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When I was final planing, I read the incorrect numbers for my butt section and overplaned the strips. Since the strips were too small to be used as the butt section, I used the tip section as the butt and the butt as the tip. Has anyone had any problems doing this?  (Chris Hei)

    OH NO!  Chris,  I just had to do something similar, though it was because I was merrily planing a strip for the butt section and managed to create a monstrous node lift.   I just took one of the tip sections and used it for the butt.  You just need to make sure that you have plenty of power fibers for the butt section.   (Todd Talsma)

    Common mistake and the usual fix!  (Paul Blakley)

    About the only thing that would happen is that your tips might have slightly different actions, and that would only happen if you did the traditional approach of the low half of the culm for the original butt, and the top half for the tips, AND there was a major difference in the power fiber density. Your solution was one used by every rodmaker at one time or another. And it will be a fine rod.  (Jeff Schaeffer)


Time to fess up.

I still haven't finished my first rod; trying to make all the components myself and cash flow isn't exactly working as well as I'd like it to. But I did start on my second blank.  My first blank is right on the money and I couldn't be more pleased. I've "miced" it numerous times and man o' man, I'm just so proud of it. At any rate, I planed down the strips for the second rod and I've got to admit, I was feeling pretty sure of myself. Well, lo and behold, while gluing up the strips I got a call from the ex and I hurried through it; again feeling pretty sure of myself because the first blank came out so beautifully and I guess at that point I was feeling a bit invincible. Well I ended up with an absolutely worthless butt section. I mean I wouldn't even let somebody look at it, much less hold it in their hands.

I decided I'd start from the beginning and use up the cane I had flamed, which as you might remember, I'm not too fond of flamed rods, but I figured, what the hell.  I double checked the form settings, I've done the correct straightening of the strips and I've been taking my time and paying close attention to what I'm doing. Yes, I too can be a PUTZ, man everything is coming out beautifully and I couldn't be happier. For the new guy, don't make my mistake and feel too confident after a great blank, treat each process like it were the first blank and you won't go through the disappointments I've been through.

Pay attention.  (Ren Monllor)

    The butts are always more difficult because, being thicker, they don't lie down in the groove so tightly under plane pressure, so the straightening needs to be much better than the tips. Whilst they may look a bit gappy they won't delaminate, and if you are using resorcinol they will probably look much worse than they actually are.  If you haven't glued the old butt up try using polyurethane, it covers a multitude of sins as it gap fills.  (Robin Haywood)


I am experiencing my first real problem with lifting bamboo when planing.  The funny thing, it's not just at the nodes.  The other strips from the same culm have been fine. I resharpened the blade but it's still occurring after the usual remedies.  What works for you when you have a bad strip?  (Louis DeVos)

    Have you closed the throat on your plane? It should be very close to the blade and it will stop a lot of it. You can also plan it in a reverse direction.  (Gordon Koppin)

      It's open less than and 8th of an inch. I will close it more and see if that helps.  (Louis DeVos)

    Not sure what you mean here, do you mean lofting out of the form or getting a rough cut. You might be taking too deep a cut with the plane.  (Tony Spezio)

    I think you're on the right track, with the sharpening but I might suggest that you check the sharpening angle as well. My experience has been, less than sharp irons, wrong angle and too heavy a cut usually result in lifting, not necessarily in that order. Worked with a material one time that required sharpening the iron about every ten passes or the material would tear out, got pretty good at sharpening and darn near wore out an iron, but bamboo is not quite that bad.  (Greg Shockley)

    I presume it is the same plane you were previously using with no problems? If so I think you may be right that you have found some difficult bamboo. I have had the same experience. What I do is to plane well above final dims and then scrape down the lifting sections with a Lie-Nielsen scraper and then with a blade almost right down to the forms. I then plane down the remainder and final scrape and sand the last microns of the whole strip.

    Are you using a low angle block plane? I find these lift the bamboo.  (Stephen Dugmore)

    The opening should be just large enough for the shaving to pass through. 2 or 3 thousandths.

    My other thought is that the node or strip isn't flat enough and is rocking in the form. This COULD cause the plane iron to dig deeper in some places than others. It could cause the lift you speak of.  (Mike Shay)

    My solution is to use three different planes. I first get down to about .010" over final dimensions with a Stanley block plane with the Hock blade honed at a 30 degree angle. Then I switch to a L/N block plane with the .003" groove, with the plane sharpened at a 45 degree angle. The 45 degree blade has more of a "scraping" action Vs. the "shaving" action of the 30 degree blade, thus less node lifts.  The final .003" is removed with a L/N scraper.

    When I run into a tricky spot like a node which just can't be planed correctly, I'll use a sanding block.  (Tom Bowden)

    I use a Stanley block plane with an adjustable throat and grooved bed.  I keep the throat closed as much as possible by test planing a discard piece of cane to get my shaving to .001 to .003.  I get no noticeable lifting.  I have also found that planing a strip that has not been baked is much easier to plane, has less chip out at the nodes and dulls the blade much slower.  I bake when I get about .005 from my finished dimension.  (David Gerich)


I’m thinking of making a 7’9” 4 wt DT (W. Cattanach taper) three piece for my next rod.  I am thinking of planing the base and mid combined as one piece and cutting the section after glue up.  Is this a bad approach to making a three piece?  Also on the tip section I am thinking about taking three 6’ strips and cutting them in half and alternating the “lower” and “upper” halves positions of the strips for the tip section, opinions?  This appears to save time and materials in my thinking.  (Mike Monsos)

    Planing the mid and butt as one piece and then cutting depends on how your node spacing ends up.  And then it only matters if you care how close your nodes are to the ferrules.  Some people are anal about it and others don’t care.

    As far as the tip being made from three strips cut in half and inverted, I can’t really say.  You will have different power fiber depths but in the tip section you will have more than enough.

    Saving material is also questionable.  If you are concerned about wasting material, split the whole six foot section and only cut the strips to length and save the rest for another project.  There is no need to cut the whole culm to length if you don’t plan on building another similar rod.

