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Rule

Check your angles and your dimensions constantly.  It's easy to just keep planing away, but you need to stop and check all the time.  (James Piotrowski)

Rule

The last couple of rods I've made have nearly driven me crazy trying to keep my triangles equilateral during final planing.  I'd start the final planing process with perfect triangles,  and after I made half a dozen plane passes,  the strip was out by .010" - .020".  The more I planed, the worse it got.  I was spending far more time correcting bad angles than planing.  I'd correct the angles, make a few more passes with the plane, and be off the mark again.  An average strip was taking me about an hour, even though the roughed strips were only .025" oversized at the big end.  And that's way, way too long.  The problem was bad enough that I didn't want to go out in the shop and deal with the frustration.  I actually lay awake one night thinking about ways to solve this puzzling dilemma.

I diagnosed potential problems over and over again.  I spent a few hours completely resurfacing my forms.  I straightened and restraightened the strips.  I checked and double checked the angle of the plane iron to the adjustable foot of the plane.  I put a mirror at the end of my forms so I could watch the travel of the plane.  I raised the forms higher.  I moved them lower. The problem was still there.

One of the huge advantages of using carbide tipped blades is I only sharpen about every third or fourth rod.  (Yes rod, not strip) Tonight I noticed a little dragging, so decided to spend a minute touching up the edge on my main plane, the one that does about 95% of my work.  While I had the blade out, I noticed a bunch of shavings and dust under the foot of the plane.  Blew it out with compressed air, but still saw some dust.  So I removed the foot to clean thoroughly underneath.  Lo and behold, there was a bunch of crud in the little slot in the casting that holds the foot of the plane.

You guessed it. That crud caused the foot to ride higher on the left side than the right. Finished that strip in minutes, and the angle problems are gone.  Hallelujah, I do have something to be thankful for this year at Thanksgiving!  Man, am I glad to have that  problem behind me.  Maybe making rods can be enjoyable again.

If there's a moral to this story, it's to check the simple things first.  (Harry Boyd)

    The most simple solution to things like this is easy and takes very little time.  Every time you finish a rod, take an hour or so of time, disassemble and clean all your planes, s scrapers, sanding blocks, spread your forms and blow the dust from the gap... Generally, just clean everything very well.  I think when you take your planes apart, you'll be surprised how many places there are that little slivers of bamboo and bamboo dust can find their way into.  Most of that is going to stay hidden only to cause problems like Harry had... some of it will find it's way out and into the groove on your forms, into the strips when you're ready to glue up (glue line city) and everyplace else you don't want it to be.  Every time I get a blank finished, clean all my tools and put them in my little red box, I blow off the bench, clean up everything as best I can and sweep the floor.  Keep everything as neat and clean as is feasible  and you'll find making these little sticks a lot  more pleasurable and trouble free.  (Bob Nunley)

Rule

I've got one that has me stumped, and could use a little input.  Over the last few rods I have found it extremely difficult to get correct angles on my strips.  No matter what I do, my measurements are not equal, and it winds up taking me an hour or more per strip to plane to final dimensions.  After every three or four passes or the plane, I stop to measure and my dimensions are off of equilateral by as much as .010".  So I correct the angles, up and down the strip, and start again.  Same problem, over and over on every strip.

Some of you may remember that I thought I had this problem solved when I discovered some crud under the front foot of my plane.  Correcting that has not proved to be the answer.

I have three theories.  Tell me if any of these make sense.  First, my plane(s) could be all messed up.  I don't think so, cause I've checked and triple-checked them -- all of them.  I've had a my wife's make-up mirror out in the shop, making sure I'm holding the plane level, and I'm doing okay there.  Second, my forms could be screwed up.  Perhaps the last time I tuned them something went haywire.  Come to think of it, that's about when the problem started.    Other than checking to see that they are flat (they are), how would one go about checking the angles in the groove? Third, the strips I just finished have a small twist at one of the nodes.  Is it possible that twist causes the strips to cant in the groove of the form, so much so that the angles get messed up in a hurry.  I doubt it, because when I straighten the twist and resume planing, the problem rears its ugly head again.

Thanks for the input.  This one has me pulling out my hair, so frustrated that rodmaking hasn't been much fun lately.  I hate to ask, but I'm at my wit's end.  (Harry Boyd)

    When I first made my forms I was over zealous about the finish on the tops and tried to keep them “ tuned” all the time. Over time this problem showed up and I was also at a loss. After a lot of headaches over this I came to the conclusion that I was a little heavy on the right hand while working the tops. Solution was to file the groove a few thousands with the 60 file on a block that I had built them with. This may or may not be the problem you have but for me it saved a lot of problems.  (Ron Rees)

    I can't be certain, but I'd bet a fair sum that if your description of the problem is accurate, the cause would be unequal surfaces across the two bars of your planing forms.  Lay a metal straightedge across the two bars (when the forms are set to build strips) at various points and look for light between the surfaces and the straightedge.  Obviously, there should be none.  (Bill Harms)

    You may want to use machinist dye on the top/bottom surfaces and use 700 wet/day attached to 1/4" plate glass as a backing and see if the forms are flat. If so use the procedure I wrote for Power Fibers to tune. If your push/pull/dowels are sloppy, go to next size up. When you are done you will have better than new forms.  (Don Schneider)

    Thanks for all the help!!

    Looks like my forms are the problem.  Though they are flat as a pancake when closed, adjusting them to the desired taper creates a crowning, or convex, affect at the center of the butt side.  One would think that the tip side would thus be concave, but it is not.  The tip side, too, is concave.  Using a Sharpie pen, I marked the groove so I could see what was going on, and pulled a one of the 60* lathe tools in a block down the groove.  It cuts in the centers of the groove in places, and the outer edges of the groove in other places.

    Next question is "Why?"  One list member called to suggest that perhaps I have repeatedly over-torqued the adjusting screws, causing some wear and tear on  the dowel pins and shoulder bolts.  Without question, the bolts and pins slide easily in and out.  Therefore some "slop" is present.  As the adjustment screws are tightened, the slop allows the forms to bow slightly. Makes some sense to me...  other opinions?

    Possible solutions?  First possibility, drill and ream the dowel holes for the next larger size, eliminating any slop.  Then flatten the surfaces again, and re-cut the groove.  Sounds like a lot of work to me!  Second possibility, buy new forms.  Third possibly, buy a Morgan hand Mill -- naah, can't afford one on a preacher's salary.  Some for a powered finish mill.

    Final question... anyone have a good set of forms lying around that they want to make me a great deal on.  Any forms not perfectly accurate, or needing lots of work, need not reply.

