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Rule

I've asked several sources on this matter and haven't been given a satisfactory response so I'll go with the old tried and true rodmakers listserv. I just finished a 6' PHY Smidgen blank and am preparing to make another similar dimensioned rod and to my surprise cork rings with a 1/4" bore are too big. I know that Jann’s Netcraft has 1/8" bored cork, but the last bag of "select" quality I got from them wasn't fit for kindling. Are there any other sources out there for good quality cork bored out 1/8"? I know REC and some others have unbored cork rings, but I've heard that it is a pain in the rear to properly bore them out. If I have to go that route what is the best method/tools for boring cork?

(I prefer 1/4" rings so if I could find 1/8" bored rings in that size it would be great).  (Phil Smith)

    There were two articles detailing how to do this in Power Fibers last year.  The first was an article by Jerry Snider in Volume 14, detailing use of a drill press.  The second was an article by Larry Blan in Volume 16, detailing the use of a lathe.  (Todd Talsma)

    I've had good results using a piece of hardware store brass tubing the proper size to drill out cork rings. Use a hobby saw to cut some "teeth" in the business end of the tubing and make a holder by drilling a flat bottom hole the size of the cork ring in a block of wood, clamp this to your drill press table. Now you have another excuse to buy more tools <g>.  (John Channer)

    Boring the cork is a snap. Keeping it centered requires just a bit of thought. Peek at the articles,  look at what John Channer wrote, select the best fit for your situation, and have at it.

    Another solution would be to fill the 1/4" bores with solid pieces drilled from scrap cork, and then drill them to the correct size. A 1-1/4 ring will yield half a dozen 1/4" plugs. Using this method will allow you to use any ring you want, so quality isn't an issue.  (Larry Blan)

    I bore cork on the lathe. Hold each ring lightly in the three jaw chuck and use a boring bar. If the tool is sharp and you go slowly you can do any size hole. I use this method when I need a big hole in the final ring for an uplocking reel seat.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    The standard Midge has a .236" butt so your just a hair under the .250" bore rings...

    You can wrap the butt under the cork with say size "E" or so thread as a spacer and use the .250" rings...

    If you pre-form just spread the glue on the thread and it will penetrate to the cane...

    If you build on the stick just glue the rings and thread at the same time and it will also penetrate the thread to the cane...

    In the future you can bump up the last three stations to the .250" and not change the action at all on the Midge...  (Dave Collyer)

    Have you tried C&D Trading?

    Their web site does not show the 1/8" rings, but they do have unbored rings.

    Give them a call or e-mail.  (Dennis Nicks)

    I use the lathe and a piece of tubing. I glue a dowel into one end of the tubing in order to use it in the tail stock chuck. I also sharper the edge with sand paper and have at it. I use a screw starter to pull the plug out but I could just as easily cut a section from the tube to push it out. Simple and effective.  (Gordon Koppin)

      I don't remember who started this thread... but I was browsing through the shop early this morning and realized I have about 160 cork rings with a 1/8" bore.  If you need a few, please drop me a line off list.  (Harry Boyd)

      I surely don't mean any disrespect to the folks on this thread, but what's the big deal with drilling out some pieces of cork?  Just put the damn things on a block of wood under your drill press and use a bit that's a tad smaller than your blank.  You can eyeball everything just fine, then pull the lever.  Yer done.  If the hole's still too small, get out your rattail. Now, glue them up and turn it.  Come on, guys, it's a hole in a piece of cork!  You don't need lathes, and special cutters.  (Bill Harms)

        I was just sitting back and thinking that same thing.  At least Bill, you had the Cajones to say it.  And, to think that this would come from me "The Power Tool Kid".  (Joe Byrd)

        I agree, I do it with a drill press and I turn my grips on my drill press. No big deal.  (Bill Walters)

    I'm not as well off as the rest of you and don't own a drill press or a working lathe (yet, getting closer to that Nirvana). Heck, I've been looking for small diameter Cu tubing for a long time so that I could cut out foam ant bodies out of cheap sheets of foam from Michaels and never found any tubing small enough. I had decided on just making a go at using my cheap Black and Decker cordless drill and a bit and trying to poke a hole through it then reaming it to size, but I had heard that "drilling cork was more difficult than you'd think" so I figured I'd ask here. Thanks again to everyone for their suggestions.   (Phil Smith)

      If you've got a decent hobby shop nearby, (model railroad e.g.) they'll have a variety of small to very small brass tubing.  (Ed Riddle)

        Art Neumman gave me a set a of cork cutters witch are basically steel tubes that are sharpened, you could use small brass tubes, chuck them in a lathe or drill press and file or sand the outside edge until they are razor sharp and they will last a long time.  I get all my cork unbored and cut it to what ever I need for the rod.  It also lets you put the hole in the best spot on the ring.  (John Pickard)

          I use a Forstner bit which cuts cork very neatly.

