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Anybody have suggestions for where to find/purchase reasonable priced but decent grade handles?  (John Freedy)

    I started using burl cork because it was a lot cheaper that quality white cork rings. Now I like the burl cork better than the white and have no desire to go back to the white.  (Don Greife)

    Golden Witch is my preferred source for most supplies.

    The only real steals I have ever gotten were on eBay.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    I'd check with Ron Cilli @ Landmark Components.  Great guy with great prices and nice stuff.  (Todd Talsma)


What's the best idea for reaming out a preformed cork handle so you end up without too much broken cork inside and a hole that is still true?  (Sean McSharry)

    I've used a brass rod of the same diameter as the hole in the preformed handle. Put a centering hole in one end deep enough to handle the screw portion of an auger bit of the size you want the hole. The rod will keep the auger bit centered as you drill through. Don't get to aggressive at the end or you will have blowout of the cork. If you are using a up locking real seat auger/drill towards the butt end of the handle to minimize the effects of blowout if you have any at all.  (Don Schneider)

    The two ideas that have worked for me is to use a drill press and set up a jig to hold the grip in as near as perfectly vertical as you can get it, then use a fresh, sharp drill bit (sized at equal to the blank at the middle of where the grip will go) and drill it gradually, with frequent withdrawals. Or, I've actually cut a grip into three pieces using single edge razor blade then used a rattail file to ream each piece to fit and then glue back together and reshape on a mandrel.  (Bill Walters)

      Is there some reason you don't want to use a rat tail file or a razor wand?  Over the years I've heard of many rod makers who have elaborate setups to ream preformed grips with drill presses and lathes and such.  It seems to me that you can get a much more precise fit doing it by hand because you can work the material out without having to change bits and reamers and stuff.  Anyway, I've always wondered why folks go to such lengths to do a simple job.  Perhaps I am missing something important.  Preformed grips are supposed to be easier, right?  When I want to take the time to get the best possible fit I use rings and ream them out one at a time.

      I've installed many dozens of preformed grips after 5 to 10 minutes work with a rat tail file, turning the grip as I go.  To be honest, I have never had a grip that appeared out of true and I haven't noticed any significant tear out, and I can get the grip to fit as tightly as I like.  Since I use epoxy or Gorilla Glue (which fills gaps) to instal the grip, I don't ream the grip too much.  Just enough to get it to slide within 3" or 5" of the mark, then lube it up with the glue and jam it in place.  Some folks say that it creates a starved joint between the rod and the grip, but I haven't seen it.  But, then, I've only been doing it for 8 years or so.  I may not have been around long enough to see failures.  In any case I would rather have a thin glue joint rather than a thick one.

      I did make a reamer using epoxy and aluminum oxide bonded to an old rod blank.  That worked pretty good.  It worked quickly, that's for sure.  Cut through the cork like crazy.  Lots of cork dust, though, no chunks, so I don't think there was significant tear out.  (Jason Swan)

        You have it just right. The rat tail file works, but manually, too simple for many.  You can join my KISS Team.  What's a razor wand?  Wouldn't it be nice if there was a rat tail with a shank that could be chucked up?  (Bill Fink)

          A rat tail file could have the spike cut off and be put in a drill press chuck.  The spike isn't usually as hard as the rest of the file.  If it's too hard to cut with a hack saw, you could use a Dremel tool and a cut off disk.  (Neil Savage)

            I've broken plenty of files by dropping them on the concrete floor...  May not break just right, though. (Jason Swan)

              I usually chuck the rat tail file in my lathe and put the spike in the through hole.  (Doug Sandberg)

                Thanks for the input. This doesn't quite qualify you for the KISS Club because a true KISSER would just break the tang off in a vise, from what I hear.  (Bill Fink)

    I have used a rattail file starting at the butt end of the grip and reamed by hand. As I do this, I keep "dry fitting" until I get a snug fit at the place where I want the handle to be.  (Bill Bixler)

    I have seen instances where masking tape was used as a shim between the cane and the grip.  Is that acceptable?  ...or is it merely slipshod workmanship and to be avoided??  It does work well to get a tight and precise fit.  (Dick Steinbach)

      I hope this works, haven't posted before.

      I picked up some urethane construction adhesive for a similar situation. I put it around the rod heavily at the top of the grip location and less down towards the reel seat location then rotated and slid the grip at the same time. The adhesive expanded out both ends and the grip is secured to the rod. The initial gap was probably just under a 1/16 oversize. I feel it worked well, I cleaned excess off rubbing with alcohol, lacquer thinner or paint thinner.  (Greg Shockley)

      I recall a tour I had through the Loomis fly rod plant and watched them installing the premade cork grips. They used masking tape under every one of them along with a big gob of glue.  (Ray Gould)

        I too have seen rods, some of them by reputable makers that used masking tape on their new rods as well as some use by builders (on both reel seats and grips), but I was reading the recent postings about boring out rings and grips to careful specs and began to wonder what the general view about seating grips was. 

        I suppose a case can be made that for personal or field grade or lower end rods anything goes, but for expensive or presentation level rods the buyer deserves a higher level of attention to detail. At least to me ethics would seem to demand it.

        I was just wondering if there was a general understanding of a similar nature among list members. I do see that with finishes, hardware, etc., (all things that appear to the eye) are certainly very carefully considered  but nobody see under the handle.

        It is easy to imagine a scenario wherein a rod comes in for repair and when the seat and handle are removed a judgment is made about the quality of the work.  So my bottom line question is "Is using tape for a shim considered slipshod, or is it a well accepted practice?"  (Dick Steinbach)

          It's so easy, if you have a good lathe, to properly fit the handle and the filler to the rod.  I put my rings on the rod blank one at a time and hand fit each one, then turn the handle on the rod, in the lathe.  Personally, I don't see why anyone who has a lathe can't do this.  For those who don't have a lathe, well, you do what you have to do to get a good tight handle, and if it involves masking tape, then more power to you.  Building a rod without a lathe is a lot of work, so any shortcuts you have to make are justified.  Besides, to be honest, before the handle needs to be replaced, you'll probably be feed for tree roots, so a future generation of rodmakers may be fascinated that you used that strange looking paper material to build up the section to fit the handle (I'm sure masking tape will be long forgotten by then).  (Bob Nunley)

    The problems I've had with rattail files is that they are generally tapered and its difficult to get a good fit with a preformed grip, without slop in the butt end and as for those grit-glued sections of blank that some people rave about, I stopped using them years ago when I messed up a graphite blank when a piece of that grit came loose and lodged inside the grip and scored the blank so bad I couldn't use it. I struggled with the rattail file method and made it work but, once I got a drill press it was so much easier to do it that way and I use the drill press to shape my own grips and don't use the preformed grips much at all anyway.

    Just my opinion, for what its worth. Different things work for different folks anyway.  (Bill Walters)

    It seems to me that reaming out a formed grip with a rattail file provides a way to get a tight and good fit for gluing. One can taper the straight hole that exists in the grip to fit any taper that is on the existing bamboo rod. No build up masking tape needed, just rod bond to glue the cork grip to the rod. Just my opinion.  (Frank Paul)

    Well, I do appreciate all the responses. Looking at available tools, I put a sharp 21/64 drill into the detached chuck of a hand drill, and reamed the handle from both ends. Then with a 23/64 drill, held this time in a pliers as the chuck would not accept the larger diameter.

    Fits perfectly, and the hole seems perfectly centered.

    In all about 5 minutes.

    For the reel seat I'll just file the corners of the cane and it should slide on easily as the hole of this old Walt Powell item is pretty close already.  (Sean McSharry)


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