    Moral of this story.... do not over-tighten your forms.  Using the pull bolts only, first tighten to .0005" smaller than desired.  Then using the push bolts, force the bars open by that final .0005".  (Harry Boyd)

      And the last "why" option is repeated filing of the top of the forms to clean up gouges, you might have rounded off both sides of the forms unevenly by filing them clean many times.  Moral of that story, learn to live with a few marks, or send them back to the maker to have them resurfaced. Just a thought.  (John Channer)

Rule

A week or two before Grayrock some of you asked me about my method or correcting non-equilateral angles.  I meant to show it to several folks at Grayling, but simply forgot.  So let me try to explain how I mic' strips.    First, I remove the enamel, then place the strip in the forms at its finished location, enamel side up.  I then mark each station on the enamel side with a pencil.  As I plane to closer to final dimensions, I measure all three sides to check the angles.  I hold the caliper in my right hand, and the strip in the left.  I keep the calipers parallel to the floor, and the skinny end of the strip toward the ceiling.  Each time I measure, I close the jaws just barely tight enough keep the weight of the strip from pulling it through the jaws and falling out.

The strip is first measured with the pencil mark toward me.  That's measurement #1.

I turn the strip one-third turn so the enamel and the pencil mark is away from me, and measure again.  That's measurement #2.

Finally, I turn the strip again and place the enamel and pencil mark against the lower jaw of the caliper and measure a third time.  Measurement #3.

Here's the only tricky part.  If Measurement #1 is bigger, the plane has to be leaned away from me.  Looking from the back, the right side of the plane is lower (or closer to the forms) than the left side.  If measurement #2 is bigger, lean the plane where the left side of the plane is closer to the forms.  If measurement #3 is the largest (it usually isn't) then the pith apex needs to be removed from both sides.

How do you know which direction to place the strips in the forms so that the strip is brought back to equilateral?  You have to do a little thinking, but it soon becomes second nature.  You can't add to any measurement by planing, so you have to work towards the smallest of the three measurements.  Let's use this
example....

measurement #1   .105
measurement #2   .100
measurement #3   .102

Now since measurement #1 is largest, you know that you need to lean the plane AWAY from you.  Since #3 is larger than #2, you have to place the strip in the forms where the pith apex is cut away.  So place the strip in the forms with the enamel on the side of the groove nearest you.  Angle your plane away from you, and make a cut.  I usually work on the angles one station at a time, sliding the strip up if necessary to get the plane to take a bite.  After a pass or two over the cane from 2.5" below the out-of-whack station to 2.5" above the out-of-whack station, measure from all three sides again.  Chances are good your numbers will look something like this:

measurement #1   .104
measurement #2   .099
measurement #3   .099

If so, you're almost home.... you turn the strip in the forms so the enamel side is against the groove opposite you.  Lean the plane the same direction, and make a pass or two.  If you did it right, your numbers should be something like:

measurement #1   .098
measurement #2   .098
measurement #3   .098

Now move to the next station, measure and cut accordingly.  You may well find that three stations in a row are off in one direction, and the fourth off in the other direction.  I sometimes cheat and work on all the adjoining stations  that are off in the same direction.  Once all stations are equilateral, make one light pass down each side taking great pains to make sure the sole of the plane is parallel to the forms.  Voila!  You're back to working with perfectly equilateral strips.

There may be better ways, but this works for me.  (Harry Boyd)

    I forgot to add that this only works when you have .010" or more to go over and above final dimensions.  (Harry Boyd)

Rule

I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong or if I need to fix it, but I think I do.

I put the final taper on the butt section of my first rod.  I planed everything down to the forms, wrapped the rod without glue and took some measurements at the stations - WAY OFF.

So I got out some advice that Alex Wulff gave me on correcting angles (it come from Harry Boyd) and took another shot at it.  Great advice by the way.  I was able to bring my angles pretty close to perfect and I had each of my stations on every strip also close to perfect (within .002).  I rewrapped the rod and it looked great, no lines that I could find, etc.  I rechecked the station measurements and I was still way off. 

For example:

Station 40 is supposed to be .180 flat to flat.  I set my forms for 0.090.  I used Harry's method to correct the angle and scraped down to the forms with a razor blade - I even shifted it forward a 1/2 station to get a little more off.  When I checked the strips with my digital calipers they read anywhere from .089-.091. 

But after the rod was wrapped without glue the flat to flat measurement was .189.  That happened at every station - my flat to flat measure was off by .008-.009.

It doesn't seem like both my depth gauge and digital calipers would be off by the same amount.  (In fact I check my calipers with a set of feeler gages and they're dead on)  I didn't take the apex off the strips, would that make a difference.  Also I didn't wrap the rod both ways, but it sure seems tight.

Any ideas what I'm doing wrong?  Should I unwrap the section and reset my forms .004 below the 1/2 dimension?  (Aaron Gaffney)

    Does this happen every time you plane your strips? Sounds like to me that your dial indicator is not zeroed out right! Example, my strips were .005 too big every time. I used the standard that came with the point and base. I thought it was right until I decided to check it on the surface of my forms, it was .005 off! Now I'm dead on!  (Bill Tagye)

      I thought that also, so I checked the dial indicator against the cast iron top of my table saw.  Right on zero.

      Plus my strips are very close to the required 1/2 measurement.  I could understand being off by .002 or something, but .008 too big at every station seems like a lot.  There must be something that I'm missing or not thinking about. (Aaron Gaffney)

    Try laying each strip down and taking ONE pass on the apex with a very sharp block plane set to take a thousandth or two.

    Then give each strip a good wipe down with a new toothbrush and try them again.

    Are you binding these things in  a binder,  or are you hand binding?  I sometimes think that binders add another level of complexity for novice rodmakers.  I have a binder, which works very nicely, and I hate the bloody thing and never use it !  I know all the arguments in favor of binders, and I know all the arguments against hand binding;  basically, they are levo- and dextro- isomers of the same arguments.  But the one unassailable fact about hand binding is that you are massaging and squishing those six strips into a snug fit every millimeter,  and while you are doing that you have the opportunity to examine the job in progress.  And you cannot do that with a binder!

    I have my binding string (glazed cotton upholsterers' thread) in a drum on the floor, and I run it up through a sandwich of two wooden slabs and two pieces of felt held in place on the benchtop with a big C-clamp.  With that arrangement I have pretty well infinite adjustment of tension from none to thread breaking , and both hands are free for the job of making sure the strips nestle together the way you want them to.

    I agree with what you say - if you are checking the measurements of the forms and of the finished strips and they are what you want, and more importantly, if they agree one with the other, then I doubt the strips  are your problem.  So pull the apex down a thousandth or two, brush all the microcrap off them, and try again.  (Peter McKean)

      Peter's approach really gives you a feel for how the strips nestle down with one another. Hand binding will let you watch what happens at the node areas and get an idea of how much tension it takes to get a good fit. The apexes do more than just contact one another they also have a tendency to hang up a bit on the sides of other strips. Knocking them off helps improve the dry fit and then when you get to binding with glue the glue will provide some lubrication which will allow the strips to slide together even better.  (Doug Easton)

    I don't have much to add to the other's comments except  to say that a lot of this gets better with practice.  Your angles get better, your strips are straighter, your nodes less troublesome (well sometimes), and your blades are sharper.  Stuff that makes you nuts on the first rod will be no problem by the third or fourth.

    When the glue has dried and you take off the string and realize you (almost) have a fishing rod,  you will smile from ear to ear.  Good luck on the ferrules.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

      Thanks for all the tips.  I rechecked my dial indicator with my calipers (.1155) and found it was off by about .002.  Then I reset my forms and scraped down to the metal, then I scraped a little more.  I took the apex off and bound in both directions.  The result was much better.  I was within .002 of my desired flat to flat measurement (still a little big).