          Lajoie_Mike_Boring

          For the setup I use... I made a jig that holds 3 pieces of cork.  (Mike Lajoie)

            I designed a spring loaded, self centering vise for the drill press.  Once mounted on the press, and centered it is just a matter of drilling, and inserting a new ring.  One thing though, I have found that 4 fluted end mill bits (purchased at Enco) work better than drill bits.  Smoother cut, and faster.  (Joe Byrd)

Rule

I was searching around for cork rings. What's the Flor cork? Or what's the difference between Flor and the Super Duper Select Rings? Is there a site or any written material about cork? How about, "All you ever wanted to know about cork, but was afraid to ask"? Cork for Dummies?  (David Dziadosz)

    The graphite guys are way ahead of us on this.... One supplier's Flor is another supplier's super duber hoopty-doopty select.

    Tom Kirkman at www.rodbuilding.org has some suggestions on grading cork that are a step in the right direction.  I actually haven't read his article, but hear good things about it.   (Harry Boyd)

      I haven't actually done this because I just learned about it recently, but it is too cool not to share. I have a friend in Ontario who makes custom graphite rods with the most beautiful grips I have ever seen on any rod, cane or otherwise. I threatened him until he showed me how he does it. Each of his grips is diagrammed with exact dimensions of each ring. He has a large clear Plexiglas sheet with circles of varying sizes inscribed/engraved into it in rows (0.50, 0.55, 0.60, etc.).When he makes a grip, he selects a ring and holds it behind the sheet against the circle that approximates the diameter that particular ring will be after shaping. If there is a pit on the circle/outer edge at that point, the ring is discarded or used for a different place up or down the grip. If no pit, he flips it over and checks the reverse side. He says that the cork is the first thing you see when you look at a rod, and that it is really not a significant amount of time to get it right given all the work that you have already put in to getting it to that point. I can't argue that one, and he had a rod with a grip that did not have a single flaw. It almost looked weird.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

        That is a great tip. Sometimes the solution to a problem is so simple we just overlook it. Thanks for sharing! cheers.  (Will Price)

      The completely unhelpful answer is that Flor grade cork never needs filling!

      I get mine from Sparton in the UK, it's the same as everyone else’s but only about £.80 a cork!  (Robin Haywood)

    I just got some very good grade cork and noticed how bleached it is - almost white.

    I have a small stock of older cork that has a lot more fissures in it  but that is no worse than the cork on a 1950s Leonard rod. But it is  brownish in color. I put two rings in a glass jar with some  household bleach. Unlike my recent effort to browntone cane with  household ammonia that did nothing after 24 hours, the corks have  already turned whitish - 4 hours. I am asking if others have  experience with bleaching cork, and how long it might be dipped.  Also, how skin deep is this treatment. I mean, it seems to me that  once turned down to my obligatory cigar shape, will the bleaching be  all gone? Likely, so what experience is there with bleaching made up  grips?  (Sean McSharry)

      I buy pretty nice cork (Flor) from REC, and mostly it is fairly pale, although the last lot I got was a lot darker;  but I find  that as soon as I start to turn it down it loses all  that patina and just turns to "cork".

      Doesn't matter, because as you work down through finer and finer grades of paper it looks better and better with every change, and b the time you finish with 1500 or 2000 or so, it looks really good again.

      I am sure the look of the product as bought has a lot to do with its having been bleached, but it also seems that the roughness of the surface and its effect on the reflection of light also plays a part.

      This had not ever occurred to me until this moment, but why not bleach AFTER you have turned it down.  You will be using waterproof glue of one sort or another, and it should be feasible to wrap the finished product in strips of cloth soaked in bleaching solution, or even to dip it.  (Peter McKean)

        Good thoughts. I report that after 24 hours in household bleach from  the bottle, one ring has developed a shrunken appearance seen in cork  from old rods after cleaning. Distinct ridges on one and smaller on  the other. In addition, in both rings as washed and dried the end  fissures exhibit a rusty appearance. As the corks have a warmish brown color as bought, I wonder if they have a certain ferrous  quality through their nature, or through whatever process the  processors use. Reflecting on visits to Portugal and Spain whence  this rod cork presumably comes, there are varying soils in which the  cork oaks grow, and some are reddish brown - clearly high in iron,  such as you see in some bauxite deposit soils.

