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If you had to identify one tool or process that helped you the most in rodmaking, what would it be?

I had used powerful reading glasses for close-up work, but found that they simply allowed me to focus closer, but didn't magnify my work. My wraps became much better after I started using a fluorescent lamp with a magnifying glass.

Any others? (Ron Grantham)

    Learning how to sharpen a plane blade.  (Timothy Troester)

    After the great learning experience of 1.05 rods (yes, just started #2), I would vote for either:

    • The leather wheel and diamond paste for sharpening plane blades, or
    • Using a sliver of bamboo to varnish wraps.  (Greg Dawson)

    Learning to split bamboo by hand according to the Gospel by Nunley and Nantel.

    After that it is all pretty easy.

    This hand splitting (there is my humble description on the tips site) simplifies cane preparation that you would not believe it.  (Peter McKean)

      Having recently tried this,  I agree  with you entirely.  (Sean McSharry)

    1] When I finally figured out that 9 1/2 plane blades sharpened over 38 degrees stopped lifting of nodes nearly completely.

    2] The work spent in getting them straight - be it strips or rods is worth it.

    3] The OLFA break off knife blades [box cutters] that I use dozens of times a day  (Don Anderson)

      For me, the most helpful things  are this list server and the gatherings. Learning many different ways to do the various, being able to correspond directly with other rod makers, and see and try tools and techniques have been invaluable to me.  (Rich Jezioro)

    Using two planes: One with the blade sharpened at 30 degrees for rough planing and final planing down to about .015" over final dimensions; the other plane with the blade sharpened at 45 degrees for final planing. The 30 degree blade is easier to use and "slices" off a lot of material. The 45 degree blade works with more of a scraping action - more accurate and no node lifts. Using both during final planing makes the process easier for me. I get more accurate strips & no node lifts.

    I also use a L/N scraper for final sizing.  (Tom Peters)

    I think for me it was the mention of soaking the strips and draining the varnish instead of pulling the rod out.

    Soaking made the world of difference in planing strips, no node problems. Drain tube solved the problem of the low ceiling.  From these two posts, I was able come up with better ways for me to make rods.  (Tony Spezio)

    Again, may I say - May God bless George Barnes and the humble card scraper.  (Darrol Groth)

    I would have to say that the most important thing that helped me produce better blanks was the use of Ammonium Chloride instead of walnut shell filler for use with URAC.  Definitely made a difference.  (Robert Cristant)

    On the tool front, it'd be a good, heavy-duty, infinitely adjustable heat gun.  Much better control over how much heat gets applied to strips when straightening, etc., plus is the heart of a heat gun oven.  IMHO, cheap, two-speed, two-temp. heat guns just don't cut it, especially in trying to heat bend dry strips.  Too much heat, and any impatience on the part of the operator leads to more or less charring.  You can throttle back an infinitely adjustable heat gun quite nicely, which allows one more leeway between the point where the strip yields, and the point where it starts to turn to charcoal.  The real McCoy will set you back about $100, new in the box, but, IMHO, it's money well spent.

    Technique?  Probably Tony Spezio's node displacement method.  Improved my node work 1000%.  That, and developing a less ham-handed touch with the file.  (Todd Enders)

    I'd have to say Wayne Cattanach's two-reel video.  (Ed Riddle)

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