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I'm in the process of rereading Garrison/Carmichael for about the 10th time.  Noticed tonight while sitting on the throne and reading that Garrison ran the freshly glued strips through the binder -- small end first --.  I've never done it that way, and was wondering if any of you have words of wisdom there...(Harry  Boyd)

    I have tried it that way.  It seems I get more twist.  I am not sure why.  Also, I seem to get fewer bends and sweeps when doing it butt first.  I haven't thought about it much.  When I am gluing I seem to be otherwise occupied,  if you know what I mean.  (Timothy Troester)

    Words of wisdom: DON'T DO IT!  (Martin-Darrell)

    I tried it once, after reading about it. The tip section was very difficult to control, so I quickly reversed it and wrapped it from the butt end before everything started to set up. I haven't tried it again since then.  (Steve Weiss)

    On page 78 of Howell's book he states "Place the section in the binder, ferrule end first.  (The tips will go  ferrule end first as well.)"

    I do thickest cross section first, meaning that butt sections start on the end of the rod and tips start at the ferrule end.  Don't ask why I do it this way (must have had some short term memory loss in the early days of rod building.  (Brad Love)

    I know I used to bind the tips first, not sure why but it was probably from one of the books. However for the last couple of years I have started at the thicker end as it seems to be easier to control and I get less twist.  This may vary depending on the type of binder which you use.  (Ian Kearney)


Are there any rodmakers who are currently using a  4 string binder. I'm interested in one, but only if it will produce straighter blanks then the current Garrison type binder that I'm now using. I'm not looking for something different, I'm looking for something better.  (Jim Bureau)

    I use a 4 string binder, sort of like the one I designed that appeared in The Planing Form  in 1994 and the Best of the Planing Form.  I kind of copied Dawn Holbrook's,  Tony Maslan's, and Dickerson's binders.  I made the binder as an improvement over Bob Milward's great design.  The only thing I did not like about Bob's design is that his  has the to disks  facing each other -- mine, (Winstons, Dickersons Powells and on and on) have one disk inside another so that you can easily get your hands and fingers where the action is.  My section come out straight, especially if you start tips skinny end first.  All that being said, I have never had any problem with the Garrison binder, either.  I just like making machines.  The last rod I made I glued the old fashioned way -- by hand with the string tension being my foot trapping the binding string against the floor.  (Chris Lucker)

      I built a version of Milward's binder, photos of which my be seen on Todd Talsma's Tips web site (here), but were I to build another binder I believe I'd make one of Chris's design, for exactly the reasons he stated.  (Martin-Darrell)


I am going to try and get by without a binder. I'd of course rather use one, but time and money are running short. I am gluing with TiteBond II.  Does anyone have any tips or suggestions on binding by hand? Am I dooming myself to a crooked rod?  (Mike Mihalas)

    Don't, no way, save , borrow, beg, have to have a binder. You won't want to ruin a lot of work by the time you get that far.  (AJ Thramer)

    No binder, no problem.  Many on the list hand bind and the only problem I might see you having is the  TiteBond II doesn't have a very long working time.  You might consider the TiteBond Extend.  I don't have any  experience with it, but from what I've seen bounced around the list on it, you will have a bit more working time  with it.  As for being doomed to a crooked section, nah... just roll it out while wet and get it as straight as you  can, then when it's dry, you can use very low heat to slowly warm it up and straighten out any sweeps you may still have.  You might consider using a hair dryer for your straightening with the TiteBond, as I don't believe it's as heat resistant as many of the age old accepted glues, like URAC, resorcinol, Epon, Nyatex, etc. Someone with more experience on TiteBond will surely chime in on this.  (Bob Nunley)

    Don't worry about not using a binder, there's many a fine rod been glued and bound by hand.  (Paul Blakley)

    Build a binder!!! Shouldn't take more than a few hours & cost is minimal ($25 or less) Binding by hand is feasible but Titebond is a fast setting glue & you'll use up a lot of time in hand binding that would be better spent on straightening before glue setup, & trust me if you bind by hand it will need straightening. If you're dead set on hand binding do several dry practice runs cause it gets harder when you're hands are covered in glue! Finally, in a pinch you can just build the binder cradles, hang a weight on the belt & just pull the belt manually. Binder pulleys ad efficiency & convenience to a binder, but aren't 100% needed for function. But I strongly suggest building a binder!  (Dave Kenney)

    Indeed it should take no more than a few hours and less than $30 or so. Try Tom Smithwick's version of the binder. Maybe someone on the list remembers where the plans are on the web. The archives should have info as well. It works great. (Andy Harsanyi)

    Not at all! I bind by hand all the time. My method is maybe a bit archaic, but it works. Before binding I put a long strip of masking tape on my planing forms, and with my finger, push it in the groove.

    I put the spool of binding thread on the floor and keep a tension on it with my (bare) foot. I wear surgical gloves and just turn the rod with my fingers, while keeping a reasonable tension on the thread with my foot. I start with the thick end and move to the fine end and back. I then roll the blank under my two hands on the floor, and usually it is almost perfectly straight. I little bending by hand sometimes, but the rolling is easier. I think rolling under a board would be even better... Check if there is a twist in the blank and correct. When it looks straight, I put the blank in the groove of the forms, protected by the tape, and secure the blank with little pieces of tape to keep it in the groove under a bit of pressure. I use PU glue, and after an hour or so (I am very impatient!!!) you can remove it. Leave the string on for another couple of hours. Comes out so straight I hardly ever straighten.  (Geert Poorteman)

    Interestingly enough, I have a binder but never use it. I still bind every rod by hand. I guess I just prefer it. Doesn't do much for my carpal tunnel though.  (Randall Gregory)

    Comments about the working time and heat straightening problems of Titebond II got me thinking I might look into using Resorcinol instead -- does it have to be measured by weight? This would mean another purchase (scales) for me and the budget is tight. Does anyone have a way or formula so I can mix resorcinol by volume somehow?  (Mike Mihalas)

      I'd be more inclined to suggest a polyurethane glue, i.e., Gorilla Glue, Probond II, etc. What do some of you guys who use  this think? Does he have enough working time to bind and straighten, considering this is his first rod? I don't think the TiteBond, nor the resorcinol will give you enough time, at all.  (Martin-Darrell)

        I use Titebond and bind by hand. However, you MUST be very efficient AND organized to beat the set time and manage to do your straightening. BUT it can be done.  (Randall Gregory)

        My answer to this is yes.  My first rod was built using this glue and I didn't have any trouble gluing and straightening before the glue started to set.  But of course I used a binder also.  I did try a practice run trying to bind a rod by hand and that was all it took.  I pulled the string off and I went looking in the garage for the hardware I need to build a binder.  The cost of building my Garrison binder top the scale of a whopping $10 for one pulley, fender washers, and a spring.  (Robert Holder)

      Traditionally Resorcinol is mixed 100 parts resin to 20 parts catalyst by weight. I have been told  that you can mix by volume using 3 parts powder (fluffed up) to 4 parts liquid, however, I have not gone far enough to try this and would suggest that you mix a small quantity and try it on some scrap bamboo before doing  a rod.  (Jacques Follweiler)

      The resorcinol is very easy to use and the directions are on the can to mix it by volume.  (AJ Thramer)

    I use resorcinol on my rods and I mostly hand bind them.  Works fine for me.  (Rob Clarke)

      There ya' go. The voice of experience. My concern was that he might not have enough time with  this  being  his  first  rod.  (Martin-Darrell)

        It occurs to me that if that people building their first rods are really worried about binding time, probably the most logical thing would be to use a slower glue at first; if you use a binder and run into some sort of faecal storm, you've got enough to worry about without having the blank glued to the the binder and to two separate bits of string, one of which has no end, and all of which are bonded to your gloves.

        Ask me, as  they say, how I know that!  (Peter McKean)

    I honestly don't think that you should try to do the rod with no binder.  I understand the situation that you are in.  This can be an expensive hobby.  I think that you can build a binder for nearly nothing.  My first was built from scrap boards I had around the house. My pulley was a jig sawed wheel, my weights, sand filled tin cans.  It was not much, but it worked, and when I could afford it I made a much better one, but still I think the cost was less than $10.   (Ralph Moon)

    I have only built a few rods, but I may be able to help. It is perfectly possible to bind by hand, but I wouldn't use Titebond. It sets up too quickly. I'd use Epon epoxy, which has a very long pot life. Nyatex epoxy has a long pot life, too, but it requires heat setting.  (Bill Hoy)

    Both myself and my close friend, Tony Young in Australia have built both Garrison and Tom Smithwick’s design binders.  They are more bother than they are worth. Both of us use an old Thompson rod wrapper that clamps to the edge of the table and is adjustable for the tension on the spool.  Neither one of us build so many rods that is is a problem wrapping by hand.  Only takes a few minutes.  The biggest reason is that it gives us complete control of the tension that we want to use.  Can be helpful, especially in the node areas, if your planing is not up to snuff.  It's my opinion that of all the rod building equipment that we need to either buy or build, just starting out, a binder would be right at the tail end of the list.  (Jerry Young)

    To wrap by hand get a large fly tying bobbin and load it with button thread (strong). Glue the blank  up (I prefer Titebond II Extend as it gives you more working time then regular TB II) and temporarily tape it closed in a few spots. Now, holding the blank in one hand wrap over the thread to start and letting the bobbin hang with a couple feet of thread out roll the blank between your fingers  so the thread spirals down the blank. When you approach the tape remove before proceeding. Also, when you use up the thread just pull more out. When you get to the end just turn the rod over and work back crossing the wraps already done. Finish with a few half hitches. You do not need to put pressure on the thread, just the weight of the bobbin will be enough. Just be sure to roll fairly tight between your fingers. Straighten the rod and take out any twists as soon as possible. As far as poly any good quality will do. Also the hand cramps you experience binding by hand will give you an incentive to buy or make a binder.  (Marty DeSapio)

      I use a big C-clamp on the back of the bench, which holds two bits of wood separated by two strips of felt; I run the thread between  the pieces of felt, and then wrap the rod. You  can vary the tension as much as you like. The whole process is a pain in the arse! A binder is better!  (Peter McKean)


After struggling to get a blank wrapped last night before the Gorilla PU set up, I was wondering is there a better way to get the tape off the blank while binding, or is there a better tape or technique?   Everything  came out OK and the blank is nicely wrapped - and straight. 

I use masking tape for just over 1 revolution starting on spline #1, then slit the tape between spline #6 and #1, lay it out, glue it, roll it back  up and proceed to the wrapper.   Tape is 1/4" wide and applied about every 12" to 18".  

One thought that has come to me is - what if the tape was left on and just bound over?  Would it interfere with binding and perhaps cause open joints? 

Your tips and thoughts?  (Kurt Clement)

    Look at your local discount store for the blue colored tape that is not quite so sticky. I keep an old bodkin handy and use the needle to start unwrapping at the corner of the slit.

    I don't think you would want to put a section in the oven leaving the tape on, that would be ugly.  (Jerry Young)

      Well I have left the tape on (by oversight) and the section in question came out acceptable.  I only tape in three places, either end and the center of the section using 1/2 wide tape. I also keep an Exacto knife and blade at the binder for cutting thread and helping in the removal of the tape.  I try to remove the tape when it is being supported by the first set of cradles on the binder (I use a Garrison style).  (Brad Love)

        When I use the Garrison binder for binding to Heat Treat, the tape is wrapped opposite to the rotation of the blank in the binder. A folded tape tab is left on the tape that is wrapped around the sticks. When cranking the blank through the binder and the tape gets close to the belt, hold the tab and keep cranking. The tape will roll off as you turn the blank.  The tab was left at the slit in the tape so that the tape would come off in one strip. I used to do the same when gluing before I got the four string binder. Now I leave a tab, it makes it easy to grab and unwrap.  (Tony Spezio)

    I use the blue tape and keep a supply of round toothpicks handy. When I wrap I have one nearby that I use to slide under the tape and start it off so I can grab it with my fingers and finish removing it. The toothpicks are disposable, no cleanup, and are soft enough I don't gouge the cane. I use the Nyatex glue. This seems to loosen the grip of the tape as well. I don't know if other glues affect the tape adhesive differently.  (Jon McAnulty)

    I use 3 tapes only on a 48" section - 4 on a 56" section with all 1/2" wide masking tape. There is always some of the glue that seems to stick somewhere. You "might" get some between the strips hence removal is prudent.  (Don Anderson)

    I used Probond for my blanks, but I believe they are both similar, any way I left a little tap when I taped them together and found that when I glued them the tape would just  slide off.  the slickness of the glue allowed my to just push off the tape with my finger nails.   (Tim Stoltz)

    I have just the opposite problem.  The tape does not stick.

