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Someone out there in the last few weeks talked about planing nodes.  I have a couple of questions for them.  (Todd Talsma)

    I'm doing this:

    Split strips (no prefiling), knock down nodes on pith side, flip strip over and set the plane for the shallowest possible cut and then use it to knock down the enamel side of the node. I use pencil marks to define the width of the node before planning it down and check the height of the node from the side after each of couple of passes with the plane so that I don't plane past the point where the node becomes level with the rest of the strip. This doesn't give the small node that pressing does but when I'm working on personal rods I really don't care, its a natural material anyway and nodes are not ugly to me. If they were I'd go nodeless and save myself the hassle. Yes, I do heat and press the sides to get out the doglegs but am working on a way to safely saw my strips to get rid of this annoyance. I don't believe fiber run out is as big a deal as its made out to be. After all the big production makers of the past sawed their strips and many of those rods are still going strong. Hope this answers your questions.  (Bill Walters)

    I plane the nodes, in fact I plane the whole length of the outside of a strip. Been doing it for 2-3 years.  (Darryl Hayashida)


      Just kidding.  Sounds like the easiest way to solve this problem anyway.  When do you plane the outside of the entire strip?  Before final planing?  (Todd Talsma)

        During roughing. I don't see how people can claim to be within a couple thousandth's with their strips when they still have the enamel and still have the outside radius of the culm. A strip will not sit in the groove of a planing form correctly unless the sides are flat. Make sure you have all fibers in your strip, no pith. The way I heat treat assures that I have no pith.  (Darryl Hayashida)


What is the cause of nodes lifting or tearing while planing. Is it the blade angle or is it the sharpness? I read about this but can't find it in the search engine. thanks.  (Mark Bolan)

    Either one can be the culprit.  But my initial guess would be that the plane is dull.  If that's not the case, then the node probably needs a little straightening.  (Harry Boyd)

    The nodes lift because the fibers reverse halfway through the node.  You're planing with the grain halfway and against the grain the other half.  A really sharp blade and a fine cut will usually  let  you  plane through  troublesome nodes.   I have a Lie-Nielsen small scraper that helps.  Sometimes, no matter what your do, the plane catches at a node.  Then I turn the form around and plane a few strokes in the area of the node from the small end towards the large end.  (Ron Larsen)

      Since I have resharpened all my blades to a 45 degree angle I no longer have that problem. I will say though that the planing is a little harder at that extreme angle but what a swell job on the nodes!  (Jack Follweiler)

    Could be a little bit of both.  I had node lifting problems on the first two, then on Harry Boyd's suggestion had my blades reground to a 35 degree angle.  Didn't notice any lifting at the nodes after that, and didn't seem to notice any difference in the way the blade went through the strips.  I put a 2 degree micro bevel on my Hock blades, and they are plenty sharp.  (Mark Wendt)

      Making sure that the grain runs straight in as straight out of the node area will help a bundle, also.  Sometimes it helps to smooth the area with sandpaper on a block like a plane when you first notice a deviation.  (Jerry Madigan)

    The probable cause of your nodes tearing is from improper straightening. If you're wondering if the plane blade is the problem then take a look at your strip and see if the node is tearing on both side's of the strip or just one side. If the problem is only on one side of the strip then you obviously have an improperly straightened node. If both side's of the same node are tearing then you need to get your plane blade much sharper. If you do find that the node is tearing on one side it's best to restraighten the node right away.  (Jim Bureau)

    One way of eliminating node lifting is by increasing the angle on your plane iron to about 51 degrees and planing your strips wet. With the increase angle you  will zip through nodes without lifting. And with the cane wet it will cut like a knife shaving slices off hard butter. Give it a try.  (Adam Vigil)

      Do you plane wet this way to final dimensions?  (Steve Weiss)

        Leave about .040 above the forms and then let dry for 3 days. A few passes and you are done.  (Adam Vigil)

