Blade sealing

Table Tennis Equipment

Last updated 6 years ago

Anibal Jose

Anibal Jose Asked 11 years ago

Hi guys, I have enjoyed your youtube table tennis skill videos, I have seen them all many times and they have helped me a lot in my game. My question to u is, does sealing my blade with varnish enhance the performance in any way, or is it just to protect it? and is it really necessary or not?


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb Answered 11 years ago

Hi Anibal,

Sealing the blade is done to protect it rather than for any enhancing effect. If you are replacing your rubbers frequently (which players used to do more often before speed glue was banned) then without varnish you can accidentally pull off some of the wood on the blade.

It is not necessary to varnish your blade but it is common and it will help to protect your blade. The only problem is that the varnish can make it a little more difficult to stick your rubbers on to the blade. That is why I didn't always varnish my blades but due to this after some time it did need replacing because of the damage caused when taking rubbers off.


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Anibal Jose

Anibal Jose Posted 11 years ago

Thanks allot, ill take it into consideration with my new blade. because i did end up damaging my old carbon blade due to the constant re-gluing of my rubber. Thanks again for the help

Dennis Manaug

Dennis Manaug Posted 11 years ago

hi mr. jeff.. if I may ask, what kind of blade varnish did you use? I also had a new blade and considering to varnish it as i am really careful with my blade. Another thing, is blade sealing advisable to all types of blades? especially those made by butterfly.

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 11 years ago

Hi Dennis,

I haven't put varnish on my blade for many many years. I think that it is less important now that speed glue is not being used. When speed glue was around, people would take their rubbers off and re-glue them every time they played. This means there was a lot of opportunity for damaging your rubber. Now if people only replace their rubbers when they wear out, you are not exposing your blade to as much risk. I actually stopped varnishing because I found that sometimes the varnish made it difficult to ensure the rubbers were properly stuck to the blade.

When I did varnish I can't remember what I used. I think it was just something from the hardware store.

What are other people doing now? Are you varnishing your blade? If so what are you using? 


Leslie Yin

Leslie Yin Posted 11 years ago

I varnish all my blades with polyurethane. Only a thin layer is required as I minimise any changes it may do to the blade's characteristics. I regularly change my rubbers every 4-6 months and have heard people ripping out wood out of their blades when taking the rubber off. Even with the varnish, I peel my rubbers off very carefully. 

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 11 years ago

Thanks Leslie. It certainly is important to peel your rubbers off carefully. I have taken little bits of wood out of my blade before by not being careful enough!

Dennis Manaug

Dennis Manaug Posted 11 years ago

coach jeff,

 based from what i search in the net, people use a sanding sealer from any hardware as this tends to sink into the blade more than polyurethane and i can be removed by sanding. but some recent post says that company like donic and andro(?) are producing such varnish as they have no VOC or any harmful organic fumes which ITTF has some new rules about that.

 I actually have a new blade. I wanted to have a slower blade like your primorac, so i actually ended up having the primorac carbon instead.I did not seal it yet but i am not sure if i should seal it with sanding sealer as some say has better results.


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 11 years ago

Hi Dennis,

I know it is not easy to think like this when you have a new blade but either way it won't make a big difference. The key is to concentrate on your technique and don't get too worried about the equipment.

To me if the Table Tennis companies are making specific varnish, that is the way I would go.

Let us know what you decide. 


Dennis Manaug

Dennis Manaug Posted 11 years ago

mr. jeff,

i have decided not to varnish my blade. I don't really like changing or gluing rubbers often anyway. I even have my markV rubber for a year now. instead, i'll use the money to buy more balls for my multiball training and for some competitions i'll join. i think it would be much worth it. thank you for reminding me that its all within the skill and practice and the racket is just a tool.

back in the days i used to practice a lot in playing my guitar and became very good at it. I'll try to see if the same way works for my table tennis playing.

Thanks...


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 11 years ago

Hi Dennis,

That sounds like a good idea. Practice hard! 


Alec Orrell

Alec Orrell Posted 9 years ago

Thanks as always, guys, for the opportunity to discuss such questions.

i work part time in a TT pro shop changing rubbers for people, selling many different brands of blades, sealing, repairing, and observing over time. I have a background in fine woods, glues, and sealants, so this is something i have looked at closely and have more-than-average experience in.

i almost always seal my blades, because i don't like to risk damage. The new non-VOC glues are water based, and wood--particularly solfter wood like limba--doesn't do well with water put on it. Small splinters come up when the water hits the blade, and when i peel the rubber off, splinters and even chunks of the delicate top ply tear away. The damage is always worse the second and third time. There is never a fourth: the blade is destroyed by then.