    Now you may save some time with the planing a long mid/butt section and then cutting it half.  I have a harder time keeping consistent angles when planing longer strips because I have to pay closer attention to keeping the plane level over a longer distance or a longer reach.  (Greg Reeves)

    Planing the tips up side down will work but at times the nodes will give you a problem. I have found that in some culms they are just harder to plane. I have inverted the strips on a couple of my own rods when I was short on left over bamboo, I make my personal rods from leftovers. It worked just fine except for some of the nodes. You really need a sharp plane iron and light cuts in that case. It had already been mentioned about planing the butt and mid section as one piece.  It will depend on the node spacing. I have also done this with no problems. I would soak my strips for roughing out. This helps a lot.  (Tony Spezio)

      Thanks but I think I’m not being clear as to the tip section strips.  I was intending to use three 6’ strips cut in half (6 @ 3’ strips now) and alternate their position in the section bundle with the original growth orientation of the strips all matching.  (planning all the strips from bottom to top) Something like lower half, upper half, lower half, upper half etc.  (Mike Monsos)

        I was mistaken about what you said, I thought you were wanting to flip a section in order to use the bamboo from the three foot section. I see no problem in what you want to do.

        I do have to mention what I did not before on making the butt and mid in one piece, When I do that, I make two stations at the ferrule station the same size to have the ferrule station the same size. The cut is made between these two stations on the blank. If you don't allow for this then you will be taking a chance that the ferrule will not fit one end and the length will be short on one section. You are actually making the blank one station longer than the total length. Hope this is clear. (Tony Spezio)

          Thanks for the tip on the extra station in the middle.  Great idea for a little adjustment in the ferrule fit.  (Mike Monsos)

      I forgot that on my next culm I’ll heed you earlier advice to cut one to three sections for this application.  (Mike Monsos)


I haven't got my forms yet, but having read quite abit about the final planing; some of the authors state that you should "plane until you get part of the form coming off in the form  of metal dust" - then you will know you have planed down enough.

Wouldn't a grooved plane and absence of bamboo shavings during the last passes mean you have reached the final dimension? and negate the need to plane down until you are machining the metal forms?

Spending good money for metal forms and special blades and then planing the metal does bode well with me - I know - I'm an anal retentive OCD perfectionist.  (Wayne Vierhout)

    Proponents of grooved sole planes will likely share their perspective, but in my limited (10-20 rods) experience with grooved sole planes I find that they lift the bamboo slightly and can actually undercut the bamboo.  As I mentioned, some will say I am doing something wrong, but that's my experience.

    Once you learn to plane with smooth strokes you rarely gouge your forms, and you can gouge the forms with a grooved plane as well.  Remember that the metal in your plane and your plane iron is much harder than the metal in your planing forms.  Making long smooth strokes from one end of the strip to the other, with barely even the weight of your hand pushing down on the form will not unduly damage the plane iron, or the forms.

    Just my $.02.  (Harry Boyd)

      Using a grooved plane has really cut down on the wear on my planing forms. However, a grooved plane seems to me to be a really specialized tool. I set the grooved plane to take  a 1/2 to 1 thousandths of an inch shaving and only use the grooved plane for removing the last 10 thousandths or so of bamboo on a strip.

      When I tried taking thicker shavings with the grooved plane, like 1 1/2 to 2 thousandths, I would over plane a strip. But sticking with the thinner shavings per pass seems to eliminate the over planing problem for me.

      I use a small bench plane to get close to final dimensions and just finish up with the grooved plane. I just reset the forms for each rod section when finishing up the first strip to get the final dimensions to account for the plane groove (as well as dial indicator calibration error and whatever other systematic errors I have at the time). The bench plane also seems to have improved my planing accuracy in keeping close to 60 degree angles while planing as well as reduced (but not totally eliminated) nicking the forms.  (Joe Hudock)

    I'm an anal retentive OCD perfectionist

    You have finally arrived  to your happy place with this Boo making thing. Dive right in the Waters are deep.

    What you suggest would work except, if you adjust the plane blade it will not cut to the same depth, and then the strip will not be the same as the one you did before you adjusted the blade. Don't adjust the blade thinks you, well try and plane 6 strips with one sharpening. Won't happen with OCD or free of tear out. I guess you could adjust the blade down to exact level with the shoulders of the grove, haven't had much repeatability with this myself, as I do not have the real thing, just tape on the bottom of the plane.

    No offense intended here, just a weak attempt to bring some levity too the topic. And how I know this is from trying it myself, nice looking forms = not nice rods. I myself am still trying to get use to grinding the plane iron on the form metal more than scratching the forms, as a long time woodworker this still just feels wrong.  (Ron Petley)

      Folks it's not that hard to adjust a plane blade to the same depth all the time, grooved sole or not.  Before starting a strip plane a small 1/4 inch wide block of hardwood.  Check the shaving thickness. I go for 0.0025 with my grooved sole plane.  This is super easy and takes a few seconds. I do this every time I adjust a blade. You also really need to be careful about backlash and knowing how to keep the blade in place and look out for bumping the blade out of adjustment.  None of this is hard or insurmountable.   I get very consistent results no overcutting tearout nothing.  Just like anything else it's about tuning in your equipment and system until you find what works.  (John Rupp)

        Here's my 2 cents FWIW.

        There is no way your forms are perfectly flat. there is no way your blade is perfectly straight AND 100% true to your forms. If you want to hit your numbers right on.... Plane some shavings off your forms on final, you'll hit them every time. It will take a hobby rodmaker a life time to wear out forms doing this.

        I mean if you make 5-6 rods... your cost for components to build those rods already outweigh the cost of your forms. Every time I start a new rod I "resurface" my forms with a granite stone and 600 grit and maybe a draw file if needed. (Jim Reid)

          Yes, I agree - I couldn't give a hoot whether the forms are flat, or the plane is square, or the blade is set perpendicular.

          What I want to do is produce an acceptable strip out the end of the process, and as long as it is accurate to the required specs, I don't care if that accuracy has been achieved by having it gnawed by a rabid piranha.