      Close enough for me on the first rod.  Thanks for the help.  Now on to the tips.  Can't wait to see how small they are, because I can't believe how small the butt end strips are.  (Aaron Gaffney)

        What are you using to measure the strips and rod sections?  My guess is a dial caliper.  Some of those I've used have stiffer actions than others.  If it's too stiff and requires more than the tiniest bit of effort to move the jaws, it is quite easy to accidentally crush the apex of the strips.   You might try lubricating the slide... but do so at your own risk.  I know I use a light oil on mine several times a year.  Even on the digital calipers.

        You also mention scraping down to the metal.  I always make sure that my last passes remove metal from the forms along the entire length of the strip, from butt end to tip end.  If you're just getting metal shavings in a few places, chances are good there are still parts of the strip that are oversized.

        You probably know all this and have worked beyond it, but just thought I would offer a few reminders.   (Harry Boyd)

          You also mention scraping down to the metal. I always make sure that my last passes remove metal from the forms along the entire length of the strip, from butt end to tip end.  If you're just getting metal shavings in a few places,  chances are good there are still parts of the strip that are oversized.

          Harry just brought up something that I have thinking about. How much metal can be scraped off before you have to retune your forms. If you take off more shavings in a few places as will this mean you will have to redo the forms and is there an easy way to check your forms to see if you are out of specs in a certain area?  (Gary Jones)

            I think it's quite likely that over time the depth of the groove is going to be reduced enough to make a difference in the forms.  I'm not sure how many rods that takes, though.  Doing things the way I describe below, I never really had a problem with my homemade forms in about 70 rods.  After every rod or two, I made one pass (only one) down the forms with a triangular file glued to a block or wood, or one of the "file planes" Don Schneider invented and describes in his Tips Site article on making wooden forms.  That's more to shave off any "lip" that may have developed on the edge of the groove than an attempt to deepen the groove.  And after about 70 rods, those forms are still okay.

            I suppose to check you could clean your forms well, close them all the way, and measure the groove.  Record the numbers and measure again once in a while.  When the dimensions get so small that you're uncomfortable, have at 'em with a file.

            But here's a warning... it is NOT hard to screw up perfectly good, workable forms while trying to improve them.  You know the old saying, huh?  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  (Harry Boyd)

          I always oversize any strips .005, then mark at 5 inch intervals and measure, then fine tune the forms from there. Takes care of any undersizing that might happen from a wrong setting or a shaved form.  (Jerry Andrews)

        I seem to recall that you said you wrapped only one way.  That is a no no.  You get twists from one way wrapping.  Go both ways and be safe.  (Ralph Moon)

    It sounds to me like your angle is off a bit, as in slightly larger than a 60 degree included angle.  That would push out your flat to flat measurements a bit.

    You don't mention what kind of forms you are using or how you check your angle.  (Larry Swearingen)

Rule

While the majority of my angles are 60 degrees, there are some that are slightly askew.  In some cases, I was able to correct them by planing them some more. However, there are other times where the angle doesn't get any better.  I tried trial and error on some practice strips and I seem to be 50-50.   Perhaps I am not paying close enough attention. I am sure my forms are okay and the plane I use is clean.  Since, it is my first rod, I assume I just need more practice.

I really can't find much written about how to correct angles in the books that I own.  Perhaps it is obvious to everyone but me.  Is there a universal solution to this problem that is agreed on.  Or are there different strategies to try to rectify the problem.  I'd been interested in hearing some of your experiences with this.  (Matt Baun)

    I have the same problem. There's a PDF file on I think Chris Bogart’s web site that has two pages that address this pretty well. I keep them taped over my bench so I don't have to think when trying to correct my angles. You can find the article here.

    Check pages 22 and 23.  (Jim Lowe)

      The link should be http://www.canerod.com/Articles/

      Then go to rod making guide, pages 17-20 from the PDF are what you need.

      The whole article is fantastic!  The one thing you need to fix angles is the sharpest iron you can get. Any pressure put on the strip to cut just tends to flatten the strip back into the form and keep the angle wrong. It really takes a sharp edge and light touch to get the angles back.  (Pete Van Schaack)

        For the new rodmakers, draw a picture for yourself of the 4 ways the angles can get off. This will help you see the problem, and understand Harry's advice on how to correct the angles. You will quickly see that you have to correct both sides and which way to lean the plane.

        The most undercooked piece of advice Harry gave was to make sure the enamel side is flat or has a flat spot where it sits in the bars. When you are beginning you will probably put too much pressure on the plane, and cause the strips to rock. The other problem is most bamboo is not really round, usually it is a slight oval. this causes the strip to center at a different point on one side of the enamel Vs. the other when it is flipped over. A certain way to cause the angles to be off. This may seem trivial, but remember we are dealing with trivial numbers here. In actuality the bars are producing numbers less than .001 so the differences are smaller than we can accurately measure, but you can see and feel them.  (Jerry Foster)

          Do you agree with Harry here?  Either I'm dense this afternoon or I'm just misreading what you're saying here.  I personally think that removing the enamel (so that you have a flat...well...flat) before final planing is an important aspect of final planing.  I try to get my angles as close to 60 degrees as possible during rough planing, but I don't get stressed out if they aren't perfect.  (Todd Talsma)

            I am in 100% agreement with both you and Harry. It probably would have read more clearly if the cooked had been looked as I intended.

            Both of my points about plane pressure and oval enamel were a bad attempt I guess to explain why a flat on the enamel side were important.

            Sorry about the confusion.  (Jerry Foster)

              I just read what Jerry had to say in reply, and would add a small  comment to what

              When you pick up your block plane to use it, you find that there is a concave knob up front, which allows you to control the throat opening.  It is very comfortable and very tempting to stick the tip of your index finger in the concavity and push down on the plane whilst using same!

              Try   not   to   do   this.    The  plane  also  has  a well-designed, rounded hand piece at the rear, and it is from this piece that you should push.  If you choose to put your finger in the concave button, try to make sure it is only guiding the plane.

              This will help you not to rock the strips, and will improve your accuracy.  (Peter McKean)

              Recently I've added a step to the above description.  Adding this step may solve a lot of problems.  I think this step is something similar to what Jerry is describing.  But I type faster than Jerry so don't mind sharing a few more details <g>.

              As described in the post from last Summer...

              1.    Remove enamel and flatten enamel side -- truly flat!

              2.    Mark strips at each station with pencil on enamel side

              3.    Now, here's the added step.... Change to a a very, very sharp blade in your plane; as sharp as you can possibly get it.  On a test piece of bamboo set the plane for a cut of .005", with the normal amount of pressure you use when planing.     Place the strip in the form at its final destination.  Make a very, very light pass over the entire strip from one end to the other.  Put absolutely zero downward pressure on the plane.  One hundred percent of your effort should be focused on keeping the sole of  the plane level to the forms and keeping it moving from one end to the other.  You'll find that with zero downward pressure on the plane, it will not remove the .005" per pass.... more like .001"

              Chances are good the plane will not cut all the way down the strip.  It'll skip and jump.  That's okay.  Where it does cut, chances are good that it will cut a shaving smaller than the width of the strip.  That too is okay.

