Author Topic: How to build a fishing rod tutorial  (Read 14298 times)

Offline crookedneck

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How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« on: June 08, 2012, 09:59:43 PM »
Well here we go.   :gitrdone:

First I'll start out by saying rod building can be as easy or difficult as you make it.  Most people who play on this website will have a majority of the tools needed to complete a build.  What you don't have you can improvise as you go.  I'll give options as I progress.

I would like every one to understand that the methods that I will show during this tutorial are only my methods.  Like call making there is always a different technique or method to do something.  I have just found that through time my methods work for me.  There are several rod building forums that are dedicated to rod building that have tutorials and instructions.  Youtube is also another source of information.  Some sites are friendly to newbies some are not.  If you have any questions feel free to ask and I will gladly share my thoughts and opinions.

The first thing you will need to figure out what type of rod you want to build.  Spinning, casting, fly rod ect.  Each type of rod will require different components for example the grip on a fly rod looks different than a grip on a spinning or casting rod. The method of building each type of rod is the same.  It is only the components that are different.

There are numerous different places to buy rod building components.  Below are a few that I have personally worked with and had excellent customer service from all.  There are other places out there too.

www.jannsnetcraft.com
www.midwestrodandreel.com
www.mudhole.com
www.swamplandtackle.com
www.utmostenterprises.com
www.cabelas.com
www.batsonenterprises.com

For this tutorial I am going to be building a 6'6" spinning rod.  As I build it will update with pictures and instructions.

The components I am going to be using for this build are a Mudhole MXH-MB782 6'6" blank.  I am using American tackle spinning guides and tip top.  The reel seat I am using a Pac Bay Minima reel seat.  The grips I am turning out of Spalted Hackberry that I got from Dbroswoods.

« Last Edit: June 09, 2012, 01:35:13 AM by crookedneck »

Offline crookedneck

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How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2012, 10:52:35 PM »
The first thing I do when I recieve a blank in the mail is to unpackage it and inspect it.  The graphite used in todays modern fishing rods is extremely sensative, yet it can be damaged fairly easily.  I go over the blank and inspect it visually and with my hands making sure that there are no scratches, cuts or knicks in the blank.  After I do a visual inspection I bend and flex the blank.  To make sure that there is no damage to the blank. 

In the case of this build I am using a 6'6" one piece blank.  Most rod building suppliers ship blanks in PVC pipe or cardboard tubes. 

Has any one here ever experienced problems with shipping calls and them getting damaged or lost in shipping?  Now try that with a 6 or 7 foot tube.   :censored:

If you are building a multi piece rod it is still important to inspect the blank as there can be flaws.  I have only had 2 blanks that were defective upon reciept out of hundreds.  In both cases the defects were found on inpsection, the supplier was called and the blanks were replaced.  So it is important that this inspection happens shortly after recieving the blank.  If you recieve a blank and wait several months to inspect or build it makes it harder to do a return.  Warranties on rod blanks vary upon the different manufacturers.  Some have 100% unconditional warranty some have a limited warranty some have none.  Prices usually reflect the quality of the blank and the warranty extended.

After inspecting the blank you can start the building process.  The first thing I usually do is to decided what type of handle I am going to be turning and installing on the rod.  Different types of rods can have different types of grips or handles.  Grip material varies depending on the type of build.  The most common type of grip material is probably cork.  Then EVA or foam.  Wood and some newer composite materials are also being used.  I recently saw a company that is making fishing rod grips that look like golf club handles. 

Grips can be made or they can be bought pre formed.  When glueing cork rings and wood for my grips I usually use Titebond II.  Grips can be as simple or elaborate as you can get.  Alot of wood used for turning calls can be used for fishing rods 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" stock is usually what I use when I do wood grips.  Alot of the finishing steps used on calls can be used on rod grips also.

Example of different types of rod grip materials



Standard spinning rod grip made our of wood



Cork split grip on spinning rods



Wooden fly rod grips



And the holy grail of custom rod building grips belongs to a friend of mine by the name of Mark Blabaum from Mineral Point, Wisconsin.
His inlays are perfect.  One of my favorite grips is the one pictured below 2nd from the right. 


Offline crookedneck

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How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2012, 11:01:15 PM »
After deciding what grip material to use I measure the butt of the fishing rod to determine what diameter it is and what to drill my rod grips to.  Most cork rings come with a 1/4" pre-drilled hole.  I will usually glue my cork rings then drill then after glue up.  My wood grips I will usually drill after rounding out the grip with a roughing gouge.  When shaping cork I usually use just sand paper to do my shaping.  Dry wall sanding mesh works really good for rough shaping of cork grips.  Then as you get down to the final shape you would graduate through the different grits of sand paper like you would with a a call.