          So I measure a pilot strip.  And because I plane down very nearly to final dimension with a standard plane, and use the grooved plane only for the final passes,  I find a well prepared iron will do 12 strips easily.  (Peter McKean)

    You will get a lot of different opinions on this.  It's absolutely no big deal to shave off the tops of your forms, rodmakers have been doing it a long, long time.  However, being lazy, I don't like dulling my blades on the form and then having to sharpen them more frequently.  So when I plane, I plane down to the last 10 thousandths with a flat sole plane, and then plane the last bit with a grooved sole plane that is ultra sharp.  I set the blade about 0.0005 thousandths less than the groove, so I don't take any steel.  Since I'm only making a few passes per strip this plane will go through a whole rod without needing sharpening.  Another thing to keep in mind at least for me I like to keep the grooved sole plane in line with the forms so that the strip is entirely within the groove.  Some guys like to to tilt the plane to the side, however that ends up working like a shim for me.  I had a lot of problems with getting good consistent angles until I started keeping my grooved plane parallel with the forms, now I have no issues whatsoever.  (John Rupp)

    I buy the cheap Harbor Freight Razor blades and do the final scraping to the metal with them.

    You can control how far you want to go by the feel of the scrape. You can feel the high, low and rough spots while scraping.  5.00 for 100 blades is a cheap investment. I have been doing this since rod # 1. I have a 212 scraper that is collecting dust along with the grooved plane.

    It works for me.  (Tony Spezio)


I would like to ponder a few things here, along the lines of straight strips and straight sections.

Frank Stetzer's opinion that straight arrow splines glued together are the best way to end up with a straight rod section.  This is very logical to me.  And if the rod sections come out of the binder straight, well then they are straight.

So what makes strips wander as they are planed down?  You can start with a straight arrow strip and by the time you finish planing it, well, it isn't straight anymore.

With tip sections in mind, the following question:  The tips are fine and very fine.  If they are slightly bent at nodes and sweeps, would making a fixture to glue each individual strip dead straight to one another result in a straight rod section, or would it be the sum of their various "vectors" for lack of a better vocabulary.

Let's start with those two questions.  (Chris Raine)

    Regardless of one's best efforts to straighten a strip, I think that planing to fine dimensions allows remaining internal stresses to reestablish the original kinks and sweeps. The MHM requires dead straight strips, so when the little buggers start wandering off again, it's always back to the heat gun for some touch-up.

    My experience is that "straight-arrow" splines generally remain straight after gluing and binding -- provided the binder itself doesn't induce problems. And providing that the curing regimen doesn't cause the string to dry more quickly along one area than another. Both of these are tricky to control--binding issues especially.

    As to the last question of a gluing fixture to keep adjacent strips straight, I'm guessing you'd be bound to wind up with the sum of the various vectors -- but reduced (by some unknown factor) by the radial effect of the glue-joints themselves.  Murky depths, indeed. It's probably best just to start with the straightest splines possible, glue 'em up, have a Guinness, and worry less.  (Bill Harms)

      When I first started with my MHM, Bill told me about the need to keep the strips straight and flat.  When I discovered that planing away material allowed the kinks and sweeps to return, he said, "That's right!"  One thing about the MHM, with the strip laying on its back on the straight anvil, you can see the bends returning.  The finer the strip, the more evident the effect is.  I am not sure that the effect is greater rather than just more evident on fine strips.

      The removal of material seems key for what I observe.  For example, even on mid- or butt-section strips, hollowing with the Winston method can result in nodes "returning" to a former shape.

      Straight strips help me end up with straight sections, if I don't do something stupid while binding or after binding.

      And now for the questions.  My answers are based on no observations or experience, so they are pure speculation!  If a fixture could hold a section dead straight, straight strips should give a straight section.  Crooked strips, should give the "sum of the vectors," particularly if the crooked part is bound tightly against its neighboring strips during glue-up. (Tim Anderson)

    My coarse eye doesn't see much kinking going on. All of my strips have gentle sweep over their full length... the inside of the sweep is the pit apex. It is even mildly evident after heat treating the roughed strips. I have been assuming that processing the nodes cause the enamel side to be longer than the pith side. I haven't given it a great deal of consideration, also believing that since all of the strips have similar sweeps, the stress will even out. Most of my blanks do not have a pronounced spine by either bend or vibration method.

    It also seems that straight strips out of the binder stay straight through heat setting, and bends or twists are best left until the string is removed. I have tried several straightening tricks, including weights, and feel that it is better to properly adjust the binder than to try to fix things later. But hey, what do I know, having only done a dozen rods at this point.  (Larry Lohkamp)

    The answer to the first is just stress relief.  One section of fibers may be "bound" tighter in a spot than a section of fibers on the opposing side of the strip.  When you plane away that section, typically the material will "warp" in the other direction.  That's operating out of the assumption you are starting out with a straight strip, and the warp comes from planing.  This happens even when machining metal, especially  in the thinner cross sections, but I've seen it happen even in thicker cross sections, especially when you are face-cutting something like a metal plate.  Stresses just aren't distributed evenly in most materials, and that's even more true in natural materials.

    Answer to your second question - you'd need one of two things, a fixture that is adjustable the for the entire length of the strip, or a fixture for each and every section for each and every taper you make.  Unless all your rod sections are straight tapers, that is.  (Mark Wendt)

    I have found that fine tips tend to develop a curve toward the pith apex after planing, all about equally.  It's probably due to removing almost all of the material from that side.  When the bamboo grows and is then dried, stresses are created because of the difference in density between the pith and the power fibers.  When you plane, the stress are relieved on the pith side and the cane curves in that direction.  When you assemble the strips, the stresses are balanced out by opposing strips.  That said, after binding, simple handling of the uncured sections shifts the strips relative to one another and causes out-of-straightness.  It is necessary to straighten the section before the glues sets otherwise no amount of weight or any fixture will yield a straight section afterward.  I've tried weights and I've tried a fixture to hold the section straight as it cures.  If the section goes in crooked it comes out crooked.  If I use a fixture to heat cure my epoxy at 200F, the section comes out straighter but not Straight.

