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I'm a novice rodmaker who all of a sudden is seeing gaps in the butt sections - the last rod I attempted has no gaps in the tip sections but the butt is horrid.  My buddy who is getting an Xmas present says to not worry about it but, sorry, I do.

I've added tension to the binding string, weight to the binder - 16 ounces  - and glue with Nyatex.  While I expect to see an occasional gap (still working on it), the last section was gapped all over.  Thinking about  starting over  on  techniques.  (Keith Temple)

    Where are the gaps on the butt section -- near the nodes, elsewhere?   If near the nodes, my first suspicion would be your strips aren't straightened enough going into the final form.  Just about any bend or dip will give you fits, especially with butt sections.  The fatter strips are less flexible, and don't conform to the groove in the form

    the way thinner tip strips do.  Also, if the enamel face isn't flat, the strip will have a tendency to rock in the form under pressure, throwing your angles off.  Pressing down too hard (like when your plane blade is getting dull... with the plane will exacerbate this.

    Here's what I do to help get gapless (or close to it) butt sections:

    • Sharpen your plane blade, whether it "needs" it or not.
    • Set your roughed strips in the final form, and note any dips or "wows", especially near the nodes.  Get your heat gun out and straighten as necessary until the strip lays flat (or close as you can possibly get) to the form.
    • Scrape the enamel side of your strip flat.  OK, you don't have to take it down to dead flat right away, just get a flat face to keep the strip from rocking under pressure.
    • Let the weight of the plane do the work.  If you have to push down with your hand to get it to cut, the blade is too dull, or something is off -- check your plane and resharpen your blade.
    • Measure often, and check your angles.  Correct them as soon as you notice them getting off (while there's still cane to allow for correction!  :-) .   Check between the stations, as well as at them.  Sometimes twists pop up in the strangest places..  :-)
    • Before I get the strip to the final position in the form, I scrape the enamel side dead flat to the form with a single edge razor blade (thank you Tony!  :-) .  I  then move the strip forward halfway to the final position (i.e. about 2"), and plane/scrape one  of the glue faces dead flat to the form.  Turn the strip and move it to the final position, and
    • plane/scrape the other face dead flat to the form.
    • Watch out for wire edges, but be careful when you remove them.
    • Tape/bind the strips and check your fit -- mark any bad spots.
    • If you've got some slight gapping, you can often make minor corrections by freehand scraping with a single edge razor blade.  Measure your flat to apex distances, and scrape the shorter side toward the pith apex.  Take your time.
    • Some gapping can be "repaired" by carefully gluing a strip or two of bamboo shavings into the gap and  scraping/sanding.
    • If all else fails, you'll have to decide if the gaps are small enough to live with, or if you need to remake the section.

    The larger the butt section, the harder it is to get all the gaps out.  Considerably easier, IMHO, to get a gap-free butt section for a 7' 4 wt. than it is for a 9' 8 wt.  (Todd Enders)

    Of course follow the instructions/advice on how to get rid of glue gaps (as I will also be watching for the advice!).

    However, I thought I'd share my experience.  I had a hideous gap near the ferrule of one of my two Martha Marie tips.  I was going to toss the section into the scrap bin, but Chris O. talked me into finishing up the section and to "just fish it".  After a bit of cleaning up, the gap is still there, but the wraps and varnish made it a lot more tolerable than it was on a blank section.

    No, I'm not proud of that tip.  When I show the rod to friends, I always pull out the cleaner tip.    However, guess what?  The tip section with the gap actually casts slightly better than the clean tip!  So that's the tip I fish with 75% of the time (unless I'm fishing where someone will ask to see my rod!).

    So in the future, fix the problems that cause the gaps.  For the present, tell your friend to enjoy his hand-built bamboo fly rod on the river!  (Scott Turner)

    I would think that possibly you had some imperfection, whether it be pieces of cane, dust, or other material, that messed up the butt section. That is the only problem I've had there. I usually find the chipped (chopped) nodes in the tip sections.  (Mike Canazon)

    First check your strips before gluing. Put them together and use a magnifying glass to exam the fit. Second check your forms for any debris. Make sure the gaps are not there before gluing.  (Adam Vigil)


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