Offline crookedneck

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How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2012, 05:07:18 PM »
After measuring the butt of the rod, I turned the grip for this rod.  Being as every one here is pretty handy at turning I did not document how I turned the grips.  The thing to remember about grips on a fishing rod is that the rod tapers.  For this build I am doing a split grip.  So the grip is a multiple piece grip.  Due to the taper I drilled the butt of the rod using a 1/2" bit and the grip portion I drilled at 7/16"  This was to make sure the fit was closer. 

Different grip materials can be fit and prepared in different methods.  If using cork a hand reamer is used to make sure a good fit is made between the rod blank and the cork.  EVA or foam will stretch so, sizing isn't critical.  When using wood you want to ensure you are a little oversized but, as close to the blank size as you can get.  You do not want a forced fit while using wood as it may crush or damage the rod blank.  I will show you how to make shim the rod blank to get a close fit.

To mount a grip the tools I use are a tape measure to mark out where I want the grip set. 
Masking tape.  I use 1/4" wide masking tape.  This can be found at any rod building component supplier.
The Grip or grip pieces.
Any trim or winding checks (can be rubber, metal, wood)  In this case I am using aluminum winding checks.  These must be sized to fit properly.  Small black circle in the picture below.
Paper towel
Aluminum Foil (I just use this to mix my epoxy on)
Denatured Alcohol (used to clean up any excess epoxy, you need to be careful not to use anything more powerful as it may damage the rod blank)
Epoxy (I use a product called Rod bond, it is a rod builders gel epoxy.  It can me mixed in small amounts, it is waterproof and is flexible, I also use this when I epoxy my call bands on)
Spatulas for mixing
Sand paper

« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 05:10:39 PM by crookedneck »

Offline crookedneck

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How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2012, 05:12:53 PM »
Prior to mounting the grips I take the blank and find the straigtest axis.  Not all rod blanks are perfectly straight.  I always build on the straigtest axis.  Other builders find what is called the spline or spine of the rod.  Here I have the top of the rod marked with a "T" to ensure I get the right orientation.  If the rod has a slight bend I always make sure the bend points up.  After adding guides it will straighten the rod out. 

Here is a video to show how to find the spline.


To mount the grips use the sandpaper to lightly scuff the blank in the area that the grip is going to be mounted.  This ensures that a good bond is created with the epoxy. 

After a light scuff I test fit the grip, I drilled the butt grip to .500 but my intial measurement was .470.  To make up that space I use the masking tape to make a shim or arbor.  Here a couple wraps of the tape bring the blank upto .500.  I like to use the 1/4" tape as I can allow gaps for epoxy to fill.  If there is a large gap, another method is to use drywall mesh tape.  There are also different types of arbors that can be purchased.

After ensuring the fit is good, I mix two equal parts of gel epoxy using the spatulas and the foil to mix.  After the epoxy is mixed I then lather the epoxy on the portion of the blank that is to be glued.  I also putt some epoxy on the inside of the butt section and then fit the two pieces together.  If using arbors it is important to make sure, that the tape or other arbors are totally encapsulated in epoxy to make them water proof.

« Last Edit: June 11, 2012, 10:13:10 PM by crookedneck »

Offline crookedneck

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Re: How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2012, 05:43:14 PM »
I continue this process for each piece of the grip assembly.  Like I said earlier the rod grip is several pieces.  The person I am building this rod for wanted a grip that was 10 1/4" from the back of the grip to the back of the reel seat.  When doing split grips such as this ensure that you don't forget your winding checks or trim rings. 

Not that I have ever forgetten them.  :whistling:

Again using an epoxy with a quick set time can be very hazardous in rod building.  I have heard of guys having the epoxy set when they only had the grip half down the rod.  Any excess epoxy will be cleaned up using the denatured alcohol.


Offline crookedneck

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Re: How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2012, 12:18:44 AM »
After getting the reel seat and handle installed on the blank.  The next thing I do is install the tip top.   Tip tops are measured by mm.  When ordering a blank most companies list the size of tip top that is needed.  If you have a rod that needs a new tip top you would need to measure the tip top.  The easiest way to accomplish this is to get a tip top tool from a rod building supplier.  They are only a few bucks.  If you are purchasing a blank and are unsure what tip top to get.  Ask the vendor you are buying your components from and most of them will gladly size the appropriate tip top for you.