    It's a pain in the butt but spending the time to straighten a section before it cures pays dividends in the long run.  (Al Baldauski)

      Personal opinion:  When we plane we are releasing some of the internal stresses on the material.  Same thing as running a piece of wood through the table saw.  The thin section will want to warp more that the wider section.

      I'm with Al on the strips developing roughly the same amount of curve on each strip.  I never really worry the curves in the strips, after final planing.  When all the strips have roughly the same curve my sections seem to glue up fairly straight.  Once I glue  up an strip and roll it on the bench, I don't touch it again, until it is dry.  The more I mess with them the worse they get.

      Since the power fibers are on the outside of the strip, wouldn't the strip want to pull toward the weaker internal fibers?  (Pete Emmel)

    When I first started making rods I was using Elmer's Glue to glue up my sections. I was scared to death about having them straight as I read that you could not use heat to straighten using that type of glue. I would lay the section in the metal; form over some plastic wrap with 25 pound bags of lead shot on top of them for the full length. I got real straight sections. This was slow process having to do one section at a time. As for fixtures, I then made up a length of Oak with three 60* grooves  I was then able to do more than one section at a lime. I used this till MD came out with his "Fixtures". I now bind the sections in the "Fixtures" to heat set the Epon glue.(Drying my soaked strips in these "Fixtures" gives me straight strips to start with.) I still have to do a bit of tweaking because the grooves are a bit deep for the light weight tips but heat setting them bound in the "Fixtures" seems to help a lot. I agree, getting the sections straight as possible after gluing is the best way to go. I know someone had "tapered" their fixtures to accommodate the thin tip sections,  I do not have the facilities to do that.  (Tony Spezio)

    Lots of great stuff, here guys.  Seems to be a consensus that the tip strips bend in an inner circle due to the removal of the majority of the pith. 

    So, to Mark and the others:  Is there little enough "strength" in the individual strips to be able to overwhelm the individual strip's strength and end up with a perfectly straight glued up section?

    I have noticed that with the same bamboo, same node stagger, same planing form sections, often times one tip section comes out arrow straight and the other will come out with a slight curve or hook at the end.  (Garrison style binder)  Does anyone else have this occur?

    My assumption has always been that one strip has slipped and the string is keeping it that way,  creating the bend.  Any remarks?

    Al- I agree completely.  What I am wondering about is exactly why the sections bend.  The handling is certainly a big culprit.   I watch people tie off the binding string and have the rod sections swing around as they do it.  Again, is it the string that keeps the bend in place, or simply the tack of the glue?  Or both?  (Chris Raine)

      I'm not certain one of your original questions has been discussed yet... "Why do kinks and bends straightened and pressed during the strip preparation phase before heat treating sometimes re-appear after heat treating, or after actually beginning the final planing?"  That's worth discussing too, I think.

      My opinion is that there is a certain "sweet spot" temperature for straightening kinks and bends in strips, and for pressing (or displacing) nodal bumps.  It's not always easy     to     define   or   determine   when   that   strip   is just-hot-enough  to straighten or press but not-too-hot or not-too-cold. When I hit that sweet spot, the kinks and bumps don't re-appear.

      Other ideas?  (Harry Boyd)

        Good point.  I think that temperature point is reached when the bamboo reaches that "plastic" state.  When the strip is wet, I just do it by feel - all of a sudden, the strip starts to feel easily flexible.  Not that it would be beneficial to the majority of rod makers who straighten by feel, but it would be kinda neat to know the temperature that this actually occurs.  (Mark Wendt)

        To add to the straightening thing.

        The width of the strips tend to make straightening tougher. Soaking helps but thinner strips are better. The heat goes into the strip allowing the fibers that are hot enough to be manipulated. Theses fibers hold the rest of the fibers within the strip "straight". During planning, as the outer fibers are removed  that held the strip straight, the strip will tend to assume it's original shape. I used to split to wide and found that the narrower strip the better. Also, during the planing process, I check each strip a number of times to make sure that the strip has not returned to it's original shape. Restraightening time after time, at least for me, is just part of the job.  (Don Schneider)

        My opinion is that it starts with the way you split/saw or otherwise get to rough strips. If you split by hand to small widths and follow the edge for every strip, if they are not straight at this point, you will chase straight to the end of the process.  If you saw you probably do not have as much straightening, depending on how you saw. If you use a star splitter with long blades, you also do not have as many kinks.

        I use a Winston style splitter and when splitting, I rarely have strips that have any kinks in them. As far as nodes, I like to use culms that have a minimum nodal ridge and no depressions, then I sand them off so they never reappear.  (Scott Grady)

        Interesting Scott. I never thought about methods of splitting affecting how much or how little straightening might be involved. I always thought sawing resulted in straighter (but harder to plane) strips, but never considered one splitting method different from another.  (Harry Boyd)

          Just curious Harry.  Why do you think a sawn strip is harder to plane, versus a split strip?  (Mark Wendt)

            In my mind, sawing leaves the natural twists and bends of the fibers at each node, but cuts right through them.  If you'll study the power fibers of some (but not all) sawn strips, you can see crooked places in those fibers just above or below nodes.  The fibers do not run straight with the axis of the strip into and out of the node from each direction.  While the sawn strip itself may be straight on each side, the fibers are crooked.

            With a mill or beveled, those crooked fibers present little problem because the power tools cut right through.  But a plane seems to have a tendency to lift and tear those crooked fibers.  Whether those straight strips with crooked fibers present a problem to MHM users, I can't say.

            And for what it's worth, I've hand planed out only a few dozen sawn strips.  Splitting and straightening comes naturally enough that for me the time savings from not having to straighten would be quite minimal.  (Harry Boyd)

              Maybe so, but I don't think you're going to get straight fibers through the nodes by splitting, and then eventually heat pressing and straightening the nodes either.  Some will straighten (those that were in the bending plane) but a lot of 'em won't, because they all end at different places in the node.  Sure would be nice for straightening and pressing nodes if the fibers all lined up like in a military formation.

              That being said, whether you saw or split, you're still going to have to do some nodal work.  More or less of which would depend on the kind of operation to get to the final taper.

