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Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:45 pm 
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I recently joined a local fly casting/fishing club and one of their activities is to teach members how to build their own split cane fly rods. I just finished roughing out the strips that will form the butt section of a blond, 2 piece, 6’ 6” rod. It will be my first rod made from scratch. Hopefully it comes out well enough that I will feel compelled to marry it with a decent fly reel. What other ORCA members besides me and Roger Cannon build their own cane rods?



Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 12:54 pm 
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Looks like fun! Something I'd like to do, but it's not practical to do half-heartedly; too much specialized equipment needed to do it right. You've got a great opportunity I'd love to have!


Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:13 pm 
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Looks like an interesting time, Paul, but you must have a lot more patience than me. It takes all the patience and sticktoitiveness I have just building rods from boughten blanks. :)


Posted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:09 pm 
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The butt section of the rod has been planed, hollowed, scalloped and glued. It will take a few days before I touch it again so I'll start fine planing the tips.



Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:20 am 
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Coming along nicely, Paul. I'm impressed. Do you know the species of bamboo used?


Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:04 am 
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It is supposed to be Tonkin Cane (Arundinaria amabilis or Pseudosasa amabili).


Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:29 am 
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Wow! I am impressed! I read a book (or at least part of it!) about doing a split bamboo rod from scratch and it IS a complicated, tedious process! The best I ever did was use the top 2 sections of an ancient old fly rod and take it from there. Made a nice little 6' flea rod. It was sloppy and really "non- professional", but it worked! I called it my "tunnel fishing" rod- good for small creeks with an overhead canopy. And after the rod, then you STILL have to turn the cork grip, add guides, varnish, ....!

From what I saw, like Sid said, you need a lot of specialized equipment! Can I ask (and Heaven forbid), did you start with whole bamboo culms or sections already split?

Would enjoy seeing pics as you progress! Thanks for the post! Best--- Joe Walkowski (WNYTC, ORCA)


Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 12:46 pm 
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JoeW wrote:Can I ask (and Heaven forbid), did you start with whole bamboo culms or sections already split?


Joe: Yes, I started with the original culm. I borrowed a roughing form from ORCA member Roger Canon and an adjustable planing form from another local builder who is helping train us. Everything else I needed to make the blank I was able to buy from local hardware/specialty stores. A few pics from the process up to the point where I made my original post and video:

Culms before splitting
Learning how to split the strips.
Deciding how to further break down the strips.
The nodes are inside and out and smoothing them correctly is critical to the end result.
Strips before roughing into equilateral triangles.
Strips roughed into equilateral triangles.
I made a crude heat chamber to heat treat the roughed out strips.
It is heated by pointing a heat-gun into the end and bringing the average temperature to around 350F for 20-30 mins. I used a thermometer from a Bar-B-Q so I call it my Cane-B-Q.
Bundles of roughed out strips sitting in the heat chamber.
The adjustable form is critical to success and is something I was able to borrow from one of my local mentors. The adjustable form costs in the range of $500-$2000 to buy. That specialty jig is the main obstacle to entry for most people. But there are plans on the internet to make your own of you are good with metal work. It is actually a simple tool. The hard part is a very accurate 30 degree edge that tapers along the rim of each bar. One surface of the bar-pairs has a taper for the very fine tip sections and the opposite surface has a less fine taper for planing the thicker strips.
Fitting the tapered triangles together before hollowing/fluting/glue.


Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:01 pm 
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Paul, I am at a loss for words! My hat's off to you, and my hand touches my forehead to shield my eyes from your brilliance! Wow! Patience and precision abound! Thanks for the pics- well-done.

I can see some collector way down the road saying: "Oh yea, it's a Paul Manuel. Very rare and very well-made! A real treasure to own".

