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Lesson Learned - Grips

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I feel ill. You know that feeling when you totally destroy a rod and you can't believe what you just did.

I have always turned my grips on the rod (I don't have a lathe) with an electric drill. I'd heard (can't remember if it was here or elsewhere) that drywall screen was the proverbial bomb for turning grips so I got some. I had two grips on two rods glued up and ready to turn last weekend.

Saturday-Grip 1 - "Wow, this 100 grit drywall screen is awesome. Look at the cork fly! A few more seconds and this baby will be done"....crunch! Just as I was nearly done the screen, which I was holding with moderate tension, grabbed the cork, but the drill kept turning. Fortunately this rod was for myself and I can't tell that anything really happened except that I think it probably shattered under the grip. I may finish it out and keep it for test casting that particular taper.

Sunday-Grip 2 - (a flimsy 2 weight by the way) "Well, if I set the clutch on my drill for very light tension and hold that drywall screen very very gently, it will surely not do the same thing. Hmm, seems to be okay,  just a few  more seconds  and  this  baby will be..." crunch! Yep, you guessed it. Unfortunately this one wasn't for me and the blank section (below the grip) feels like rubber. It's fried. Screwed it up twice, shame on me. I get a DA Award for that one.

I'd rather go on Fear Factor and drink bile and eat cow eyeballs than have that feeling again. Word to the wise, you cannot be careful enough when turning grips on the rod using stiff drywall screen. I'd opt for not even giving into the temptation if I were you.  (Phil Smith)

    Welcome to the screwed up a rod club!

    Don't throw them away- yet. Carefully cut off the cork and determine where the break occurred. If you have enough leeway, cut off the damaged part and install a false butt section. Taper the cane just as you would a ferrule station, then take a dowel about the same diameter as the butt and center drill it to the diameter of the tapered cane. Glue together and put on a new grip and reel seat. This should work as long as it is under the grip as you are not dealing with one of those flex into the grip tapers. We will never tell. You may not want to sell them, but you might end up with two fishable rods.

    I have to tell you that I have never done this myself (really!) but I have seen it done by some respected makers when they ended up with short butt sections.

    This is why I turn my grips on a lathe, which of course leads to its own problems as detailed in my "new topic for the list" posts of last week.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

      This is not a new tip, I know, but the story below seems like the best evidence yet for the lesson.  I'd heard two sad stories about turning a grip while on the rod, even on a lathe, that I switched to turning the grip while on an aluminum rod, or on a 1/4" 24 tpi threaded rod that is the center of a vertical cork press jig.  If on the aluminum dowel rod, the grip is held firmly by compression and pops right off after shaping  (worked with either U-40 rod bond epoxy or Titebond). If on the threaded rod, I scraped a bar of soap on the threads and the shaped grip popped off easily.  I've not had a problem with fitting and sticking the shaped grip to the blank.  (Paul Franklyn)

        Well here's another story about grips! last night I was making an all cork grip for a light weight 7 ft x 4 wt so I decided to shape the grip then turn down the seat area to receive two nice pewter sliding bands. Then I glued on the last cork ring which is is flared up to a larger diameter to keep the slide bands from coming off the end. Guess what? I forgot to install the two slide bands and can't get them on over the last cork ring. Geez! You'd think a guy would know how to do it right after a couple hundred rods.  (Ray Gould)

          Panic not, you are normal!

          In the UK we make what you rudely call "Bait rods" with long, parallel handles, sliding rings and a cork bobble at each end.

          You would think, wouldn’t you, that after a few dozen of these things, and in my case a few dozen more, that remembering to put the bloody reel fittings on before you turn the second bobble would be second nature...Hah!  (Robin Haywood)

          Anytime I'm making this type of handle, I turn the entire handle/reel seat to final shape then I break the reel seat portion (smaller diameter). The cork will break along the grain in a natural (not straight) path. Then I add the slide rings and glue the whole thing back together ,carefully aligning the break. I demonstrated this technique last summer at the Colorado Rodmakers Gathering and those who did not see the demo could not tell how it was done. There is very little need to add much pressure while the glue sets because the glue line disappears within the natural grain of the cork. 

          Works for me!  (Jeff Fultz)

          That doesn’t encourage us’ns what only made a few rods so far!  (Al Baldauski)

    Hmmmm.... it sounds like you were holding the screen around the grip with your hand? If that was the case, just switch to using strips. They can't grab!  (Larry Blan)

    Thanks for the support through this rough time in my rodmaking life, sniff sniff.

    A couple more tidbits. D. Groth mentioned that this may be grounds for a nomination into the Nunley club, well to make a bigger case the rod that I screwed the most (the second one at that) was a Nunley taper [the 6' 2 weight]!!! Also, I was indeed using a whole section of screen instead of strips, but I was only gently as possible holding the screen between my thumb and index finger, not wrapping my hand around it. I really still don't see how it happened, but it did. If that hadn't happened to me I'd swear by the drywall screen. It hogs the cork off and you don't have to keep stopping to clean the dust off the paper.

    The graphite sleeve trick might be the deal. I will deal with it later when I get caught up on getting a new butt section made for this'n, but when I get around to rehabbing the crunched blank I'll probably do just that if I can find one the right size. I have my lathe almost operational so I may go to turning grips on a mandrel. Biggest problems I can foresee is that I make all my grips superfine and wrap the thread onto the grip so I'll still have to do some turning of the grips on the blank anyway. Also, 1/4" mandrel would be too big as several of these tapers are less than 1/4" at the grip station already, but surely I should be able to find a 1/8" mandrel.  (Phil Smith)

      Brass rod should be available at a hobby shop in various diameters, and most hardware stores or big box stores carry steel rod and allthread in 1/8", 3/16" etc.  Wax the mandrel (I use paraffin) before you glue the cork, put it in your cork press, then turn to shape when it's dry.  Any wax is removed when you ream to final size.  (Neil Savage)

    For those of you who like to use the sheet rock sanding mesh to do their cork handles. In the Penn state Industries Catalogue or at they have ABRANET sanding mesh that looks similar to what I use on sheet rock.  It is 2 3/4 inch by 5 inch sheet and they have 120 to 400 grits. I thought it might be helpful to someone.  (David Ray)

    Sympathies. Might want to watch out next time you attempt a Nunley taper!  (Darrol Groth)

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