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Heat Treating - Pipe & Torch

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Al Maclaine in his encyclopedia of fishing has a chapter on bamboo rodmaking, in which he describes heat treating with a torch and length of black iron pipe.

You can go one better, which I have done (on about a dozen rods or so back when I first started) by getting equal lengths of half inch and three-quarter inch copper pipes, put one inside the other, then shim them apart with bamboo wedges (so that you can see an air gap completely around the inner pipe).  Heat the other pipe with a propane torch, which then conducts the heat evenly to the air in between, which evenly heats the copper inner pipe (you get astonishingly even heating from the copper, with no hot spots to burn you sections).  keep the torch moving from one end of the pipe to the other, and rotate the pipe after every trip down and back.

Use this set up to heat treat the bound rough tapered strips prior to final planing.  Cook it long enough to see steam jetting out the open ends (usually around 8 minutes for tips, 10-12 for butts).

Or, just flame.  That's the way Paul Young did it with his "ring of fire", the way Daryl Whitehead and crew at Bellinger's do it, and some other production maker used to do it (though I'm currently blanking on who it was).

The real advantage to heat treating in a oven is that you can do multiple rods or sections at one time.

I opt for both; flame for a nice brown tone, then heat treat in a vertical heat gun oven (based on Frank Neunemann's model) using Garrison's recipe.  After nearly ten years and close to forty rods I've haven't had a problem with sets or with broken, brittle rods.  (Chris Obuchowski)


You know when I did my first few rods I used a pipe and a torch to heat treat my rod sections. Then in an effort to make things better I started a long journey of making a better oven. I bought a mica strip and some stainless steel stovepipe the resulting oven kinda looked like some kind of atom smasher or thermonuclear device! It worked OK except for that hot spot in the middle which would certainly darken the sections in the middle if you didn't keep turning the sections end for end and putting them in further or not so far etc. I fiddled with that for quite some time trying to put baffles and heat sinks and............. well you get the idea. Then at some point came the propane gas burner model which I made a burner out of some black pipe by drilling small holes every inch or so down the entire length. This was used to heat an aluminum pipe of 4" dia. I was sure that after all my hard work making this burner it would work great! Well it worked OK except for that hot spot in the middle! So you had to fiddle with it by blocking some of the holes and try to get the heat even. Next came the heat gun oven. Well This worked OK except for that hot spot in the middle! I fought with this and used baffles and everything else I could think of and finally came up with an oven that keeps even heat through out! Perfect. Finally! After many years of frustration.

Back to the pipe: If you are going to build a few rods a year and are OK with heat treating one rod at a time, this is a very good reliable way to go. You can even put ammonium carbonate crystals in with the cane to darken it some.

Here's how I did it: I went to a hardware store and bought some chain and a couple of large metal rings to go around the 1 1/2" or 1 3/4" pipe, the pipe I used wasn't even black pipe (recommended) the pipe is about 6" long and threaded on both ends. I bought some caps for the ends and drilled a 1/8" hole in each one for vents. Next I hung the pipe from the rafters in my garage about at eye level. I would put the beveled and bound strips into the pipe (ammonium carbonate crystals optional) next I would simply start heating the pipe from one end and walk the torch down the entire length of the pipe, when I reached the end I would give the pipe a turn (1/4" or so) and go back to the end I started on and do it again. I would continue this until I would see steam coming out of the vent holes and them continue for another 15 minutes. That's it. It is amazing how well this works and how even you can heat treat the rod sections! No hot spots to worry about! Sometimes the simplest way may be the best. But then you can't spend all that time and money fiddling with stuff!

I did not come up with this idea on my own the instructions came from the only book I had on the subject of rod building at the time. "The Bamboo Rod.....and how to build it" by Claude M. Kreider

To sum this long winded post up: If you are a beginner or even someone who simply want to go back to basics the old black pipe may work better that anything else. KISS  (Joe Arguello)

    Are the rod sections suspended away from the wall of the black pipe or are they in contact and just allowed to roll around as you rotate the pipe?  (Bob Amundson)

      I just put them in the pipe and let them roll around in there. I think I will do a tutorial on this since I am close to needing to heat treat some sections in the next day or so.  (Joe Arguello)


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