        Well, as cut open, the bleach seems to have penetrated the cork up to  1 millimeter only after a day and therefore there is no point in  bleaching it before the grip is turned. No doubt you could then  bleach it as you imagined, but I'd stop after a few hours to avoid  that ridging. As someone else pointed out, after some use, then the  grip will probably lose its whiteness and take on some dirt, some  sweat and the underlying color will come through anyway.

        Is this high - grade stuff bleached right through by some process, do  you think, or is it naturally paler from its environmental  upbringing. Then maybe the darker stuff comes from a darker soil,  plus more fissures.  (Sean McSharry)

      It, fortunately or, unfortunately (depending on your point of view) will not be so blatantly white when you get it turned. It will look like cork is supposed to look. After that, a good day of fishing will take care of the rest!  (Mike Shay)

Rule

I bought a box of our local supplier’s super-select-optically scanned-hand sorted-*****-primo cork.  In it I found one piece with a gouge so large on the side that it can't be used except as dust filler, another with a crack running all the way across the top down to the middle and most of the others have huge pits in them and others with mottling so bad from something that they are unusable.

I selected the best of the lot and tried to estimate the diameter for each ring finished and made sure there were no pits close to those places.  After gluing up and turning to shape I had 5 of the 12 rings with large pits, no make that craters, show up within the middle of those rings.  Argh!

I guess I need either a new supplier or another technique.  Anyone offering advice?

If anyone has a  good method to slice a 1/2" ring into two 1/4" rings let me know.  At least then there wouldn't be quite so many surprises.  (Ralph Tuttle)

    Welcome to the world of disappointment!  What you had happen is not at all unusual.

    If you want 1/4" rings it's best to just buy them. It's almost impossible to make two good 1/4 inch rings from one 1/2" ring. But if you want to know, a disk sander works well.

    But! I know you were joking so...belch...eyeball were the holes are on the ends of the ring. If you see one figure it runs all the way through, whether it does or not. If you see a spot that you think will end up showing on your grip don't use that one there.

    Of course you can do what the plastic boys do and simply fill the entire grip with dust and glue. Makes it look flawless, kind of like a pretty girl with perfect hooters. Too good to be true.

    And hey! If you can't rant with your 'bro's then who the hell can you rant with!

    Don't sweat the imperfect rings too much. It's not that big of a deal. It's a bigger deal to you than you make it out to be,  I think! LOL Lot's of info in the archives on  filling cork.  (Mike Shay)

      Ralph, welcome to the world of disappointment!

      Mike's specialty ...

      If you want 1/4" rings it's best to just buy them. It's almost impossible to make two good 1/4 inch rings from one 1/2" ring.  But if you want to know, a disk sander works well.

      While not a maker of fine instruments as yourself there is a pretty easy way of accomplishing this that works for me.

      I read about this in Rodmakers Magazine, take a 1x3 and use a 1 1/4" Forstner bit and drill a nice hole.  Then take and mark a 1/4" on the top and use a band saw to cut a slice through the hole you've bored.

      You then can use one of those super duty $6 flush cut saws that Harbor Freight sells and slice away.  You want thinner slices simply use fender washers behind the cork and slice away.   (Ron Hossack)

    Golden Witch has a jig for cutting 1/2" cork rings into 1/8" cork rings.  (Timothy Troester)

    Well here goes. This might or might not help you, it depends on the equipment in your shop. I had to remove an inner ring and what I did was mount the rod up in my lathe (this is why I put the reel seat on last, it's easier to do any repairs and chuck up the rod if all you have is a round rod sticking our of the end of the cork) and rigged up a vertical razor blade from a trim knife. I ran the lathe at the slowest speed (you could probably also turn it by hand) and it cut the cork really well leaving a nice clean edge. note that I said I ran under speed but when I got close to where the bamboo started, I turned off the lathe and turned it by hand until I felt the bamboo. Then I just scraped off the cork and fit in two halves. I glued it with Elmer's wood glue and wrapped fairly tightly with thick string. You have to be careful not to indent the rest of the cork and maybe protect it a bit with some kind of covering like cardboard or something.  (Martin Jensen)