              Now, flip the strip to the other side, and repeat... very light, very level pass.

              Back to the original side, and repeat.  I will cut and flip several times.  Perhaps as many as five passes on each strip.

              In a few passes, you'll find the very sharp plane beginning to cut all the way down the piece of bamboo, and cutting a shaving the same width as the strip.  Now quit.

              I'll usually do this in batches... Remove enamel and flatten all the strips.  Mark all strips.  Make the light passes over all the strips.  Measure and correct angles on all strips.  Finally plane all strips to metal as described in #5 below.

              4.   Now, go back to your calipers and measure each strip.  I think you will find that the very light passes with a super sharp blade have, to a large degree, corrected your angles.  You may have a few that still need some correction.  If so, proceed as described in the previous post that Todd resent.

              Insert previous instructions here....

              5.   Now, back the strip up in the form, moving it toward the larger end.  Sneak it forward a little after every few passes.  Having only a little bamboo above the forms helps keep angles closer. I usually start with a cut of .004" when the butt of the strip is about 20" away (to the larger side) of its final destination,  and plane till I hit metal all along the strip.  Move it up 5" and switch to a cut of .003", and again, plane down to the metal.  Move it 5" closer, and switch to .002" cut -- again planing all the way down to the metal.  For the final 5" I use a cut of .001" or less, and again plane to the metal.

              Eight or ten years ago George Maurer was an active part of this list.  He wound up leaving.   Why is not important.  I set his book aside and didn't look at it for probably 6-7 years.  This Fall, for some reason I picked his book up and reread it.  George (and Bernie) emphasize this step of super light passes in their section on final planing.  Wish I could say this idea was mine originally, but it came from Maurer/Elser.  Many thanks Bernie and George!!!  It has saved me probably two hours per rod.  (Harry Boyd)

              How much oversize are your strips when you flatten the enamel side? I'm asking because I learned (probably from Wayne's book; I don't remember now) to flatten much later in the planing, when I am getting close to final size.  I suppose the reason is to preserve those mythical power fibers. But I tend to start out with way-oversized strips, which is probably part of my problem.

              I believe Darryl H. actually flattens the enamel side with a plane.  I suppose that is the next logical step.  (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

                I try to flatten a "center band" on the strip, trying to make it about the width of the final strip.

                I also measure the two planed surfaces, if one is   much  less  than  the  other  indicating  a non-equilateral triangle, I place the smaller dimensioned one up and take a couple of passes with the plane.  This usually brings it back.  (David Van Burgel)

          I think Harry's method is flawless.

          What I do as a first attempt though is place the strip enamel side up in the forms as I start getting towards approaching final dims - before I scrape the enamel. I then slide the strip down the form so that the edges/corners of the enamel are level with the form. It is then fairly easy to see and/or feel with a finger if the enamel is canted one way or the other - it is remarkable how accurate the feeling in our fingers is. It is then common sense to determine which way to flip the strip over and which way to cant the plane to adjust this. (Take Jerry's advice and draw out the permutations if it is not immediately apparent)

          I repeat this process until the enamel is level with the form flipping the strip over onto whichever face needs an incantation - usually it involves a little to'ing and fro'ing.

          The trick is to do this early enough so that there is enough material to work with. Finally when the enamel is level I scrape.  (Stephen Dugmore)

    I'm also just a new rodmaker.  But I'll offer you some of the advice that worked well for me.  I have a print out from an old listserver post by Harry Boyd that described how to cant (lean) your plane to correct angles that are off.  I can snail mail you a copy or I'm sure you can find the post in the archives.  I has to do with measuring the dimensions of the strips at each station and leaning the plane right or left based on which dimension is larger.

    The second thing that worked well for me is a tip from an old rodmaking book by Kreider(sp?).  For small corrections you can use your 60 degree center gauge as a mini-scraper to correct angles.  Clamp your gauge in a vice point down and draw the strips through the "v" with a little pressure.  You can remove small slivers of bamboo this way to correct an off angle.  (Aaron Gaffney)

    This happens when at wide strip is planed in the narrow end of the form. When you see the angle getting off the 60 degrees, plane off some of the pith apex, slide the strip to the wider part of the form and correct the angle.  As the strip is planed narrower, move the strip up the form. Cocking the blade in the plane body or cocking the plane will help to bring the angle back to 60 degrees. I think this has been covered before. The most important thing as far as I am concerned is having the enamel side flat and flat in the form. I scrape the enamel side flat as soon as I get the 60 degree angle started. (Tony Spezio)

      The most important thing as far as I am concerned is having the enamel side flat and flat in the form. I scrape the enamel side flat as soon as I get the 60 degree angle started. Hope this helps.

      Got a couple of off list messages about scraping the power fibers on a wide strip. I should of made this a bit more detailed like I did in the reply that did not post. As soon as I get a 60 degree angle started, The strip is turned enamel side up, the strip is scraped just down the center to start a flat area down the middle of the strip. A couple of passes with a single edge razor blade will do it. This will help to keep the strip from "rolling" in the form. The scraped area is kept narrow as not to scrape deep into the power fibers. Most of the enamel that remains on the strip will be planed away as the 60 degree angle is planed. The final scraping of the enamel side is not "Final scraped" till the strip is close to finished size.  My tip strips are usually split 3/16" wide and butt strips 1/4" wide.  (Tony Spezio)

Rule

First of all, I made my own wood forms.  The final dimension from top of the enamel is fine.  The problem I have is that the "enamel" flat is too wide - about .0010 too wide.  Is it my forms?   Did I cut them unequally?   (Louis DeVos)

    If you mean the flat is one thousandth of an inch too wide, I'd say that is pretty darn good.  If you mean it's one hundredth I'd say you don't have 60 degree angles.  (Neil Savage)

    First of all, don't worry. Some people with mills actually  cut their strips that way to assure tight glue joints. The first  thing I would do is visually check the angles with your machinist  center gauge. If they appear to be right, consider the following:

    1) The power fibers just under the enamel are the toughest stuff in  the rod. It may be that you are crushing them less when measuring,  and getting a different reading than you get on the other sides,  where one edge is composed of softer pith material.

    2) If your plane is not dead sharp, it may be that you are getting a  slight rollover with the fine fibers.

    In any case, glue up the rod and go fishing. I don't think you have a  big problem.  (Tom Smithwick)

Rule

The more I build, it seems the less I stop to check the angles of my strips against the center gauge.  The last rod I built, for myself, I couldn’t even find my center gauge.  The rod turned out great and had hardly a glue line.  The measurements from flat to flat seemed to be consistent on the three sides.  I flip the strip every 2 to 3 passes while final planing and stop to sharpen often so I think that helps a lot with getting good angles.  I do eyeball them and look while planing to see if the angle is off so it is not like I am ignoring the task.  My question is this, how many of you stop and put the strip in the center gauge to determine if you are getting 60* angles?  (Greg Reeves)

    I do it every couple of passes and I also measure the length of the legs to the apex (pithy side) of the triangle. I’m sure that keeping these constants is what is helping me maintain no glue lines.  (Ren Monllor)

      I agree with premise a starter form/groove is not needed to rough plane strips. You can use your regular forms to rough the strips. Turning your strip every 2 or 3 passes and checking with a center gage will keep you on track. This  also gives you good practice getting the feel of when the sole of your plane is parallel to the top of the form and how much to tip the plane away or towards you to keep the apex centered.

