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I make handles, until now for spinning rods, but I think I'll make fly rods too, with artificial cork; Corks made from ground up and glued cork. It is a bit heavier and less supple than natural cork, which is not bad for sliding rings. It looks very nice and never has pits. You can also alternate with slivers of natural cork, nice contrast. I like it for skeleton reel seats because it is harder than natural cork. Its main advantage is its price however... and I can find it when on home leave in a shop for winemaking material. (Geert Poorteman)

    I assume you are using sheet cork, but do you cut rings from the sheet cork and then glue them together, or do you use a longer piece of sheet, wrap the blank and glue the long edge to hold it together? ...or do you "cast your own"?  (Claude Freaner)

      I misinterpreted what he was doing in the first message.  Sounds almost like he's using a burled cork ring.  They're made up of cork particles and some kind of rubber based glue.  (Mark Wendt)

        Anyone know how these grips stand up over time?  I know glues are a lot better than they were 50 years ago, but my first casting rod had a grip of glued up cork particles and it came apart after a few years.  (Neil Savage)

          I built a graphite 4 piece about 5 years ago with "burl" rings from Anglers Workshop.  I carry it in the trunk as a spare rod; otherwise it doesn't get much use. The grip looks like it will last forever.  The color is ugly, in my opinion; looks like fiberboard.  It has a hard feel.  It glued up well using Weldwood plastic resin.  Since it is a composite, I presume the durability will depend on the manufacturer and materials.  (Jim Utzerath)

            As I recall, the grip on my rod was made of little pieces of cork glued together, similar to the cork sheet we get now, but maybe even smaller pieces.  It's 50 years ago, so I'm not real sure what it looked like.  I remember I carved a replacement from a piece of 2x4 pine since my dad wasn't about to buy a whole new rod just for the grip.  Anyway, as I said, glues are a lot better than they were then.  (Neil Savage)

          If this is the same bonded material I have seen, I really don't like it as a fly rod grip.  Some folks have used a single ring for decorative purposes.

          The stuff is very heavy, harder and more difficult to shape.  I let a friend shape a grip in it on my lathe and he was down there forever.  (Jerry Madigan)

            I've used it quite a bit for graphite rods.  It does look kind of neat when used with other cork, especially the colors (I've only seen green, red, blue,  and natural), as a trim.  However, it is quite a bit rougher, and you need to sand the stuff with a sanding block because it is much more durable than normal cork.  The first few times I sanded a grip with it I ended up with the burl rings being a bit raised from the surface of the grip because the sandpaper I was holding worked around the burl  cork and took down the natural cork.

            In any case, I have seen the stuff get ragged from finger wear at the edge of a grip.  My personal preference is for the feel of natural cork. However, I think the stuff used as a spacer in a reel seat, like Geert suggests, would be excellent.  (Jason Swan)

              A few years ago I made several grips from rings of ponderosa pine bark.  Its firmer than cork, has an attractive look, and stands up well.  The rings are made by drilling out pieces from the bark with a hole saw.  You need relatively thick bark that has been planed flat on one side ready for drilling.  The other side is finished by nesting the ring in a bored hole and hand planing it flat.  Because of the variation in bark thickness, each ring will be of different width.  I originally got the bark from garden mulch.  One of the western rodmakers thought that you could get big pieces of ponderosa bark from one of the mills out west.  I haven't done anything with the bark lately, but the originals seem to be standing up OK.  (Ted Knott)

                I have made a number from Western White Pine Bark.  A local saw mill has huge slabs of it lying about, and let me pick what I want.  I have made both shaped grips and ring grips.  I like it, although one of my friends for whom I built  a rod, scared the living daylights out of me when he complained that it always left pitch on his hands.  (It doesn't)  Still  I like cork!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (Ralph Moon)

                To add to Ted's message, I've been using Western Douglas Fir bark for grips in the same manner as Ted describes. This bark gives a very prominent tiger-striped appearance, and a real knockout when varnished. It has good texture and so far, no problems with durability. I really like the stuff.  (Bill Fink)

        I've used the cork, sometimes referred to as burl cork. It's resembles Blandex sheeting used in home construction instead of plywood. There is also a composite cork made with smaller chips and dust glued together that resembles particle board, also used in home construction. The burl after a light waxing looks pretty cool on a flamed rod. Wax really brings out the grain pattern in the cork. I have read that it shouldn't be used as the end rings in a handle due to possible flaking. So I started adding a stabilized wood ring (matching the reel seat insert) to each end of the handle. It seems to hold up very well. A shop owner that builds a lot of graphite rods has used the burl for a long time an finally got me to try it on cane rods. I still like the look of the traditional cork with a few smaller pits. After saving up enough cork rings virtually clear of all pits and making a handle, didn't really look like  real cork. One thing about the burl rings is, there is no culling or grading.  (David Dziadosz)

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