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Reel Seat Spacers - Sizes

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I've never turned my own reelseat, I've only built 2 rods but on my 3rd, I want to do even more. What size of stock should I start with. They sell pen blanks on eBay usually with dimension 3/4" square by 6 inches.   Some really beautiful wood. Would this suffice?  (Justin Ehart)

    1 inch is easier to work with but measure your hardware (REC, Struble etc.) and that will tell  you what you need to turn down to. If your hardware is say .46 for the sake of argument, then .5 is going to be close and you will need to be very accurate.  (Rich McGaughey)

    I use 3/4 stock it works fine. You have to be sure you center the hole in the stock. I can send you a series of shots on making the reel seat. I get most of my wood from a local hardwood specialty company. They always have cut off strips that are from 3/4 to 1". I get some great small pieces from their trash barrel.  (Tony Spezio)


I'm looking to get some turning blanks for reel seat inserts.  I notice that the VAST majority of turning blanks are 3/4" x 3/4" x 5".  IS 3/4" a big enough diameter for standard 4/5/6 wt rods?  (Joe West)

    I always cut my blanks to about 1 X 1 X 4.  3/4 might do it, but it does not allow much margin for error.  Most of the sliding band reel seats I make and have seen have an ID of about .680.  That gives you .070.  It's not enough for me.  (Mark Babiy)

      Yeah, that ain't much.  What if we turn our handle sections down to 5/16ths?  (Joe West)

        5/16 would be the size of the hole through the middle of the wood insert.  .680 is referring to the ID of the reel seat component (sliding ring and cap) or the OD of the wood insert.  (Mark Babiy)

    3/4 by 3/4 blanks are very workable, but you have no room at all for error. I use them now and then, especially when I have a really nice pen blank. If you center bore first, make sure the block is absolutely vertical, and your center is accurate. It helps if you have a drill bit with a point to make sure you are hitting the right spot. But 1 x 1 blocks are far easier to use. But use what you have, and just take your time. The critical errors usually come in turning. Start measuring diameter before you get it fully round. If you are off a bit and reach diameter when part of it is still flat, that part can be the mortised edge.   (Jeff Schaeffer)


When making reel seats for a cap and ring set up, how much smaller are you all turning the insert than the ID of the ring/cap (assuming you are also mortising the seat)?   I find if I turn the insert down to the ID of the cap and ring, I need to aggressively mortise the insert so the ring slides up on the reel foot appropriately.  If I turn the insert down too much, it doesn’t sit in the cap well (too small).  (Louis DeVos)

    I dimension the insert under the cap for a snug fit to glue up.  I dimension the insert where the ring travels a few thousandths smaller, and then fair the little step where those two dimensions meet with a little sanding.  You have to play with the dimension under the ring a little, depending on how many coats of finish you end up putting on the filler.

    I've had to bore out the ring a smidge more than once after I got a little too finish happy on the insert.  (Mark Wendt)

      I am glad to hear that someone else has had the problem of "too tight rings" after finishing reel seat spacers.  I thought I was the only one.  Now I turn them a little small to allow for multiple coats of Tru Oil.  (Jim Sobota)

        I use the same .683 ID tubing to make my caps and rings. The issue of undersized rings is addressed by "stretching" the ring on a turning mandrel similar to the ones sold by Gary Dabrowski at "Brookside Rods." Just tighten the mandrel's bolt, loosen and rotate, tighten again, and the target .690 ID is quickly achieved.  (Doug Daniel)

        It took a while to get through this dense, Germanic skull of mine, that when I turn a reel seat insert OD to the same dimension as the insert ID, I was going to have an issue or two once I applied finish to the insert...  (Mark Wendt)

          I bet the finish was really thin!  (Louis DeVos)

            I ended up boring out the ring a smidge to get a nice loose slip fit on the insert.  (Mark Wendt)

              I'm glad this topic came up. I have just started looking in to it.

              Looks like most people want about 10-15 thousandths wiggle room on the ring, just a few thousandths over the insert for the cap, and about 5 thousandths left for finish.

              How about the internal angles? I have seen 3 degrees a bunch of times for the ring, but 7-8 degrees for the cap? Is that because the ring tilts a bit when slid up the foot?

              I'd also like to ask about insert dimensions. I'm planning on 687 for my first seat (going on a 8ft 6 wt). Is that beefy enough for a bigger rod? Could I go smaller without it looking too small? I'd like to use 750 rod, but I may be pushing my luck with a 687 insert.  (Conor McKenna)

                I wouldn't try to bore an internal angle on the cap.  That will cause problems when you try to mount it on the reel seat insert, unless you turn a taper on the end of the insert where you're going to mount the cap.  About the only way you could effectively have a taper on the cap was if it was hooded, leaving the rest of the cap nice straight surfaces so you don't get a gap between the cap and the insert.

                .687" is pretty much the standard size for 4 wts up to 7 wt or maybe 8 wt rods.  .750" would look better on the bigger rods, and smaller would work well for 3 wt rods and smaller.  You need to match your reel seat hardware to the reels you are going to be fitting to the rod.  (Mark Wendt)

    I cut my reel foot mortise with an offset fixture on my lathe.  I end the cut just before the butt end of the reel seat to keep it round under the cap and still leave enough room for the reel foot to enter and seat.  (Mike Monsos)

    I turn my fillers to .650. I mortise off around .085. My butt caps are .650 ID and I turn my slide bands to .660 ID. If you are going to be putting many coats of varnish on your filler, then turn the filler down to .645.  When you have it all varnished, then it will be around .650. (Dave LeClair)


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