      The additional thing I would suggest is to use the butt side of the forms for rough planning. This will give you more support on the sides of the strips so they less of a tendency to rotate in the groove while planning. If the strip rotates it is very easy to plane a twist into the strip. Not good !  (Don Schneider)

    Like all novices, I used check all the time, then with growing confidence sort of hung up my center gauge and just did it all by eye.

    About a year ago the gauge cycled itself up to the top of the bench detritus and i thought I'd use it again just to check.  Quite surprising - my angles were not as good as I thought, though i have never had a problem with glue lines.  But I find  that I tend to cut the base angles too fat and the apex too thin..

    I don't check in any paranoid way even now, but just an occasional comparison keeps me pretty much on track.

    When all is said and done, though, bamboo is a pretty forgiving material.  (Peter McKean)

    You don't really need a center gauge to make rods at all. If you measure all the flat to apex possibilities and they all measure (darn near) the same, then you're angles are true, the more difference between measurements then the farther off your angles are. Just remember that to correct them, you must catch the problem in time and then work on the correct side, it's the narrow side that needs work.  (John Channer)

    I trust my forms.  Once I'm getting metal shavings off the form I know that my strips are done.  I do take the last two or three swipes off all three sides and end with a razor blade scraper.   My only problems are with the butt side of my forms which probably need to be checked.  About one out of five rods has a butt section glue line in the butt end. 

    I do check my strips for problems all the way down.  Sometimes I take twice as many passes on one side of the strip as I do on the other.

    For me the MOST important thing is how sharp the blade is!  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

      I have a set of Bellingers.  They are very nice indeed.  (Mike Shay)

        How fine are the tips on the Bellingers?  I've been looking at them myself.  (Ed Berg)

          This particular set of forms has a tip of .023". I don't know if that's run of the mill for these forms or luck of the draw. Very consistent rate of slope tip and butt.  (Mike Shay)

Rule

How many check the angle at one point, say the middle, and then plane the length of the strip to correct it and how many check it at various points and then  plane corrections  to segments of the strip? (Henry Mitchell)

    When I notice that an angle is off, I check it down the length of the strip and only try to correct the section or sections that are off.  (Greg Reeves)

    I check the points at different places.  (Gary Nicholson)

    I always check the whole length of the strip, mark the bad angle areas with a pencil mark, and shift and adjust the plane when I get to those areas.  If you plane the entire length of the strip as if the bad angle was inclusive to the length, you'll just be introducing bad angles where they weren't before.  (Mark Wendt)

Rule

I am on my 7th rod, and with the excitement of obtaining a finished product, the first 6 were more rushed than not!  I am now endeavoring to slow down and perfect all aspects of the build.  To that end, my first focus is to build blanks with no glue lines, and that are built with true equilateral triangles.

I have roughed out my strips, and before I heat treat I want to get strips with equal measurements so the final planing starts off correctly.  Here is how I am going about it - I measure the strip with the pith side to left side of the caliper jaws, and then do the same but with the pith side to the right.  If I am off on one side, I plane the opposite to equate them out and then remeasure.  For example, if one measurement is .165, and the other .180, I will plane the shorter side to equal them out.  What I am finding is that I am shortening both sides when I do this and not "catching up" on the longer side (if that makes sense).  What am I doing wrong?  (Louis DeVos)

    In correcting angles, the most important thing  to me is a sharp iron in my plane.  Then I look at how the strip is laying in my forms.  Usually if the angles aren’t correct, the strips tend to rock a little bit which makes it important to hold the strip so it doesn’t move when you make your pass of the plane.  Then with your freshly sharpened plane, use very light pressure, only the weight of the plane itself, so the sole of the plane doesn’t rock the strip or lay flat on the strip.  Then make a nice level pass of the plane over the roughing form.  This should only take off the high side.  Then measure again.  I think what is happening to you is the sole of your plane is laying flat on the top of the strip and you are taking off an even amount all the way across the strip instead of concentrating on the high side.  (Greg Reeves)

    One thing to make sure of is that you have the rind or bark side flat, I use my scraper to remove the rind and then make sure the nodes are sanded flat in the forms before starting the planing. Hope this makes sense and helps.  (Joe Arguello)

      A loud AMEN to that!  (Neil Savage)

    Light pressure on the plane is important.

    I use a 6 inch, 1/64” metal rule and measure (fat side of the line, dead center on line, just shy of halfway between the line). What I have found using calipers to measure is that, no matter how accurately I try to take the measurement, the distance from ,say, the tip of the caliper to the to the side of the caliper  touching the bamboo is always different from one side to the other causing an angle other than a true, flat,  180* and the legs just cannot be measured in that way. I place my left index finger nail against the outside of the strip side and butt the ruler against my nail along with the cane, then measure towards the pith. Then, after planning the piece I place the pith on the first joint of my index finger and hold the piece in my hand and flex it (as if a small short cast), If the strip wants to flex towards one side or the other, I know I have a “fat side”. If it flexes straight up and down (following the motion of my hand) it is in balance and to date I’ve had absolutely no glue lines.

    I hope this helps. I know that Tony once said to me, if there’s a chance of glue lines, and it’s for a customer -  throw the piece out! So I try to get it right.  (Ren Monllor)

      Well, for what it’s worth I gave up measuring the sides with my micrometer.  I used to do that, however I found that I was ending up with an isosceles triangle rather than an equilateral triangle.  That is the two inner sides were the same length but the enamel side wasn’t equal to the two other sides (I know this was my error).  However, in frustration after several rods, I just started using my 60 degree gauge and made sure that the inner (pith side) angle was 60 degrees and that the other two angles (enamel side angles) were very sharp (no nicks or round corners).  I found that after glue up I was pretty much right on for final dimensions and I wasn’t getting any glue lines, which was for me yielding better results than before.  Anyway, this seems to work best for me and it is quite a time saver as well.

      Incidentally, I found that in using the micrometer is was very easy to “crush” the bamboo when doing the measurements which seemed alter the dimensions even when trying to apply only slight pressure. (Tom Mohr)

    "The bark flat." I was going to say that the other thing I would say is if your angles are off, planing more off one side or the other will not change the angles. You have to change the angle. I think usually as you change the angle, for instance, you need to tilt the plane some more toward the peak on the short side and away from the peak on the long side.  (Timothy Troester)

      Here is a compilation of a coupla posts I made about 2.5 years ago.  They're both on the tips page.  Harry

      As described in the post from last Summer...