    If you've ever thought about putting a rattan grip on a rod sounds like this would be the ideal time. It would cover the unsightly gaps and add a touch of "old world class" as well.  (Will Price)

Rule

This may sound like a really dumb question but has anyone used old wine corks for grips on their rods? I know that we want as clear a cork as we can find and some wine corks seem to be pretty clear. I also am very aware that some wine corks are made up of cork chips, much like particle board and some are plastic. I would just like to know if this is something that can be recycled.  (Phil Crangi)

    The pits in wine corks usually run the wrong direction. They would allow water to get down to the rod. I suppose you could seal under the grip though?  (Mike Shay)

      Mike hit the nail on the head. Horrocks-Ibbotson used cross cut 1" cork rings for a period of time and they were the most pitted butt ugly grips imaginable.  (Will Price)

    You might use the 1 or two end rings of champagne corks. But it is quite some work and not all are usable. You have to consume quite some champagne so. Or ask friends to collect them for you. Wine corks are to small diameter for rods.  (Christian Meinke)

    I sometimes cut up champagne corks to use as rings. I can get two from a cork cutting the top and base where they are large enough.

    Wine corks could work for reel seat fillers but I don't think they are big enough for grips.  (Gordon Koppin)

    I have been thinking about this question since I originally sent it out to the list and I think wine corks could be used if a rod maker was going to use them as a foundation for covering the grip with rattan or another grip enhancer. The thing I have noticed is that the corks are generally too narrow to be used as a stand alone grip. I tried boiling the wine corks to cause them to swell back to their original pre-corking size, but I was not as successful as I had hoped.

    I have a friend who owns a vineyard in Tuscany and I asked him to send me some fresh corks that he buys from a supplier in Portugal. I am waiting for them and will let you know how they look and if they are indeed usable.  (Phil Crangi)

Rule

Who is selling the best cork at the moment.  (Gary Nicholson)

    C&D trading always has good stock.  (Brian Morrow)

    You know I have always had great luck with REC for cork.  (Bret Reiter)

    The last cork I bought was from Pace Industries, I had to buy 1000 rings but the quality was superb. I still have some left but I am running short. They are great to work with and you could open the package and inspect the cork, if you didn't like it you could return it. I paid $750.00 for 1000! I have sent them  an  inquiry  and  wouldn't  be  surprised  if  it  isn't $2500.00/1000 or more! I will let the list know when I find out.  (Joe Arguello)

    Pretty much nobody. I have heard many good things about Cheaspeake Cork  (no web site or email so don't everyone ask), but I have never actually seen any. The last batch of their extra special top of the line rings I got from C&D I sent back because most of it was full of black streaks. I currently have a bag of 200 of REC's best, which isn't bad, but it's not what it was a few years or even a year ago, but at least it's unbleached.  (John Channer)

    The Chesapeake cork I got that they rated 2d best was better than the top-rated GW, the purchases are both about 5 years ago. Since then somebody on the list made a group purchase, cork was a good deal but with more culls.

    Buying blind I'd probably go back to Chesapeake.   (Henry Mitchell)

    I like the rings Angler's Workshop sells.  The Flor are wonderful, bleached and expensive.  The next grade down is not bleached and nearly as wonderful. Better than the AAAA+++++ or whatever from GW.  And better than the best I got from REC.  I'm sure I don't have to tell everyone here, but forget about Cabela's for cork.

    These are recent purchases.  (Reed Guice)

      Consider Donart.

      I bought a washtub full of their 1.5" (not 1.25") rings with no center hole for $.30 each.  Yes, thirty cents each.  No, they aren't perfect.  But well over 60% of the rings will eventually find their way on to one of my rods.  The rest will go to Ebay, where they'll likely bring more than I paid.

      When you call, tell 'em I sent you.  (Harry Boyd)

    Just to widen out the discussion a bit, I have bought good quality corks from suppliers like REC over the years; at least I think the cork is pretty good, but perhaps I have just never seen any really good stuff.

    I have generally bought the best grade on offer, as I figure that, compared with the cost of a split bamboo rod, fourteen cork rings is not really a great impost.

    But here's the funny thing.  I can pick out fourteen cosmetically perfect rings and feed them onto a mandrel, glue them and turn them down into a grip - at which stage a lot of the superficially "perfect" rings turn out to have, as you would expect of a living material, extensive deep flaws which only appear as the turning proceeds.