    Lots of good answers:  straight nodes, sharp blade, steeper sharpening angle but sometimes no matter what you do there's a node that just will not cooperate. As a last resort you can either sand it into submission or saturate the node with thin super glue (ex. hot stuff) and let it penetrate for 30 seconds or so then hit it with an accelerant.  The super glue will "lock" in those nasty fibers and you can plane the node with out the lifting. It will be a little harder to plane and if you have lots of material to remove you may have to hit it again with the super glue.  (Dennis Higham)

      Making sure of course, while super gluing, the rod section is not sitting in your planing forms...  ;^)  (Mark Wendt)


I have been practicing on my interpretation of the Darryl Hayashida method of node treatment, just planing them flat before rough planing. I like the part about heat treating with a torch before splitting since the strips seem to stay straighter for me than when I have not torched the cane inside and out before splitting and rough planing.

Now that I can rough plane a strip to within a maximum of 10 thousands off of true 60s on all sides and average less than 5 thousands off of true 60s for the whole strip, I have noticed dips in the strip below each node on the enamel side. On a roughed out strip of about 0.160 inches thick there is a dip below each node running for 2 1/2 to 3 inches with a maximum dip of around 5 thousandths found an inch or so below the node.  Above the nodes, and elsewhere on the strip, there is no dip.  I have found some mention on the tips site about these dips and if I heat and press nodes instead of planing them there are no dips.

My question for those of you who plane, file or sand nodes instead of heat and press the bumps away should I just plane the enamel side some more before, after or during rough planing or move on to final planing because the dips either go away by themselves or they don't make any difference in the finished rod's appearance or performance?

I also have a second question for those of you who soaks strips after splitting. After a couple days of soaking my strips come out of the pipe looking pretty scuzzy and only silver sharpie pen markings can be seen so that I can keep track of which strips are which. Black sharpie or any color felt tip pen marks just go away. It should be noted that I have been soaking mostly flamed cane. Do those of you who soak but use blond cane or  plastic pipe or bath tubs have the same results? My pipe is a capped piece of metal conduit that has been used as a boiler/steamer for ribs and other bent wood boat parts for over 20 years, so far.  (Joe Hudock)

    The main reason I plane the enamel side is to get it perfectly flat. If you have dips on the enamel side you haven't planed it enough, or you didn't file (sand, whatever your method) the nodes off when the culm was whole. Dips on the enamel side will not go away in the final planing, in fact the spline will be undersized where the dip is.  (Darryl Hayashida)

      I find I can straighten the dips next to the nodes by first filing the nodes flat and then using heat and the strip presser shown on pages 46, 47 of "Constructing Cane Rods". That way the maximum amount of power fibers next to the enamel can be saved.  (Ray Gould)

        I just sanded the glue of rod number 6 a couple of nights ago, and it was by far the best I have done with having no glue lines, etc.  I had one small gap next to a node - didn't get it straight enough I guess.

        Here's the process I used.  Nothing new, but maybe it can help.

        I split my culm without touching the nodes. Soaked for 5 days - with some Bleach in the tubes.  It's amazing how much easier it is to straighten wet strips.

        File off the nodal ridge just until the dirt is gone.  Flip the strip and file a 1/2 moon shape.

        Heat the strip over a heat gun for only about 15-30 seconds.  Quickly press the node flat in a vice.  Crank it hard and count to five.  Quickly flip the strip and repress with the enamel up.

        I bought a second cheap vise so I could let the strips cool for a longer period of time before taking them out.

        At this point my strips are really straight and flat.  If there are any nodes that are still crooked I reheat for just a couple of seconds and straightened with my hands or repress if it's really bad.  For the few nodes that are not flat on the enamel at this point I simply sand them flat.

        I've found that the fewer times I heat a node the better.  They seem to get really brittle if they're heated too many times.

        I work three strips at a time like this and then rough those strips to 60 degree using the 2 roughing forms described in every book.  For a couple of rods I tried it without the first roughing form and things didn't go so well.

