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Has anyone come up with a more innovative way to fit/lap male ferrules? I have been doing this by hand with sandpaper and with the lathe and a file. I have found the results of both to be inconsistent. I would like to hear from both the by hand and lathe advocates. Has anyone been using a Cratex wheel that could explain how that is used in the lathe?  I have been getting good fits, but I have been ruining way too many males. Any and all information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks very much.  (Bob Maulucci)

    Bill Waara would only do his lapping with a hard Arkansas stone.  Takes awhile but you do get good results.  I tried it but don't have the patience.  I use 400 grit in my hand...(John Long)

    If you're talking about a tool post grinder-  They start at about $2k. I bought a Chinese rip off of a Dremel moto tool ($14 at Big Lots) and made my own tool post grinder.  All I have used in it are a series of stones and diamond bits. I don't think I would trust the accuracy on a ferrule.  Make some of my own lathe tools and it works well on Hi-Speed tool bits. Have a very large assortment of Cratex wheels and shapes that was given to me at a machining show 25 years ago.  In the assortment is a flat, light green (fine) piece 2 X 5 in.  Use it to keep an edge on junk knifes.  It could be used holding the ferrule in a lathe but how would you keep from ridging using a small wheel.  Personally use Grobet #6 and #8 files, with the teeth filled with chalk, to bring it close then start with 400 grit to 1500 grit.  Use 4/0 wool before trying the fit.

    Patience.....Patience......Patience!  (Jerry Young)

    I may be lucky but I have not screwed up a male ferrule YET.

    I use the lathe, used a drill press before that.  My ferrules are fitted to each other before they are glued to the blank. I have wood plugs that I insert in the open end of the ferrule before I start. The ferrule is put in the collet ( chuck) tab end first. I start with a narrow (about 1/4") strip 320 plumbers roll sandpaper. As the female starts to fit I change to a 600 paper strip. Run the lathe about 600 RPM. Start sanding the first 1/4" on the male ferrule and check the fit with the female. When the first 1/4" fits then work up to the next 1/4" up the length of the ferrule. I am talking about a tight fit. I do use a ferrule puller (two blocks of wood) to pull them apart. When the ferrule gets about where I want it I switch to 1000 paper, Finish with 000000 steel wool sheets.  I fit my ferrules so that there is room for wear, Not quite up to the welt. After this is done the male end is wrapped with one wrap of masking tape and put in the collet with the tab end out. The tab end is then tapered and polished with a jewelers file, 320, 600 and 1000 sand paper, the wood plug in that end keeps the tabs from collapsing. When the tabs are thinned down and polished, the ends of the tabs are shaped with the wood plug still in place. The plug is then removed and what burs are left between the tabs can be cleaned up with 600 paper. I find this to be a quick and easy way for me to fit my ferrules. So far so good. I am sure that in time I will screw one up.  (Tony Spezio)

    I recently changed the way I lap my male ferrules.  Before I wrapped the rod with masking tape and secured it in the lathe with a hex collet.  Now I slide a 10" piece of rubber tubing over the rod so that the ferrule is just exposed.  This makes the rod round so that I can roll it back and forth on the edge of the work bench with my left hand while holding the sand paper with my right.  This gives me much more control over the process.  It doesn't seem to slow the process down.  I think the back and forth motion cuts the NS faster than in just one direction.  If the tip is slapping around on the bench just slide another short section of tubing over that end.  This system really works well for me.  (Jim Harris)

    For what it is worth, I am using an antiquarian system that really does work.  It is cheap and consistent.  I have a 3" cloth wheel, can be attached to the lathe or on a grinder arbor, and I dress the wheel liberally with jewelers rouge.  then I twirl the male against the ferrule.  You must be very careful to support the ferrule from below, because sometimes the wheel can rip it around and could conceivably break the rod... I just use my hand.  You must check very often, because as you know the difference between not ready and too much has to be measured in milli microns.   One little thing to remember is not to round the end off.  The dressing should be consistent along the entire slide.  (Ralph Moon)