Best--- Joe Walkowski


Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:36 pm 
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I have to commend your skill and patience, Paul. I build my own one piece graphite spinning rods from scratch with factory made blanks and I thought that was a tedious and time consuming process. I love finite woodworking but I can't even imagine the patience it takes to do what you are doing. :bow:


Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:54 pm 
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In the hollowing phase, it is weirdly satisfying to plane down the tips of equilateral triangles that have taken weeks to perfect. I left the strips a bit thick because they will need some scraping and sanding to clean off the glue and any remaining “Silex” (enamel).


Posted: Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:26 pm 
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Hollowed and scalloped butt blank is now assembled. Starting to think about the reel seat, handle, hardware and adornment scheme. I think less is more for this blond rod. We’ll see .




Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:50 am 
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looking forward to finished and fish photos
A really nice activity - especially for the winter. You've done a great job documenting this, and I do hope you keep us updated.

Throwing up the example built for me by buddy Floyd Burkett - he was a full-time pastor then (now retired) and still managed to be a full-time tinkerer.
Image
Floyd wanted my Ron Kusse Leonard Mills reel, and offered to build the rod. But Floyd, your rods are $1000, and this is a $500 reel - he was still good with the trade - and yeah, so was I.
Image
Floyd builds everything himself 100%, from butt to tip-top (bends and flares his own snake guides in a tool he made)
Image Image
he borrowed a between-the-wars 2-5/8" Young brass reel foot and built the mesquite reel seat to fit my reel collection (also fits the 2-7/8" alloy foot on 1917 Hardy)
Image
even a mesquite hex rod tube
Image
The 7'10" para 5-wt, derived from a Cattanach taper, was built as a woolly bugger cannon, and Floyd calls
the taper The Guadalupe
Image
Floyd has also machined nickel silver reel repair parts for me.
He's given presentations to all the local fishing clubs.
Best thing, if you're close to him, he'll walk you through building your own rod in his shop, machining parts - anything - a great gentleman and friend to everyone.


Last edited by Ron Mc on Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:11 am 
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Hats off to you, Paul! I have read Gary Garrison's book and own three others that I've yet to crack open. I even have a culm sitting in the garage for the past 5 years or so. I just have never overcome inertia to try and make a rod! I assume the guy has talked about and taught you to stagger the nodes? Anything about firing the culm? It all requires a lot of thought up front to really make it all work and I guess that's always been too intimidating...I don't remember the maker who made the comment but he was a major maker that, after reading Garrison's book, made the comment that if he had known it was that hard, he never would have made a rod! :shock:


Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:49 pm 
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Thanks for the inspiration Ron and John. Yes, the nodes are staggered. That aspect gets a little more tricky if you run into unexpected problems and decide to substitute strips mid-stream. So thinking way ahead is important. I did get the Garrison book but it was weeks after I started. I borrowed his design for a heat-treatment chamber, substituting an electric heat gun. I was taught a somewhat different way to split strips, almost like tearing them apart by hand after the split is started. Wear at least #4 anti-cut gloves. The bamboo gets razor sharp and can be dangerous to handle. The tiny splinters are like fibreglass.... You can't see them and they hurt like hell for days until you can finally scrub them out of your skin. A few even snuck into my toe because I wore running shoes made with a breathable mesh.

The rod builder I am following only builds blond rods, discouraging flaming at all, saying it weakens the rod. However, that was one of the processes that intrigued me, so I bought a second culm of bamboo and will try flaming when I get around to making my second rod.

The taper for my rod was designed for a tiny little trout stream nearby called the Ganaraska ("The Ganny"). This stream is a tributary to Lake Ontario and in addition to native brookies and browns it hosts huge migratory steelhead and salmon. So the rod is short for working in close quarters but has plenty of backbone, just in case you hook a really big fish.


Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:31 pm 
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I am done. Not bad for a first attempt. I will try casting some different line sizes tomorrow.






Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2018 11:55 pm 
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Wow! That turned out very nice, Paul!


Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:46 am 
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Wow, Paul! I'm impressed! Nice job!


Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:47 am 
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Beautiful, Paul! Nice job on the wraps! The finishing is almost like the start of the whole thing..picking wrap colors; establishing spacing; .getting the wraps straight and tight, then picking and applying a finish. That's always been a weak spot for me...when I get the woodwork part done, I'm ready to be done! What finish did you use? Traditionally, Spar Varnish is the favorite but I hate it...takes forever to dry!


Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:10 am 
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john elder wrote:Spar Varnish is the favorite but I hate it...takes forever to dry!

I'd been wondering about the finish as well, and researched just a little, and maybe I now know why this takes so long to dry. Originally, spar varnish was developed to protect the spars on sailing ships (the wooden support structures not masts, but including booms, bowsprits, etc). They needed protection from the usual outdoor elements but needed to be flexible as well, because of all the flexing and bending inherent in the job as a spar. If the finish was too rigid it would crack, and the wood would become exposed. The addition of boiled linseed oil to the varnish recipe provided that extra needed flexibility, but that is probably the source of John's complaint about how long it takes to dry.... Now "Spar Varnish" is made of modern polymers without the flexibility required for the job, but it's a better water-proofer than the original recipe, so is in favor for applications not requiring any flex, which is probably most.


Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:44 am 
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Great, great job Paul! Reminds me of a Leonard. Now don't go out and slam it in the car trunk! Shame on me for even thinking about that!

Question: Can you actually decide beforehand what weight line the future rod is going to handle? Maybe by the design of the tapering forms? Or do you have to wait until completed and use weights or something to determine the line capacity?

Good luck with it- you gotta catch at least ONE fish with it to let it be true to it's function! Thanks for the posts. Best---- Joe Walkowski (WNYTC, ORCA)


Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:00 am 
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Thanks to all for the compliments. The pictures don’t do it justice IMHO due to the lustrous finish and the room lighting. The finish is a Spar Urethane. 2 coats thinned 20% with mineral spirits and the third coat full strength. I made a heated drying closet out of a flat screen TV box and a lightbulb. The first 2 coats were left to dry for 6 hours. The final coat sat in the chamber nearly 24 hours. Traditional Spar “never” fully dries. Which leads to the problem of determining line weight. Because the entire rod is dipped, not just the wraps, the finish selected can change the action. However the whole process is accurately repeatable so if the first one loads best with a #4 line, then every copy will too. My experiments to calculate line weight before the guides were wrapped didn’t work as expected so I will try a few different lines tonight to see how it behaves. I did flick a #4 across the basement but want to see if it will load using a #3. I have a crude rod wrapping jig but ended up using my fly tying bobbin while the rod rested on the jig. While the whole thing took 4 months. I was learning and waiting for classes, buying tools and materials along the way. If it was a “job” I think the rod could be done in about 30 days, allowing proper curing times for glue, thread sealers and finishes.


Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:32 pm 
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This is so impressive Paul. I have dipped my hands into many things during my life but the construction of such a rod as yours is beyond my aspirations. It is hard for me to imagine ever tackling such a task. Congratulations are definitely in order.


Posted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:51 pm 
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Rod #2 will be a flamed Payne #100... at least that is my plan.



Posted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:44 pm 
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Hey Paul, this thread has inspired me to read Garrison/Carmichael's book. He doesn't remove much at all from the tip of his triangular strips after they have been planed to final size, just a tiny bit so that all 6 combined on the center axis of the rod provide a channel for the glue to escape. It appears to be a trade-off between weight and stiffness, your way lighter but softer, his way heavier but stiffer. Was wondering if there was any discussion on this in your class....???

I know you must've heated the strips to straighten them before any planing, yet your instructor refrains from firing the culm because he thinks heat can be too damaging... again, any discussion? Does a strip in an alcohol burner not get as hot as a culm being fired? I don't know, I've never done either one....

John, you mentioned a few other books above, care to share the titles? Anyone else have a suggestion for further reading on this?

Imagine the work involved in building a heavier split bamboo rod, one with 3 concentric layers....!!! I wonder if it was varnished between layers, or if it was assembled and then varnished only once at the end...???


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