              I've had lifting in the nodal areas in both split and sawn strips. Usually, it's cuz my plane blade needs sharpening...  ;-)  But every once in a while I've run into a pesky node that have to fiddle with all the way down to the last pass of the plane.  And I've had that happen on both split and sawn strips.  Just the nature of the beast.  Sometimes I wish the growers/importers would have someway of knowing which node is really going to be a pain in the arse, and laser cut "666" on that node.  (Mark Wendt)

                knowing which node is really going to be a pain in the arse, and laser cut "666" on that node.

                Sounds to me like you just developed an idea for a new project. Or maybe an extension of your CNC.  (Dave Burley)

                  No, no, no...  "I" want that feature before  the goods arrive on my doorstep.  (Mark Wendt)

              Probably, we'd all agree that sawing is easier, quicker, wastes little cane, and creates uniform strips. It sidesteps all the straightening problems, and has been in practice for nearly a century by independent makers and the fine old companies alike. And it's also likely that sawn strips are no "weaker" than hand-split strips. On the downside, as Harry notes, the problem with sawn strips is that planing tends to lift the fibers at the kinks, though with care, one can learn how to overcome this.

              For me, however, the problem with sawn strips is that the glued sections look sloppy and careless. To my eye, sawn strips are evidence  of  compromises -- the work of a maker who wants to cut corners and doesn't mind seeing  down-and-dirty, production-rod results.

              No doubt, my remarks will offend some list members, but compromising the appearance of a fine rod should be an option only for the maker who faces high-production problems -- and with a corresponding price tag. For the rest of us, there's no excuse. All our rods will catch a fish, and we all have our own esthetic standards, but why would we want to make compromises if we don't have to?  (Bill Harms)

                Probably, we'd all agree that sawing is easier, quicker, wastes little cane, and creates uniform strips. It sidesteps all the straightening problems, and has been in practice for nearly a century by independent makers and the fine old companies alike. And it's also likely that sawn strips are no "weaker" than hand-split strips. On the downside, as Harry notes, the problem with sawn strips is that planing tends to lift the fibers at the kinks, though with care, one can learn how to overcome this.

                Without the ability to go in and adjust the hundreds of individual fibers at each node, precisely how does splitting solve this immutable problem that sawing has?

                For me, however, the problem with sawn strips is that the glued sections look sloppy and careless. To my eye, sawn strips are evidence of compromises -- the work of a maker who wants to cut corners and doesn't mind seeing down-and-dirty, production-rod results.

                Now, that's painting with quite a broad brush.  Those glued sections that look sloppy and careless can happen with either splitting or sawing.  Those so-called sloppy sections are caused by processes which take place long after the initial splitting or sawing of the culm. Those problems are more accurately ascribed to the final manufacturing process before the rod glue up, not one of the initial manufacturing processes.

                No doubt, my remarks will offend some list members, but compromising the appearance of a fine rod should be an option only for the maker who faces high-production problems -- and with a corresponding price tag. For the rest of us, there's no excuse. All our rods will catch a fish, and we all have our own esthetic standards, but why would we want to make  compromises if we don't have to?

                Ok, now it's time to raise the BS flag.  Sawing versus splitting is compromising the final quality of the rod?  Please do tell how those fine folks at Payne, Leonard and all the other high end rod making companies compromised their end quality by sawing their strips.

                Please do.  (Mark Wendt)

                  Just you suggest, adjusting the hundreds of individual fibers is, theoretically, an exercise in futility. Nevertheless, when one glues strips that have been  split  and  carefully hand-straightened, the visual result is one of fibers that run as straight as possible through each node. Sawing one's strips cuts straight through bent or kinked fibers, and the glued section shows the run-out VERY clearly.

                  As to raising the BS flag, I did NOT say that sawn strips compromise the "final quality" of a rod -- at least, not in the sense of its ability to cast well. What I said is that sawn strips make a rod look sloppy and poorly made. It's a production compromise that detracts from a rod's appearance, and was done regularly by "the fine folks at Payne, Leonard and all the other high end rod making companies."

                  All these companies built some fine rods, indeed, but lacking the pressures of high-production, nearly all of us can do much better. Strips that have been sawn straight through the kinks and bends are not "bad," they just look like crap, and as hobbyists, we don't have to put up with this. We don't have to be satisfied with poor esthetics -- that is, unless the maker and his customer don't care.  (Bill Harms)

                    "Strips that have been sawn straight through the kinks and bends are not "bad," they just look like crap"

                    Bill is this referring to ALL sawn strips?  (Nick Kingston)

                      My remark would refer to all that I've seen. Can't know about others, or if someone has a sawing technique to fool the eye.  (Bill Harms)

                I don't know that I agree with you completely. I tried sawing and did not have much luck trying to get straight strips cut on my band saw and/or my table saw. Also I waste cane on kerf where I don't waste any cane when splitting by hand.

                In as much as the cut cane is being cut with the fibers not in line with the cut, I would think that at some part of the process, the cane would take a bend to follow the natural bend of the fibers. I don't know, I could be wrong.

                As far as what the bigger companies do, I honestly can't comment to much on them, as I don't own any of their rods.

                I do agree thought with your statement that we should be looking to produce the finest rod we can.  (Ren Monllor)

                I sometimes saw and do it like this. I split into quarters, then on each quarter I choose the side where the nodes are all swept to the same side... you'll usually find one side that they either all sweep that direction (stick out) or that they are a combination of sticking out and straight.

                Anyway, the next step is to sand ONLY THE NODE AREAS on the side of the strip. I still have all my sweeps between nodes, just the nodes are flat on the sides. I use a pin guide and run them through the band saw, guiding along that sanded side.

                What you get is a strip that still follows the fibers between nodes, since you left all that in tact, but only cuts straight through the nodes, which are a twisted, matted mess anyway, so who cares!

                I don't personally think sawing is an evil thing. Leonard did it, Payne did it, Thomas did it... many great makers of today STILL do it. It's just that it can cause problems with nodes chipping out or lifting if you hand plane. Saw bevelers and millers just don't seem to care how you prep the strips.