    The corollary also holds true - glue up a grip with fourteen rings with a noticeable level of cracking and blemish, and on turning them down, some retain their blemishes, but some turn down to expose perfect surfaces !

    So tell me this.  Is there a grade of cork that is "perfect" in practice right the way through, or does the grip end up with a mixture of good and fair no matter whether you start with the very best of the best or whether you sort of take what you can get at the time. Similarly, I don't lose any sleep over whether or not the stuff has been bleached, because the first of the turning process soon gets you through to natural colored cork.

    I know that my current practice is to take the first 14 rings that come out of the bag, and my grips are not by any means perfect, but they are OK.  (Peter McKean)

      The problem with bleached rings is that unless you get rid of the bleached face (where the rings touch each other when you glue them up) you wind up with white/light circles around each joint between the rings. That may not bother some, it does disappear when the grip gets dirty, but I don't much care for it on rods I'm trying to sell. Some suppliers bleaching can be simply washed off, others have to be sanded off, for some reason I've had cork that no amount of scrubbing would get rid of whatever it was they used to whiten the rings. I use cork from REC these days, I pay a hell of a lot of money for it as these things go and I use every last one of them, no apologies offered. I also don't fill the pits, to me the only thing uglier than pits are filled pits.  (John Channer)

      I have always sanded the flat sides of the cork rings prior to glue-up on a piece of 180 grit to get to virgin cork of natural color and to see where the lenticels (pores, holes) are, then arranging them in the grip to lessen defects in the finished grip.

      Bleaching or even washing cork in quantity causes the pores to be filled to a greater  or lesser extent with cork dust, often hiding defects.  As you point out, you never seem to find all the lenticels, because we are dealing with a piece of a plant grown to have holes in it.  It is what it is.

      FWIW, the same thing has driven winemakers mad for hundreds of years. (Brian Creek)

      Personally, I do not feel as intense about cork as many do.    I think a grip with a few cork lacunae if far more interesting than the bleached unmarred Cork  I bought some rings not too long .I will concede they were cheaper than the flor grade.  buy I have about five grips that I like.  Sure there a few rings I have throw , butt that is life I guess DOWN WITH UNMARRED CORK.  (Ralph Moon)

      I once read about or found on the internet a description of a plexiglass panel with circles of varying sizes drawn on it. One would determine the diameter of the grip at any point and hold a cork centered on the appropriate size circle. Looking through the plexiglass at the ring one could often see whether an individual ring when turned to that diameter would have much in the way of pitting. Never tried it myself. As an experiment I did inspect rings prior to turning down to a given diameter and was able to pick rings that were quite good for one diameter but not for another (does that make sense?). Did not go too far with my experimenting as I did not want to waste anymore cork.

      The person describing the unit said unbelievable clean and perfect grips could be made with this method.  (Steve Shelton)

      I've always gotten very good cork from Chesapeake Cork, aka Streete Whiteford.  Heck of a nice guy to do bidness with too.  (Mark Wendt)

        I met Streete at the Roscoe Gathering this past Sept. He is honest and straight forward . I ordered cork from him and am pleased with what he sent me. I like doing business with him ,d while I am certainly very new to making bamboo rods, I feel as though I can trust him to give me what he promised to send me. Just ny 2 cents' worth.  (Phil Crangi)

Rule

I was just out in the shop gluing up a batch of cork rings for a grip.  My new Worksharp has turned the chore of sanding all the ring faces flat into a five minute job.  Just use a light touch and be sure to set them down flat so you don't round an edge.   (Rick Hodges)

Rule

I was wondering what is the best method to bore cork disks. My supplier only supplies discs and so I need to bore them. At them moment I use a brass jig made to size into which the disc is placed. It has a center hole an I use a sharp aluminum tube which I push through the hole and this "punches" out a center hole. I'm not happy with the results because the whole isn't always quite centered. What method would you suggest?  (Moreno Borriero)

    If you've a lathe, make an adaptor to hold the disk and bore it out on the lathe.  (Ren Monllor)

    I can't say this is the best way but this is what I did.