    It seems as though my glue gets all over the adhesive side of the tag end of the tape, and the glue never has time to get tacky enough to hold while putting it through the binder. Getting it off in time has never been a problem. I use standard masking tape, whatever is the cheapest, and URAC for glue.

    I have found success by rolling the rod along a board after glue up as suggested in the literature. I have also experimented with a long homemade vice that forces the rod to become straight with no twist. I have had mixed success with the later, so I can be a firm proponent of the vice. It seems to me the binder could be improved by not twirling the rod, but twirling the wraps around a blank that is help in place. Much like the JW rod wrapper.  (Taylor Hogan)

      A Smithwick binder works on that concept and that is what I use and have been very happy so far.  (Tim Stoltz)


Leave it to me, I have a constant twist running the whole length of both the butt and tip section of a rod that I have just finished final planing.  A full quarter turn from one end to the other.  It was roughed on a new rough beveler so I am not sure if the twist was introduced by that or not. 

I have not glued up yet and was wondering... would a possible approach (at least with some benefit) be to take two vises placed at a distance between each other that would allow me to take the rod section from the oven (during heat treating) and place the ends in each vise with a "counter twist" in it and allow it to cool.(Doug Hall)

    That would probably work, but have you thought about just raising your binder tension for heat treating and work the twist out before you heat treat.  What I mean is, that if you raise your binder tension where it's hard to move the strips in the string, then once you do get them moved, maybe they'll stay in place during heat treating and hold their straightness when they cool.

    I've been using the Bellinger Roughing mill for a long time, and punched a lot of sections out in it for both planing forms and the MHM, and I've never had a problem with a section twisted like that.  No idea why it happened, but you should be able to get it cured before you glue up.  (Bob Nunley)

    If the sections aren't glued up yet, what makes you think they are twisted?? If they are just taped together for binding, or bound prior to heat treating, then either the tape  or the binding job is twisting them. Just figure out why and fix it before you glue, or face having to untwist the glued sections with heat. I have had lots of twists in the past (I think I have that problem figured out now, knock on wood), and they can be straightened, it just isn't any fun.  (John Channer)


May seem like a stupid question but.... would it be a problem if one used a color other than neutral for binding thread.  I don't know it glace or quilting thread would bleed but the dealer I found cannot get neutral.  Anyone know of a source for Mettlers Art 135, 40/3 in 500 yard spools.  (Doug Hall)

    I like to use two color's one for tip's Other for Mids and Butt's It helps me with the size!  (Ron Revelle)

    Macramé thread works well, you can get it in neutral color. I use it to bind for heat treating.  (Steve Weiss)

    Colors are fine.  I use red on the tips because it's easier to see twists and such... which, by the way, are not NEAR as common since going to a 4 string binder.  (Bob Nunley)

    I use any color I can get hold of from the local upholsterer. It does bleed a bit in the oven, but it is VERY superficial, and is gone by the time the rod is dressed.  (Peter McKean)


Does anyone have a good way to adjust the thread tension on a Milward style binder. Hanging a weight from the spool and counting as it moves to the floor just seems way to inaccurate. And sometimes the thread doesn't pull thru perfectly smooth.(Mark Bolan)

    I made a small tension measuring device with a piece of copper tubing, caps, spring and a rod with a ring in the end. Use weights to set marks for tension desired.  (Steve Trauthwein)


Well it was glue up day today.  Five sections were ready,  4 tips and a butt.

My shop has two benches.  One fixed to the wall and one that comes out at 90 degrees from the first.  I work on the second one and have tools and such on the other.

I clamp my binder to the bench and it is far enough from the other that only a small portion of a section needs to extend under the other bench.  The first tip went well but the second all of a sudden didn't want to turn in the binder anymore.  Looking to my left I saw the reason.  The tip got hung up in a terry cloth towel I keep hung there.  Cool, I've made a spiral rod was my first thought.

I got the tip out of the towel and figured what the heck, I got to straighten it anyhow, I continued.  The binding string broke.  Hmmm, okay, I've only got 12 or so inches bound so I'll just reverse everything, remove the string and start at the beginning again.  No problem, I'm not dead yet.

Hey!  What's happening here?  It won't go back any further.  Dang!  The tip found the support to the bench.  Boy, these parabolics sure do flex deeply.

Finally got it bound now time to straighten.  I'm going to tell you that was one heck of a spiral to get out.  But what was that noise I heard as I was working it out?  Did something break?  I was real near the end so I'm hoping that whatever broke is in the 2 inches of extra cane at the end and if not that the Epon or tip top will keep it together.

Obviously, as of today my dues are current and I'm a member in good standing.  That is comforting knowing that the next steps will include the use of the lathe.  (Tim Wilhelm)


I started hand binding after breaking the drive belt on my garrison style binder right in the middle of glue-up. Finished the tip sections by hand, and decided to do it that way for future rods. I like the control, but most of all I like the results I get with hand binding. I usually have my wife or daughter help me rotate the rod as I control thread tension and placement - makes a good technique even better. Since I started hand binding, I have not broken a tip or had a tip strip rotated, and my sections are straighter than they ever were. If you figure in setup, it takes the same amount of time to bind by hand as it does with the Garrison.

However, I am not a production rodmaker. If I did it full time I might think differently.  (Jeff Schaeffer)


I'm ready to glue my first blank. Built a binder that will use a thread tensioner. How much tension do you need for binding?  (Peter Van Schaack)

    For drive belt 1 pound for tips 1.5 pounds for butts. I actually use a thread tensioner for the continuous drive belt now. As for thread tension 1 pound is usually good.  (Adam Vigil)


I've seen most of the contraptions for binding glue-ups......

But what is the technique, style, procedure for binding by "hand"? (sans contraption) A detailed explanation would be appreciated. (It must have it's fine points and refinements).  (Edward Miller)

    The most obvious advantage to hand binding is kind of the lack of gadgets. I have a binder,  which I used to use; but have gone back to doing it by hand again.

    I just have a 9" G-clamp at the back of my bench, and it holds to the benchtop a sandwich of two pieces of hardwood and two layers of felt sheet.

    The thread runs  between the layers of felt,  and  the tension is easily varied by tweaking the handle of the G-clamp.

    I have a 6'0" X 9" sheet of plate glass, to which I stick a couple of layers of newspaper (using just masking tape) and this provides a flat and easily cleaned surface on which  to work.

    I also bang a couple of 6" nails into the benchtop up toward the left hand end,  and the function of that is to stop the free end from falling off the back of the bench when you are working down close to the end - sounds a bit obscure, I know, but if you try the hand binding thing you will certainly see why I do that.

    I get no twists, very straight blanks, no glue lines; and cleanup consists of pulling up the newspaper,  taking off the nitrile gloves,  and throwing the whole lot out!  Any Epon that gets past the newspaper and any alcohol cleanup just scrapes off with an old plane blade when dry.

    No doubt, if one were in serious rod production, a  binder would be pretty well a must, but I  am  building  only  about 10-15 rods a year at this time, and I kind of think that cleaning up the binder would be too much like hard work.  (Peter McKean)

      Like Peter, despite having a good Garrison style binder I prefer to bind by hand. As I only make three rods in a good year ( this year it looks like I may even finish four !)due to work, family and fishing all year round, I don't find this a problem. In fact I am very happy with hand binding and often wonder why I even bothered having a binder made.  (Paul Blakley)

        Like all aspects of rod making, you have to sift out all the alternatives and decide what is best for you.  I do not believe in binding by hand, and my reasoning is thus, be if flawed or truth.  First I believe that the best glue joint is the one that is under most pressure.  Second, binding by hand is limited by the breaking strength of the binding cord. (Although I doubt that hand binders ever reach that amount of tension.)  Finally the Garrison binder does NOT depend on the binding cord to make a tight bond.  The binding cord is merely to secure the compression applied by the drive cord.  Now I can myself pick out a number of assumptions I have made that might be open to argument, but like I say, you have to pick and choose what you want to do.  I have (thanks to Chris Bogart and a lot of time spent tuning it up) a Garrison binder that gives me straight blanks and the only twists that I ever have in my rods are those that I intentionally  make when I am making spiral rods.    Take a little time to analyze the Garrison style and other binders and see which one gives the most pressure on the glue joint.  What is more.  I think I can probably bind faster than a hand binder, but maybe that is bragging.  (Ralph Moon)

          I'm impressed Peter.  Not only with your ability to avoid twists, but also with the number of rods you're making.  I only manage to make 4-5 rods per year.

          I started out binding by hand.  I got one of those thread tensioners that consists of a small "C" clamp with the handle replaced by a screw and the tension supplied by a wing nut.  I was just rotating the strips in my hands and winding the thread directly from the tensioner onto the rod.  By the time I finished binding a 3 piece 2-tip rod, my hands and forearms would be aching.  I invariably wound up with crooked sections and twists in them. Ten minutes or so of straightening could get rid of the worst of the kinks and sweeps in the blanks, but I had to wait until the glue had set, and use heat to remove the twists.

          Now I have a homemade Bellinger-style  Garrison binder.  I don't bother to clean up the binder except to put a new belt on it after gluing up a rod. If the buildup of glue starts to bother me, the dried glue readily flakes off of the Delrin pulleys and aluminum cradle.  Binding goes much faster, and the blanks come right out of the binder straighter than I could ever get them after binding by hand.  I just take them from the binder and hang them up to dry.

          I wouldn't want to go back to binding by hand, but I also would not let the lack of a binder keep me from making rods.  (Robert Kope)

          Ralph,  I am absolutely certain that you can bind faster by binder. No question. And probably tighter, too.

          Robert, I agree that one butt and 2 tips leaves  the hands and forearms pretty much knackered.

          But I still find the hand-binding process quite adequate for my needs; and I certainly don't have any reason to question the adequacy of the bond formed using this technique.  (Peter McKean)

    I have a Garrison type binder, but I used to bind by hand. Still do sometimes. I use a spinning reel clamped to the edge of a table and set the drag to get tension on the line. I also use monofilament fishing line to bind. The mono stretches a bit and is able to slip a little as I wrap so any unevenness in tension gets evened out. Don't use mono to bind strips for heat treating, mono melts and burns.

    I space the masking tape about every four inches apart, leave the tape on and bind over it. I do this because the tape holds the strips in alignment and  doesn't let them move during binding. It is a little more difficult to remove the tape after the glue dries, but twists and kinks are reduced. Leaving the tape on does not reduce large sweeps though.

    The minuses to binding by hand is it takes longer than using a binding machine, so make sure you have a glue with a long working time, and I get cramps in my fingers and thumbs. The only advantage to binding by hand is you don't have to buy/make a binding machine.  (Darryl Hayashida)

    I built a simple binder for hand binding and works simply and quickly.

    Basically a 1'x 2' piece of plywood with two pieces of 2x4 screwed to on edge with a two inch gap between. Each 2x4 has a couple of screw eyes screwed in alignment for the trough.  On the back side of the plywood is a bolt with two spring loaded Teflon washers for tensioning. I leave the tape on until just before the thread winds over. When you get to the other end of the section, I clove hitch a couple of knots and the reverse the process.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    With all due respect to those who have responded in favor of hand binding, I don't think that you should allow the opinions of these few people to make hand binding seem so good. Hand binding can be done and done well, but I really think that is is about the most unnatural movement that you can do with your wrists and hands. I try to never do it, even though sometimes I have bound my hand to heat treat in fixtures that don't run through my binder so well.

    One of the keys to binding a straight rod as I see it shown in the designs of Tom Smithwick and others is good support. Tom's new binder could be made in an afternoon, and I really believe it could give you great blanks time and time again. It does not allow the tip end to dip down and cause a twist or bend as the last part of the tip comes through. There is no way that you can support a blank suitably by hand while binding.

