9-Putting It All Together

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After lots of delays and distractions, I finally put the first coat of finish on the wraps yesterday.  I should be casting in two more days.  At the start I said that this wouldn’t be a blog about beginning rod building, but I will mention some of my techniques.  In all of our crafty endeavors we start with a teacher or book and integrate skills and knowledge over time to produce our own style.  That’s what I’m talking about here, style or what works for me.

Lets start with the cork grip. I begin with cork rings that you see in post #4.  These are placed on 1/4 inch all-thread with a layer of Weldwood Plastic Resin Glue between rings.  Nuts are tightened down to compress the rings until glue is squeezed from all joints.  This process has always resulted in a grip without viable joints between rings.  The assembly is chucked into the lathe and turned to shape.  My first step is to sand the grip round with 100 grit cloth on a wood block.  This results in the cork being concentric around its axis.  At this point I shape the grip using 100 through 600 cloth and paper.  The grip is removed from the all-thread by holding the grip in one hand while spinning the shaft in reverse with a drill motor.

The inner ID of the grip has to be reamed with rat tail files and reamers until it fits over the rod.  Once a good fit is achieved, I glue the grip in place with 2 Ton Clear Weld Epoxy.  Some folks will ream individual cork rings (less work) and assemble the grip on the rod.  They then chuck the rod butt section in a “rod lathe” and shape the grip.  I would have to acquire a roller steady rest for my lathe before using this method.  The results are the same.

I glue the reel seat in place with the same glue.  I have learned by experience to first dry fit the seat and mount a reel.  This allows me to assure that the reel will align with any guides on the butt section.  Carefully placed alignment marks work for this purpose, but there’s nothing like a visual check before getting out the epoxy.

In post #5 I explained guide spacing, and rod spline in #6.  With this information the guide locations are marked.  Marks can be made with pencil if they show up.  This is convenient because the marks are easily removed with alcohol on a Q-tip.  Before placing the guides, I wrap the ferrules without the guides in the way.  Aligning guides can seem to take as much work as wrapping.  I tape guides in place and then look through the guides checking that they appear to align.  I then look down on the rod section checking that there is an equal amount of each guide visible on each side of the rod.

My fishing buddy, Jim, showed me how to wrap a second color (gold metallic) embedded in the primary color (black).  If you are interested, reply to this post, and I will try to describe the process.  After some practice I was able to wrap a guide pretty quickly.  I have one strong recommendation.  Take time to prep the guides.  By this I mean filing and honing down the leading edge of each guide to a knife edge without any burrs.  If you don’t, you will fight the wrapping effort.  I found the Hopkins-Holloway guides required very little preparation.

Finally, it’s time to finish the rod.  Today graphite rods are finished with a two part epoxy, which is only placed on the wraps.  This is often applied very thick.  Years ago bamboo was wrapped with silk thread and finished with varnish.  As fiberglass rods were built between bamboo and graphite, I used an in between process.  Wrapping thread is nylon and the finish is General Finishes Arm-R-Seal.  It is a tung oil/urethane  finish that was recommended by a bamboo rod builder who also uses it on fiberglass.  I will put at least three coats on the wraps, and then another two coats on the fiberglass and wraps.  The glass doesn’t require a finish, but I like the look.

In the next post I will tell you what line weight the rod likes and have finished pictures.  Surely you can’t wait.  At least I’m anxious to get to what this project is all about — fishing.

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