                Anyway, just my method, just my opinion. I REALLY NEED TO GET TO WORK! LOL (Bob Nunley)

                  Addendum: My saw beveler requires strips that are consistent in width and that have to be much wider than what can be used hand planing... at least twice as wide for the tip strips. Just the nature of the beast. When I get the new CNC mill running, this will not be the case, and honestly, I can split, straighten and press just as fast as I can saw and press. So, when the new machine is all tweaked in, I'll probably not saw strips again, I'll stick to splitting.

                  I am not a big fan of Gang Saws as they do not follow the power fibers... necessary??? I dunno, but I can spot a rod that was sawn on a gang saw a mile away because of all the run out between nodes. Whether it's that much stronger or not, it just, IMHO, looks better to have the fibers in tact and running straight  between  nodes. (Bob Nunley)

      Is it an expectation that the sections come out of the binder arrow straight?  Here's my process: I glue (Titebond II extend), hand bind (that's right hand bind), roll the section like I am using a rolling pin, sight down it.  If it is straight I set it a side and don't touch it again.  If it isn't straight, I roll it again.  I started out hanging strips cause that's what was recommended to me.  Seemed like an extra step, but I understand the reasoning behind it.

      I am wondering if my sections don't come out quite straight because I hand bind.   Only one string involved, A wrap up the section and back down.  I can feel the tension and adjust accordingly.  Nothing says we have to use a lot of tension to glue up a strip.  We don't torque a clamp down as tight as we can when we are laminating wood, do we?

      If we really wanted straight sections, as soon as they were glued up with no adjustment, we would probably bind pieces of drill rod along each side of the section.  Binding is intended to glue the strips together to form the section.  Straight is a lucky byproduct of binding.  Until we start binding a ridged support along the length of the section they won't glue up straight with out fussing with them. And yes, I have given thought to binding in a ridged support.

      As for kinks, bends and twists in a strip.  Its a natural, god grown material.  It isn't manmade, straight of the assembly line, no personality "stuff".  Bamboo is going to have its little quirks we have to live with.  Otherwise we can go build nothing but plastic rods with no character.  Now go sharpen that plane and deal with it.  We can't always apply the purely analytical side of our brains to a natural material.  It will drive you crazy, look at some of us.

      I've yacked too much.  I'm going to the man cave to rough plane some hand split strips by hand with only my trusty block plane.  Not that I would turn down a CNC if Mark, Bob or Chris felt charitable ;).

      Just some observations from my warped little world.  (Pete Emmel)

      The string keeps the strips in place.  Until the glue sets, it acts like grease and allows the strips to slip.  The string compresses the strips enough so that they rub against each other at various points creating enough friction to overcome the "grease."  When straightening, you force the strips to slip and come to a new equilibrium point, hopefully straight :-) Unfortunately, using a weight or springs to hold the section straight doesn't cause the strips to slip enough to establish straightness.

      After binding, curves in the section are a result of nonuniform tension in binding string and from rough handling.  I use a four string binder and despite all manners of tweaking I've never gotten a straight tip section out of it.  They always need some "help".  The tighter the binding the more difficult it is to straighten.

      That's my story and I'm sticking to it :-)  (Al Baldauski)

        Good story!  Is it fair to say that when the strips "slip"  they really need to slip back to where they once were prior to being "bent"?  Easier to do when the glue has not set, as the strips can actually slip back, as opposed to bending with heat?

        This would explain why hanging weights don't work that well.  The strips don't slip back.  (Chris Raine)

          I believe you're right.  But once a section is bent you have to bend it in the reverse direction past straight so that when it springs back.  Then it's straight again and back where it started.  Yes it's easier to do when the glue is not set.  When you heat to straighten, you have to heat the glue to a point where it "slips" a little on itself.  It takes a lot of heat to get it to that point and it's not very slippery at that.  Some glues are easier to heat straighten than others.  I use epoxy almost exclusively and can say that once heat-cured you almost CAN'T straighten it.  So I make sure my sections are as straight as I can get them before heat-curing.

          Hanging weights or using springs to hold a section straight doesn't reverse bend the section to cause the strips to slip back to the original straight condition.  (Al Baldauski)

            I have been wanting for sometime to try build a binder where the strips are held straight under tension whilst being bound. Something like Ray Gould's double chuck tensioning device (in Tips and Tapers) combined with Tom Smithwick's binder( the one with 2 wheels at 90 degrees to each other). The 'drive' wheel of the binder being a pinion (correct term?) that rolls on a rack. Or even better a 4 string binder that rolls along a track.

            Your thoughts on possible resulting straightness?  (Steve Dugmore)

              Regarding a binder that assists in producing straight blanks, I use a 4 string binder that I hand crank, tension is adjusted to be very light and is equalized when the blank being bound does not rotate. if the blank rotates then at least one of the thread spools has more tension than the other(s).

              Additionally, on either side of the binder I support the blank in a trough made of a split PVC pipe that is a full 8 feet long. The blank lays flat as I  bind and if I need to stop midway to snip off tape or scratch my nose I simply stop cranking and the blank is always supported laying flat.

              I also need to add that I build nodeless so the strips are quite straight before binding. I spend a lot of time...probably too much time...straightening each little "chopstick" before scarfing and gluing up the scarfs. If I can get the chopsticks dead  nuts straight...glue up the scarfed joints straight, bind with light tension while fully supported there is little that can be present that might result in a blank that is not straight.  (Bruce Morton)

              I think the biggest difficulty in any binder used is getting string tension uniform.  Not only each string but along the length of the section as well. AND supporting the section as it's being bound.  If you use a traveling head binder of some description, it will be difficult to support the section unless it's held at each end under extreme tension.  Probably not practical.  (Al Baldauski)

                I was envisioning the binder operating vertically i.e. the strips held vertically.  (Steve Dugmore)

                  I have used the European tube style binder driven by an electric drill for the last few years as it does result in a straight section out of the binder. It takes a little experimenting to get the tension right to avoid twists but once that is sorted this is the easiest and simplest binder to use. I think it is shown on Todd’s site as Marty's binder after Marty Mass who showed it to me.