      1.    Remove enamel and flatten enamel side -- truly flat!

      2.    Mark strips at each station with pencil on enamel side

      3.    Now, here's the added step.... Change to a a very, very sharp blade in your plane; as sharp as you can possibly get it.  On a test piece of bamboo set the plane for a cut of .005", with the normal amount of pressure you use when planing.

      Place the strip in the form at its final destination.  Make a very, very light pass over the entire strip from one end to the other.  Put absolutely zero downward pressure on the plane.  One hundred percent of your effort should be focused on keeping the sole of  the plane level to the forms and keeping it moving from one end to the other.  You'll find that with zero downward pressure on the plane, it will not remove the .005" per pass.... more like .001"

      Chances are good the plane will not cut all the way down the strip.  It'll skip and jump.  That's okay.  Where it does cut, chances are good that it will cut a shaving smaller than the width of the strip.  That too is okay.

      Now, flip the strip to the other side, and repeat... very light, very level pass.

      Back to the original side, and repeat.  I will cut and flip several times.  Perhaps as many as five passes on each strip.

      In a few passes, you'll find the very sharp plane beginning to cut all the way down the piece of bamboo, and cutting a shaving the same width as the strip.  Now quit.

      I'll usually do this in batches... Remove enamel and flatten all the strips.  Mark all strips.  Make the light passes over all the strips.  Measure and correct angles on all strips.  Finally plane all strips to metal as described in #5 below.

      4.   Now, go back to your calipers and measure each strip.  I think you will find that the very light passes with a super sharp blade have, to a large degree, corrected your angles.  You may have a few that still need some correction.

      So let me try to explain how I mic' strips.    First, I remove the enamel, then place the strip in the forms at its finished location, enamel side up.  I then mark each station on the enamel side with a pencil.  As I plane to closer to final dimensions, I measure all three sides to check the angles.  I hold the caliper in my right hand, and the strip in the left.  I keep the calipers parallel to the floor, and the skinny end of the strip toward the ceiling.  Each time I measure, I close the jaws just barely tight enough keep the weight of the strip from pulling it through the jaws and falling out.

      The strip is first measured with the pencil mark toward me.  That's measurement #1.

      I turn the strip one-third turn so the enamel and the pencil mark is away from me, and measure again.  That's measurement #2.

      Finally, I turn the strip again and place the enamel and pencil mark against the lower jaw of the caliper and measure a third time.  Measurement #3.

      Here's the only tricky part.  If Measurement #1 is bigger, the plane has to be leaned away from me.  Looking from the back, the right side of the plane is lower (or closer to the forms) than the left side.  If measurement #2 is bigger, lean the plane where the left side of the plane is closer to the forms.  If measurement #3 is the largest (it usually isn't) then the pith apex needs to be removed from both sides.

      How do you know which direction to place the strips in the forms so that the strip is brought back to equilateral?  You have to do a little thinking, but it soon becomes second nature.  You can't add to any measurement by planing, so you have to work towards the smallest of the three measurements.  Let's use this example....

      measurement #1   .105
      measurement #2   .100
      measurement #3   .102

      Now since measurement #1 is largest, you know that you need to lean the plane AWAY from you.  Since #3 is larger than #2, you have to place the strip in the forms where the pith apex is cut away.  So place the strip in the forms with the enamel on the side of the groove nearest you.  Angle your plane away from you, and make a cut.  I usually work on the angles one station at a time, sliding the strip up if necessary to get the plane to take a bite.  After a pass or two over the cane from 2.5" below the out-of-whack station to 2.5" above the out-of-whack station, measure from all three sides again.  Chances are good your numbers will look something like this:

      measurement #1   .104
      measurement #2   .099
      measurement #3   .099

      If so, you're almost home.... you turn the strip in the forms so the enamel side is against the groove opposite you.  Lean the plane the same direction, and make a pass or two.  If you did it right, your numbers should be something like:

      measurement #1   .098
      measurement #2   .098
      measurement #3   .098

      Now move to the next station, measure and cut accordingly.  You may well find that three stations in a row are off in one direction, and the fourth off in the other direction.  I sometimes cheat and work on all the adjoining stations that are off in the same direction.  Once all stations are equilateral, make one light pass down each side taking great pains to make sure the  sole of  the plane is parallel to the forms.   Voila!  You're back to working with perfectly equilateral strips.

      There may be better ways, but this works for me.

      Insert previous instructions here....

      5.   Now, back the strip up in the form, moving it toward the larger end.  Sneak it forward a little after every few passes.  Having only a little bamboo above the forms helps keep angles closer. I usually start with a cut of .004" when the butt of the strip is about 20" away (to the larger side) of its final destination,  and plane till I hit metal all along the strip.  Move it up 5" and switch to a cut of .003", and again,  plane  down  to  the  metal.   Move  it  5"  closer,  and switch to .002" cut -- again planing all the way down to the metal.  For the final 5" I use a cut of .001" or less, and again plane to the metal.

      Eight or ten years ago George Maurer was an active part of this list.  He wound up leaving.   Why is not important.  I set his book aside and didn't look at it for probably 6-7 years.  This Fall, for some reason I picked his book up and reread it.  George (and Bernie) emphasize this step of super light passes in their section on final planing.  Wish I could   say  this  idea  was  mine  originally,  but  it  came  from Maurer-Elser.  Many thanks Bernie and George!!!  It has saved me probably two hours per rod.

      -------------------

      Using these procedures has worked so well for me that I no longer consider flattening the enamel side necessary.  Since I can get true 60 degree angles without flattening the enamel side, I see no good reason to remove those precious outermost power fibers.

      Hope this is helpful  (Harry Boyd)

    I'll add something I just read in Kathy Scott's new book "Trading Planes."  Once you know you have your 60 degrees, to help keep the planing removing good shavings all the way across the strip, make a mark with a felt tip pen every couple of inches, these marks should come off evenly, that way you know you plane is flat on the strip.  - Thanks Kathy!!

    Get a copy of Kathy's new book, I'm about half way through and it's a fantastic read!  (Pete Van Schaack)

    Since nobody else has mentioned it, I'll add this. The very first thing to do after you sharpen your blade and put it back in the plane is to make sure it contacts the forms evenly. Back the blade off so it doesn't touch the form then advance it just a touch at a time until you start to take a tiny metal shaving when you push it forward. What you want to see is a bit of metal shavings on each side of the blade, if you only get metal on one side, adjust the blade until you get an even amount on both sides. This makes the blade parallel to the bottom of the plane, if it's not you'll fight uneven angles every strip. Once you have that right then you can concentrate on how you hold your plane to keep the angles true.  (John Channer)

      For a mere $2500 you to can eliminate all this plane and angle talk.  Just call, email, or write Tom Morgan and have him send you one of his masterpiece hand mills.  I made my first 10 rods, plus a few throw away sections, using block planes and forms, but then my wonderful wife presented me with a retirement gift that made them obsolete - my very own Morgan Hand Mill.  Now I only use my steel form for removing the enamel and the feather that is left on the pith side apex.  Really it's almost like cheating.  OK, back to work.  (Tom Key)

      That's actually a very good tip!

