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Recheck form settings twice before starting final planing.  (Winston Binney)


I have heard of late that some or all of Mr. Payne's rods were either measured at one inch intervals or the forms were actually set at one inch stations. I know I have difficulty setting my forms to 5 inch stations, I would imagine that to set one inch stations would be very difficult. I could understand that the rods might be measured or even set this way, if you had a form devoted to each rod taper, but can you or do you really set to one in increments ?

If anyone who has information on this would share it with me I would be very grateful.  (Bob Norwood)

    My initial observation is that it would involve an awful lot of Garrisonesque push pull screws.  (Robin Haywood)

      I think Payne rods were at 3" intervals, but not on a planing form. The taper measurements were cut on metal taper bars and they were used on a milling machine! Most all production rod shops had mills to do the roughing and tapering as it was the only way to mass produce rods. Don't know of any that used planing forms.  (Will Price)

        Actually, Payne used 1" stations on his taper bar.  (Mark Wendt)

      Payne, as did Leonard, used a machine to cut his tapers.  The tapers were cut into a taper bar, and as the strip was pulled through the machine, the taper bar moved at the same pace, causing the cutting head to move in the correct direction and amount to cut the taper into the strip.  No planing forms.  (Mark Wendt)

        As a follow up, I forgot to mention, both Payne and Leonard tapers were on 1" stations.  (Mark Wendt)

          I have heard, I think from Hal Bacon, that in Jim Payne's last years,  the beveller built by his father was badly worn and would not hold  good tolerances. Not wanting to go to the trouble of rebuilding the  machine, he got around the problem by cutting the strips slightly  oversize, and finishing with a planing form. The machine was later  rebuilt by Dave Decker.

          I have not handled enough Paynes to comment, but have worked on a few Leonards.  The tolerances were loose enough that it would not have  mattered if they were setting up on 1" stations or 6" centers. I  measured .007 flat to flat variations one one rod. I am not knocking  either company, but they were practical people making a good product.  That is a fine and admirable thing, but it is not sainthood.  (Tom Smithwick)

            Interesting, Tom.  Thanks for sharing.  Just measured a PHY rod that is as much as .014 off from flat to flat at one station, .011 at two stations, and .010 at several more.  It's nice to know these guys were human!

            On the other hand, I measured a Hans Jurgen Schlecht rod from  Germany  last  weekend, and  at no  point were the flat-to-flat dimensions off more than .002" over varnish!  (Harry Boyd)

    I think every inch would be overkill, but some tapers would benefit with settings closer than every 5 inches. The problem would be all the tapers we have that are listed in 5 inch increments. The best compromise at this point would be to put another set of set screws between the existing 5 inch set screws (2 1/2 inch increments), so that we could still use the present taper lists. The way bamboo bends and tends to average out over a few inches I don't see any benefit of setting forms any closer than around 3 inches apart.  (Darryl Hayashida)

      In fact, my forms have screws every 2.5" on the butt end, thus allowing moderately swelled butts.  (Neil Savage)

      Or you could use a Morgan Hand Mill and use the swelled butt spacers to set the in-between numbers.  (Scott Grady)

        Well now 3" spacing and taper design standards would make WAY too much sense given that most of the rod lengths out there fall on quarter, half, and full feet!  That would be far too easy to deal with.  (Carl DiNardo)

    Jim Payne never saw a set of planing forms or a hand plane in his life, all rods made by all but amateurs (Mr. Garrison included) in those days were made on milling machines, even rods from the one man shops such as Dickerson and Gillum. Payne and Leonard both had bevelers that used saw blades rather than milling machines that used milling cutters, the tapers were created by a pattern that adjusted the height of the saw blades as the strips went thru the machine.  (John Channer)

    For those interested in looking at a milling machine (actually 2 of them, 1 for cutting the initial 60 degree bevel and 1 for tapering) also seeing a taper bar being cut out of hard maple in addition to pictures of the HL Leonard Rod shop built after the fire destroyed the original, the cane storage shed that Leonard used, pictures of the house that Jim Payne used as a rod shop, plus a lot of pictures of Ron Kusses' rod shop can do so here.  Very interesting.  (Will Price)


OK, I'm sure this is a silly question but I don't know the answer (guess that makes me silly huh). I was looking at the tapers in the Cattanach book and saw something which I dont quite get.

Looking at the 6' 3pc 3wt ...


00 0.070


20 0.120
25 0.139


20 0.120 **
25 0.139


45 0.185
50 0.197


45 0.185 **
50 0.197


75 0.235

Anyone know why the it appears that the each section seems to overlap by 5 inches? It seems to be a common thing in the book but makes no sense to me.  (Blake Swadling)

    This is simply the size you cut the blank to, gives you a little extra on each section. Once done planing and gluing the blanks you can then cut to size where you need to to attach ferrules, tip top, cork, and reel seat. Hope this helps.  (Joe Arguello)


I just got a set of swelled butt forms & have not really had a chance to use them yet & when I get back to it I was wondering you guys that have them if there is much difference in using them other than being able to get a good swell on the rod?  They are the Bellingers.  (Bret Reiter)

    I too have the Bellinger swelled-butt forms.  I have planed up two rods now (neither swelled), so I am no expert, but I can't imagine that the forms are any more difficult (or different) to use than normal forms.  I just set my taper and go.  I've never had to make any provision for the fact that the forms are swelled. 

    When I was buying the forms I consulted a full-time maker (that uses the Bellinger forms) about whether to get the swelled or the regular.  His advice was the swelled because you can do both types of rod easily.   His case in point was his rod making classes.  He has a mix of the swelled and regular forms for his students to use, but he doesn't tell them.  The ones using the swelled forms never even know it.  (Tyler Beard)

    I have built a few rods with the Bellinger's swelled butt forms.  There are some considerations present that are different than using regular forms.

    You need to figure out where you want the swell, and adjust accordingly.  I my case, I have to hang an inch of rod over the large end so the swell will be just above the cork.

    The strips cannot slip while planing.  This will cause seams if it does happen.

    The strips need to be dead straight through the swell, or seams.  Again.

    When setting up the forms, you must let the swell measurement run where it wants to run.  In other words, you may not be able to hold the diameter you want without causing a wasp waist in the form.  Seams again.

    When gluing up, the butt will usually be offset when using a two string binder.  Makes straightening a bigger challenge.

    Other than that, it's easy.  Anybody that disagrees with me is a damn liar.  Or a rodmaker.  (Chris Raine)

      Thanks, I had cranked my old forms open for swelled butts with some success but could never quite meet the measurements i really wanted.  I am really eager to try these out.  (Bret Reiter)


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