Eventually I found a use for a long, dim after-glow: tool handles. Occasionally I would be working outside at night (e.g. camping, or in an emergency) and I would misplace a wrench or something. Sometimes I'd have to wait until day to find it. I also like to let people borrow my tools, and it would be nice if they were readily identifiable. I tried using duct tape with a pattern of colored electrical tape, but [blasphemy alert] I hate duct tape because the adhesive gets all gummy and it's not really useful for anything.
My ideal solution, then, would be a painted tool handle with an identifiable pattern/colors, a label with my name and some method of contact that would be reliable for a long time, and a clear, durable glowing coating. A quick search revealed that Plasti Dip (the tool handle dip stuff) comes in a clear variety so I was on my way.
Step 1: Supplies
• A white (or very light base color) paint
• Accent color paint (I had this "frosted glass" blue which looked cool, but requires the base coat to be 24-hours dry or else it'll crackle)
• Optional masking for painting only the bits you want
• Optional stencil for putting a design in the accent color
• Some kind of label (My penmanship is pretty bad, so I bought full-sheet clear laser shipping labels and printed a sheet of labels.
• Acrylic spray coating (I didn't use this and the toner tended to stay put under the Plasti Dip, but Plasti Dip will dissolve any ink, so you may need to stabilize it.)
• 1-2 oz. wt. (25-50 grams) glow powder (e.g. Kosmic Kreations Aqua Glow Powder) per 10 fl. oz. (0.25 litre) of Plasti Dip (I bought 2 ounces of powder for 22 ounces of Plasti Dip and the glow is speckled, but perfectly adequate for my needs.)
• Clear Plasti Dip dip-can (e.g. from Amazon; or same link without me getting an associates kickback or it's also available as part of the "Create Your Own Color" kit which has the same clear.)
Step 2: Prepare to Paint
I started with the Vice Grip tool because I wanted to do something challenging. It has a threaded part and a spring underneath that can't be coated. I just stuffed paper into the groove (figuring the Plasti Dip is pretty thick) and put masking tape onto the threads. I also bagged the other part of the pivot and masked it off so it wouldn't get any paint.
Step 3: Paint
Step 4: Add the Label
Step 5: Mixing the Glow Dip
Step 6: Dipping Time
Step 7: Removing the Masking
Step 8: Results and Comments
In normal light, the tag (10 point font; 8 point is probably a practical minimum) is easy to read through the Plasti Dip. Although the glow powder is not transparent, it is sparse and small and does not obstruct the view.
The Plasti Dip makes a nice handle. The manufacturer says it's about 10 mils thick. It has a texture (possibly from the glow powder) that forms a nice grip. It seems to stick to the tool very well and I expect it to last a long time.
In doing this, I noted the Plasti Dip flowed into the groove despite the paper. It held tenaciously but was not too hard to peel out once it dried. If I were to do this again, I might have plugged the threaded hole with masking and dip the knurled end of the threaded rod separately — the masked threads tended to collect a lot of Plasti Dip.
I also did a bunch more tools. I did about 10 averaging similar size to the Vice Grip and used about 1/3 to 1/2 of the dip so the 22 ounce size will do about 20-30 handles. The last one I dipped, I dropped and it got crud in it. I had to wipe it off which stripped the toner from the label and all but the layer of primer. As luck would have it, that was my 3/8" ratchet and I had an identical one that I quickly redid instead of trying to clean up the one I dropped.
I also tried using a brush to dab onto my Leatherman tool and a screwdriver handle. I didn't thin the Plasti Dip as recommended because I didn't have any naphtha. It sort of worked, but went on so unevenly that the glow is blotchy. Dipping is definitely the way to go.