        Once they're all roughed I bind, let them air dry for several days, and then heat treat.  If I have nodes that "popped" back I just sand them a little more.  I'm not ending up with super tiny node scars, but they're not huge either.  (Aaron Gaffney)

    I soak blond strips for five days in a PVC tube, mark the butts blue with a blue felt marker and tips with a red felt marker.  The color stays on the strips. I have no problems with the colors coming off.  (Tony Spezio)

    I guess that every rodmaker has his own approach to nodes, and it seems to me that that approach is very largely determined by the degree to which he wants to minimize the "node scars".

    For one, I am not very concerned about them; I figure that they are there, everybody knows they are there, so what the hell.

    What I do is this:

    I file the nodal ridges off as a first operation on a new culm.  I file until I have removed all of that gray contaminant layer that occurs in the node groove.

    I then flame my nodes, including the recently filed areas.

    I then split, and when I have the culm into quarters I remove the internodal dams with a combination gouge and planing.  I find that it makes the splitting go along a lot more easily.  I hand split, by the way, and find it fast and effective, and I waste NO bamboo.  Well, very, very little, at any rate.

    When I have my strips split, I plane the sides to squareness - I find that this helps no end in straightening the strips and in subsequent planing.

    I then lightly sand a concavity on the pith side under the remaining nodal protuberances, and go on with the process of heat-pressing and straightening.

    I then plane the initial angle on my short wooden forms, and transfer to the long wooden forms to establish the 3 X 60 deg "untapered" strips for the heat oven.

    As soon as I have a 60 degree angle that will hold in the groove of the wooden forms, I clamp one end of the strip and go to work with the Lie-Nielsen 212 scraper, and using long, even, slow strokes I remove any residue of nodal bulge, and all of the charred rind left from flaming.  I think that at this stage it is vital that I have a FLAT enamel side to the whole strip, so that it will actually fit into the groove accurately.

    That done, I bind the bundles and heat treat.

    Next comes final planing, and it is probably worth mentioning that the first operation I perform on placing the strips into the final steel forms is to take another light pass along the enamel side to make sure that I have not reacquired some irregularities during the heating operation.

    I am left with pale tan scars at the nodes about 1/2" long, and I don't think that they reflect either sloppiness or lack of attention to detail.  I use a 2X2X2 stagger, and in fact I think the nodes look pretty good!

    Works, as they say, for me!  (Peter McKean)

      What is your additional step when making a darkly flamed rod?  (Sean McSharry)

        I find it's best to make up your mind in advance whether or not you want a rod that is to be very dark, or honey colored, or whatever.  The color difference comes from the degree of heating in the first stage.

        To some extent you can lighten a rod by removing more from the enamel surface during the final planing stage, but I don't know of any way you can darken it without seriously compromising the integrity of the strips.  (Peter McKean)


Someone recently wrote that glue lines were primarily due to what I call "chipping" around the nodes. That is, when planing, the grain after the node lifts up and breaks, leaving a gap.  I have been having a lot of trouble with this recently.  I have identified several factors contributing,  but wonder if I am missing something.  Factors: sharpness of plane, depth of cut, gap width in plane sole (I imagine there is a technical term.  Please feel free to educate me.)

But I wonder if I am missing factors.  One thing I thought of is heat treating.  My heat gun oven is not exactly a precision instrument. Is it possible that I am making the cane brittle by too much heat, or heating too long.  I try for 350 degrees for 12 minutes, but there is a lot of variation, such as the time to heat up to 350 after preheating and putting in the cold cane with Harry Boyd's heat treating forms.  When does the time start? When the temp returns to 350? 

What else am I missing?

Obviously I am quite new to this, so please form your responses accordingly.  (Dan Zimmerlin)

    There are several things that you might like to try:

    1] increase you angle on your plane blade to about 40 degrees. Low angles tend to lift nodes more readily.

