting your rod blanks for a custom rod build from Saltydawg’s Bill Havens.

Painting Rod Blanks

painting blanksThis is the method I use to paint rod blanks that create a professional looking and super durable finish. The technique is done with spray rattle cans.


  • You will need a can of white lacquer primer; I use the stuff you get at Pep Boys, brandname Dupli Color.
  • Next you’ll need a can of paint in whatever color you want the blank to be. In this case I will be painting the blank white so all I will use is the white primer for color.
  • You can also get fancy and use gold or silver metallic as a base coat and then go over with your color for a candy apple effect, but for this article I will be painting the blank white.
  • You will also need a Scotch red scuff pad.
  • And finally, for the topcoat, I use Spray Max 2K gloss clearcoat. I used to use this stuff back in the day for clear coating lacquer paint jobs on cars, but recently discovered it comes in a spray can. It is a 2-part clear that is super durable and has plenty of flex so works very well on fishing rods, the only difference between this and a regular spray can is this one has a plunger on the bottom of the can.

How to Paint Blanks

OK lets get started

painting blanks

First you want to lightly scuff the rod blank, just enough to dull the shine on the finish of the blank.

scuffing blanks

Next wipe the sanding dust off the blank.

painting blanks




Next I stand the blank upright (I have a foam block with a hole in it that works well)

painting blanks

Next spray the white primer on in several light coats, until the blank is opaque white.

rod painting

Let the white primer dry about 4 hours, lightly scuff again with the scotch pad, and this time use a tack rag to get all the sanding dust off, then put on your color, or in this case the primer is white so I spray the 2K clear directly over the primer.


The finished product is a professional looking white blank with a high gloss, bulletproof topcoat that will last for years.

painting blanks

Another thought, I try and wait till I have several blanks to paint and do at the same time as the 2K clear only has a 48-hour shelf life after the catalyst is mixed, and it is a little pricey so I save up to do as many as I can in a round of painting.

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How the seed was planted: My Step grandfather first taught me how to hand wrap rods in the late 60′s, mostly bamboo rods on a notched cardboard box and a phone book for a thread tensioner. I would do my own repairs and build an occasional rod over the years. Went to work as a sign painter working for 2 different uncles who were master sign crafters. When the computer industry started taking over the sign business I went to work as a cabinet finisher until the doctors told me after 25 years of breathing lacquer and other exotic finishing fumes I should quit or die young. I started a painting contracting business in the 90s, but really missed doing something creative. In 2004 I saw some pictures posted on bloodydecks.com of a few guys that were wrapping some really nice rods and decided to pick up where I had left off. The materials had all changed since the last rod I had done, but with my background in exotic finishes it didn't take long to get up to speed. I've found I can take a little bit from all my sign painting and cabinet finishing knowledge and incorporate it into design and building custom fishing rods and restoring and repairing old rods. So there ya have it. So check out my site and order your custom rod today! Hope to see ya on the water sometime.