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Grips - Shaping - Hand Drill

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I've been able to rig up an electric drill for shaping cork grips.  It works fairly well, and I have decent control over the speed using a motor speed controller.  Is anyone using a similar setup to turn ferrule stations?  Seems like it could be done, but I would rather learn from someone else's mistakes before I try this.  Or, should I just forget it and do it all by hand with a file and sandpaper?  (Kyle Druey)

    I would bet that more handles are turned on drills than by any other method.  The only way to know is to try it and see for yourself. I would watch for unevenness- it can be hard to keep it concentric. Not to discourage you, but when I switched to a lathe I felt that my cork handles increased in quality. You could see the difference. This could have been due to the fact that I could turn the cork much faster with more torque.

    One thing that might make it easier is to glue up your rings with Titebond on a mandrel (a 1/4 inch steel rod ). It goes into the chuck easily, and the narrow rod is easy to brace. The glue holds the cork well, but it is easy to remove after turning (drill a hole in the bench, drop in the rod, and tap gently with a mallet). Do not try this with any other glue- it will stick even if you coat the rod with beeswax or paraffin. Then you have to heat the rod and hope you don't burn the cork too badly. After removing the rod, open it up with a reamer, again being careful not to overbore the area where the rod end of the cork meets the rod.  I did this a lot, and ended up ordering an abundance of winding checks to hide the seam.  (Jeff Schaeffer)


I recently went a purchased a new drill with variable speed and a locking trigger to turn grips on.  The run out on it is awful so will have to take it back.  Does anyone have any suggestions on good drills that are made with decent tolerances, or do I have to get a lathe (would rather not at this stage).  The drill has to have a trigger lock and the variable speed dial is very helpful.  If not, are there any "less" expensive lathes that are set up for rod making purposes (hollow stock, etc.)?  (Louis DeVos)

    After years of turning grips with a VS drill I recently started doing it in my drill press. I embedded a bearing from a rollerblade wheel in a board which the rod with the cork fits well and clamp the board in place. The extra speed of the drill press over that of a drill really allows you to get a smooth finish on the cork. Use the slowest speed for your shaping, then change the pulleys to the highest speed for the finish.

    That being said, I hope you already have a drill press  (I have two. One was a garage sale find for $20 which does the grips easily.)  (Steve Shelton)

    I have used a drill press for the last 10 years.  I set it on it's side, remount the base at 90 degrees, set it in a cradle and slow it down. works great. I use a block of foam a couple of feet for the rod to turn in since I turn the grip on the rod.   (Timothy Troester)

    If you mount your cork rings on .250" stainless steel rod as a mandrel, and if you leave yourself a good long excess piece, you can ignore the runout.

    I slide the rings to the one end of the mandrel, glue them there and that is the end that goes into the drill chuck.  Then , with a leather riggers' glove on the left hand, I steady the free end of the stainless steel rod and use the right hand to wield the sandpaper or whatever.  When you grab the free end, the runout ceases to happen.  I also tuck the free end under the arm occasionally when I want to use both hands on the grinding medium.

    You can, I guess, get used to practically anything!  (Peter McKean)

    Thanks all for the advise.  Purchased a better drill with a true run out and am turning cork easily.  Brings up another point - how do you all feel about grip sizes.  Cattanach (sp?) makes a good point to make them a fit your hand well with some gap between the pad and 3rd finger, but in looking at other small rods I have, the diameter at the thickest p[art is much smaller.  Any other rules of thumb out there besides simply making it fir your hand well?   (Louis DeVos)


I don't have a lathe yet.  If I don't have one by the time I need to turn cork, I'm wondering if  anyone has tips for another set up, say, a drill in a vise?  (Chris Moore)

    I saw a setup with a drill.  Google it and you should find something.  (Steve Fitch)

    Get a "drill press stand" from Harbor Freight. (About $15 I think.) Turn the drill sideways and make a stand that has a ball bearing mounted where the other end of the rod will slide in. Works great for me. I could send you pics, but not from this computer. (Mike St. Clair)

    Here's the link to that page on Tom Penrose's site for turning cork handles on a drill lathe.  (Bob Brockett)

    Chris.  The following links might help.


    Global Fly Fisher

    Peninsula Fly Fishers  (Ron Delesky)

      If I were going to do it with a drill in a stand, I'd seriously consider turning the grip on a mandrel (a piece of all-thread or just a piece of steel round stock from the hardware) rather than on the rod.  In fact, the Global Fly Fisher link shows it done that way.  (Neil Savage)

        Thanks everyone.  I got some round steel stock already.  I'll look over the designs and see what makes sense.  Keep it coming if someone has a design not already shown.  Meantime, I will hopefully be able to find a decent lathe. (Chris Moore)

        Yes, sorry I didn't communicate that better in my statement earlier. I leave the grip on the ¼" metal rod I glue it up on to shape it… then transfer it.  (Mike St. Clair)


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