                  Be warned, contrary to standard rodmaker philosophy this is a very simple device with no moving parts.......  (Ian Kearney)

                    You will find the same type of binder thoroughly described and shown in a number of good photos on pages 179-181 of Rolf Baginski's book "Split-Cane Rods -- Bamboo Treasures."  Rolf, who attributes the idea for the binder to Piet Veugelers, has used this binder for years.  He has recently suggested using an inexpensive motor speed control in place of an adjustable-speed drill.  He still uses a regular hand drill as the drive motor, but likes the more easily controlled speed and startup that the separate speed control allows.  He does suggest regularly cleaning the glue out of the slot's opening after binding so that the binding thread does not catch on dried glue the next time you use the binder.  (Tim Anderson)

                    Cool but I wonder how you get temporary bindings like tape or twist ties off when it's inside a pipe and would drill speed contribute to twisting the strips? 

                    I think I'll stay with my Garrison binder.  (Doug Easton)

                      I think if you secured the section with 3 or 4 pieces of binding string, square- (or other-) knotted and ran the drill at a modest rate, you could address those objections effectively.  (Steve Yasgur)

                        Have a look at the binder from David Ray on Todd's tip site. It is made from a 2x4 and some small pvc pipe. I'm sure it costs less than $5. I used it once when a group of us made a rod in one day for a fund raiser for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I normally hand bind, but this worked so well that I always think of making one for myself. If I ever go to a real binder, this will be it.  (Hal Manas)

                        Having watched Rolf Baginski use this type of binder, I know he only ties the strips together at the end held by the drill chuck and has no tape or string holding the remaining length of the strips together.  Of course, he has made hundreds of rods using this type of binder.  If I were to use such a binder, I would follow Yaz's suggestion to use a couple pieces of binding string.  Rolf has been trying to convince me to use this binder for some time and maybe I should give it a try.  Steve is also right, the drill turns at a fairly modest rate.   What the RPMs are is not something I know.  (Tim Anderson)

                          An answer to several questions.

                          I have tried several types of binders and have found this the easiest to use and gives the straightest sections. That said, if you have got your binder nicely tuned and know the "tweeks" it needs to produce a good section there is no need to change. I could never get my four string binder properly balanced and the Smithwick style was great to use and start with, but does bend tip sections.

                          I use a variable speed portable drill. I have learnt that it is best to use a relatively cheap lower voltage drill designed for inserting screws rather then a powerful high speed drilling model. A single drive motor might be good as suggested by Rolf. One of the reasons I suggest a cheap drill is that I find it gets covered in glue after handling a number of sections, but that might just be that I am messy, and therefore needs replacing after 10-15 rods.

                          The cost to make binder this is less then $2. I use a piece of plastic ducting tube and apoxy it onto a length of scap wood. I run a bit of sand paper along the slot before use to clean out any rough edges or glue in the wrong place, but if there is too much glue buildup, and it does not seem to be much of a problem, I make another tube which only takes 5 minutes.

                          I have found the most critical thing in the use of this binder is keeping the tension consistent along the length of the tube. If you vary the distance between the tube and the thread holder the result is a variation in the tension.... as you move the thread closer to tube the tension is lowered and vice versa. I have found the easiest way is to have quite low tension and repeat the binding process 3 times in each direction.  (Ian Kearney)

                            Forgot to add. As suggested by Steve I replace the tape with 3-4 single string ties along the length of the section...just a quick double wrap around with string and a overhand knot.  (Ian Kearney)

                          Where can I see this binder that Rolf uses? Where can it be purchased where can I find the plans to make one?

                          Thanks for your help. While I have gotten used to my Garrison/Wagner binder and am pleased with the results I am getting from it, I am always looking for the "better mousetrap." (Phil Crangi)

                            You would find a drawing in Hein S. Schrooten's book: "Splitcane Flyrods." A description of the same binder is to be found on Todds site.   You have to browse down quite a bit. The inventor of this binder is Piet Veugeler.  (Christian Meinke)

                              I am a novice cane rod maker. My third is currently in the drying cabinet. Before I began my first rod, I decided to make a 4 string binder. It worked well enough on a practice stick. When it came time to heat treat, I discovered that a 1/2" feed tube won't handle rough 1/4" bound sections so I reverted to the "phone book" method and it worked well. When it came  time to glue up that first section, I decided to skip my new binder and use my rod wrapper to bind the glued up strips. This too worked well, especially on the thin end of the tip section. Tension is supplied by my fingers and the tension on the rod wrapper. After rolling them on a flat surface all 9 sections of my three rods have come out straight and kink free. After reading all of the posts regarding various binders I am concerned that there is something I do not yet understand about binding. What am I missing?  (Jim Healy)

                                Personally I don't think you are missing anything on binding.   Some  of  us  use  the K.I.S.S. method and some of us over engineer either because we are complete nerds or frustrated engineers.  I build rods for their beauty and fishing abilities.  I don't need to have my taper be within .00000001" of the published taper.  Besides, as soon as the humidity changes the rod dimensions will change anyway.

                                I hand bind and roll my sections.  They come out straight, barely requiring straightening, if any. For every method thrown at you, there is another way to do it.  Find what works for you and go for it.  Block plane, MHM, CNC or sand or press nodes, dip of pour whatever works.  (Pete Emmel)

                                  Or, some of us over-engineer because we can.  And some of us would rather be Luddites.  Choose your own way.  Just because I or somebody else chooses to work down to a gnat's arse, you're free to define your own accuracy and precision using crayons to mark and axes to cut.  (Mark Wendt)

                                  As long as your sections keep coming out straight, I would say that you aren't missing a thing.  (Will Price)

                                  I have not built many more rods than you. I am just working up to do #8. But I do know what you are missing and that is the cramps in the fingers and wrists that I got the one time I hand bound a couple rod sections after I broke the drive belt on my binder.  (Joe Hudock)

                                "I am concerned that there

                                is something I do not yet understand about binding. What am I missing?"