    I've made a jig from a small square of plywood 8"x8" and attached a couple of strips of 1x2 to form a 90 degree corner.  I slide a cork into the corner and located the "center" and drilled through the plywood slightly oversized. I clamp the jig on the drill press (hole centered)and slide a cork ring into position and drill through with a sharpened 1/4" brass tube.  The rings are not totally "perfect" when mounted on the gluing shaft but you take off quite a bit of the diameter when you start to shape your grip and everything is fine and smooth.  (Mike Monsos)

      I have found that a Forstner drill bit will cut a clean hole if used at the fastest drill press speed.  I use this to cut the large hole for fitting the reel seat covered hood cork.  (Morten Lovstad)

    When I need to bore a cork I use as a cutter the thin wall brass tubing that is sold in hobby shops in the US. The end of the tube is filed sharp while turning in a drill press or lathe. You can bore the cork by making a fixture out of wood or aluminum  to hold the cork in either the headstock or tailstock of the lathe. I usually use my drill press. It is simple to use a jig to center the cork, and a piece of soft wood is placed underneath the cork to keep the cutter from tearing out pieces from the bottom of the cork. It is necessary to stop after 2-3 corks to clear the cork plugs out of the tube. These can then be saved to make ferrule plugs.  (Tom Smithwick)

    I've changed methods to placing the brass jig in the lathe and drilling the center hole out with a drill bit placed in the drill chuck placed in the tailstock as suggested by one of the other rodmakers whose name I don't remember.  (Moreno Borriero)

Rule

Paul Julius posted recently about Picky Bastard cork rings.  Based on that, I ordered some.

I thought you guys might be interested in a photo comparison of a few cork suppliers.

Koch_Cork_Compared

The top grip is from C&D trading, 5-star, purchased last year

The middle 2 grips are rings from The Cork Store, purchased this summer.

The bottom grip is from rings I just got from Andy Royer, Picky Bastard.

Andy’s rings cost the most, at $2.65 or $2.70 each (IIRC), whereas I remember the other 2 costing between $1.50 ad $1.75 each.

Judge for yourselves.  (Lee Koch)

    The Picky Bastard cork makes nice grips. I guess he named it Picky Bastard and not Cheap Bastard for a reason. Although that is not the most I have seen good cork go for. I have always been very pleased with the bamboo I get from him, and my next cork order I will have to give him a try.  (Scott Bearden)

      I recently received cork from the Picky Bastard and it is very good. I purchased some of the A and some of the B. It is my opinion that there are A rings in the B lot, so with some selection, you can make some very exceptional quality cork handles by combining a small A lot with the larger B lot. Just my opinion.  (Frank Paul)

    I remembered it was convoluted to get there, but didn't remember exactly how to get there, but here it is:

    Jelinek cork is one button at CorkStore.com.

    Here's the link to get you directly to Jelinek's "fishing" page.  I ordered their "flor" rings.  (Lee Koch)

Rule

Recently I've got some otherwise very nice cork from a couple of different sources that the flats aren't flat. When I stack them up there are all kinds of gaps between the rings and you can see the deformity easily, I've also not had much luck getting a glue line free grip from these rings. I've tried sanding them flat, but I don't seem to to have a very good method as all I wind up with are rings that not only have a wavy surface but are rounded on the edges. More clamping pressure hasn't helped either. Any thoughts?  (John Channer)

    How about sanding one flat one each ring, then using a two sided sticky tape on a board, stick the flat side. Now sand the group with the paper laid out on a flat surface. No rocking from trying to hold each individual ring.  (Pete Van Schaack)

      Or, make a board with 1/4" dowels in it to hold the rings (dowels about 1/8" above the surface for 1/2" rings) and sand one side then the other?  Don't know, but it might work.  (Neil Savage)

    I had the same issue when making a coupla grips from the bark of a Douglas Fir tree.  To correct, I chucked each ring in my lathe and faced them off, one at a time.  It was okay for the two grips I made that way, but is far too much trouble for cork, and probably won't work well anyhow.  Cork doesn't cut well with lathe tools.  Even if you get them flattened, the center hole will likely be skewed.

    I thought about a contraption with a 1.25" hole drilled in a board with a Forstner bit and one of those planer thingies that fits in a drill press, but I'm not at all sure the planer thingie would cut cork cleanly.  At any rate, that would be too much trouble also.