    Glue clean up is not a big deal. Use vinegar with epoxy, water with URAC and Resorcinol, and use alcohol with a polyurethane glue.  The guys who really know how to use a binder (like Jeff Walker at Winston) are applying the right pressure with a thumb or some system (Mr. Jim Payne had a foot tensioner). Just because you have a machine does not mean it will do all the work for you. I recommend you get a binder if you can afford one, and if not, bind by hand. I think any well tuned binder would be superior and safer than hand binding in the long run.

    I am sorry, but I really think that in rodmaking I am likely to prefer the right machine to a hand skill. The only exceptions being wrapping the guides, sanding the blank, and buffing. I believe a beveler is better than a hand plane, a dip tank and motor better than a brush, a disc sander better than a file, bandsawing better than a froe, and lapping ferrules best done in a lathe.

    Heck, they don't bust my b-lls about owning so many tools for nothing...and yes, I know I will catch some serious cr-p for this one. Fire away!  (Bob Maulucci)

      I have to agree with about 85% of your statements.  Splitting by hand is still better than bandsawing your strips, and the only way real men build rods *g*.  (Harry Boyd)

      Hand binding may be the way to go if one is going to build only a single rod but for the more serious rod builder it's better to have a four string binder of some type. I've tried hand binding, the garrison type binder and the 4 string binder and like the 4 string binder best by far. And it's not all that expensive to make one either. I'm with Bob Maulucci on this topic!  (Ray Gould)

      I think any well tuned binder would be superior and safer than hand binding in the long run.


      After the planing form and plane the binder is most important. Hand planners have to much time invested in each strip to risk loosing it all binding by hand. I have Jeff Wagner’s new motorized binder and it will bind a section straight as an arrow and within a few seconds.  (Adam Vigil)

        Last post in defense of the hand binder, you will all be pleased to know.

        I have no quarrel with those who use binders - I just don't want to use one. It is not a question of whether or not I am capable of building one; in my day to day work I reassemble small pieces of fractured bone and fix them with screws and plates, and reconstruct soft tissues for cosmetic effect.  I also make bamboo rods in my spare time.  There is no inherent difficulty in building a binder.

        It is also absolutely true that a "serious" builder would mechanize and automate as much as possible or practical.  I couldn't agree more with that.

        But one of the things that I struggle constantly against is becoming serious.  I do this for fun.   The speed doesn't matter.   It's a pastime - it's meant to "pass time"; that's what the word means.

        I can get as much steady tension on my cord using my method as any binder, and I have  the added advantage of being able to sort of  snuggle    and    squish    the    strips    into    their    correct section-of-a-hexagon position, while squeezing out any superfluous glue.  I have worked out a support system  that holds the section straight enough that a couple of moments tweaking after tying it off is all it takes for a straight section.  If problems (this is hypothetical, as I haven't had any yet) were to arise during binding, I would know about it straight away, and would be in a position to do something about it quickly  and easily.

        I have just bound three sections today, and I am totally at a loss to know where in my binding process I would "risk losing it all binding by hand".

        I use Epon, so time, once again, is not a factor. I will admit that if I were using URAC or Resorcinol, I would resurrect the binder because of the time factor.  Clean up, by the way, of Epon is so much easier with alcohol than with acetic acid, and doesn't leave you feeling vaguely like a salad!

        I am quite sure that most of the good rods in the world are made with binders  and other tools; ask Terry Ackland.  That's fine, no worries there - but it is not the ONLY way to go!  (Peter McKean)

          Very well said. Some rodmakers  can  be  compared  to power boaters who want to get to the final destination as quickly as possible; others like thee and me and quite happy being sailors who enjoy the trip.  However, I use both types of binders -- Garrison and 4-string -- but that's only because I love to build gadgets as well as rods.  (Ron Grantham)

    I do use a binder for glued up blanks it is a Garrison style.  On some rods I make they have large diameter butt sections for instance some of the coarse rods.  These do not turn very well in the supports on my binder.

    These sections I bind by hand I use an old sea fishing Penn Delmar multiplier reel this is clamped to the bench with the binding twine wound on the spool.  I set the drag on the reel to the tension I want.  It is then a simple matter to bind the rod keeping the tension the same.  You can hear the click on the drag so long as it keeps clicking as you bind it must keep the same tension.

    Machine binding is better.  It does not make your hands ache.  One day I will make a binder for large sections.   (Barry Grantham)

      I made a small inexpensive jig out of scrap wood and a sewing machine tensioner. (Anglers Workshop has these)  I wrap with simple cotton sewing type thread,  to hold the rod while I hand wrap. It is based on a thread wrapper. It is 2 vertical V's- there is cloth in the V's  which gets some glue but I clean it and it is very smooth still after 30 or so rods. See it it here.

      Judging from others I spend a lot less time straightening and I never had to take a twist out. I have never had a delaminate, either. I have helped a guy with his Garrison binder and could not see a difference in the outcome.  I don't get glue lines etc.  (Rich McGaughey)

    I hand-bind with the two-bobbin method with Epon and allow for a .005, 004, and 003 glue buildup on the butt, middle and tip. This is a very tight binding scheme. Geometry doesn't seem to matter.  (Bill Fink)


Anyone using a thread other than cotton (read stronger) for glue up? I know that it is not the tension of the thread or drive belt, but I have been having an awful lot of broken threads during glue up. I am using the cotton from Golden Witch. It may be a small burr or other minor problem, but boy this stuff breaks like crazy.  (Bob Maulucci)

    I would look at your tensioner. It should be made from really hard, smooth stuff. Mine came from Dale Clemens and are chrome plated. Hardened steel is OK too. Softer material will soon create friction and heat which will break the thread. Any kind of burr is also the kiss of death. If your tensioner is grooved from wear, you can be sure it won't work.

    One solution might be to build a spring drag onto the thread spool, and skip the tensioner.  (Tom Smithwick)

    I've been using "Coats hand quilting thread extra strong dual duty plus" Glace finish cotton polyester.( I think that means it is cotton covered polyester). It can be purchased at the local sewing center shop and comes in spools 750 yards. No problems with breaking in my 4 string binder and no rod marks after the string is removed.  (Ray Gould)

    Yes, I bind with nylon.  I got a one LB spool from Golden Witch, but found another at Boeing surplus that's bonded.  That stuff is really nice because it doesn't unravel when you cut it.

    However, I don't just use it for glue up.  I use it for heat treating too. Because of the stretch, it retains tension when the cane shrinks from moisture loss.  This keeps the nodes from raising back up during heat treating.  (Robert Kope)

      Gee, I thought I was the only one that used nylon.  (Tony Spezio)

        I also use nylon for a binding thread(glue up and heat treating). It works great. I get it from my dad who has several hundred spools of it on industrial sized spools. If anyone needs any of it at a great price(wholesale surplus from  my dad) just let me know. I keep about 10 of the huge spools in my shop all the time.  (Randall Gregory)

    Coats & Clark Button, Carpet and Crafts thread, Glace cotton covered polyester. Get it at either Mart, or any fabric and sewing shop, costs around a buck a spool, holds up just fine to heat treating, strong enough to be able to pull it off blanks glued with Epon or URAC.  (John Channer)

      After I posted I looked up BINDING THREAD in the archives and found an earlier post you made. A trip to the craft store, and I had two great tips an hour later.  (Bob Maulucci)

    I use cotton for heat treating because I'm afraid the synthetic spool I have might melt at the high temp. But I use the synthetic for glue-up because it is really strong. Also use the same synthetic for a drive belt on a double drive pulley.  (Don Greife)

    What size thread are you using, the 16/4 or the 12/4?  It could also be the sharper corners of the quad sections causing cuts in the thread.  If it's just for glue up, you could always use a poly thread.  Or, just stop using those 18 LB weights on your binder.  (Mark Wendt)

      It is the 12/4. It may very well be those quad corners, but I suspect that it is also a burr on the tensioner or somewhere. I know that I am using a light tension on the drive belt and the thread. Either way, I am going to use the Coats and Clark poly/cotton Button Thread for gluing and the cotton for binding for heat treating. 

      Is 18 LB. too much weight?!?!?!  (Bob Maulucci)

        You might also consider polishing the discs in your tensioner too.  If there is a burr or groove, using .5 micron polishing paper might take the burr or groove out if it isn't too big.  (Mark Wendt)

    I've been using the cheap cotton kite string from Ace H/W I know it's probably thicker  than  what  most use,  but it hasn't broken yet. I tend to bind very tight on the heat treating to hopefully help keep the sections straight.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    Does anyone have a measurement on the tension on their binding thread? Is it 1 pound, 2 pounds, ???  Or do you just adjust until it feels right?  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

      I do 1 LB for tips and 1.5 for butts. I find this to be plenty. I suspect a little lighter would be okay but have not tried it.   (Timothy Troester)

      I hang my 1# hammer from the string and tighten things down until it doesn't pull string off the spool.  Never weighed the hammer but suspect 1.5# is close.  I use the same weight for both tips and butts.  (Brian Creek)

      I use about 1/2 on tips.  But then my binder lays thread at about  3/16” apart, which is, I think, a little closer than most binders?  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

        One pound tension on each of the four (4) strings on the rod binder as measured by pulling each with a spring scale seems to provide an excellent starting point. The final step is to tie the strings together and run a test piece thru the binder making final minor adjustments on the friction devices on the strings so that the test piece does not "roll" over (rotate) in one direction or another as it is fed thru the binder.  (Ray Gould)

        I use a gear motor, slip clutch & spool to keep tension on the binding cord.  I set the slip clutch for a two pound pull.  I use this for both tips and butts.  (Ron Larsen)

      I use a four string binder (I submitted the plans in one of the early Planing Forms and they also appear in  the Best of the Planing Form).  The machine is an easier to use version of the Milward machine, but I essentially copied ideas from Dawn Holbrook and Tony Maslan and Tim Bedford (he owned the Dickerson stuff).  I use carpet thread and used to use a little fish scale to kind-of-sort of get tension at around 1.75 pounds.  But after I discovered that I didn't even get a twist if one of the strings broke, I learned that even tension is not essential.  So, now I just make sure the four strings sort of feel the same, between 1.5 and 2 pounds.  (Chris Lucker)

      I use a Garrison style binder and use whatever weight (3/4 to  1 LB) I use for the drive belt, to adjust the binding tension.  (David Van Burgel)


A thought, would the glue joint be better if one were to bind, even hand bind, with the material they  make rubber  bands from?  (Joe West)

    Someone, I forgot who, gave a demonstration at Grayrock 2 years ago. He was using "O" rings for binding. My apologies for a sieve of a memory.  (Rich Jezioro)

      The O-Ring man is Ted Barnhart of Maryland. He's a great cane rod innovator, but sadly, is not on our list. He goes to China and picks out his own super culms. He also invented the Universal Ferrule made of  heat-shrink and graphite cloth that is assembled on the blank and works for any geometry.  I have a quad  that he ferruled and it works great. He writes for TPF.  Quite a guy.  (Bill Fink)

    I would think it would be impossible to maintain even tension with an elastic material. My guess is you would end up with twists and kinks.  (Tom Smithwick)

    For anyone out there who has a healthcare connection, if you can get urethral catheters, which are finer-diameter rubber tubing and slice them, they make great small-diameter bands, which are great for holding guide feet in place.  I don't know that they'd work well for binding, though, since it's tough to get tension on them.  I think that would be the problem with any rubber band, and why thread binding works better.  (Greg Kuntz)

    I don't know, but thread is cheap and works just fine.  I try not to reinvent the wheel if I can avoid it.  (Hal Manas)


I got some "fender-Manheim" clear go urethane belting round 1/8" diameter from MSC and have tried it on both my binders, Garrison and Milward, and it works great. Minimum order is 100 feet for $25. you melt the ends and they glue themselves together to make a continuous belt. Glue removes easily from it and it grips the pulleys very well.  (Patrick Coffey)

    Isn't that the sort of thing that came on a Herter's binder (Crompton) back in the 50s? Albeit, rubber rather than urethane.  (Chris Lucker)

      I don't know what was on Herter’s, one of the guys at Corbett lake a few years ago turned me on to this stuff and it works like charm.  (Patrick Coffey)