      Now...do you have some udder way of doing it other than scraping a freshly sharpened iron over a set of steel bars?  (Mike Shay)

        Instead of on your planing form, test that blades fit on a jointed (or flat) piece of hardwood.

        Whats'at.... you don't have a jointer?? *G* Use a "fairly straight" edged bit of lumber and just take a nick out of both extreme ends of the blade and tap until she's parallel and just ticks. It's feel.  (Jeremy Gubbins)

          You can do that, and the light shining off the blade edge works, too. I do it my way because my eyes aren't so good anymore and there's just enough distortion in my reading glasses that i don't trust the visual test, the forms are right there and the metal dust is easy to see if it builds up the same on both sides of the blade.  (John Channer)

        I have a grooved plane, so that's the only time the blade touches the form. Once I get it set right, I back it off until the blade just barely clears the form. When you plane some steel to check the blade setting you don't have to plane the whole form down an eighth <g>, all it takes is some metal fuzz on the cutting edge to tell what it's doing.  (John Channer)

        I hold the plane (with the iron retracted) bottom side up so a good light is shining along the sole.  Then I extend the iron a bit at a time until the shadow shows it's past the sole a tiny amount.  If it's uneven, it's pretty easy to see and adjust.  (Neil Savage)

          That procedure works perfectly well as long as the sole of the place and the bedding for the blade are in perfect alignment.  Sadly, many, if not most, are not perfectly aligned.  Neither is the bedding for the iron perfectly aligned with the front foot of the plane.  So if we try to set a perfect gap between the blade edge and the front foot, the blade may still be way off.

          When you're bored sometime, give the procedure John suggests a try.  It works quite well.  Since John told me the same thing years ago I have almost quit having angle troubles.  (Harry Boyd)

            Yes, Harry is correct.

            The mouth of the plane can be off and also to make things even worse the ramp is skew.  If you combine this with a non square blade you are really in trouble.

            This is really were you need to tune your plane. If its done correctly you will have a Stanley as good as a Norris well not quite.  (Gary Nicholson)

              You are correct in pointing out the mouth and bed of the plane can be off. Just the idea of this drives me crazy, but if you sight down the length of the sole of the plane with that light over your shoulder the blade will reflect brightly and you can compare it to the flat sole of the plane.  (Timothy Troester)

                Not sure this makes sense, but I have a groove in the bottom of the dial indicator bases I use for my classes so you can measure the height of the plane blade and if it is equally exposed from side to side.  (Scott Grady)

          I do this but if you situate your self with the light over your shoulder you will catch a glint off the blade as soon as it begins to peak out. If it's only half there then you need to adjust the blade. Now, I have heard than meditation helps in sharpening or leveling the blade. I suggest when it comes to accurate planing prayer and incantations, both, should be on the table. It's just that important and after all the time in the basement alone makes for good conversation with ones self!   (Timothy Troester)

            Light over your shoulder works fine too, I just learned to point the sole of the plant toward the light (about 60 years ago) and since it works for me...  (Neil Savage)

            I find that beer goggles work as well for leveling a iron as picking a woman.

            Works every time....ehh, time, after time...after time... Maybe the goggles need cleaning?

            Light over shoulder...check.

            Buys her own beer...check.

            small metal shavings...check.

            Prayer and incantations...check!

            Think I'll fire up a couple sticks of incense just to be on the safe side.

            Burning sticks...Check!  (Mike Shay)

              Don't forget the special incantations and the sacrificial chicken.  (Mark Wendt)

              If you burn incense it needs to be sweetgrass. Nothing else works. believe me, chaser of Bigfoot.  (Mark Heskett)

                You KNOW you can't keep a stick of bamboo burning in the shop! The whole place will go up in flames! It would also be the answer to all my problems. My shop...not yours. My problems, not yours!

                I wish I could post the big foot pic you sent me! THEN the world would believe!

                Patchouli baby, burning bamboo in the morning, stinky, wonderful, retching, patchouli at night.

                Oh yeah, John failed to mention he uses a grooved plane, just to keep this on track. The only part of his iron touching the forms are the little, outside corners which he tucks back out of the way when he planes with that thing.  (Mike Shay)

                  It's not bamboo but sage grass. Deep meaning to the Native Americans. I burn it before I start every rod. I also start all rods with the Stanley 9 1/2 I got from Douglas Duck. I'm kinda superstitious that way. Can't seem to keep Bigfoot away though.  (Mark Heskett)

                    YOU got Duck's 9 1/2?

                    I'm honored to know you and pissed off at the same time. Ya well, I have Dickerson's left shoe he once rented and wore to a wedding but there is no photo,  written, or other documentation. I paid dearly on Ebay.

                    I AM SO SORRY all you good readers. But at least this has NOTHING to do with ground up corn or rice soaked in lye. I will retire for the evening and make greasy tacos and suffer in agony the rest of the night. IN your honor of course...

                    This is what you get when not enough stuff is talked about on the list! It's know one's fault but your own!  (Mike Shay)

                      I got one of Ducks 9 1/2 sent to me with a hand written letter from Darlele Duck on Douglas letter head documenting the plane. You can see the actual plane I have on page 27 of Dick Spurr’s CLASSIC BAMBOO RODMAKERS book. It's the one sitting at his right elbow on the table. Might be interested in a trade with your Dickerson shoe if you can back it up with documentation. I'll even throw in a couple of sweetgrass incense sticks.  (Mark Heskett)

                      That's why we love you, man!  In a rodmakers kinda way, of course.  (Mark Wendt)

    It seems that in laying your strip in the form you are planing one side and then measuring (I use a micrometer) from that side to the sharp opposite corner. If that measurement is .180" and the other side measures .165", that would indicate to me a need to remove more stock from the .180" side. The .165" measurement will also 'change' due to removal of material from the sharp corner on the .180" side ~ thus requiring several plane and measure trials until equal dimensions are attained. It is certainly a better method than 'eyeballing' and planing ~ no soft pith to measure over, either.  (Vince Brannick)

Rule

After fighting with the butt strips where the apex shifted right then left then right then left as I slowly worked it down to final, I nearly pitched the whole cane operation into a large pile and had a wiener baking fire.

I've build rods for years and I never had this much trouble with planing. Finally got them within a couple of thou, and gave up in disgust. Then for the tips - set the forms and get @ 'er. The first one apex>apex was within 0.002 or less. And then for the real test - how about #2.

Same thing. <0.002

You'd think after 150 rods there wouldn't be a lot of crap left that hasn't happened.

WRONG!!!

Gonna glue the sucker Thursday and see how it looks.  (Don Anderson)

    My Dad would say "You must not of been holding your mouth right."  (Tom Kurtis)

    I've had the pleasure of seeing your workmanship.....at this point the short version of the Serenity prayer is in order, if you don't know it, here it is.... "F it".  (Ren Monllor)

    Sometimes I still chase angles too.  One piece of bamboo works easily, the next fights till the bitter end.  You were making bamboo rods when I was still in school, so I know it's somewhat presumptuous of me to offer advice to you.  So please take these words only as an attempt by one struggler to commiserate with another.  I just wrote a full length article for the Italian Bamboo Rodmaker's Association newsletter on obtaining and keeping congruent angles.  A synopsis of the article, less the pictures, can be found here.  Perhaps the ideas there will help a few folks.