    I live in the stone age and lap my ferrule's by hand so I'm not the one to tell you exactly how to lap ferrule's. However, Jeff Wagner put on a demonstration this past summer at the Grayrock Gathering that was superb. He showed how to properly prepare the ferrule station, including the use of shims in the lathe jaws, if the blank wasn't of equal dimensions from flat to flat, and then went on to lap the ferrule's using Grobet file's. Them baby's were buttery smooth with the perfect pop when done. I've never seen a better demonstration done by anyone in the 7 years I've been attending gatherings. If there are any list member's who are involved in putting on gatherings in the future, I wish that you could get Jeff to come back for a repeat,  you couldn't get a better or more helpful demo.  (Jim Bureau)


How do you guys fit male ferrules IE Arkansas stone, sanding, file etc.  I use the Swiss pillar files to fit them spinning em in my lathe.  I don't necessarily feel that this is the best method and was hoping others would share their methods and why they feel that this is the way to go.  (Bill Taylor)

    Not having coughed up the requisite cash to acquire a set of those nice little ferrule files, I use progressively finer grit(s) of sandpaper, finishing up with a piece of 0.5 micron fiber optic polishing papers (Actually paper is probably a misnomer, the polishing grit is on some kind of plastic).  I work about 1/4" at a time, test fit the ferrule, work it some more.  The polishing paper makes the surface mirror like.  (Mark Wendt)

      I forgot to mention, I spin mine in a lathe also, on mandrels that I make up as I need them for the different size ferrules I'm working on.  Since I don't apply a whole lot of pressure, my mandrels just use a friction fit for the ferrules.  I turn them out of steel drill rod.  (Mark Wendt)

    I use the Swiss files as well, however I file holding the sections by hand.  I feel it gives me a little more control, and decreases the chances of taking too much material off.  I work a 1/4 of an inch at a time, test the fit and move up to the next 1/4 inch.  Final polish with 0000 steel wool.  (Robert Cristant)

    I use both the lapping files and sandpaper with the ferrule spinning in the lathe.   However, I lap before I mount the ferrules.  I use the metal mandrels that Jeff Wagner sells to lap ferrules.  Using these mandrels the ferrule spins true.  I'm surprised how much easier it is to lap before mounting the ferrules, plus if you overlap you don't have to go through the hassle of removing the ferrule from the rod.

    The other alternative which I have not gotten to yet (but want to explore) is the Tony Spezio method described in a past Power Fibers issue.  He uses a block (I think different blocks for different size ferrules) fitted with sandpaper that is clamped down on the make ferrule and spun to reduce metal from the ferrule.  Ron Barch spoke highly of the method last summer at a rodmakers gathering.  Apparently the ferrule is lapped evenly using this method and doesn't create any problem low spots.  (Bob Williams)

    Cast my vote for sandpaper held in one hand, other hand twirls the rod. The 2 times I've attempted to fit them in the lathe were a disaster, but I do learn from my mistakes. The old slow way for me, at least I don't ruin as many ferrules that way.  (John Channer)

      That's the way Dave Collyer demo'd at last year's SRG.  However, he used his "leg" lathe...  (Mark Wendt)

        After reading about the "leg lathe" I've tried it and it works well.  It's time consuming.

        Anyone have a preference of sandpaper grits they use?   (Pete Van Schaack)

          600-2000  (John Channer)

          I start with 320, then 400, 500, 600, 1000, 2000. On higher grade rods I'll use some of the MicroMesh "papers" to get a real mirror finish. The sandpaper method is very time consuming, and I'll usually put the males in the lathe and knock off a bit with 320 before affixing them to the rod sections, then later doing the final fit. Be sure to clean the ferrule before every fitting. You should already have cleaned the female ferrule, and it's a good idea to do so every now and again while fitting.  (Martin-Darrell)

            I am in there with M-D and I am aggressive with the coarser grits. I used to use finer grits and it was taking me hours to do a ferrule (by hand). Since I went to 320 and work my way up to 2000 and 0000 steel wool the time has shortened considerably. You must be careful to check often so as to not overlap.  (Bill Bixler)

      That's how Ron Barch showed me too.  Narrow strip of 600 grit (I had to get grits in somehow! ;-)) then progressively finer down to 2000 grit.  I've been using a strip about 1/4 inch wide and moving it up and down the ferrule as I spin.  Of course, I've only done 4 rods, but trying to fit on the lathe, even with ultra fine sandpaper, is scary to me.   (Neil Savage)