    Fenner-Manheim belting comes in different hardnesses, or durometers. (As well as diameters, and solid or hollow) You want the softer stuff.  Clear-Go or Orange-Go are the same, but the orange is easier to see when coated in glue.  Up until recently it's all I've ever used, and Patrick is right, its great!  I use URAC and keep a pail of water under the binder to drop dirty belts in and to keep a sponge in to wipe off the pulleys  between sections. One belt per section works well for me.  (Brian Creek)


I'm going to glue up rod number two this weekend.  I'll be using Titebond III.  Would it be safe to remove the binding cord after about an hour and run it back through the binding machine for a final series of wraps?  Would that make it easier to remove the binding cord and clean up the blank later?  (David Bolin)

    I used Titebond II on my first (only) rod.  I left it to dry for a few days and the cord came off very easily.  Cleanup was easy (although I did not do a great job) using small scrapers I bought from Lee Valley Tools, followed by 400 grit paper.  I bound by hand.  (Greg Dawson)

      Again with the glue!  I have been told that it is a good thing to experiment with adhesives that we use for rod construction.  Without experimentation we wouldn't know what we know.  Or something like that!  It drives me nuts that someone, anyone would not use a tried and true adhesive on their first few rods.  Scarf joints blowing up with Titebond glue.  Your work?  Your design?  Scarf placement? OR YOUR CHOICE OF ADHESIVES?  Well?  Shouldn't you have a "control" when you experiment? Why not 2 butt sections, one with Titebond and one with URAC?  The list members go out of their way worrying about mold, mildew, bad cork, strippers, snake guides and ferrules and then use an adhesive that, well Titebond III specs say it should not be used on load bearing surfaces.  Why spend all that time ("after a year I finished my first rod") to have it blow up in your hand after a 5 minute lawn casting session?  It's not as though URAC or resorcinol is expensive.  And it is available online!  GRITS.  (Chris Raine)

    I wouldn't feel good about applying significant force after only one hour using Titebond, or any glue other than 5 minute epoxy  ;-)

    Anyone more experienced have thoughts on practical handle time for TB??? (or how to read a manufacturer's info regarding cure/dry time in relation to this kind of force? [one that most of us are tempted to do to aid in clean up])

    I'm of the school that the clamp time listed has a certain margin of error, and I'll err on the wide north side of that clamp time AND whatever margin of error I feel good with, rather than risk having to boil a blank apart or toss it.  (Joe West)

    I would NOT put any chemicals on/in bamboo prior to glue up.  If you don't put oil on your forms and plane, there shouldn't be any residue on the strips.  We are planing down to fresh material.  (Chris Raine)

    I have yet to use Titebond III but I have used Titebond extend on all my rods. The routine that I use is to run it through the binder twice on opposite directions and get the sections as straight as I can before the glue sets. After this I wipe them down with damp (not wet) paper towels to remove the excess glue. I do not remove the string and rebind. I hang the sections to dry for at least 24 hours and then proceed. I would like to know how you make out with Titebond III.  (Bill Bixler)

    Thanks for all the comments.  I'll just wipe 'em down and deal with the binding cord later.  I didn't realize I was out on a limb with Titebond III.  I thought it was just a reformulated version of Titebond II Extend at a higher price.  I'll post a note on the list if it falls apart.  (David Bolin)

      Here are my steps,  Your milage may vary.

      I have a 1 ft x 4 1/2 ft table that I put next to the binder.   I cover it with wax paper or news paper and use masking tape to hole it in place.   Then I make sure there's no dust or other junk between the bamboo pieces.    I apply glue (a LOT OF GLUE) to the section then bind. 

      Next I put fresh newspaper over the existing cover and roll the section to get a basic flat roll.   This takes the majority of the excess glue off the rod and thread.  (the first time I did this, I only wanted a  clean work area.   I didn't think about the side benefit of cleaning most of  the glue off the work.) 

      I then do what ever I need to do to get the strip straight.   Tie small loops at both ends and hang to dry. 

      Anyone who doesn't flatten on news paper should give it a try.  At least for the first go around.  You'll be dealing with a lot less glue.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

    I recently finished gluing a blank with Titebond III (Sorry Chris, the URAC hasn't been confirmed yet) and here are my experiences:

    The 10 minutes working time is not accurate.  Really 7 minutes is more like it, so bind and straighten quickly!

    Once the blank was bound and more-or-less straight, I wiped off the excess glue with a damp rag, and hung the bound sections to dry.  After 12 hours I removed the string.  I was using hand-quilting thread and it came off very easily, so I wouldn't worry about unbinding/rebinding.

    I also did the splices on the nodeless rod with Titebond III, and found that I could comfortably unclamp the chopsticks after an hour or so, though the bottle says 'clamp for 30 minutes'.

    One thing to note is when I removed the string from the blank (12 hours after glue up)  the flat measurements at the ferrule stations were about .006 ± larger than what I had miced out of the planing forms.  This dropped down to .002 after 4 days of curing, which leads me to believe it takes a while for the glue to really cure.

    I removed the little remaining glue by carefully sanding with 360 grit sandpaper, and everything looks fine.  It didn't even break when I test cast it! ;)  (Chris Raine)


I’m in the process of making three PHY Perfectionists.  Last night I finish planed one tip section and bound it up to check for fit.  After trial binding, I noticed a significant twist in the section (about 30 degrees) and no amount of counter-twisting would straighten it.  Should I bind it tighter?  Any suggestions?  I’d obviously like to get this problem “straightened” out before glue up.  (Al Baldauski)

    Try putting the strip into your form with the enamel side up. Iron with a hot, flat iron. It will take most of the twist out of the individual strips.  (Jerry Drake)

    Tell us a little more about how you "test-bound" the section, please.  Did you wrap with only one string?  If so, binding in one direction only might be the culprit.  (Harry Boyd)

      I’ve got a four string binder on which I set the tension fairly low so as not to risk breaking the fine tip on this rod, though the opposing pulls should cancel out the forces.  There is sufficient force to bring the sections tight together but it seems that it is fairly easy to flex the tip into any curved shape I desire.  There just doesn’t seem to be enough string tension to hold  the strips after applying a reverse twist.  (Al Baldauski)

        I use a four string binder too, and have added a pulling string to move the blank thru as I bind.  I've found that by pulling from the end, the string doesn't hold the blank rigid, thus letting it spin if the binding string moves it, resulting in no twist. I just did a 7 1/2' 2 piece and both sections [48"] came out straight and no twist. I've found that the twisting that does occur with this method happens mostly at the node area.   (Chad Wigham)

        You may well be correct that there isn't enough tension to hold things straight and twist free.  Remember that the glue adds some "tack" which could help hold the strips.  And as the glue wets the string, it adds to the grip the string has on the strips.   (Harry Boyd)

        If the strips are just taped, is the twist there?   (Pete Van Schaack)

          I didn’t try taping so I don’t know.  I assume there would still be a twist after taping since it seems to be so persistent when bound.  (Al Baldauski)

            I have had similar problems in the past.  I have found that when you remove the enamel, you seem to relieve the stresses that keep the strips straight.  In most cases the long curve or sweeps seem to cancel themselves out when the rod is glued.   (Mark Babiy)

              I did scrape the enamel but just BEFORE final planing.  I guess this could have introduced some twist that wasn’t removed in the final planing step yet should cancel out when bound up.  BUT it doesn’t and I’m concerned that it’s an awful lot of twist to try to undo after glue up.  (Al Baldauski)

    I can understand your desire to straighten it out before glue up but are you straightening it now so that it can be twisted again when glued up?

    I don't think I would worry with it until after you glue it up.  If it remains twisted, straighten it then.  (Tim Wilhelm)

    My first rod was a PHY Midge. I worried and thought (probably too much) over every single step in building that rod. After I had finished the tip strips, I bound them up by hand to check the fit. The fit was OK, but there was a slight twist to the section. I tried twisting in the opposite direction to see if it could be corrected and it would slip right back to the original twist.

    I believe I called everyone that I knew at that time. Harry Boyd, Dr. Shaffer, Bob Nunley and a few others.  If I remember correctly, they all tried to instruct me to go ahead and glue the section up.

    Convinced that I had a major catastrophe on my hands, I brought the unglued section to SRG that year to show everyone in person the problem that I was trying to explain to them over the phone.

    Tim Wilhelm looked at the rod section and (I believe I have this straight Tim) said, "Just glue the damned thing up!!!!!". Well, when I got back from SRG I did just that and the section is as straight as can be (at least for me). It did require some straightening while the epoxy was drying.

    I never did quite figure out just exactly what was going on. Maybe the epoxy (after drying a little) held the strips in place during the straightening process.

    The current rod I am building showed the same effect after hand binding the strips to check the fit. After gluing, the sections are as straight as can be.  (Dave Alexander)

    Twist Update:

    After unwrapping my strips there, indeed, was a twist in every strip.  I rebound with more tension to no avail.  So I took Jerry’s advice and ironed each strip in my form setting the Teflon-faced iron on HIGH and moving it along the strip at ½ inch per second (about).  The strips came out with much less sweep and almost no twist!  Once again I rebound the strips and using all the techniques mentioned to achieve straightness I wound up with an assembly that was damn near straight and what little twist there was could be untwisted.  NOW I’m comfortable to “just go ahead and glue ’em up!”  (Al Baldauski)

    About a week ago Harry, as well as others, responded to my dilemma over twisted strips.  You said, “Go ahead and glu’em up.  Worry about the twists and bends later”.

    Well, someone else suggested ironing the strips in my planing form which I did.  The strips came out almost dead straight after ironing so I was more comfortable in  going ahead  to glue-up.  Lo and Behold, after glue up my twists were back!  I have read Garrison and Cattanach (sorry, not Boyd yet) but can’t find any descriptions on removing twists.  Bends yes, twists no.  In principle, heating and counter-twisting should work like heating and counter-bending.  I’m  just apprehensive over the thought of delaminating the fine (0.065) tips.  The rods I’m working on are Numbers 2, 3 and 4.  You might ask, “What did you do on your first rod?”  I didn’t straighten it!  I had a slight sweep in my tip section that I didn’t notice with the rather heavy binding string still on.  Not noticing it, I went right to heat setting my epoxy and then found the sweep when I  cleaned  up the  sections.  No  attempts to  straighten a heat-cured test section were successful so I live with the sweep.  As they say, “The fish won’t notice”

    Well two of these rods are destined to be Christmas gifts so I want them to “Be the best they can be”.

    Could you please advise me on your techniques for twist straightening or point me toward some published info?  Any help will be much appreciated.  (Al Baldauski)

      I've written about this in some detail in my globalflyfisher articles so rather than typing it all out again here's an excerpt from my article:

      Despite our best efforts to prevent twists and bends chances are good we will still have some small problems. Now is the time to eliminate those trouble spots. First we will remedy any twists. Begin with one of your tip sections on your flat surface. Gently press a fingertip down on each end. Remove one fingertip and observe the rod section as you do. If the rod section rotates even slightly, there is a twist. Moving our hands closer together and farther apart, up and down the section, will isolate the twist. We may well find more than one twist per section, and sometimes even in opposite directions. Work only on one twist at a time. I suspect you will find that the problems are near nodes. Mark the direction to “un-twist” in pencil on a rod flat.

      To eliminate the twist we will slowly heat the rod section to the point where it is pliable, and twist in the opposite direction, holding the bend we induced until the rod section has cooled. Do not wear gloves for this operation. Fingertips are our best guide to when the section is warm enough to be pliable. If the section ever gets too hot to hold with bare hands there is real danger of damaging the rod.

      I heat the section over a heat gun on its lowest setting. The small end of tips take only five to ten seconds to get warm enough to bend when held about an inch above the nozzle of my Wagner heat gun. Again, our fingertips are our guide. Warm only a section of the bamboo the same width as the heat gun nozzle, constantly moving it away and feeling the section like a mother checks her child’s forehead for fever. Warm the section till it is almost as hot as can be stood without being uncomfortable.  When it is warm to the touch, but not so warm it burns your fingers, immediately twist and hold the section into an inverse twist, keeping the section as straight as possible. Hold things in that position for a minute or so, then check the progress on a flat surface. Taking things slowly here works much more effectively than trying to go too fast.

      Here I might add that lately I've been actually laying the heated rod section on a flat surface before imparting the reverse twist.  Doing so helps prevent introducing bends in the portion I've just heated.  Hold one end flat against the bench or other flat surface, then roll a reverse twist in and hold for 30-45 seconds.