To install the tip top a couple simple tools are needed.  The tools I use are are a razor blade, a nail or packing device (looks like an ice pick in the picture), a needle nose pair of pliers, a lighter, tip top glue (some people use epoxy, it will work but if you have to do a repair the only way to get it off is to cut the tip of your fishing rod off) and your tip top.  Tip top glue is a heat activated glue and is recommended for installing a tip top.
 


I use the razor blade to shave off some slivers of rod glue.  I then use the nail or thread packing tool to shove the tip top full of glue.



After the tip top is full of pieces of glue I hold the tip top with the pliers and quickly heat the tip top barrel up with the lighter and then install the tip top on the rod blank.  Ensuring that the tip top is lined up with the reel seat.

Another method is to heat the tip of the glue up with the lighter and smear the glue on the tip of the blank.  Then take your tip top, reheat the blank and the glue and install your tip top.  The problem with doing it this way is that graphite and heat do not mix....too much heat and you will start the rod blank on fire.  The way I explained is the safer way to do it.  A little more work, but less damage.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 09:31:19 PM by crookedneck »

Offline crookedneck

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Re: How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2012, 09:41:19 PM »
After installing the tip top the next step is to prepare your guides for mounting on the rod blank and then to lay the guides out and do a static test.  It is important to go through all of your guides and check the feet on the guides to make sure that there are no sharp edges or burrs.  Some guides need no touch up some need alot of touch up.  Sharp edges can cause blank failure.  To deburr or touch up a guide I use a small hand file.

We need to file down the feet of the guides so our thread smoothly transitions from the blank to the guide. Use a small file and work the end of the guide foot so that it comes to a point. Afterwards, take a piece of light sand paper and buff the underside of the guide feet. This helps remove bits or burrs in the metal that could scratch the blank and cause catastrophic rod failure.


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Re: How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2012, 09:54:30 PM »
After preparing the guides it is time to decide where to place the guides on the rod blank.  Most vendors have a generic spacing chart that can be used.  I have attached a couple of examples of those charts.  Most of these charts are just a referance to start by.

http://www.stcroixrods.com/content/guide_size_and_spacing_chart
http://www.mudhole.com/docs/gchart.htm
http://www.batsonenterprises.com/Guide-Space4.htm

After getting your spacing figured out but prior to wrapping I recommend doing a static test.  To accomplish this tape your guides on to the blank using 1/4 masking tape in the location where you want to place them.  After the guides are taped on.  Take a string or fishing line and thread it through the guides.  Then apply pressure to the rod as if there was a fish on the other end.  Look for any sharp bends in the line or string.  You want a smooth transition.  You don't want any sharp angles.  Sharp angles aid in your line breaking on that record book fish.  At this point you can move your guides if adjustments need to be made.  Small movements can make a lot of difference.

 

 
« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 12:15:31 AM by crookedneck »

Offline crookedneck

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Re: How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2012, 12:34:30 AM »
Up till now we have gotten the grip installed, the tip top installed and our guide spacing figured out.  After our guide spacing is figured out now it is time to wrap or lash our guides to the rod blank.  This is accomplished by using thread to wrap the guides onto the guide.  To do this some special tools are needed.  The biggest tool that is needed is a rod wrapping jig or machine.  There are a lot of options when it comes to rod wrapping jigs.  Like wood lathes wrapping equipment can be as simple as a cardboard box or come with a motor and all the bells and whistles. 

If you want to try building a rod I say start out simple.   A cardboard box with "V's" cut into it and a book to apply tension to the thread is all that is needed.

Some thing like this.



The rod is supported by the cardboard box.  The Green thread is ran through the book applying tension so the rod can be wrapped.

I built my own rod wrapper.  It has sewing machine tensionsers on it.  And I can run several spools of thread at a time.  A motorized wrapping machine might look nice and you might think that might be the way to go.  Honestly if  all you are building is fly rods and fresh water fishing rods a motorized rod wrapping machine is over kill.  If you are planning on building surf rods or ocean rods a motorized wrapper might be a good option.  I do all my wrapping on a manual wrapper.  Once you get the hang of wrapping guides don't take very long.