        Using a lathe is not without it's difficulties.  However, and I'll caveat that, it can be done with relative ease.  The caveat is patience, patience and more patience...  When I chuck up the mandrel, I double and triple check that it's not only secure in the chuck, but is centered correctly, with no wobble at the end.  Also, I run the lathe at a relatively low speed, maybe only 2 - 300 rpm.  It really doesn't take that long.   I've not timed how long it takes me to lap the ferrule, but it's not that long that I worry about it.  Plus, I've gotten pretty anal about the lapping and polishing.  My ferrules "pop" nicely now, and assemble very nicely.  I'm happy with my technique.  It may not be for everybody else, but it works for me.  That's the great thing about this hobby - there's a whole bunch of different techniques out there for doing things, and what works for one, may not be "the" technique for somebody else.  But I'm sure that almost everyone can find a technique that someone else has used, and either make it work for them, or adapt it to their own "new" technique. (Mark Wendt)

          I had the opportunity to play with a coupla rods by Davy Dziadosz at the Sowbug Roundup.  Those rods had the best fitting ferrules I ever saw.  Easy insertion, and on removal the fit is so good that the vacuum actually sucks the male back into the female.

          How do you do it, David??  (Harry Boyd)

            For fitting ferrules, I use my home made turner/lathe. I mount the ferrule on dowel rods so I can flare the tabs out for dressing after I fit the males to the female. I use the EZ lap diamond stones. They are 3/4"x2" thin stones mounted on plastic handles. I use all three grits (whatever they are) course, fine, and super fine. Then polish with 1500 and 2000 sand paper. Final polish is with fine lapping compound on the paper back of the sandpaper. I like to use the EZ lap stones, because they are small and flat. Using paper (with my luck) causes dips and an uneven finish. Using the stones, you can take off material throughout the entire contact surface.

            No one has mentioned anything about the Sow Bug! It was good to see you and all the other bamboo rod people that we knew! Davy and I had a really good time. He really enjoyed showing off his "Li'l Bob Rod"! He even got to break it in on a few Rainbows on "Dry Run Creek"! He got the taper from Bob Norwood at the SRG 2002. We toned it down a little, but kept the same stress curve using Hexrod. Very smooth casting rod. With a lots of questions and answers and coaching, he did most all of the rough planing and almost all of the final planing and sanding by himself!! How he wrapped the tip sections so all the guides, wraps, and tipping matched, I don't know (he does)!! The cool part is that he turned 12 last September.  (David Dziadosz)

              Thanks for the info.  I haven't tried the EZ Lap stones, but will give it a shot.  I think the lapping compound on the paper may be the one thing that really makes your ferrules shine.  Those ferrules on your son's rod were absolutely the best I've ever seen.  Nothing else even comes close.  (Harry Boyd)


What do most people use to get the males down to size?  Files, strips of sandpaper? Do you measure it during the process or how else determine that you're not taking too much off of one end of the ferrule to fit and not get another part too loose?  (Henry Mitchell)

    Get some of Brad Love's ferrule cutters.  Best fit on wood to metal I have ever seen.  (Ralph Moon)

    I use sandpaper... starting with 400 till the ferrule fits about half way, then switching to 800, and eventually 1200.  The whole thing is then polished with Finesse-It as the final step.  (Harry Boyd)

    PS -- out of fear of overlapping, many of us leave our ferrules fit too tightly.  It oughta take about the same amount of force to join a ferrule as to tighten your belt one notch more than is really comfortable (that analogy rings most true to guys  20+ lbs overweight -- like me)  You should be able to disassemble the rod without white knuckles or grunting.... If you can't the ferrules are too tight.  I've had the pleasure of assembling and disassembling several Jim Payne rods.  THAT is how ferrules are supposed to fit.