And brand is no guide in my experience. I replaced the rubber on a Butterfly Timo Boll OFF- two days ago. Butterfly blades, particularly the more expensive ones, often don't seem to require sealing. Many of them have koto top plies, which is harder and less water sensitive, and Butterfly blades are really well pressed and glued together, as well as carefully sanded at the factory to avoid protruding splinters. This particular Boll OFF- was having its second set of rubber attached, and when i took off the first set, it ripped shreds off the top ply. I doubt it will survive the second rubbers being removed. I have seen this more than a few times with all sorts of brands, particularly the mid-priced blades.

I personally use a Stiga Clipper Classic ($50).  In my opinion, one would have to be insane not to seal Stigas. They are fantastic blades and very reasonable for the quality you get; but they come rough from the factory, and their top plies react badly to the water. Try and experiment and see: feel the blade out of the box, how smooth it is. Now run a lightly damp paper towel over the surface, leave it for two minutes and feel it again. if your experience is anything like mine, you will feel splinters that weren't obvious before now protruding. so i LIGHTLY sand them down with a fine grit sandpaper (120 grit or finer), then apply a light urethane sealant to it. For most blades, one coat seems to do it. On my Stigas, i use two light coats. To the naked eye, you can't tell anything has been applied, and i don't detect any change in the playing characteristics (i have tested, using a blade, sealing it, then using it again. Felt identical.) 

the sealants from Donic, Tibhar, etc., seem very heavy to me, more like varnish. They add weight and another layer to the blade's plies. The same goes for the varnish jobs i have seen done by the major equipment catalogs that offer blade sealing for a small fee. That is why i prefer light polyurethane finishes. I personally use a product called Rejuvenate Professional Urethane-based Wood Floor Restorer (available on Amazon.com, among other places). I am confident other polyurethane sealers would be as good. Tell the employee at the hardware store what you are doing, that you need a light urethane sealer for a bat made of delicate wood veneers, and you don't want anything heavy, just to seal and protect,not to varnish.  They should be able to help you find your local version of what i use.

Does it make gluing harder? Absolutely. The sealant blocks the glue from soaking into the top ply--as it is supposed to. The downside is, then the glue doesn't grab the wood as well on light contact. If i am gluing a blade that has been sealed, i do it differently from what the glue instructions say, particularly if it is a blade i have sealed with two light coats. I do what is sometimes called "wet gluing": i apply a thin layer of water-based rubber glue to the blade surface and back of the rubber as usual. But rather than waiting for the glue to dry to clear, i let it dry only a short time, so that it isn't watery, but not yet firm either, the consistency of rubber cement just out of the bottle. I roll the rubber on the blade, then immediately put it in a click press or under a foot-high stack of books. I leave it for 30 minutes, then pull it out, cut the rubber, and do the same to the other side. Then i put the blade under the foot-stack of books for a few hours, or overnight, just to be sure. The pressing forces the still-soft glue down into the crevices of the sealed wood. The result is rubber that is firmly stuck to the blade, more so than if i hadn't sealed it at all. It's more trouble certainly, but it saves my blade and gives me a GREAT glue job, so i don't mind. 

A caveat: wet gluing is a terrible idea if the blade is NOT sealed. You will trap the water from the still-wet glue against the blade, and the top ply will be damaged. 

Hope my experience on this is useful to you guys!


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Hi Alec,

Thanks for your experiences.  They make very interesting reading.


Alec Orrell

Alec Orrell Posted 9 years ago

You are welcome! i am not an expert, but i hope  my stories of forays into the maze of equipment are useful to some.

i forgot to add that those having trouble with the rubber sticking can also use a coarse sandpaper on the sealed blade to rough it up a bit, give the glue something to grab. But if you wet glue properly (don't let it dry for more than a minute!) and press the rubber as described, i don't think you will have any problems.

my buddy received his PingSkills Touch blade today. We sealed it as described above, and the rubber is firmly attached. Honestly, it is finished well enough that it probably doesn't need sealing, but we decided to be on the safe side. What a great blade! It has a nice thick handle, precise feedback, and wonderful control. It is truly just what a developing player needs. I would say ALL+ with the Mark V 2.0mm we put on it, but could be beefed up to OFF- or even OFF with faster rubbers. The black-toned stain makes it look cool, too. I have dubbed it the "Vader Blade." :-)


Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 9 years ago

Sorry, i'm very newbie about the equipment especially like this one first, why we should replace rubber routinely ? (i know this's when speed glue hasn't banned, but if it's banned, why we should still replace it ?) what is varnish and what it looks like ? Is it like a glue and rub it on the blade or what ? And how it can protect the rubber ?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Hi Alec,

Thanks again.  Glad that you like the PingSkills Touch.  Good to get more great feedback about it.


