Vintage Varnish Handlebar Wrap Procedure


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bulldog1935

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jan 21, 2013
3,693
5,254
Bulverde, TX
#2
Rivendell has a really good video for twine wraps - it starts with bar wrap - twine wrap comes on about 2:40

In the old days they just used white fabric hemming and batting tape rather than bike-specific products.

And not varnish, but shellac. Varnish is an oil that cures by slowly oxidizing, and will release oil onto you hands.
Shellac is crushed bug exoskeletons carried in a volatile organic, and the amber color that resulted on most bar tape then is the natural color of the shellac.

In this case I used white leather wrap, but white twine wrap finish and shellac on the twine.
The color on my twine wrap is the color old white cotton tape would turn with shellac.
05VmWRt.jpg


like this
asbook3-jpg.jpg
 
Last edited:

bulldog1935

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jan 21, 2013
3,693
5,254
Bulverde, TX
#3
adding a ps here - the shellac and fabric together make a tough composite.
With the cotton fabric, the first coat of shellac will go deep in the fabric, and make a shell held to the handlebar by surface tension.
But the top of the fabric can still feel very fabric like. Takes a second coat of shellac to make the top also a hard shell.
Point being you can use cloth tape and shellac and still have a comfortable soft fabric grip with a single shellac coat, or you can make it totally durable, weather and grime proof with a second hard coat.

When it's time, shellacked tape is easy to peel, and shellac residues will come off the bar with denatured alcohol.
 

slowride

Look Ma, No Hands!
Nov 8, 2017
84
102
Detroit, MI, United States
#4
Also important Shellac is non-toxic once dried. It's even used to coat edible candies, wooden salad bowls and utensils today. Extremely versatile.
 

sam

I live for the CABE
May 24, 2006
1,449
439
San Antonio, United States
#5
I do this to most of my vintage bikes mainly because it's so easy and cheap to do.
 

Duchess

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Feb 14, 2014
531
939
Beverly, MA
#8
I do the twine end on more vintage bikes and I start near the stem and use the bar end plugs to hold the loose end for a cleaner look on something newer. If you use clear shellac, it will still color it a little, but not as much as the amber. The other nice thing is that it cleans pretty well. The golden yellow cloth I have on the 2000 Iver Johnson got kind of nasty looking, but it cleaned off easily using light swipes with a slightly damp cloth with dish detergent on it. I used to use cork, which is comfortable, but I didn't like the looks and it isn't very durable. The cloth is cheap, durable, can be re-wrapped, looks classy, and some extra padding can be strategically placed underneath, if desired. I also think it's kind of fun to do. The twine wrapping technique also works for other things. I've used it for chain stay protection and as a rattle suppressor.
 
Likes: dnc1

bulldog1935

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jan 21, 2013
3,693
5,254
Bulverde, TX
#9
here's a whole gang of twine wraps, leather wrap finishes in 4 places, and bare-bar spacers between grips, brakes and thumbies.
E0XMVWT.jpg

Just above was brown twine with clear shellac,
but if you look at my white wraps on my Lenton above, clear shellac has enough color to make amber finish - there's really no quite clear shellac.
 

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