Introduction: Making Tent/Tarp Stakes More Visible
One of the disadvantages of having titanium or even aluminum tent or tarp stakes is that they often are grey/silver in color. If you drop one of these while you are out camping, it can be very difficult to locate it among the grass, leaves, and dirt.
By adding a coating to the stakes, they are made instantly visible when dropped.
Step 1: Clean the Stakes and Choose a Color
In order for the powder paint to properly adhere to the stakes, you should clean them. Ideally, you want to wipe them with something like alcohol to remove dirt and oils.
You can choose any of a vast array of colors but in this instance, I'm using Blaze Orange #4. Unless I drop these in a forest of leaves in the fall I should be able to see these under any circumstance.
Step 2: Heat the Stake
You must get the stake hot enough to melt the powder paint. This can be done using a blowtorch or heat gun. In this case, I'm using a heat gun set on high. The stake is held about 1" in front of the gun and slowly rotated to make sure all sides are sufficiently hot. This takes about 3-4 seconds.
Step 3: Plunge the Stake Into the Paint
To coat the stake, plunge the heated stake into the powder paint and immediately withdraw it. You can give it a knock on the side of the canister to make sure any extra paint drops off.
NOTE: Stir up the paint before you dip your first stake and again after every 4-5 stakes so the granules aren't clumped together and you will get more even coverage.
Step 4: Smooth the Paint
After dipping the stake in the paint, the heat of the stake should melt the paint but to ensure a smooth coat, put the stake back in front of the heat gun for 1-2 seconds to make sure the paint is smooth.
Don't worry if the color changes at this point. In the case of Blaze Orange, when heated, the color goes more towards the red but when cool it's back to orange.
Step 5: Admire Your Stakes
At this point you can stop and you will have an OK coating but the paint isn't as firmly attached as you might like. It can easily be rubbed off with exposure. To get a really permanent coating you must bake the finish.
Step 6: Bake the Stakes
Bake the stakes in an oven at 320 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool. This will really fix the paint to the stakes.
In this instance I'm using bread pans upside down on a cookie sheet to hold the stakes so they get heated all around without touching anything.
Once these are cool they are practically indestructible.
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