      Larger rod sections must be heated more slowly. Again, use the heat gun on its lowest setting but hold the section several inches above the heat source. Again, we use our fingers as our guide. Warm the section till it is almost as hot as can be stood without being uncomfortable. Twist and hold and inverse twist into the section. Remove all the twists before beginning work on any bends or kinks.

      Bends and kinks are removed in a similar manner to twists. Start at the tip and locate the bends by slowly rolling the section on a flat surface while watching to see if the tip rises above the surface. Isolate the bend by pressing down on one flat at a time while moving your fingers up and down the rod section. Heat slowly, bend in the opposite direction, and hold that bend till the rod section is cool. Heat even more slowly as you progress to larger sections of the rod.

      How straight is straight? Only you can answer that question. If I can find any bend or twist at all I keep working. Physics majors will tell us there is really no such thing as a straight line, but I want my rod sections as straight as I can possibly get them.

      The process of removing twists and bends is not as tricky or as difficult as I make it sound. Be careful, work slowly, and take frequent breaks and you will produce sections which make you proud.  (Harry Boyd)


I made a three piece Garrison binder and I really love it. I have read the articles on tuning it up and have run several (twelve) butts or tips through it and put them in my heat gun oven. I have kept tweaking it until everything works fine but my problem is that I am not really happy with the belts I have tried so far; they are all homemade.

I plan to use Titebond II for glue and know it has a short working time, so I want to use continuous & reusable belts and was wondering if anyone had any good suggestions as to a good source and good material to use.

It seems like the belts are the weak link in this (at least my) machine and I should be able to upgrade it to a much more dependable rig.  (Dick Steinbach)

    JD Wagner has 1200 yd spools of 20 LB Dacron for $60. Not quite as good as 500 for $15 but hardly exorbitant. Like Larry I use the continuous belt for wrapping to heat treat and then the Dacron when I'm gluing. Very much easier to clean a blank that hasn't been driven by an already slimy or sticky (depending on glue) belt.  (Henry Mitchell)

    I have used several different types of material for the belts. I had a belt made of some material one time and it had to be replaced. Not having anything handy but some Mason line, I used that. It worked the best for me. I have my binder tweaked well enough that I don't even splice the belt anymore, I just tie a square knot and it goes right through without a hitch.

    That works for me on the Garrison. I even run the MD fixtures with six strips through the binder.

    If you have not tried Mason (chalk) line, give it a shot, it might work for you too.  (Tony Spezio)

    I used many varieties of belts in the past few years, but the one that I stuck with is made with a braided nylon line used for a running line (Cortland). It's a tube type and can be splice real easy by using the method we use to make a loop attachment on fly lines. It can be washed and reused many times. It is a bit slippery though, so I add a rubber band in the groove of the pulley to make it stick.  (Michel Lajoie)

    I use 30# Dacron backing for my belts. I work in a fly shop and just save some when we change backing on a customers reel. The splice is made by pulling the ends inside each other. This is a little hard to explain. There is a picture in one of the "Best of the Planing Form."  I don't remember if it is volume 1 or volume 2. Planer board cord also works very well as does braided 50# nylon.  (Jerry Drake)

    I've switched to a continuous belt system ALA Digger DeGere’s set up and love it.  I use Kevlar thread from The Thread Exchange, size 138 soft in natural color. I think a 3 oz spool cost about $15 and is hundreds of yards. I run the Kevlar thread through several sewing machine tensioners to provide tension. No more splices or knots. No more cleaning the belt after using.  (Winston Binney)

      Can you tell me where to find a description and/or diagram of Digger Degere's system that you mention?

      Also, thanks for the link to find the Kevlar.  (Jim Rowley)

        I do have to chime in here, although I don't have drawings. I have my Garrison binder running with a continuous belt for  heat treating, and a disposable belt for binding, ALA the DeGere (or more recently, the Wagner) system. I spent $15 for 500 yards of 20# Dacron. No splices to fail, no slipping, no rubber band on the pulley, no knot, no belt to clean or store. The pulley will store a sufficient amount to bind the entire rod, so I don't have to restring between sections. I spool it off the pulley directly into the trash can, which I find to be the ideal place for a glue soaked piece of string. Life is good. Kevlar would work, but I detest the stuff, and having an extra 500 yard spool of backing lying about has come in handy a couple of times.  (Larry Blan)

          Why two different belts for wrapping for heat treating and gluing??  (Roland Cote)

            The continuous loop is so that you don't waste the Dacron binding to heat treat. The non-continuous  (you wind it onto the drive spool and pull more from the fresh spool) when you're binding with glue so that the blank doesn't end up covered in glue from the drive belt. Sorry, I just saw that you'd asked Larry. Oh well, that's my reason anyway.  (Henry Mitchell)

              I just use the loooooooong belt.  I don't use a continuous belt at all.  It's not wasted when you bind for heat treating; you just wind it back onto the feed spool as needed, and when you're done, then replace it after you glue up.  (Robert Kope)

    On my binder I use mason line with a supply spool. Just bind & rewind, glue up and throw the line away. No mess, no fuss.  (Don Schneider)

    For what it's worth, I'm using size 8 glazed cotton 7 ply thread on a non-continuous "Bellinger style" binder.  It works fine with Titebond II and III.  If you're ever in Judsonia, Arkansas, the guy at the flea market gets about $3 for a 1 pound spool.  (David Bolin)


I was wondering if someone could explain to me the two bobbin method of hand binding.  I can't afford a binder and don't have the skills to make one (I think). On this site there is an article explaining the basics by Bill Fink that I somewhat understand. Is this method worth trying?

If not I'll just use the thread in a vise method and bind by hand.  The only thing is will this method be tight enough?  (Dennis VanHoose)

    Binding by hand is entirely feasible and gives perfectly good results.  It's just a little tiring on the hands!  (Gary Marshall)

      I will second that...........

      I have a Garrison binder but rarely use it.I only make two to three rods a year and I find hand binding the best method for me. I have made one piece 6' rods and still bound them by hand. No real problem.  (Paul Blakley)

      I explained this method to Mark Lang  without pictures and he was able to use it successfully so here goes:

      Credit for this goes to Morten Lovstad who demonstrated it at an early SRG.  Think of a rod wrapper - you know with the 'V' and a sewing machine tensioner for the thread.   First you need to saw a three foot section of 1" or 1-1/2" PVC pipe.  Now saw that three foot section (it could be longer or shorter) in half lengthwise.  Line up those two half sections on a board and inline lengthwise.  Use some wood supports to mount the PVC half-pipes about 6" to 10" off the board and leave about an inch or  more between the two half sections.  On the board below the gap the sections, mount a thread tensioner.  Now you can tie a few half hitches on the butt, set the tension of the thread, and rotate as you push the rod to the left or right, depending on where you start.  When you get to the tip, keep rotating the same way, but push back the other way as you go.  Tie off with half hitches at the butt again.  If you're gluing, clean the troughs up with vinegar or water depending on glue.  Easy, easy.  (Rick Crenshaw)

        That sounds like an eminently sensible refinement.  I have two rods ready for gluing so I will try it this way and report back.  (Gary Marshall)

          I hope you do a dry run first!  The binder is a major hang up for many new builders, don't know why.  Once you see how easy it is to make one.  But the reality is, for most of us, this hand binder is all you really need for a couple of rods per year.  (Rick Crenshaw)

            This sounds a little like a simpler version of "Marty's binder " which is shown on Todd's tip site. I have used the Marty's binder for the last half a dozen rods and it is very very easy to use and make. It has no moving parts.  (Ian Kearney)

              No, that's not it, though it seems a simple and easy binder as well.  What I am describing can be found a few binders down from Marty's binder.  See the one made by David Ray.  What I am describing is that except that David has two cut outs to turn the rod blank and one supporting piece to hold the rod at the point of the binding.  I'm guessing there's a notch there or a hole to feed the string in that middle half pipe section.  A good improvement over what I had described.  You can tell David has used his quite a bit and has less money invested than in some of those very beautiful binders.  (Rick Crenshaw)

                Got around to building the half tube "binder" and glued up a rod at the W/E. I must say it worked very well.  It cured the most prevalent problem with binding by hand which for me is having some support particularly for the tip.

                I was concerned that the blank would tend to attach itself to the tubes due to the surface glue and therefore tend to twist but in reality this was not a problem.  The only real  downside I could see was that it forced you to do all the binding with your hands in one location and made it essential to use just the fingers with two results, cramped fingers and difficulty with applying adequate tension at the thickest end of the butt.  The latter would not normally be a problem but the rod was an 8.5’ 6 weight so the butt was fairly stocky.  As far as the finger problem goes there was an up side, when I got tired I could just have a short rest as the blank rested happily in the tubes and tension was maintained sufficient to stop it unraveling.

                I used an old fixed spool reel as a tension device and that worked very well allowing me to progressively reduce the tension as I got towards the tip.  The blanks came off pretty straight and having rolled them and then bound them into a former they dried very straight, probably my best yet.

                So having said all that I'm now coming around to the idea of making my own binder particularly as I will be making more rods.  If I was staying at just a few rods a year I would definitely be happy with your solution.  (Gary Marshall)

    You can make the binding too tight doing by hand also. There are guys binding by hand regularly. My advice would be not to try to bind 2 rods in one night. Ouch! Hard on the wrists, hands and forearms. As far as not having the skills to make a binder, your making a bamboo fly rod, man, the binders is the easy part. The binder I have used for several years is made from wood, wire hangers and garage door pulleys I got at Lowes. You can do it!

    My mantra is "...I make bamboo fly rods therefore I can do anything!"  (Timothy Troester)

    I recently finished a copy of  Tom Smithwick's simple string binder, and it has performed flawlessly so far. Pretty easy to build and needs little adjustment outside of initial setup to get good results.  Some photos are here.  Follow the "Binders" link, and scroll down to "Tom Smithwick's New Binder", and "Art Port's Smithwick Binder" to see a couple different renditions.  The most expensive part of it is the two pulleys, and these can be had at more reasonable prices if one scouts around.  I can also send you a couple pictures of mine, if you'd like, though it's still a bit of a "work in progress" (though 100% functional as is -- glued up and bound some sections just last night, matter of fact...  :-) .  Mine is more of a benchtop rendition, and designed to break down somewhat for storage.  (Todd Enders)

      I've been eyeing this one too for a while. How do you know how far out to set the weights and how do they control the tension on the drive belts? Also how is binding string tension controlled? (Larry Puckett)

        Where to set/hang the weights on the tension arms (and how much weight) rather depends on the actual construction of same.  The pivot point on mine is fairly close to the pulley, and the arms are 18" long poplar 1 x 2’s.  With that, the weight of the arms alone seems sufficient for the tips, and I tape a 2 oz. washer out on the end of the arm for mids/butts.  Back-of-the-envelope leverage calculation shows about 2 LB. of force at the pulley rim.    It's all friction braking (i.e. the resistance on the belt is in proportion to the force applied to the rim of the pulley holding the belt), and actually quite smooth in operation.

        The binding thread tension can be controlled by a sewing machine thread tensioner (numbered one is especially nice), or, as I did, with a washer and spring drag mechanism operating directly on the thread spool.  Doesn't seem all that critical, as long as it is below the drive belt tension.  Above that, the drag of pulling the thread against the force of the drive belt will result in some level of twisting.  The real clamping force is in the drive belt, and the thread just serves to hold that.  As long as the thread spool isn't free-spooling, and pulls with an even tension, you're golden.

        I'll have to measure the actual tension and let you know.  I just made a few test runs until it "looked right", with no sign  of twisting. The sections I glued and bound last night needed little more than a brief roll on the bench to be reasonably straight -- at least sufficiently so that they could be bound to a former or hung under tension to get the last little imperfections out.  Really didn't need much fiddling out of the binder.  (Todd Enders)

      Thanks, I can see how that can work well and it is certainly straightforward.  I wonder if I have the minimal amount of patience required to make one up before gluing the next set of sticks?  (Gary Marshall)

        Todd said he made his a benchtop model so it could be broken down for storage. Mine looks huge in the pictures, and it IS pretty big when in use, but the arms are held in place with screws and you could use dowel screws and wing nuts for that purpose. That enables me to remove the arms for storage and portability. That makes the body of it about 1' X 2' and the 3 ' or so in/outfeeds can lie anywhere.