    I have another idea or two if you don't come up with a workable solution...  (Harry Boyd)

      Some guys, either on the 9X20 lathe forum or the Logan lathe forum claims the cross slide does not run 90° to the stock in the chuck while facing the part. I don't know about the 7X14's. I've never attempted to prove this! So it may not work with facing cork even if you could turn cork with a lathe bit.  (David Dziadosz)

        Thanks for all the helpful tips. What I wound up doing is drilling two 1 1/4" holes with a Forstner bit in a board, one of them is just under 1/2", the other is a hair or two shallower than that. Sand one side in the first hole, the other side in the second. Once I did one side of the first cork I could do 2 sides at once to speed things up a little, I also used the medium SuprSander that I hardly ever use, its very flat and hard so it doesn't round things over. I wasn't too pleased with a rubber sanding block with a piece of 120 belt in it, though 80 would probably have worked fine. If you wind up having to face cork rings like this don't forget to put a smaller thru hole thru your block to push the cork out with, an inch and a quarter was a very tight hole on most of my rings.  (John Channer)

    Recently I've got some otherwise very nice cork from a couple of different sources that the flats aren't flat.

    I do a lot of Red Fir or Doug Fir bark and Pine Bark and I've tried on the lathe with a sanding disk in the tail stock but the easiest and fastest way for me is this method not only for cork/bark rings but wood blanks as well:

    Hossack_Ron_BSQ 1

    Hossack_Ron_BSQ 2

    If you have a sanding disk or belt sander It is simple to make.

    Took the Miter locked it in the slot via some shims and put a true 90º (Plastic Drafting Triangle) and put it against the face of the sander and the miter.

    I then took some corner molding from the local HD and stack them together to get the proper height.  Use a mandrel of your choice to slide the rings on and face.

    Now this is pretty accurate but what I do is simply stack the rings together and and you can twist them around and see the spot where they perfectly align and glue.  The ends I true once the handles are glued up.  (Ron Hossack)

    At one of the earlier SRG's Mike Biondo showed a little jig he made to flatten the sides of cedar bark rings he made from landscaping bark. Basically it was an "L" shaped jig with a 1/4" dowel through the short side of the "L" that you could mount the ring on.  Then with the long side down, you slide it into your disc sander.  Turn around the ring  and do the other side.  Works great.  (Scott Grady)

    I got a batch like this too and wound up making a cork slicing jig and made thinly sliced rings. I threw away the last little uneven sliver at the end. It was frustrating to find an entire batch cut unevenly like that. I guess you can say I made lemonade out of lemons.  (Scott Bearden)

    Don't know how well I can explain this typing one handed, but will try.  I know you can do this, John, considering your other job.

    Need 2 boards, one that's 7/16ths. one that's 3/8".  Use a Forstner bit to drill a 1 1/4" (or 1 1/2", depending on cork size) hole through each one,  Now drill a 1/2" hole through two other boards. glue the big hole boards to the little hole boards so that holes line up.  use PVC flange fitting to make an adapter for vacuum hose on back of little hole board.  hook up vacuum, turn it on, this will hold cork in 1 1/4" hole.  run it against your disc sander and it will flatten the side.  turn it over & put it in the hole in the 3/8" thick board, sand the other side.  Now you have a 3/8" thick ring that's perfectly flat on both sides and will glue up great.  All older Leonards used 3/8" thick cork and it makes me wonder if they didn't do something like this.

    Another idea, on back board, the one the vacuum hooks to, could drill 1/8" or so holes around perimeter and put a short 1/4" dowel in center to insure cork lines up perfectly square to the hole.

    Sorry so choppy on explanation, but had carpal tunnel release surgery yesterday A.M. and am typing one handed.  If this doesn't make sense, let me know and I'll try again.  (Bob Nunley)

    I'm not a rodmaker and have never addressed this issue but if this were me, in my LITTLE non-production shop I'd maybe try this.

    First do as Pete suggested and sand one side  of each of your (13 ??) corks individually to your satisfaction. Do the best side so a minimum of cork is removed.

    Then to assure all surfaces are parallel (which is what you're after) get yourself a couple of purchased 1/2" diameter (assuming 1/2" corks) steel/alum. rods, length to suit. Lets say each is approximately 15" long. Put them on a flat surface, a tablesaw for example in my case and secure 'em (taped down ??) on each end. Space them (1 1/2" apart ??) so that 7 corks, all lined up fit in between them w/o much slop.

    Now your 2 rods are on the saw surface. Center a "spacer" strip..e.g. thin piece of cardboard (back of a spiral notebook or ?? thinner) that's 11" long (width of that notebook)between them. That will allow for the 7, 1 1/2"dia corks to fit on the spacer. Secure this with a strip of Duct tape that runs over the full length of your spacer plus stick the spacer to the saw tabletop.

    You with me here??? You've got a little build-up off the top of your reference surface...the saw table. Perhaps the cardboard is too thick (??) then substitute with something thinner, maybe tagboard or ??