Rene van der Kleij

Rene van der Kleij Posted 9 years ago

I'm using water based acrylic spay varnish, the one used for sealing/protecting paintings, any experience with that product ?


Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 9 years ago

May i ask why we should replace the rubber ?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

If the rubber is worn or becomes slippery.


Alec Orrell

Alec Orrell Posted 9 years ago

Rene, i haven't tried acrylic spray varnish. You may be a GENIUS. it is very light, but gives a good seal, i would bet (i have done some art and have used it for art purposes, so i know what you are speaking of...).

Also, by my recollection, there are two types: one used to seal a drawing and finish it completely (called "final fixative"); another to seal the drawing to keep it from getting smudged, but it is rough, so it still allows for additional drawing on top of the sealed surface (called "workable fixative"). If one uses the second type, i suspect the glue would bond to it well, solving the "no stick" problem.

but that's not the best part: it dries in minutes, so i could theoretically seal a customer's blade right in front of them, rather than telling them, "Come back in an hour, or tomorrow." 

Rene, will you please give a more detailed account of what type you use; how you use it (number of coats, drying time, etc.); and what your results have been? 

Meanwhile, i just checked in my garage, and i have a can of workable fixative left over. I will try it on an old blade at the shop soon and update you on my own experiences. 


Alec Orrell

Alec Orrell Posted 9 years ago

Update: Rene, my fixative is acetone based. Is that different from yours? I am no expert in art materials...


Alec Orrell

Alec Orrell Posted 9 years ago

Update Part 2: i have done further research. liquid acetone is sometimes used to REMOVE rubbers that won't come off. I don't think my stuff is ... The right stuff. :-). Rene, i am more than ever interested to hear your experiences.


Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 9 years ago

Oh i see... Thank you sir Alois :D

Rene van der Kleij

Rene van der Kleij Posted 9 years ago

Well Alex, I’m using it for a few years now, never had loosened rubbers and while changing they come off without any problems, it comes in a 300 ml spray can, is called Acrylic Fixative Varnish ( the final one), the label states “Water-clear fixative prepared for protecting pastel, charcoal drawings, painting and handcraft works. Dries in minutes. Composition; Resin Acrylic and Treated Aliphatic Hydrocarbon. Propellant; natural gas”. While it almost dries on contact, I’ll let it cure overnight. New blade, a few coatings until it stays shiny (just 5 minutes between the coatings), and a new coating after a repair job or so. Using BTY Freechack II gluing TB Spirit to tenergy rubbers and an overnight in the press.

Have you any experience in blade edge repair?


Frendy Halim

Frendy Halim Posted 9 years ago

Anyway, how long is the age of the rubber ? Are all of them same or different ?

Alec Orrell

Alec Orrell Posted 9 years ago

Thanks Rene!

I did further research on acrylic resins. While I haven't yet sealed a blade with it, my concern is that they are usually quite hard, do no usually soak in, And have a tendency to be brittle.  Art acrylic fixative is essentially the same stuff they use to make hard plastics. While great for art works for those very qualities,  it seems likely that acrylic sealant would sit on top of the blade surface and create another "ply" to the blade, and a very brittle one at that. I would be concerned it would change the properties and speed of my blade.

polyurethane has the advantage that it soaks into the wood, and also is still quite flexible after drying. You can see this: put a thin coat on a piece of printer paper. It will soak in, and when dry, you can bend the paper easily. as described above, i have played with a blade, then sealed it with urethane. I could detect no difference. I wonder whether the same would be true of acrylic? Have you "before and after" tested any of your blades in this manner?

Of course i may be mistaken. If you feel in an experimental mood, spray some of your acrylic sealant on a piece of paper and let it dry, for several days if possible. Then see if it has soaked into the paper at all. Also, is it brittle, or does it bend easily? And if you do, i would love to hear the results! 

And to answer your question: i do have experience in blade edge repair. I have restored vintage blades for customers, and repaired the occasional top-ply chip, etc. If you want to discuss in detail, perhaps Alois will let us start another thead? The short answer: it doesn't usually go very well. In my experience, once a blade is significantly damaged on the edge, you either live with it or buy another. The best idea i know is to avoid such damage in the first place by using thick padded edge tape (Butterfly makes some), or pro cut your rubber (leave 2mm of rubber protruding around the edge of the blade to act as a "bumper" the way many professional players do. They key is to use a thin piece of plastic around the edge of your blade when you razor cut the rubber to guide the razor. a zip tie works for this. I cut the lip off the plastic top of a coffee can lid.)


