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I would like for somebody to help me with the jig that holds the 60 degree lathe tool.  I do not have a grinder Tony, so I can't use your idea.  I was going to use set screws to move it and a 2x2 on both sides bolted before and after the tool, but what do I use for the 3/8" gap  (the width of my tool)  between the 2x2’s.  (Kris Fox)

    Have you looked at Terry Kirkpatrick's web site? Seen any of Don Schneider's tools?  (Martin-Darrell)

    For help on your forms and tools to build them look at the article that I wrote. The tools and setup procedure for cutting the groove work on metal as well as wood forms.

    Smoothing out the pith side at the nodes to make the strips uniform thickness may help with the splitting. Don't try to split your strips exactly the width you want until you get the hang of it. Remember, a strip too wide is usable, a strip to narrow is fire wood.

    You can do it.  (Don Schneider)

    I don't use the Lathe Tool, tried it on a couple forms.  I just get too much chatter. Maybe I am doing something wrong.  I did send you a shot of the tool in a block. I may not sent the final set up. Will do that later today.  I tried Lathe tool again on the set of 72" forms we finished the other day. Still am not satisfied with the results I was getting with the lathe tool, went back to my old way. If you noted in the photos on grinding the excess metal from the groove area, the bars were in a tilting vise. You can cut a 90 degree V notch in a couple of 2X4s and set the bar in it. That will make it easier to remove the excess. I don't use the grinder for the narrow end of the tip section. The grinder is used to about 1/2 way to the narrow tip ends.  The file is used for the narrow  part of the groove. Being that you don't have a grinder, use your Vixen file to remove the excess material.

    The metal is removed almost to the scribed line with the vixen file. Hold the Vixen file at a slight angle to the bars, this makes the file cut better. Use it as you would draw filing. After you get both sides roughed in, assemble the bars and use to the triangle file to clean up the groves. The spacing for the groove is done with a feeler gauge between the bars. Start out where the triangle file is flush at the deep end, then open the bars .005 at each 5" station. Use the feeler gauge up against the pull screw between the bars. If everything is set up right it will make a straight taper as the tip end will be the widest section between the bars. That is where the groove will be the narrowest when the bars are closed. As the groove cleans up, you can start using the depth gauge to find any high or low spots. Then you can clean them accordingly. Hope this is not too confusing. This is the way I have made four sets of forms. This set of 72" forms were made with a friend that never worked with metal. With me guiding him, the forms were completed in 3 days from start to finish. He did about 75% of the work.

    Now on the splitting. The runoff you are getting is because there is not enough pressure (bend) on the fat side. Sometimes it is hard to get the bend on the fat side. There are a number of ways it can be done. One way is to put the splitting blade in a vise, as the split tries to run off, put a bending load away from the split using the blade as a fulcrum. Pushing into the blade bothers me, there is a potential to slip into the blade. This is the way I do it. The 1/3 split is started, almost immediately you will notice the strip wanting to run off. Where you started the split, put the inside tip of the "fat" end against a post or workbench. Have the fat side against your waist.  You them use body English to put a bend in the fat side.  The split will go back towards to the fat end. If someone is around this afternoon that can take a few shots, I will send them on to you.  I am just telling you my way of doing these things, if you feel there is another way you want to go, by all means give it a try. This works well enough for me.  (Tony Spezio)

      I got chatter also, then I made my bit holder much heavier. Also, I lay down a long strip of  rubber mat with the forms on top of it. Reduced the chatter to minimum. When and if chatter starts, I just clean it up with a triangle file/holder. I think this is the only way to get a near perfect 60° groove. I tried flat filing the groove on my start forms and although it looked good, it was off!

      When mechanics turn brake drums, they wrap a rubber belt around the drum to reduce bit chatter.  (David Dziadosz)


I just picked up a couple of Vixen files from a local machine shop supply house, to file some forms I have been working on. Boy are they impressive, I didn't realize you could cut metal by hand that fast.

I was kind of surprised the supplier had them, they are not a large place, I had to explain what the cutting surface looked like, and it took him a few minutes to lay his fingers on them.

It is still going to take a bit of elbow grease, but they don't seem to load up, and when they do hold material they clean easily.  (Greg Shockley)

    Don't forget you can use them to file the nodes on the halved culms before splitting also. This is where they really shine for a rod maker.  (Joe Arguello)


Can anyone that has used these files for facing metal bars tell me which one they recommend?  I see there are several lengths and styles.  (Scott Bahn)

    This is the one that I bought.

    Seems to be working fine so far.

    I'm currently making two planing forms to sell at Grayrock this year and have just started filing the assembled forms flat in preparation for filing the grooves.  (Larry Swearingen)

      I think this is what I am looking for.  I am going to try making a set myself as the machinist I gave my planing form design to backed out after 8 months and does not want to make them for me.  I think his equipment is too small, only a 33" travel on the CNC machine so he would have to set up 3 times to do a 72" form.

      Do you have any jig or anything you hold the file with or just with the bare hand?  (Scott Bahn)

        Just go to Thomas Penrose's site for full instructions.  He explains everything in depth.

        That's pretty much the procedure I use except I do not use Shoulder or stripper bolts.  I think that's what the Dowel Pins are for.   I also use my vertical mill for all drilling and reaming operations.  I also use a Hand Tapper fixture to tap all holes.  Much faster and surer that a tap wrench. I've tried to use my Rockwell mill for other milling operations instead of hand filing but it only gets 16" of travel and leaves a pretty ragged surface.  I find it faster to just hand file with a Vixen file if only a few thousandths have to be removed.

        I also made myself a threading bit (60°) plane that "in theory" should make things easier.

        In reality, not so much.  It leaves a pretty ragged groove that needs to be cleaned up with a 2 corner file anyway.  Might as well do it with the file from the start.  (Larry Swearingen)

    Snap-on has flexible vixen files:

    Fine cut 14” 12 teeth/inch and rough cut 14” 8 teeth/inch.

    They are designed to fit this holder.

    I have the rough cut & holder. Works like a champ.

    However you could mount the file on a 1x2 and save the cost of the holder.  (Don Schneider)

    I wrote an article a few years ago of how to make wooden planing forms (see here).  In reality I named the article wrong, the procedures in the article will ALSO WORK FOR MAKING METAL FORMS. In addition there are two tools/jigs that greatly assist the process and how to make them in the article that also work for wood or metal. These two tools/jigs are called a File Plane and Bit Plane. I made several of these tools and they are out there in our rod making community. The idea was that anyone could use them and when someone else needed the tools that person would send it on to them etc. I also have spreadsheets that make the setup for cutting the groove @ .001”/inch straight forward without using feeler gages to reset the forms.

    Any questions, let me know and I will help you as much as I can.  (Don Schneider)


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