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Sit down and check, then double-check your math and your procedures, then write EVERYTHING down so you know what you've done and what you are doing. This will avoid mistakes like setting your forms to d instead of d/2, or turning your strips in the oven at 15 minutes rather than 7.5 (strips cooked at 375 for 30 minutes are definitely not "blonde" :-)) .  How come no one ever recommended I keep a little notebook with all the important notes for each rod?  (James Piotrowski)


What are you using for keeping track of the different rods they have made.  What kind of things are you keeping track off?  Any forms you want to share?  (Scott Grady)

    I use Joe Byrd's Bamboo Rodmaker's Database Program.  It keeps track of everything I can think of, and is remarkably easy to use.  (Harry Boyd)

      Joe has a remarkable piece of software in this. It does everything except enter the data for you. I don’t know why more rodmakers don’t utilize it.  (Martin-Darrell)

        It is lacking a field to track the number of times I spilled coffee. Other than that, I can't think of anything it cannot track/record. It is a great piece of work.  (Larry Blan)

    So far, I have been keeping a log book on each rod I've made.  I've been keeping track of the time I spend per session, things that have gone right, things that have gone wrong, lessons learned, and what I should try differently next time.  I label each section by the rod taper and serial number.  (Mark Wendt)


As some of you might know, I used to dabble around in the black art of auto painting.  I still dabble around with my painting gear every now and again, and one of the things that's most time consuming, yet absolutely necessary, is masking off the areas that you don't want covered with paint.  Most auto body supply stores have rolls of masking paper that go on a reel, and when you pull off the paper from the roll, places the masking tape centered on one of the long edges.  Got to thinking not too long ago, the paper rolls have more than one use.  I pull off a length of paper about a foot or so longer than my longest section.  I draw two lines perpendicular to the longest side of the paper, the distance between the two the final length of my finished sections (ferrules and tip tops mounted).  Then, draw lines equal to the number of different rod sections parallel to the long side of the paper, connecting the two perpendicular lines.  You now have your rod sections on the paper.  Measure off the guide spacing on the lines (I also put the guide sizes next to the marks, along with the measured distances, for future reference).  This comes in real handy when you get a rod in for repair, and have to strip a section and remove the guides.  Once the section is repaired, lay the strip on the correct line, and mark the flat for your guides.  No guesswork, no incorrect measurements.  Plus, the paper has the proclivity to roll itself back up, which makes it nice for storage.  Close the paper with a piece of tape, mark on the outside of the tube what rod, length, etc. you want, and you can store a whole stack of rolled up tubes real easy.  A roll of the masking paper will last a good long time, and the good news is, it's cheap.  (Mark Wendt)


I have made 10 rods so far. The one thing I have found to keep everything  correct is by keeping a dairy.  Just jotting down some notes on where I am with a given rod really helps. I sometimes go 2-3 weeks between building.  At this time I am building three different tapers at the same time.  It can get really wacky if you do not keep notes. I write down everything from irregularities in gluing, to finishes.  The one thing that seems to be a constant is that I always make some kind of mistake.  I am trying to learn from them and produce the perfect rod.  Yea right.

The goal is to minimize the mistakes and get a little faster each time.  (Stuart Miller)

    Excellent advice.  Some of the best advice I got from Mark when starting out.  No only keep track of where I'm at, but things I think up.  Best of all, so far, had a rod fail and could go back and look up exactly what glue, varnish, peculiarities, etc. are in that rod.  Thanks again, Mark.  (Darrol Groth)

      It's kinda neat to go back and look at the work you did on early rods too.  I read back every once in a while and kinda giggle at some of the things I did, or tried to do on the early rods.  (Mark Wendt)

        Since I'm early in my "hobby", I believe I will begin such a log to keep and read years from now.  I believe I could have avoided a couple of mistakes already between rod #1 and #2 by writing down "uh-oh's!".   (Scott Turner)

    Just when I think I have made all the mistakes possible, I invent another one. Thankfully, most of them don't involve bleeding.  (Steve Weiss)

    Keeping a log of rod building is indeed useful. I have made it a practice to make an 8 1/2"x 11" layout sketch of every rod I have made showing the exact layout of the rod, the guide spacing, guide size, thread wrap ID, guide size, winding check, reel seat, tip top, heat treatment, etc. and then another sheet showing the taper and line size. I keep these in a series of 3 ring notebooks and keep a rod list of where each rod went. I do a similar thing for the many rods I have repaired or refinished or restored.  (Ray Gould)

      For the last 60+ rods I've been using the excellent database program Joe Byrd put together, the Bamboo Rodmakers Database Program.  It records all that information plus much more.  Not sure if it's still available, but it might be worth asking Joe to make it available again.  I'd be glad to make some server space available. (Harry Boyd)

    An old sage friend of mine once said, "The mark of a good woodworker is not how few mistakes he makes in his project, but how well he recovers from them" certainly a list of the errors made and the recovery process would go a long way in preventing repeat errors. Especially as we all age and the mind wanders. Or, I'm as good once as I once was.  (Saunder Hutchinson)


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