    In a similar vein, I've got a coupla three piece rods on the bench right now.  The culm chosen worked out in such a way that each tip strip has only one node.  I thought that would make things easy in straightening and flattening the nodes.  But wouldn't you know it, every single one of those twenty-four tip strips, with one node per strip, fought me to a standstill this afternoon.  Thankfully it's pretty cool here in Louisiana tonight -- cool enough to want a fire in the fireplace.  Those tip strips sure did make good fire starter!!  (Harry Boyd)

    A wise man once told me that some bamboo wants to be a fly rod, others just want to be a tomato stake.  (John Channer)

Rule

I am fighting the angles and I'm beginning to distrust my planing forms. The strips come out of the beveler with numbers like 169, 169, 172. Not bad for a kludgy home made router contraption. They come off the planing form 138,134,141 or 126,120,128. I took Harry Boyd's article (see here) out to the shop, measure the sides, tilt the plane, and it either doesn't change or usually gets worse. The tip end of the forms are real close to being on, but the butt keeps making strips with sides off by as much as 8 mills. I thought maybe the crown was messing it up since the tip end is much better, so I took a strip, set the form at a constant width and planed off the enamel side so it was dead flat. No luck. The rods go together OK and they aren't horribly ugly unless you measure the sides, but I'd like to get a little bit better fit. So, could my home made wood planing forms be the root of my problem?  (Larry Lohkamp)

    The fact that your using the same form to plane all the strips shouldn't be the problem so I would look more at the process your using. It's more likely the strips are slipping in the form so that your not planing in the same location on all the different strips. It also could be the final planing, I like to scrape the last bit until I'm not removing any shavings at all from the the splines. It's easy to do on steel forms but I'm not sure how it would be on wooden ones and important that all the splines all sit in the same location on the planing form for final planing or your numbers will be off. As far as checking angles goes I've never once checked mine, I set the form and plane, as long as I'm flipping my strips regularly I don't worry about it.  (Ken Paterson)

    I have similar problems with my homemade steel forms.  I'm sure the forms are part of my issue, but I think a bigger problem, in my case, is not always having my strips as straight as they should be.  Butt strips are pretty tough customers and I think I am holding them well seated into the forms but just a little curve or twist will be enough to throw my numbers off.  I don't use a beveler, just a plane all the way so maybe my problem may be different from yours.

    I'll be interested in hearing the responses to your question.  I've heard them all a dozen times. Maybe on the 13th a light bulb will go off.   (Frank Stetzer, Hexrod, Taper Archive, Rodmakers Archive)

    It's possible that your forms become a little uneven when you adjust them, I'm convinced that mine do, but I've learned how to compensate for it when planing. It's also possible that your blade isn't even with the sole of the plane, if it's out of whack by even a little bit it can throw you off as bad as tilting it to one side or the other. This is not limited to home made forms, my current forms are store bought and I know the last 4 stations on the butt end cam a little when I set them. If the direction your strips are off is consistent between all strips all the time I would suspect the forms, if it changes sides when you change the plane blade then I would suspect the plane.  (John Channer)

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Thanks to all of you for your help on my errant angle problem. I do initially assume that the operator is at fault, but at some point further flagellation must give way to equipment blame. The fact that the planing forms were made without a lot of fancy metrology makes them a prime candidate. While they may still carry some blame they were not the root of the problem.

Pondering your suggestions it boiled down to the forms or the plane. Since I don't have a way to check the accuracy of the form, I inspected the plane. While I was sure that I had aligned the blade before starting, it was wildly crooked. I sharpened the blade and set it straight for the next strip. That strip was also off, but the opposite way. The blade had shifted some time during planing. I have never liked the way the big hulking Hock blade fit the plane body, so I removed it for the original and planed another strip to very good angles.

The routine that seems to work is to adjust the beveled strip angles with a low angle Stanley. Remove the bulk of the taper with the grooved sole plane, stopping about 10 over. Adjust the angles one last time with the low angle plane. Take the strip to within 2 or 3 over. Flatten the enamel. Take the strip to final. Measure and adjust with a scraper.

I was able to salvage the buggered strips with Harry's plane tipping.  (Larry Lohkamp)

    I've had similar problems, not all my fault.

    Two things to check the forms, both are best done in a very dark room:

    Put your dial indicator with 60 degree point into the groove and backlight it. Mine showed light coming around one side of the point because the angle wasn't really 60 degrees.

    Run a backlit and perpendicularly - held straightedge down the length of the forms to make sure one isn't higher than the other.

    The bad part of having gotten the forms fixed is I can no longer blame them for my incompetence.  (Henry Mitchell)

      Another way to check form height -- and perpendicularity of faces -- is to make a light pass over the top of the form with a clean, sharp file and examine the pattern. File should be held flat and pointed down the form and held, oh, 15-20 degrees from parallel to the groove.   You should see file-to-form contact across both top surfaces right to the edge of the groove.  If you don't, odds are you're planing strips that have edges like the high-water mark at the lake: the edges ripple in and out (think of the contour lines on a geologic survey map).  You'd like the tops of both bars to be the same height all the way across, but if they drop away from the groove toward the outer sides, that's preferable to having them drop as they approach the groove.  In that case, the higher areas of the form are actually keeping the blade from reaching the cane at the edge of the groove and the form really should be dressed flat and the groove dimensions rechecked and/or reestablished by filing/scraping/divine intervention, etc.

      If I tell you how I know these things, it'll exceed my embarrassment quotient for the day, so I won't.  (Steve Yasgur)

      Don't forget the mystical incantations and the sacrificial chicken.  (Mark Wendt)

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All, a few years ago we had a discussion on keeping the angles.  Among other things I said I couldn't get the v-block to work for me.  My angles were off, etc. etc.  Well, last year, I accidentally got one strip rotated when I glued up a butt section.  Flat-to-flat measurements were off by 0.010" on the butt, and only by 0.002" on the tip, so I took a hard look at my forms.  It turns out that even though the grooves were 60 degrees, they weren't perpendicular to the face of the forms.  I opened the forms, blacked the groove with magic marker and used a 3-square file epoxied to an aluminum block to re-cut the grooves.  The only reason I can think of for my rods coming out on the numbers even though the angles were off is that they were consistently off the same way and the same amount.  Since the internal angles of all triangles add up to 180 degrees, if I was putting a 55 degree and a 65 degree angle together, I'd still get the 120 degrees needed for a hexagon.  (Neil Savage)

    I bought a set of forms from a local maker who is now passed on and planed out three butt sections that all had glue lines in the same place. The Groove in the forms were not true. I then checked the groove and found it was less than 60* in that area. I was able to do as you did and "clean" it up. Now the forms are fine. I then knew why he sold then as they were only used a few times I was told. They were made at a local machine shop.  (Tony Spezio)

      Well, I got a really good price on them -- they were used in a class or two -- so I guess it's OK.  I couldn't figure out why the blanks were on the money, so to speak but the strips were off.  Now I know.  (Neil Savage)

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