      I follow the same process on the male section as Harry but I do know from unfortunate experience that it is best to clean out and polish the inside of the female ferrule before fitting the male. I use some very fine steel wool to do this.  (Ian Kearney)

      Why do I have to keep tweaking the fit of my ferrules?  Had to lap with 1k sandpaper for 10 minutes at the Norfork yesterday before I got the correct fit.  It had been a couple months since I had used that tip.  Why do they keep growing, or is the female getting smaller - I'm confused.  (David Bolin)

        My experience is dirty female ferrules. A recent experience of taking apart a two piece rod was to say the least very very difficult. Checking the ferrules, the male had some gummy stuff and the female dirt inside. When you are down to 0.0005 for a fit, a little dirt goes a long way to make ferrules stick and difficult to come apart. Good case for ferrule plugs while in the rod bag.   (Frank Paul)

    I insert a dowel that into the ferrule and then I insert the dowel end of the assembly into a hand drill.  I use a clamp to hold the drill and spin the ferrule with the drill.  From there I use sandpaper and a small jewelers file to lap the ferrule to size.  When I get close to final size I use very fine sandpaper and/or finish the ferrule by hand.  I measure a lot.  If you make the male ferrule too small so that it is loose I simply use the hand drill to very carefully crimp the female ferrule a tiny bit to tighten the fit.

    Using the procedure above, my ferrules fit very well and come apart with nice "POP."  (Dave Gerich)


I just ordered a pair of Grobet lapping files to assist in fitting ferrules. (Yes, I know that I don't Need them, but I can always use another tool or 2)  Are there any tutorials out there on the web that demonstrate the use of these files?  If not, what routine do you use with these files?  Any help would be appreciated.  (Mark Lenarz)

    You need to talk to Mark Wendt.  He gave a demo at SRG of fitting ferrules with the Grobet files.  (Larry Swearingen)

    You most definitely want to soap them up before use to make them easier to clean later. I didn't do that with mine, and I spent hours trying to get nickel silver dust out of them. File cards don't work on such a fine cutting surface either. I ended up with a steel brush, a brass brush, a tooth brush... and acetone, mineral spirits, turps, and heat from a torch to finally get them clean.

    Trust me, you don't want to go there.   (Tom Vagell)

      I clogged my Grobet file really good the first couple of times I used it.  I couldn't get it cleaned out until I read someone's tip ( sorry can't remember who) just use a section of bamboo strip end grain rubbed across the file in the direction of the teeth. Just like a file card.  The bamboo will conform to the files teeth and did out the clogging metal. Works great for me anyway.  (Larry Swearingen)

    Which "grit" files did you get?  I've got the #4, the #6 and the #8.  I find, unless I have to do a bunch of hogging, that I use the #6 and #8 files most of the time.  One thing you'll definitely want to get is some railroad chalk to help lube the file and keep it from clogging with nickel silver swarf.  If the file does get clogged, you can use a very fine file brush, or some folks use a small section of bamboo to clear the file teeth.

    The files are pretty simple to use.  Set the lathe on a relatively low speed, maybe 100 - 200 RPMs, and start at the end of the ferrule with the #4 file.  The nice thing about using the files is you've pretty much got built in flatness, or lack of taper.  The files are pretty close in width to the length of the most common male slide lengths.  Let the file work the ferrule (IE, don't press down hard on the file, let the file do the work).  Every once in a while, stop the lathe, clean up the male slide And test fit.  As you get close to the fit you want, switch over to the #8 file to smooth out the lines left by the #6, then 600 grit, 1000 grit, 2000 grit sandpapers, followed up with steel wool to start the polish.

    It's pretty easy to do.  Well, unless you are working on Lowell's SRG presentation rod, there's 15 or 20 guys watching you, and you only brought one set of ferrules for Lowell's rod...  ;-)  (Mark Wendt)

    I use a Grobet file with a light coating of metal cutting fluid. Seems to keep the file clean; be careful as the cutting fluid enhances the rate of metal removal while rotating the ferrule in a lathe.  (Frank Paul)


I was wondering how many people use a file when lapping ferrules?  I was thinking of picking up a file, but before I drop the cash I wanted to get some more input.  (Matt Draft)

    I use a #4 Grobet Pillar file.  That's one step coarser than a #6, the finest. Then I finish off the last tenth or so with 600-1200 grit paper. A pillar file has a "safe" edge that has no teeth so you can file right up to a shoulder without messing it up. With that fine a file you need to keep it "chalked" and cleaned well. The teeth tend to fill up easily and the file doesn't cut when the teeth are clogged.   I also use a little strip of bamboo to slide across the teeth (parallel to the cut of the tooth) to clean the file when it inevitably gets clogged anyway.