    On top of that duct tape, run a full length strip of Pete's suggested double backed carpet tape so you can stick the corks down. Make a sanding block with 2 radiused edges so they don't catch the corks and level your corks down to touch the metal spacer rods!

    My hope here is that with the cardboard spacer, (or spacer thickness to suit...depends how much the corks are off/radiused etc) you'll have enough to take off but not so much to sand..... This will vary the grip length a bit but you'll know how to remedy that per rod.

    Laborious I know but...it'd do for my one-at-a-time rods.

    Perhaps the more astute makers can add/subtract to fine tune this process...or laugh me off the List!  (Jeremy Gubbins)

Rule

Why, I think I found a topic we have never discussed.

Today at our lab we cleaned out an old closet, and found a box of cork stoppers.  They were destined for the trash, so grabbed them. These are big corks, and of quality, but for one small thing. The "grain" runs the wrong way. On a standard ring, you see pits on flat side, and stripes on the edge. On these corks, the pits are on the curved edge, and stripes on the flat. So the cork was bored or shaped 90 degrees "off". Has anyone ever made a grip with this type of cork? The truth is that I am going to try a grip anyway because some of the corks are almost flawless, but is there a standard grain or direction for cutting cork rings? Ever seen a grip made this way, and can anyone think of a reason not to try it?  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I have. It worked fine. As you observed, it looks different. (Timothy Troester)

    Many of the production rods had rings that were about 2" and had the grain sideways to what we are used to. Go ahead and use them.  I would probably not use them on rods I sell, unless it was a HI tribute rod.  Ha Ha

    Someone at Grayrock about ten years ago had a grip made from ground cork rings.  I think he was from Japan and didn't have access to good cork.  (Scott Grady)

    On a standard ring, you see pits on flat side, and stripes on the edge. On these corks, the pits are on the curved edge, and stripes on the flat. So the cork was bored or shaped 90 degrees "off".

    It seems to me that both applications are correctly oriented.  On stopper corks you would not want the pits (vessels) to run from top to bottom or you might have leakage.  On our grips, if the cork was cut like the stoppers, you would have pits on opposite faces of the curve and stripes on the surfaces 90 out from them.  An odd pattern for sure.  (Rick Hodges)

    It's called cross cut cork. Horrocks-Ibbotson and Montague both used it at one time or another. Just my opinion, but I think it makes about the ugliest grip that you can possibly put on a bamboo rod. It also allows water direct access into the blank.  (Will Price)

    Thanks to all those who responded on and off list. I think the consensus here is that aside from HI tribute rods, cross cut cork is not a great choice for a rod. Given the time and materials it takes to get a good blank together,  don't skimp on the cosmetics.

    I will get in to work early to get some of the small vial corks. At least I can make some popping bugs. I so thought that I was on to something- vintage cork from the 1960's. Alas, it is not to be.

    I will try one thing- a few of the corks are pretty flawless- I think that I could try cutting them in half and turning standard size rings. without pits, it might work. Will make one grip off the rod as an experiment and report back. Although this will not happen any time soon given my work schedule.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

Rule

I have about 100 cork rings that I purchased from a rod maker who was calling it quits (he said he bought the old stock a while ago from another maker).  The rings looked real nice, very few pits and they turned down real nice with no surprises.  I mounted the grip on a rod a few months ago and I have been fishing the rod quite a bit now.  Shortly after a few trips the cork seemed to be eroding slightly between the growth ring marks.  I turned the grip down a bit more to smooth it up as it was slightly larger in diameter than I wanted anyways.  Now the grip is doing the same thing, eroding between the growth rings (not the glue joints).  I see now that the grip will have to be replaced as it looks and feels bad.  I haven't put any kind of treatment on the cork.  I'm a bit, no; real worried that the cork will do the same thing if I try to use more of the rings I bought.  Is there anyone who might have a recipe for a potion to revive the cork's strength, hardness and durability or is this just a lost cause and money?  Other than the lack of durability the cork looks great, as long as you don't fish it.

I haven't run into this on the other rods I've made using cork from a different source.  (Mike Monsos)

    You might try some U-40 cork seal.  I had been dubious about this stuff but Barry Bauer convinced me otherwise.  So long as you only use one coat, you can't tell it's even been treated.  The stuff says it's supposed to toughen cork and reduce degradation.  Sounds like you don't have much to lose.  Good luck.  (Darrol Groth)

Rule

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