        The biggest advantages I built into my mod are the ability to have both pulleys turn in the same direction (THAT used to drive me NUTS! I was always backing the #@^&# thing up whenever I switched pulleys!), and the longer support arms to prevent the sections from spinning and forming funnel shapes at their far ends as they exit the wrapping.

        Todd's explanation of the weights on the drags is right on. I just made a loop of string around the belt clip of a retractable carpenter's tape and hung it on the friction bar and moved it around till I liked that amount of friction. I then made a pencil mark where I preferred it. If you label the line, you can move it around for larger and lighter rods, tips and butts.

        Yep, it really IS brain surgery!  (Art Port)


My memory tells me someone said polyester thread (unlike nylon) can take heat treating and not mark the rod or melt. If so I'll get that instead of weaker Glace cotton. Thoughts being I can use thinner stuff which would  make straightening easier to eyeball. Need a new cone and thought I'd check before I buy.  (Dave Norling)

    I have been using upholstery polyester thread for the past 5 years and really love it, It's small, very very strong and will not melt or mark the cane.  (Michel Lajoie)

    I've been binding with nylon for heat treating for several years, with no problems.  The melting point of nylon is over 400 degrees.  I heat treat in a heat gun oven at 300-325.  (Robert Kope)


Any recommendations for binding thread? I looked for 16/4 cotton Glace thread locally and drew a blank. Any thoughts on using something prewaxed?  (Wayne Kifer)

    Not sure of the size of the thread, but I use kite string from Ace Hardware. Might be thicker than the typical binding thread, but it works, inexpensive, cotton, takes heat treating, easy to tie knots in. and about a $1 a spool.

    I wind it off on a Cortland CLX reel and use the drag for tension, adjustable by the click.   (Pete Van Schaack)

    I use heavy cotton quilting thread, 40 or 50 wt., I think.  People in my town didn't know what "Glace" thread is, either.  The thread I use is a twisted strand, but I don't know how many, to be honest.  Works fine, though.  (Jason Swan)

    Before you use anything with wax, think about what happens to the wax when it gets hot.  (Jerry Foster)

    Look in the yellow pages for a business that does upholstery.

    Call them up, tell them what you're looking for, and see if they'll sell you a spool of glazed cotton (also called Glace cotton).

    That's how I got mine a long time ago; a one pound spool of 16/4 will last you a lifetime  (I think it cost me about $14 in 1997).  (Chris Obuchowski)

    I am pretty sure Golden Witch has the cotton thread.   (Timothy Troester)

      Wagner sells it too.  (Larry Blan)


    Coats and Clark cotton Glace hand quilting thread

    100% Glace finish cotton

    375 yard spools for about $2.50, enough for a few rods at a time without buying the lifetime supply

    T38 is the item number on the spool

    Scott Grady turned me on to this stuff (thanks Scott!)  (Scott Bahn)

    Glace cotton thread is available from:  Atlanta Thread & Supply Company.  Toll Free:  1-800-847-1001   Stock Number 1245, White, Natural or black.  (Chris Raine)

    Go to the Thread Exchange. They have all kinds of threads at better prices and on-line ordering.  (Winston Binney)

    Go to Walmart or Kmart and get a few spools of Coats & Clark Button, Carpet and Craft thread, it's cotton covered polyester, but don't let that scare you, it holds up fine to heat treating. It's all I've used for 10 years and 64 rods.  (John Channer)


Just an observation for anyone who might be interested.  I swiped one of my daughters latex wrist band things  that had been sitting on the floor for a couple of days and put it on the drive pulley of my binder.  Makes a great gripper so that the drive belt doesn't slip.

These things are like the Lance Armstrong "Live Strong" bands, only now they are everywhere in all sorts of colors.  I think you can even buy them for a quarter in bubble-gum machines at the grocery store.  The things are pretty soft and seem to work better than the broccoli band I had been using.  (Jason Swan)


My #1 rod has been pushed to the side due to many different problems that have occurred.  For one the darn thing developed more curves and twists than a country road.  I think this problem may have been the result of binding too tightly after gluing.   After fighting with it I’ve given up and have decided to try making 6 ft one-piece rod.

Since I only have 6 ft pieces of bamboo I know I’ll have to build a scarfing block, so I can splice the extra length into the butt end.  Question #1 what is the best angle for a scarfing block.  A few comments on procedures would help also.  Question #2 how long should I make each section, 7‘?  (John Freedy)

    I want you to go back and spend more time straightening while the glue is setting in the binding.  Sight down the shaft with the butt resting on your right or left shoulder, and with one hand just working out every bend.  Usually only the tip needs work for me after it's dry.  Also slap the blank on the table once or twice before you start.  (Geremy Hebert)

    There are so many reasons that you had trouble that just going to another technique is not likely to solve them.  I don't know what you are doing to bind the glued sections, but that is a very possible place to begin looking.  However, do you think that a one piece rod is more likely to stay straight under the same conditions.  Not likely.  In any event, so if this attempt is an utter failure what have you really lost?  I would say very little.  You have gained a lot of experience in the first steps of rod making,  and an actual cost of only a few dollars worth of bamboo.  You have reached that enviable stage in this activity where you can begin to grow by analyzing your failures.  (Remember Edison and the light bulb).  I think you are way ahead of the game.  Scrap what you have done.  Determine the causes of the problem and try it again.  Your one piece effort, in my opinion, is not a good way to attack your problem.  I think you will find that it creates a few of its own.  Planing 6'+ strips is not in and of itself easy.  Gluing can drive you to distraction.  One piece rods are the pits for transpiration;  they are fun to fish with however. and worth your efforts down the line a bit.  I will bet that if you do some home work and then approach a few of the great masters we have on our list, you will be farther ahead.  Good Luck my friend!  (Ralph Moon)

    My #1 rod has been pushed to the side due to many different problems that have occurred.  The recommendation for splicing is somewhere around 4°, or 1" in 12" to 15".  (1" in 15" is really almost exactly 4°.)  (Neil Savage)


There was a post a while back that insinuated that the reason Garrison used a random node stagger was tied to having to use too much weight on his binder.  It was further stated that the Crompton style of binder was/is a better mousetrap.  What I am suggesting at this point is that node stagger does not have anything to do with the effects of a binder, be it Garrisons, Cromptons or anyone else's.  The reason for my stating this is several-fold.  Most books and other forms of instructions have no real explanation of how to run sections through the binder to achieve well-glued, perfectly straight rod sections.  Krieder thought 12 pounds of pressure was needed on butts, with slightly lesser amounts for mids and tips.  Doesn't mention how to get rod sections through the binder straight, but that straight glued up sections require less straightening.  Same with Dawn Holbrooks class notes.  Garrison is rather vague on the actual process of gluing up strips and what weight to use on the strips.

Now me personally?  I think pounds is too much for my way.  I am also inclined to think that TECHNIQUE is what is required for straight blanks out of the wrapper.   Ya just gotta do it a few times.

If you stop during the binding process to take off a piece of tape, you're gonna have a kink there.  If you go like a bat out of hell with the handle thinking you're trying to start a Model T, your gonna have a lot of kinks and twists.  If you don't figure out a way of "steadying" your rod section between the cradle of the drive belt and the outside cradle, you're gonna have a big whoosh there too.  So it's more technique and getting used to running the equipment than the equipment itself.

So, I feel that the amount of weight hung from the binder had more to do with what the builder was thinking about the viscosity of the glue, glue thickness and or starved joints than what node stagger was used.  (Chris Raine)

    The way it was put to me, the more clamping pressure on wood glues, the better the bond. Epoxy is different. A thin film is needed for a stronger bond, so less pressure is needed. I use a little less than 3/4 lb. I can get straight strips with very little twist out of the binder. But, for some reason, when the sections come out of the oven after heat setting the adhesive, I almost always have some slight twist/bends! No matter what node stagger I use!


    I got my binder idea out of Herter's book and Garrison's. The drive pulley sets directly below the cradle and the weight hangs on the drive belt.  (David Dziadosz)

    I use 3/4 of a pound in my modified Garrison binder. I really don't have any problems with using 3X3 or 2X2 node staggering.

    Anyone interested in the modifications I did on the Garrison binder check out an early issue of Power Fibers. Not sure what issue it is.  (Tony Spezio)

    The point I didn't make about the Garrison binder vs. any other binder is simply that using what you have, modifiying it if you see something that makes it work better for you, is maybe better than running off and buying a new piece of equipment.  How many times to you hear, "The part I hate most about rodbuilding is (fill blank in yourself)."  When in fact, as time progresses and your techniques improve, that "horrible" part of the job becomes a "no big deal".  (Chris Raine)

I think that most builders are using binding weights that are based on recommendations they've gotten from other builders. I've seen perfectly good results on tips using weights that vary from 3/4 pound to more then 2 pounds. Personally I like to error on the side of safety and bind my tips with about one and a half pounds of weight. It works for me, and I never fear a glue joint due to a lack of binding pressure. As for getting your blanks to come out of the binder as straight as possible, what's most important is to support the blank for it's entire length, and as close to the drive belt as possible. This support prevents the blank from flexing during binding. Check out the Smithwick Binder for a great example of a well supported blank. Also, as one builder suggested, keeping the tape on the blank to a minimum, especially in the tip end area. Removing the tape during binding could causes flexing of the bound up portion of the blank and lead to crookedness. You might want to try using little rubber bands instead of tape when binding. Another method that helps to reduce flexing is to put the blank through a 1/4" eye bolt just next to the drive belt during binding, and use the bolt to support the blank when running the delicate tip through the binder. I got this tip from Glen Brackett at the Winston Factory. It's the technique he used with his Crompton Binder.

As for node stagger, I don't know how that would relate to binding up a straight blank, glue joints, or viscosity?  (Jim Bureau)

It's interesting that you should bring up Glen. I just happened to be  watching the "waters" video last night and noticed that his binder  was totally screwed. I thought it was applying massive amounts of  torque to the rod as can be seen when the last section passes  through. It was further borne out if you look at the rod he was  sanding on the bench. Big wowies and lots of twist. I don't know if I  would use those recommendations for binding. This is not a reflection  of the finished product.  (Jerry Foster)


I cut off 1.5 inches of the MD fixtures to fit in my oven. Then I found another use for one of the cut off pieces. The cut off piece helps align and organize the 6 strips in sequence when about to apply a piece of masking tape around the blank, before glue-up. Later I noted that one of the volumes of The Best of the Planing Formhas a drawing for a little sheet metal tool to do the same thing.  (Paul Franklyn)

    Glen Brackett uses a similar tool to align the strips in Trout Grass.   (David Bolin)


I am trying to locate someone locally to get binding thread, and went to the local upholstery place. He showed me two items. Standard #69 nylon industrial and standard #92 (Gov sz F). Both soft finish left hand Z twist 1 pound spools. I will look into the cotton for use with heat treating, but is the above nylon the stuff to use for binding?  (Paul McRoberts)

    There a few different cotton threads that will work, many will have different suggestions.

    Here is mine - I get it at the local Ace Hardware and only cost a buck for few hundred yards, a ball of cotton kite string. I wind it onto a Cortland Clx reel, one with the plastic cassettes, has a nice drag, just have to remember to loosen it occasionally. Kite string won't break easily, works for heat treating, best of all it's readily available and cheap. It doesn't break while pulling it off the glued blank either.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    I don't use cotton thread.  I just use nylon.  I like the nylon because it stretches.  When you heat treat, the bamboo shrinks slightly.  If you use cotton thread, it becomes loose enough that the nodes can pop back up.  Nylon keep pressure on the nodes when the bamboo shrinks, so the strips stay straighter.