If you look at my rod wrapper, you will see on the uprights that I use my wifes nylon hair scrunchy things to apply pressure to the rod blank.  This keeps the rod from rotating if I take my hands off the blank and keeps tension on the thread.  (**DISCLAIMER**  All hair ties were used with expressed verbal permission from my wife...   :bigup: )

When it comes to wrapping thread I recommend using rod building thread.  There are several other types of thread that can be used, but the rod wrapping thread is your safest bet for your first couple of builds.  There are several sizes of thread that can be used for rod wrapping.  For flyrods and fresh water rods size "A' thread is what I recommend.  The other sizes will be too big in diameter.  I also recommend starting out using Nylon thread for your first build.  If you want to get a little crazy get some metallic thread.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 12:37:36 AM by crookedneck »

Offline crookedneck

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Re: How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2012, 12:48:39 AM »
To start wrapping a guide on first you have to put your guide on the blank (this was decided by using the spacing charts above and the static test)  I typically start wrapping the guides at the tip and then move down the blank as I go.  When wrapping guides it is important to note that your guide wraps should go from the but towards the tip.  Meaning wrap from the blank up the foot of your guide.  This will insure that your thread wraps stay tight. 

Place the first guide in the proper position on the rod blank.  Remember if you're building a spinning rod, the guides will be mounted on the bottom side of the blank, a casting rod the guides will be mounted the top side of the blank.

Wrap a small piece of tape about center of the foot of the guide leaving exposed the front portion of the foot to wrap thread onto.  I like to use small rubber bands to hold the guide in place versus the tape.


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Re: How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2012, 01:02:58 AM »
Next I use a piece of tape and tape the thread to the blank above the guide.  Then I make several wraps around the blank and up and over the guide foot then down onto the blank.  Once I get down on the blank I start wrapping back up the blank back over the thread itself.  Basically locking the thread back over it self.



After approximately eight wraps, stop and trim the remaining length of the tag end off as close to the wraps as possible. Continue wrapping while constantly monitoring that each wrap is tightly seated next to the previous wrap.  You do not need to apply alot of tension on the thread.  Just enough tension to hold the guide in place.  Too much tesion may eventially cause the blank to fail or break in this area.



Be careful when making the transition from rod blank to guide foot. This is where it is easy to make the mistake of allowing the threads to sit on top of each other rather than next to each other.  You want each wrap to sit right next to the other.  If you get a little separation use your thumb nail to slide the threads back together.  If you are using too much tension it may cause the guide to slip out from under the thread as you are wrapping.  Not enough tension will not hold the foot in place and your thread wraps will come unravelled.  You'll get the hang pretty quickly. 

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Re: How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2012, 01:21:12 AM »
Continue to wrap up the foot of the guide until you get to about 1/8" from the end, take a small piece of thread or in this case I use 4lb monofilament, and fold it over into a simple loop. (I have a green bead on mine for when I drop it I can find it, I also use the bead as a pull) Slide the loop under the running thread (the loop goes in the same direction you are wrapping), making sure it's tight to your wrap. Complete your wrap over the loop, about eight to ten times.



With one finger on the top of the wrap, use your other hand to cut the running thread from the spool. Grab the tag end you just created and slip it through the loop. 

Gently pull the loop back through the wraps until both the loop and the tag end of your thread come through.  In the below picture I have pulled the green bead to the right.  This pulls your tag end back under your wrap essentially locking your thread in place.



After you have pulled the tag end through take a few seconds to pack your threads together tightly.  Always pack from the tip of the rod down towards the butt of the rod.  In this case from the left to the right.  This will take out any gaps that you may have in your wraps.  To pack the thread use your thumb nail or a packing tool.  (a plastic spoon handle works good for this too.)  A whole lot of pressure is not needed to do this.  Becareful because too much pressure at the tip of the rod can cause the rod blank to break if you push too hard. 

After you have close up any gaps, take a razor blade and lay it flat on your wraps right next to where the tag end comes out from under your wraps. Take the tag end and pull towards the razor blade, cutting the tag end flush to your wraps. Do not use your razor blade as a saw; this could possible damage your wraps.


Offline crookedneck

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Re: How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2012, 01:26:34 AM »
After you have gotten your first guide wrapped continue this process for each additional guide and your hook keeper.  After all of your guides are wrapped.  Then make sure your guides are all aligned straight.  The best way to align the guides is with your eye. Sight down the rod and adjust the guides left or right to line up with your reel seat and tip top.  If you used the right amount of tension on your thread you should be able to move the guides somewhat easily from left to right.

After you have your guides wrapped do the same kind of wrapping process for any trim wraps on the rod.  Usually around the grip assembly, hook keeper or on either side of where you may want to put a decal.  Feel free to experiment and mix up the thread work on your builds.  Alot can be done with thread work to make a rod stand out.





« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 01:40:45 AM by crookedneck »

Offline Aaron at Wingerts Woodworks

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Re: How to build a fishing rod tutorial
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2012, 06:06:59 PM »
Fascinating tutorial Crookedneck!