    Those 4 & 6 Grobet files aren't cheap.  I think I paid about $25 for mine at Golden Witch in 2004.  (Larry Swearingen)

      Actually, there's a #8 file too.  I've got all three, but I mostly use the #6 and the #8.  Jeff Wagner also carries 'em.  A little cheaper than GW too, I think, along with carrying the handles for the files, which is a necessity if you are using the files in conjunction with a lathe.  (Mark Wendt)

      The #6 Grobet file is excellent for the job as well.  (Peter McKean)

    To me, a file takes off too much at one time.  I start with 320 grit sand paper wrapped over a popsicle stick and work my way up to 800 or 1500.  That allows me to slowly work it into that perfect “pop” fit and gives me a highly polished male ferrule when done.  (Brian Morrow)

    I started using emery paper in 500, 1000, 1500, and 2000 grit and it worked fine but very slow.  I bought a single file from Golden Witch and it works great, much faster.  The flat file allows me to reduce the diameter across the whole length very smoothly.  When I get "almost" to a perfect fit I still use 2000 grit to polish the last few tenths.  I glue the ferrules to the rod and then spin the tip section in a lathe, I don't think a file would work very well doing the fitting on your knee.  (Bob McElvain)

    Yes I use a file but not just any file will work well. You need to get one of the Swiss Grobet files for doing ferrules. Classic Sporting Enterprises in Vermont has them (802 - 525 - 3623). I have just fit two sets of ferrules for rods in progress and this kind of file does the job nicely.  (Frank Paul)

      . . . and you can also call Jeff Wagner.  Plus a couple of articles he’s done on ferruling.  (Steve Yasgur)

    Love mine: I use a No. 4 Grobet, followed by a finer No. 6, followed by 4/0 steel wool.  My male ferrules are slipped over the right sized drill bit, which is chucked in my lathe and checked for runout.  Have also used 1000 grit wet-or-dry, but prefer the files.  I learned this from Jeff Wagner.  (Steve Yasgur)


I  am sick of lapping ferrules by hand and can't afford a lathe....yet.  Is there a way to lap ferrules on my drill press, before I install them on the blank?  I figure I could put them on the shank of a drill bit, but then wouldn't I leave some sort of residue in the ferrule?  Thinking about using something like Pilobond to attach it to the bit.

And I am way too cheap to have them done when I buy them, so that is out.  (Pete Emmel)

    I always mount my ferrules on a piece of dowel, snug fit, and held a bit more secure with a bit of duct tape.

    Once that's done, you can mount the dowel in anything that spins - hand drill, drill press, lathe, whatever.  (Peter McKean)

    I have always lapped mine on a dowel before mounting them. But, either in a lathe or my rod turner before I bought a lathe. My rod turner is a set of cheap pillow block bearings, a hollow shaft turned to fit the bearings, and a 3/4" drill chuck bought at an auction (cheap), powered with a 1/4 hp motor, mounted on a left over section of counter top. I used pulleys to match the speed of a drill. I still like to use it on cork handles, ferrule stations, and lapping the ferrules. It's almost too slow for cork, but great on lapping the ferrules.  (David Dziadosz)

      As David said, you can mount them on a dowel.  Start with a dowel a little larger in diameter than the inside of the male, chuck a piece of it in your drillpress, and sand it down until the male part of the ferrule fits snugly.  No glue is necessary.  Lap it with your usual method.  After mounting on the blank, the common slight expansion of the male may end up making the fit a little too tight, but very little additional lapping is necessary to achieve a good fit.  (Tim Anderson)

        I forgot to mention that I  fit mine to where they fit really easy. Because, they always seem to expand a bit after gluing them onto the rod. Has anyone figured out why this happens?  (David Dziadosz)

    Thanks everybody for the replies.  I was afraid I would have to glue the ferrule.  Then it would have been a matter of cleaning out the glue.  No glue and snug fit is great news. (Pete Emmel)


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