    People will say you can't use nylon because it will melt.  I don't know about conventional ovens with a heating element in the oven, but with a heat gun oven it's no problem.  Nylon has a melting temperature of 420 degrees F.  Temperatures over 325 will brown the cane in a heat gun oven.  (Robert Kope)

      Do you find any marks are left behind by the nylon after treating?  The node pop thing drives me nuts, and I have been working out ways to try and eliminate it without building nodeless...  Sanding flat may be my next approach, but the nylon thread seems less invasive.  (Carl DiNardo)

        Not really.  There is a slight difference in color where the thread was (I can't remember whether it's lighter or darker), but I heat treat with the enamel on, so that gets scraped off.  The thread does leave slight dents in the cane right on the corners of the strips, but that gets removed in final planing.  (Robert Kope)

          As Tony has mentioned many times, if you use MD-fixtures, you can place the enamel side in and expose the pith side. That would prevent any marking of the enamel side.  (Larry Puckett)

      Best stuff is Kevlar. It won't burn, shrink stretch or get stuck to your blank and you can use it over and over again so it works out being cheap.  (Tony Young)

      Some nylon actually contracts in heat. I got a spray cover for a canoe, and on a day that was in the high 40s or low 50s fitted it to the canoe with riveted snaps. When I went to put it on in 60 degree weather I couldn't stretch it far enough to reach any of the snaps.  So there may be more reason to use bamboo than you thought.  (Henry Mitchell)

    I like the upholstery thread at Wally World.  Cheap and readily accessible.  It's nylon and I've never had any trouble with melting and/or indentations.  (Darrol Groth)

    I went to the local sewing store (Actually, it is a craft store named Hobby Lobby) and bought a large spool of heavy cotton thread.  It works well.  (David Gerich)


I decided to switch from glace cotton thread to a synthetic with some stretch to it. I'll spare you the long story and tell you that the cone of thread I got was a "BONDED" thread. Bonded thread has a coating on it probably silicone and ruined my varnish finish. On returning to the place I got the thread he informed me that "SOFT" thread has no coating on it. Problem solved end of year long puzzle.  (Dave Norling)


I have always bound during gluing from the large end to the smaller (probably due to first book read was Wayne's) but I was reading Garrison again the other night and he went the other way -- small to large.  Reasoning that there is less torque to create a twist.  Any thoughts -- which way to go???  (David Van Burgel)

    Take a look at the first thread on this page.  Seems Harry had the exact same question several years ago!  (Todd Talsma)

    I can't imagine the torque would be any different as the binding cord is wrapped around the blank and rolling it from a very narrow area in which the thread is applied. If you held the blank at the one end and only twisted from there I would see it torquing the splines and twisting.  Adding tension to the thread might add some torque, but I can't imagine it would be enough to make a difference.  If anything, the mere fact the blank is resting in a trough would add torque by it's weight and stickiness from the glue.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    I do it both ways on each rod  section with a Garrison style binder.  I know I have described this before, but did not see it in the binding threads at Todd's tips site.

    Starting at the butt end of a section, lay the rod section on the cradle and throw one loop of the drive belt over the rod section (When you crank the binder this will make the belt run from front to rear). Then tie the binding thread around the blank and throw the second loop of the belt over the blank in front of the binding thread. Run the section all the way through the binder, but stop when the first loop of the belt comes off the back end of the section.  Keeping the remaining loop of the belt on top of the blank and the binding thread, pick up the butt end of the blank section and, pivoting on the tip end still in the cradle, swing it around so the blank is ready to feed through the binder tip end first.  You now have the belt going over the blank from the rear to the front, behind the binding thread.  Throw a second loop over the tip end of the blank and you are ready for the second pass in the opposite direction of the first pass.  When you reach the end of the second pass, tie off the binding thread and cut it.

    This maneuver of flipping the rod section takes only a few seconds, and you don't have to tie off the binding thread between the two wraps.  I do this to bind for heat treating as well as for glue-up.  If it sounds confusing, try it with a dowel instead of a rod section.   I've done  this  with  tips  as  fine  as 0.050" and never had a problems.  (Robert Kope)

      I am going to try this. I am still a little spooky at the idea of starting through the drill with the tip end when you turn it over. I suppose I could support it a bit with my finger tips to get it started if there was a problem. Then, it would be less of a problem after the binding thread was wrapped around it from the first trip through. Thanks for something new to try. Sounds reasonable!  (Timothy Troester)


There's a guy in Europe (Langer & Langer) who uses square pieces of metal and a long hollow square about 3 tube to bind (or at least straighten after coming out of the string.  Each square has a hexagonal hole cut or punched out of the middle with each point of the hexagon slightly bulbous so the point of the blank seats perfectly and doesn't become damaged (kind of like taking the apex off a strip.  The holes range in size from very small (tip top) to large (butt).  You slide the biggest one onto the blank first, up the butt section until it is snug.  Then the next one down in size until you are out to the tip top.   I'd guess there are 20-30 squares used on each blank.  Then this whole blank, with the squares attached to it, is slid into the long hollow square tube so that the squares cannot move/twist.  (Chris Moore)

    You can see the Twistless Gluing Method (TGM) binding write up (in German) at Harald Langer’s web site here, he makes a good case that the other binding and glue drying  methods have inherent flaws - but of course few things are perfect in life and I'm trying to understand flaws with TGM if there are any.

    Advantages I see are: no twisting/turning required of the blank during the binding function that can distort the perfect hex of the assembled splines,  and that the drying blank is held symmetrically about its longitudinal axis not able to twist or move off its axis as the glue dries. You'd think the finished blank should be dead straight without a noticeable spine or casting favoritism from dead center.

    He has cut windows in the square tube I suspect so one can physically push the metal plates along as the glued up rod and metal plate assembly is inserted into the square tube (likely will be some binding with aluminum on aluminum) and also I suspect to snug down the metal plates on the blank taper after its all inserted.

    I think its a way cool way to bind and am exploring making the tools to do this method. I found a super efficient way to make the hex holes in each soft aluminum plate - its with allen keys used as a punch into an appropriately sized hole drilled though the center of the metal plate; and I have many many many sizes of allen keys from sub 39 thou and upwards - all from another life.

    I sent an email to the creator of this TGM method Harald Langer both in German and English for more information, and because I think the method has great potential; but so far no response.

    I'm guessing maybe four metal plates per foot holding the gluing/drying blank together as the glue hardens - anyone think it should be more??

    I'd like to know all your thoughts on this method - advantages and disadvantages?  (Wayne Vierhout)

      Does anyone know of an English translation of the Langers article?  (Dennis Bertram)

        Perhaps somebody has done one, but it would not help much.

        A quick read of the article (yes, I can read it) shows that there is little explanation of Langer's method other than the picture.  It is more a criticism of the "dynamic" methods of binding, these being methods involving moving either the blank or the thread.  He gives as examples, a Garrison-type binder and a 4 string binder.

        Langer describes two "static" (non-moving) methods of binding and holding the blank perfectly straight.  One involves a planing form set to the total taper in such a way that a string-bound blank sits halfway into it.  It is then bound into the form so that it is held perfectly straight in the shape of the taper until the glue sets.  There is a picture in the article.

        The other static method is Langer's "TGM" method which he considers the best method of all.  The picture is the only explanation in the article of how the method works.

        Now, more can be seen by going here and scrolling about 3/4 of the way down the page.  You can click on the photos and see more detail.

        The description there is more complete, so here is a translation:

        Over 200 "leaves" (flat metal squares) with precisely cut, conical hexagonal holes (geometric tolerance of +/- 0.01 mm [0.0004 inches]) are pushed onto the glued-up blank.  They clamp the six strips together, center the blank, and, in addition, provide for perfect geometry.  To avoid damaging the corners of the blank, all corners (of the hexagonal holes) are relieved.

        To keep the blank straight, it and all of its clamping "leaves" are put into a guiding "cage" where they remain until the glue sets.  Nothing is straighter!  (Tim Anderson)

          Tim thanks for pointing out that web page. 200 squares over a 4 foot section  means  a square every 1/4". Wow; that’s a lot of squares. So there is a challenge- making that many hex holes in 200 squares in the right dimensions.  (Wayne Vierhout)

            Not only do you have to have 200, but an additional 200 for tips (or 400 if you glue two at a time).  It must have been quite a job to make them and then relieve the edges.  They would also have to be kept in order when they are applied to the blank.  I suppose there is a trick for that, maybe they are kept on a wire.  I would hate to drop them and mix them up when the glue was wet!  (Bill Lamberson)

              At least you wouldn't need to make them out of tool steel or something gnarly like that, You would obviously want to stamp sequential numbers on them, and you could scribe diagonal lines on the side of a stack of them. That would help a sorting problem if it came to that.  (Mike McGuire)

          Sounds to me to be a lot more trouble than just straightening a blank after it's glued.  (Neil Savage)

          Interestingly enough, in their presentation of the rods they sell today, I can't find mention of the TGM method on the Langer & Langer web site.  Tha last mention appears to be in the article which started this discussion and that is dated May 2007.  (Tim Anderson)

            Maybe in May 2007 somebody shuffled those squares with the hex holes for the last time. (Joe Hudock)

              Clicking the topic "Ausstattung"on their home page, they mention at 02. that they are still gluing all their rods with the TGM method.  (Ralf Ladda)

              I wonder what might have happened had someone told Hiram Leonard that making a rod from bamboo was ridiculous?  Or had they told him he was nuts to try waterproofing ferrules?

              C'mon fellows, let's don't be quite so derogatory towards someone who is simply trying to build a better mousetrap.  Just because he's doing something completely different than most of us, that's no reason for us to make jokes about it.

              A few years ago Bob Nunley and I were set up at a local flyfishing show.  A guy stopped by to tell us how proud he was of the bamboo rod he had just made.  Turns out he made the thing with a drawknife.  Yes, a drawknife.  He glued a strip between a two by four frame, and whittled it out.  Literally.  It wasn't what you and I might do, but it worked.  He'd caught a boatload of fish on the thing, and that's what really counts.  (Harry Boyd)

                Different is what drives this whole bus! We all do things differently and that is something I think is very, very cool about making bamboo rods.  (Jim Reid)

                  200 squares on a section - ouch, I'll say it again OUCH, that is a heck of a lot of squares to make. After making a few of the squares trying to get the hex hole in the exact center I can say  its a pain to get the hex hole aligned properly with the sides of squares especially with smaller holes - around 100 thousandths and smaller. Even when punching through with allen keys I can't see myself making 400 squares.

                  Looking at the squares on Harald's site I'd say he likely had them done via a CNC or some kind of automated cutter.

                  Mucho cool idea and binder but I'd dunno if I can  go further in making it.

                  BTW 200 squares per section works out to be a square every 1/4 inch, that would be similar to the thread spacing that a conventional  string binder would produce, makes sense.  (Wayne Vierhout)

                    I have not had the pleasure of meeting Harald Langer, but his web site says he is a trained toolmaker (he presently works at something else).  I suspect that training is the key to how he could make the squares.  He also makes some very interesting hexagonal ferrules.  There was a write-up about them in Power Fibers some time ago which you can download (go here).   Don't worry, the article is in English.  (Tim Anderson)


I was wondering about other methods of binding a freshly glued up bamboo blank. One is using Expandable Braided Cable Sleeving with the newly blank inside the sleeving and the sleeving very tightly stretched between two eye bolts are which fastened to top and bottom of a rack.

I think I read something about this somewhere on the net, anyone tried it?

Anyone have any other non conventional methods of binding?  (Wayne Vierhout)

    Well, Wayne, I know that the tensioned sleeve idea has its fans as a straightener, but I have never tried it. I must say that by the time I have mixed up the epoxy, slathered it all over the strips, rolled them up and bound them, got the stuff all over my clothes and the smell up my nose for a week and torn my nitrile gloves in the process, I would really spit the dummy if I then had to stuff the whole wet, gluggy shootin' match inside a long mesh sock.  It's not hard to get the thing nearly straight while wet, and no harder to fine tune it with a hot air gun when its dry, so I have never bothered.

    Incidentally, if you can get your hands on some of the purple nitrile gloves that they use for chemotherapy procedures, they are bloody near indestructible.  Not quite, but nearly.

    Oh, and before I get on the wrong side of anyone, in Australia what we mean by a "dummy" is a baby's pacifier, I think you call it.  So when a baby gets really hot under the collar and in a bad temper, he "spits the dummy".  Sorry, but I have done that once before and very nearly had a visit from a political correctness hit man!  (Peter McKean)

    One more thing I will mention.  I was straightening some strips a few days ago, and when straightening a node I thought "What would happen if..... ", and while the node was hot and plastic, I put it down on my steel forms which were on the bench in front of me and tapped the node flat with a light nylon shot hammer.  It worked beautifully - flat node, no fracture, and a lot less trouble than pressing in a vice.  Also very controlled and very quick.