Rene van der Kleij

Rene van der Kleij Posted 9 years ago

Alex, You got a point there. Can’t remember having noticed any difference using sealed and none sealed blade, because started sealing years ago, but it’s an extremely thin layer, now making the experiences as suggested, noticed immediate soaking in of the paper, and some thin plywood I sprayed as well, also put some on a piece of rubber, will keep on making further experiences and post final findings coming weekend.

 

I agree that severe edge damage is the beginning of the end, extending the rubbers a few mm is not legal but may be concealed using edge tape, and would add some weight to the blade, especially if you use two rubbers. I have not succeeded in repairing blades with chunks missing, but did solve most table x blade edge accidents by injecting wood glue a few mm between the damaged layers, just put the glue in a diabetic syringe (complete with the needle), may have to thin the glue a little, than make a sandwich; blade – piece a plastic or alu foil - some plywood and spot press it with a screw clamp, after drying if the foil glued together, sand it away, that works allright in most cases.


Alec Orrell

Alec Orrell Posted 9 years ago

Thanks Rene! That is really helpful. I will look forward to your results. You may be helping a lot of players take better care of their equipment here.

i know what you mean about extending the rubber not being "legal"; but a LOT of pros do it, just two millimeters, and it seems to do wonders for protecting against damage. I had the opportunity to meet, talk, and play with Timo Boll about two months ago when he came through Los Angeles, where i live. I had a look at his rig, and he pro cuts his rubber, too! Of course, a lot of these pros don't mind the extra weight. They feel the weight gives them more control of the ball. Timo said he personally selects an ALC on the heavier side (92 grams, i think), and the heaviest sheets of Tenergy 05 in the batch he gets. 


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

Hi Alec and Rene,

Thanks for the interesting discussions and useful information.  I am sure this will help others.

As for the Pro cut the umpires allow a 2mm tolerance around the edge of the bat.


Rene van der Kleij

Rene van der Kleij Posted 9 years ago

Alex, pls take a look at the following, nothing scientific, but interesting if compared with former observations in this topic.

Sample material: normal sheet of printer paper, piece of 5mm plywood, and a piece of new blade BTY Tenergy rubber leftover.

The spraying was done in the same manner as used to seal the blades, three applications (coatings) with 5 -7 min interval between coatings. The paper and plywood after initial soaking got the shiny appearance after the third coating, the rubber sample got shiny right from the first coating. Cut the samples in half, and put the first halves aside, the others I kept on coating 3 times a day for two more days to build up a thicker layer. No differences found between the 3 first coating samples and the heavily coated samples except for the thickness. Both paper samples were rolled and unrolled a few times to a 2” roll, the two pieces of plywood were bended a few times. Nothing happened, no cracks appeared and no varnish came off. The thickness of the first 3 coating samples was not measurable. The rubber sample with the thicker coating on the other hand, after bending and stretching, the varnish came loose from the rubber as a very flexible and ultra thin film, so no penetration into the rubber had occurred. It was measured as 0,05 mm thick (five hundreds of a mm or 50 microns). The film accepted some stretching but would not return to its original dimension, forcing the film to rupture, it would tear, not break. I’ll keep it somewhere for a few month and if it ever gets stiff will let you know.

I also made a rubber change on one of my blades, and carefully checked the blade, and glue leftovers rolled from the blade for any signs of varnish but none were found, what would be difficult to detect anyway as I estimate that layer to be less than 10 micron.

I would think this product is quite acceptable for blade sealing, but there must be hundreds of different acrylic varnishes on the world market other than the one I’m using here, and of course there are more components in the formulas than shown on the can labels, so your former observations must be considered. The varnish manufacturer has a web page in English; http://www.acrilex.com.br/produtoDetalheI.asp?id=146


Alec Orrell

Alec Orrell Posted 9 years ago

Fantastic! Thanks, Rene. This is thorough and helpful.

i will get some acrylic varnish at the art store. I have an old blade i found in a cabinet, and it needs rubber, so I will test this out. I think you might be on to something good. if mine works as well as yours, I will use it for customers! 

Regards,

alec


Scott Ward

Scott Ward Posted 6 years ago

Hey Alois,

My blade is cracked and need to know how to fix it.  Its the part if you were to go up the handle to the blade where it curves out to the blade its where that curve is.  Can you help me?


Scott Ward

Scott Ward Posted 6 years ago

Its not letting me send a pic


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 6 years ago

Hi Scott,

That is where the blade tends to break.  You could try using a strong wood glue or a Super glue but once they crack or break there, they tend to lose their feel.



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