                                Well, I'd say you're missing a lot of frustration trying to tune up a binder that persists in putting twists and bends in your sections.  Other than that, it sounds like you're doing good.  (Neil Savage)

                                I don't think you are missing anything. I am slightly ahead of you, being on rod number 5, but my experience echos yours. I built a "Rube Garrisonberg" binder, tried it on some dowels of various sizes.  Then I tried hand binding the same dowels and concluded that was a lot simpler and more controllable. I did salvage the sewing machine cord tensioner from it and use it rather that the phone book method for tension on the cord. I have a lot of problems with cramping hands in various aspects of rod making, but it hasn't come up when I am hand binding. (Mike McGuire)

      Here is my thought on this, and it is probably wrong, but that's never stopped me from speaking up!

      As we know, e very culm has  many unique "sweeps" or "sways" in each internodal section - some just a little, but some that are fairly aggressive.  Since Mother Nature doesn't have a rule book, there isn't a  pattern.  Maybe they are based on where they grew on the hill, the way the wind would blow on a consistent basis, DNA differences, who knows (I don't).  It's my experience  that even if each sway is exactly the same, and is located in the same section on the culm, they take (and accept)  different measures of force to do what we want.  If I heat one bend for 30 seconds and straighten, I sometimes can't have the same results with a bend in a strip that was right next to it with the same bend.

      These sweeps and sways have been there for a very long time though, and through rod building, we try very hard to eliminate them (force them out of a position/pattern they have had all along).  I believe (but don't have any data to back this up) that some tips (or individual strips) come out more/less straight than others based on the amount of change  we are trying to create vs.  what nature put in.  For example, why do sections tend to  bow inward after we cut out the dams ( when building nodeless)?  Or why do sections bend when hung when you know they were straight when you hung them up?  I believe it's Mother Nature winning this push/pull battle sometimes.

      Yes, I know you all probably have thought this through, but wanted to voice it to see what others thought. (Louis DeVos)

        Seems to me, the living cane pole as it grows is a natural taper, and, like the proverbial snowflake, no two are alike due to the variance of immediate  environment and genetic factors.  In creating this taper, nature has determined that the pressure is maintained constantly inward for obvious reasons.  So what we're doing when we sharpen up our Stanleys is basically coercing a new taper out of an old one.  It's been noted that necessary removal of much of the inner pith only exacerbates the stubbornness of the cane's "memory" and that's when things can get wacky.  Whenever this subject comes up, I always think of new fly line or mono leaders.  And swearing.  (Bob Brockett)

          Especially the swearing part.  I can remember one night sitting nice and quiet on the Manistee, minding my own business, chuffin' on a big ol' stogie, sippin' a little single malt every now and again from my hip flask, swattin' Michigan's State Bird away from my face and ears, waiting for the Hexy bugs to start falling to the water.  Upstream from me, quite a distance away, somebody musta gone for a swim cuz there was a good splash  And then.  Swearing.  Cussing.  Turning the air blue.  It was a pretty righteous rant that lasted a good five minutes, and I don't think the fella repeated hisself once.

          It takes a supreme intellect to pull that off.  Not the falling in part.  (Mark Wendt)

    Hoping I am not getting too deep in the weeds here but.

    The fundamental laws of mechanics explain why you cannot straighten sections by using hanging weights or any other means of applying axial tension.  In order to straighten the shaft, a force must be applied perpendicular to it.  The only perpendicular force produced by the hanging weight is the vector component resulting from the slight angle between the bent shaft and the line of force of the weight.  As the shaft approaches straightness due to the applied weight the vector angle is reduced and the force required increases.  Eventually as the shaft becomes nearly straight the force required becomes nearly infinite.  The shaft would fail in tension long before it becomes truly straight.  Whether it would stay straight after the glue sets and the weight is removed is another question entirely. I think not.  My only point is that you can't even make it straight temporarily with this approach.

    For a visual experiment, get your fishing buddy, about 30 or so feet of fly line and the reel of your choice. Now attach the reel to the line approximately in the middle. Each of you grab one end of the line and pull with all your might and see if you can raise the reel off the ground and make the line straight.  (Rick Hodges)

      Being one who is visually challenged and I need to see things to understand it, this makes it very clear ... thanks!  (Ron Hossack)

    I've been following the discussion on getting straight sections out of binding with interest. I can usually deal with those sections that are not straight by rolling the glued section between two boards until they appear to be straight enough.  I guess "straight enough" being the operative phrase. 

    But my question is about getting straight strips out of the heat treat oven  I have never used the M-D Heat treat fixtures because I did not see how they could help straighten the strips more than just binding the 6 strips together.  After all, binding the strips togeter would tend to even everything out. Right?  My problem has always been that after going to great trouble to straighten and flatten the nodes that I would get a lot of the evil dips recurring at the nodes. The kinks would be gone and the strips would be straight on the pith sides, which are held together, but have an "evil dip" on the enamel side.  I kept thinking that the the most important of the 3 sides to have straight was the enamel side.  Correct?

    It finally occurred to me that the "Best " way to use the M-D (Boyd) fixtures would be with the enamel side down into the fixture and one of the pith sides up.  Does anyone actually use the fixtures that way or does Everyone use them that way and I have just been blind these six years or so?

    Bear in mind that I haven't actually Made a rod in a year, been too busy making planing forms. (Larry Swearingen)

      With the fixtures being rigid and star shaped there is no opportunity for another bent strip to influence its neighbor.  I use them and really rely on them.  I have done the bind the strips together routine. Haven't gotten the same results as when I use the fixtures.  Only problem is: I should have purchased 4 of them instead of 3. Have to run the oven twice as long on a 3/2.   Matter of fact I am using them this morning.  (Pete Emmel)

      I have been drying my strips with one pith side out since I have had the fixtures.  Maybe that is why I get straight strips. I was drying them this way in my wood fixtures before MD came along with the metal ones. My thinking was they would dry faster by the moisture being released through the pith instead if trying to go through the enamel. After the strips are dry, I let them cool off in the fixtures. When cool, the fixture with the strips are run through the binder again over the original binding thread and heat treated without disturbing the strips in the grooves.

      Next time you get in this area, let me know beforehand. I can have some strips ready to dry and let you see the results.  (Tony Spezio)


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