    2] restraighten the node till the grain is straight both going into and from the node. Any time that the grain "goes away" from the plane, the area will tend to lift. You can restraighten the nodes as many times as you need to get it right. Rough planing is my first pass @ the nodes.

    There has been times when I restraightened a pesky node 3 or more times.

    3] When all else fails and your still getting chipping @ one node. Plane it from the other direction. Do a couple of passes, reverse the form and cane, flip the cane over and do another couple of passes. Repeat till done.  (Don Anderson)

      I would agree with everything Don said and emphasize straightening and sharpness of the plane blade. I am not afraid to resharpen blades in the middle of planing. Even on high carbon blades it doesn't take long to wear down the burr with the harder nodes and silica content. I also restraighten as I go along. The biggest mistake I have made is not roughing out enough backup strips to recover from a chipped out node that I cannot seem to get perfect. It is a natural material and sometimes things just don't work out right for a strip.  (Scott Bearden)

        I hate to start another controversy ;) Soaking the cane or even spritzing with a little water can help. You can use a spray bottle to put a fine mist on the cane. Tom Morgan recommends this.  There are a number of threads on Todd's Tips that discuss this heresy.  (Doug Easton)

      I agree with Don on this as well. Probably the most important is the blade angle and the sharp blade. You use a higher angle for the harder the wood and bamboo is probably one of the hardest. Also I don't heat treat until after my splines are read to be glued. If you do take a small knick out of a node it can be repaired with a 50/50 mixture of wood filler and epoxy. Once it has cured you can plane it down even with the rest of the spline. With the right color filler it's impossible to see or feel the repair when the blank is glued up.  (Ken Paterson)

    I think you have hit most of  the issues on chipping around nodes.  When a node shows this problem area, I usually stop and try to do some correction before planning anymore. Sometimes this problem can be corrected by reverse planning, gentle scraping, or sanding to make the area more uniform so conventional planning can continue. Be careful though, if it happened in a node area, it can start again. I usually go slow in those areas. Sometimes the selected cane is just a "bitch" and gives planning problems, so when they show up try to slow down and do some corrections while in progress or put that cane on the "waste" pile.  :-\

    As far as heat treating, I heat treat at 325 for 20 minutes, but only get about a 5 degree F drop in temperature when opening the oven - my oven is a horizontal closed one with only natural air circulation; I do use Harry's fixtures so I don't think that is a problem. My oven has a large iron pipe that acts as a heat source/sink,  so I also get uniform temperature along the oven length.  (Frank Paul)

    Plane sharpness is critical. Angle of the iron is also fairly important.

    But one question?

    Do you also flame your bamboo?

    If you flame AND oven temper, the bamboo could certainly get hard and brittle. One or the other is normally not a problem. Doing both have caused me problems in the past.

    I typically flame and use the oven only to set glue unless we're talking about a blonde rod.

    You'll get it figured out.  (Mike Shay)

    This may have been covered, but if the nodes are not flat you can get a glue line from that. Too much cane is exposed and planed off, leaving a gap when you glue up the sections.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

      Been there, done that. Flatness is very important.  (Doug Easton)

    The 3 things that worked best for me are:

    1.  Plane blade sharp, sharp, sharp!

    2.  I increased the angle of the plane blade as previously mentioned (30-35 degrees)

    3.  Make sure you hold your plane as perfectly flat to the form as possible as you plane so you are not taking wrong angles and  uneven amounts of cane off of the strip.  To me, this seems to cause more of a tendency to lift cane near the nodes.  (Scott Bahn)

    I final planed the butt section of my current project (rod #8) using many of the suggestions from members on the list to control chipping at the nodes.  I  soaked the strips, increased the blade's sharpened angle, and planed with the plane at an angle (as per A. Tony.)  It was much, much better.  If I noticed a bit of chipping, I could recover, and ended up with 6 good strips.  I dry bound the strips to check for gaps.  None.  (Dan Zimmerlin)


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