      What a neat idea, Peter...  guess it goes to prove the saying common around here:  "When all else fails, get a bigger hammer."  (Harry Boyd)

      You amaze me,  will have to go down and try it.  (Tony Spezio)

      I am all set to try node hammering next time. Especially if hammering gets rid of that little dip behind the node as well as the nodal bump.

      When I use a vise, even with a filed out relief on the back side of the bump, the nodal bump goes flat all right but just below it there is a little dip that shows up later on when I remove the enamel during final planing.  (Joe Hudock)

    You can make up a binder using a fishing reel, the drag sets the tension and a short bit of PVC pipe to push the rod through, hand turn and feed,  guess it could be called the PMB poor mans binder, not my idea but I did make up the name.  Good workout for the hands as a added benefit.  (Ron Petley)

      Call me old fashioned, but lately I've been just binding by using the big toe method.  The spool of binding cord rests up on the bench with a vertical rod through the spool to keep it in place.  I run the binding cord down to the floor, under my foot, and back up to the rod.  Tension is adjusted using pressure of the big toe/pad of my foot, allowing both hands to work the rod while binding.   An old pair of smart wool socks works better than cotton for heat dissipation while running the binding cord across your foot.  Don't bother wearing shoes or you'll break the binding cord.  I've tried traditional binders and just seemed to end up with unwanted glue lines, kinks in the rod section, etc... Plus, as an added benefit- tension is easy to adjust as you move out toward the tips.  I suggest giving it a try on a dry section before trying it with glue to get a feel for the tension.

      Straightening also seems to go better for me with this method.  Too each there own- find a method you like and run with it.  (Dave Huntress)

        I think George Barnes would have liked this!  (Scott Grady)

        Binding for me needs to happen quickly even though I'm now using a Urea-formaldehyde. As for the reason why I switched from TB3 which is a superior glue in my opinion is because it's open time is too short. I now use the Milward style binder but with only two strings instead of four. I think those who are still up in the air on binding should have a close look at that one. It's homemade and is not hard to make. Cost me $10 at most because I used a bunch of old stuff I found lying around. It's a clean process too as any glue dripping out is confined to the pipes which the rod runs through.  (Don Ginter)

    Interesting question.  Made me remember George Parker Holden's Idyl of the Split Bamboo (circa 1920) and the method he described there.  Basically (and I'm not at home, so I'm just going by memory), he would glue up on a long wide table as seems normal and common, secure the splines with a noose loop at the large butt end, and then roll the blank flat across the table, feeding the binding thread at an angle (apparently) as he went.  Finished with one winding, the blank is then flipped end for end, and procedure repeated for a nice diamond pattern.  Holden advised rather stern pressure throughout, pressing down hard with both palms, and just rolling straight out across the table -- or maybe he rolled at an angle and the cord was fed straight?  After binding is complete, then you had only to keep palm-rolling until the joint seemed straight enough (I do this) and then (more strangeness) just leave it lying on the table until the next day.  (Of course, we'd hang it to avoid making the bench a permanent part of the rod.)  I remember thinking this would take a pretty massive working surface/tabletop overall, but then one could just reverse things and go from one side to the other or just keep pausing to pull the work back toward yourself and adjust that way, easy enough.  Also, he was not clear on how the binding string was being fed or from where, leaving me to assume it was a spool spindled on the table or just free rolling around drunkenly across the floor or held in a box or something.  I don't know.  But then Holden's book is often murky in spots or just plain hard to figure sometimes, at least for me.  Still one of my favorites, though, and I keep heading back to it.  Has anyone tried this method or something similar?  (Bob Brockett)


A couple people mentioned using nylon string for binding during heat treating, because its stretchy &  holds the strips tight to the M-D fixtures even after they shrink a little.  I'm going to heat treat some strips tomorrow & thought I'd try it. Any particular kind of nylon string?  Maybe kite string? I've got miles of fly line backing but I think that is dacron & doesn't stretch.   (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

    I had started using it by accident I guess. I ran out of the Cotton thread and needed to heat treat some strips. I had bought a 1000' spool of nylon thread at a yard sale. Tried it and never went back to cotton. That was 10 years ago. I would advise you to put the strips in the MD Fixtures with the pith side out. The thread will shrink enough to  leave spiral marks in the strip edges. This is more noticeable when drying soaked strips.  (Tony Spezio)

    I don't know what the melting point of dacron is, but you're right, it doesn't stretch.

    Russ Gooding at Golden Witch used to sell nylon thread and he still shows it on his website, though he doesn't list it as for sale (it's the khaki colored spool next to the glace cotton).  I thought that Harry Boyd was going to sell it with his M-D fixtures, but I don't see it mentioned on his site either.  I have most of a 1-lb spool I got from Golden Witch about 10 years ago, and a spool of bonded nylon thread I got  from Boeing Surplus before they closed.

    You can find it in 1-lb spools if you look around online, but to just give it a try, see if you can find nylon upholstery thread at a sewing store.  (Robert Kope)

      Never thought about selling it Robert.  If there's enough demand, I might.

      One word of warning which Tony has already implied.  Be sure your strips are somewhat oversized if heating and binding with nylon thread.  It will "cut into" the corners of your strips leaving small indentations if the bundles are tightly bound, with or without the MD fixtures.  That's no big problem if you still have a little material to remove, but can be a problem when binding during gluing.  (Harry Boyd)

    Nylon melts - ugly mess outta the oven.  Did it once - never again. Cotton only for me.  (Don Anderson)

      The only time I used a non cotton thread, I found it left tan lines on the finish, and yes it does compress. Also since I use an epoxy type glue, I find that there is some reaction to the thread, and will actually cause a stretching, particularly with Dacron. I'm a cotton only guy.  (Keith Paskin)

    I did a test today with nylon, polyester & cotton thread.  The nylon did not melt, did not leave marks on the cane, and did tighten, holding the presoaked strips tight to the MD fixture as they dried.  The cotton & polyester thread did not tighten.  This was using D size nylon rod thread, and 30 minutes in a 325F  heat-gun oven. So its nylon thread for heat treating for me.  YMMV.  (Frank Stetzer,  Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

      Could you crank it up to 350-375°f for about 15-20 minutes for me??  (David Dziadosz)

        Just for grins, I Googled "melting point of nylon rope."  It melts at approximately 480 degrees F. but looses strength at a significantly lower temperature.  At 375.  I don't know, but it could be a problem.  (Neil Savage)

    Reading the posts about Nylon Melting got me thinking. I spoke too soon, I should of went down and looked at the spool before replying. It is not Nylon, it is Polyester Thread. I kept thinking something was not right after I replied. Well, I can't always be right.  (Tony Spezio)

      Actually,  your observation  of the shortening of nylon ( as well as polyester) as you heat it is spot on, if counterintuitive.

      When I was a teaching assistant in grad school, I would do a demonstration in which I fastened the same weight to a metal wire and a rubber hose.  Measure the position and heat the wire and the hose.  The wire would lengthen and the stretched rubber would shorten.  Seems counterintuitive and why I did the demo.

      This is totally explicable as the wire is a very well ordered crystalline state and the hose was more ordered in the stretched state.  Heating would increase the entropy ( disorder) in each of the substances.  The wire would stretch and the stretched hose would go to a more disordered state in which  the individual molecular strands would go from a stretched state to a more disordered wiggly state, but shorter overall.

      When I first read your comments, I thought, no that's not right., forgetting my own lessons.  For the first time in my life I was wrong.

      So it is not incorrect t say the nylon or other polymer thread shortens if you heat it.  It is an easy experiment. Try it.  (Dave Burley)

        The only time I was wrong was  one time when I thought I was wrong. LOL

        I just felt like a fool posting before I checked the thread, I was thinking Nylon. The Polyester thread works fine. leaves no heat marks and tightens which is a plus when heat setting the glue.  (Tony Spezio)


In the Garrison binder, the weight sling rope is clearly the mechanism the turns and drives the rod along. But ....

For the 4 string binder and some Smithwicks, I do not see this or another mechanism that drives the rod during the wrap .... am I missing it, or is the rod advancement driven by the operator?

I built on rod under a course. It is time for me to do this for myself, so I am asking questions, as I ramp up for fun.  (Dave Wilson)

    I just finished my 4-string and I like it a lot better than the Garrison or Smithwick-II. You pull the blank through the binder while the wheels are turning. It doesn't take much pull as the turns should be pretty close together. If the tension is exactly even on all 4 strings, the blank will not move side to side or spin from the force of the strings. I have not been able to get the tension perfectly stable yet, but my blanks only turn here and there. I tie a piece of string to the waste at the end of the blank and pull it through using the string. The string acts as a swivel.  (Larry Lohkamp)

    When I cut the thread from the section I pulled through, this leaves a "pigtail" That is the start for the next section. Pulling straight out on this Pig tail makes the section come out straight. About 18" from the out end of the binder I have a support that is the same height as the outlet end; I use this to rest the section in to keep it level with  the outlet when I am pulling on the string. After the end comes out, I leave enough thread to form another starting pig tail. The wrap spacing is determined by how fast you pull the section through.  (Tony Spezio)

      I've only done one rod through mine so far. It was a 50% hollow with no dams except at the ferrule. The section wanted to collapse when just shoving the rod into the spinning binder, so with time running out, I started the motor with the section halfway through the binder where there was a inconvenient tape. I left the tapes on and bound the section center to butt, then butt to ferrule, finally, ferrule back to center. Lots of thread is never a bad thing in my feeble experience. The tip presented a similar problem with the socket of the bamboo ferrule. I bound the tip center to ferrule, then ferrule to tip. I was so happy that the tip didn't turn into a pretzel shape like in my other binders, that I didn't want to chance a return pass back to the center. With more fore thought concerning dams and mandrels, maybe I can do it the way Tony does...

      I asked earlier about sewing machine motor power. The thieves selling those motors have gotten too greedy. I ended up using an Oriental 1/50 horse motor with a 9:1 reducer. The pulley ratio is 1.5:1 so the wheel speed ends up about 110 rpm. The motor has plenty of gumption, although I had to add a rubber band to the drive pulley to stop my sisal rope belt from slipping.  (Larry Lohkamp)


Recently I saw a post on one of the rodmaking sites that used a electrical conduit web material (similar to Chinese handcuffs) to hold the bamboo and employed either weight or a pulling device.  Any one familiar with this material and where I can get some?  (Jim Macy)

    If it looked like braided nylon, go to McMaster-Carr and search for braided sleeving. If it looked like an open wire mesh, search for cord grip.  (Larry Blan)

      Woven plastic rope; what I would call "water ski rope" in my part of the world.  I think I remember seeing this recommended in "The Best of the Planing Form Vol 1", and someone was using screw fittings to tension it.

      Seemed like a helluva lot of trouble to me, and it seemed that you would either waste a LOT of rope or go mad trying to get the glue off the stuff!

      Or maybe it was in the Ray Gould book.............?  (Peter McKean)

      It is supposed to be a binding method that makes straighter blanks. I considered it, but never spent the money to get the braid. I suppose hollow braid rope could be used, but the stuff sold for cabling is more cost effective. Try this place as a source.   (Larry Lohkamp)

        Before you get too involved, think of the problem of shoving a tip covered by glue into a tube with hundreds of little catchers of flimsy things.  Secondly do you really think that the compression of a hollow rope will be enough to make  a good glue joint?  I don't!

        I still don't understand what the rush is in trying something chancy when the old method worked so well.  Guess I am just a conservative realist.  (Ralph Moon)

          I sort of assumed that you still bound the glued blank as usual, then somehow fed it into the braid (as you say, not without its difficulty) and then tension the thing.

          It is a long time since I read about it, but my recollection is that it was purely a straightening device, and not a replacement for binding, and as such it would be an extra step in the process and, I would have thought, a very potentially messy  and fiddly one at that.  (Peter McKean)

    I may be wrong but I think it was electrical heat shrink tubing. Available at any big box store. I know Lee Koch uses it and could give more information.  (Larry Tucker)

      Try here... This is the stuff that's like the finger trap. Works well, and you can build a frame that will allow you to stretch it farther using eye bolts. Bill Carter had a thread on Clark's about it a few years back.  (Mike St. Clair)


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