Bamboo Tips - Tips Area
Tool Building - Planing Forms - Wood Forms

< Home < Tips Area < Tool Building < Planing Forms < Wood Forms


Making your own forms, while surely is proof of your commitment, is also some serious drudgery. I would recommend that you make your first set out of maple, 3/4"x3/4", it will go much quicker, be just as useable and not wear you out to the point that your sick of the whole thing before you even start. If you are reasonably careful with your final planing they will last quite q while before you have to resurface them and by that time you will know if you want to continue making rods or not. If you go on, then make a set out of steel, or buy a set. Or you could start right out with a block plane with a groove in the sole, in which case your wooden forms will last indefinitely.  (John Channer)


Try to get a copy of The Best Of  The Planing Form and look into making your forms with aluminum angles. If you groove your plane they will work great and no nicking!  (Adam Vigil)

    As much as we all hate doing it. Nicking your planing form in no way decreases it's effectiveness. You could in fact take a hacksaw and cut perpendicular slices every 1/4" all the way up the form and still have a very accurate form.  I wouldn't suggest doing it though.  (Marty DeSapio)


I'm starting on the long journey of making my first fly rod and I thought I'd go for wooden forms but am a bit worried about my cold damp occasionally wet garage/workshop. Can there be shrinking swelling and warping problems with wooden forms?  (Mark Johnson)

    Remember that someone used Garrison's forms for a pry bar at one time and put a slight bend in them.  Also what do you have a dial indicator for?  Just to set the forms?  It can also be used to check the forms.  Also remember that the groove is tapered and you can slide the cane up or down in the groove as needed.  In fact some of the early forms were just grooves in a metal plate and you picked the portion of the groove that you wanted to use.  Don't sweat the small stuff.  Wooden forms will swell and shrink according to the humidity level, but it shouldn't be enough to cause you great concern.

    I answered because a good number of the list members are in the Mt. Home , AR area for SRG this weekend.  I would be there too but I had cataract surgery Wednesday and my wife would have thrown a fit if I had gone.

    Good luck with the wooden forms.  Just use something hard like Maple.  (Dick Fuhrman)

      I agree with Dick's comments about the adjustability of the forms and his suggestion to use maple.  I built my forms from maple in 2000 and have finished three rods so far.  The forms work very smoothly and I use a grooved plane for the last few strokes.  I made a case out of 3" PVC thin wall pipe and keep the forms in that when I am not using them and keep a small packet of desiccant in there.  Store the case flat on a rack or shelf up off the floor and you should be fine.

      You have found a great resource here on the list.  These folks will help with just about anything.  Which of the rodbuilding books do you have, or do you have someone close enough to help you?  Best of luck on your journey.  My fourth rod, a Paul Young Driggs River is waiting for ferrules and looks great so far.  (Kurt Clement)

    Ironically, hard maple isn't very dimensionally stable with humidity changes (I know, I have hard maple floors in my house and researched this due to swelling, shrinking, and expansion problems with my floors).  Soft maple, on the other hand, is much more stable.  And whatever lumber you may use will be much more stable if you specify quartersawn lumber.  In the US, the Hardwood Lumber Association publishes a book for $10 that not only shows color pictures of US hardwoods but also lists their engineering properties, perhaps that would help you find a substitute wood with similar (or better) properties.  (George Bourke)

      Most hardwoods aren't very stable even when years old and bone dry. Softwoods on the other hand usually are.  By hard and soft wood I mean as defined by their cell structure and not their working qualities.  Jarrah is a classic example. It's very hard wood and very handsome though not particularly highly figured. Makes good chunky looking furniture and is very good for tables but not so good for chairs unless it's ripped into thin strips and laminated with epoxy generally to try to control movement. For all that my forms are Jarrah and it works very well.

      As mentioned previously on the list the variations due to moisture etc. are not worth considering. You measure as you plane and the variation is so slight you're only talking about a few mm one way or the other to get the taper during planing.  (Tony Young)


Wood forms? Since I'm new to cane, would it be a good Idea to go with wood. I fish a lot of small streams and would love to build rods 6 ft and under 2 , 3 and 4 weight. Is it possible to get the tips small enough for these rods with wood?  (Bill Tagye)

    I can't speak to the issue of wooden forms, but there are a lot of guys on this list who have made and used them with success.  Nothing wrong with the idea, and they're sure easier to make than steel.

    As to building small rods with fine tips, you'll have no trouble, I'm sure. You only want to take care that the tip area of your forms  can accommodate  a strip  that may  become as  small as .027" or so.  (Bill Harms)

    I used wooden forms for my first twenty rods or so? Fairly easy and quick to make. Only thing is that for me the threading in the forms was pulled out after a while and for some stations I was unable to set them any longer. I then made steel forms, and although I had the threading done in a shop, flattening the surface and filing the groove were very hard and time consuming. I have the impression the steel forms are maybe a little more accurate. The dial caliper reacts very quickly to a turn at the screw. With my wooden forms i made the tiniest of tips without problems. I always had two strips of tape under the sole of the plane to protect the forms.

    I found a solution for my wooden planing forms which I use now for bigger rods, after filing a deep 'V'. I glued a screw on the far side for the pull bolts. it looks a lot sturdier than the threaded wood. The push bolts never caused any problem. You have to find a very hard wood. Mine are a bit over 6' which allows me to do one piece 6' rods. But those long sections are difficult to plane. I consider 5' the longest to be planed without difficulties. I did longer, but it is hard.  (Geert Poorteman)

      Tony Young, some years ago, published directions for building wooden planing forms; he solved the problem of stripping wooden threads by using hex screws and barrel bolts, which functioned both as "push" and as "pull" components.

      I made a set on his principle, and used them very happily until the inevitable process of "Yuppification" set in and I paid about a squillion dollars to have someone make me a set of steel forms, which have ever after occupied me for an immeasurable amount of time drawfiling, oiling, polishing, fine tuning, and  the like.

      I also spend an awful lot of time bitching about them.

      However, I do like the steel forms  better.   It's  a  bit  like   having  a T-bar gear shift in your car instead of a column mounted stick - does exactly the same job,  but makes you feel better doing it!  Yuppification is a difficult process to reverse!

      Still use the wooden ones when I have somebody ask for a butt swell that I can't handle in my BMS jobs.

      My opinion - use the wooden ones, keep them, but plan to get a metal set  when  you can.  (Peter McKean)

        This would be my advice too. Make ten rods with the wooden forms, and if you still want to make more rods, get metal ones. I think wooden forms are also excellent for 'special' forms like swelled butt forms or those Danish cane ferrules. I filed a really deep 'V' in my old forms and will use them for really big rods, like carp rods and surf rods. Don't forget that you can have your wooden forms machine planed till they're flat again, and file a new 'V' in them when they are too worn, if ever this would be the case. And yes, you can make those flimsy tips on them without any problem, I've done it!  (Geert Poorteman)

        George Barnes makes his wooden forms out of hard wood and just taps threads into the wooden push pull holes with great success.  I asked him about the threads holding up and he said he hasn't had any problems.  (Jack Follweiler)

          I haven't made any wooden forms, but couldn't one use those threaded, barrel inserts to preserve good thread-to-thread contact?  (Bill Harms)

            My wood forms are made a little different from most.  Kevin Caloway helped me make them and supplied me with the materials.   They are built with a steel bar core.  the two bars are drilled and tapped like you do building steel forms.  Then two hardwood bar which have the inside dadoed to except the bars are screwed and epoxied in place.  You make the groove as you would on any other form, but the push and pulls are all in the metal bars.  (Tim Stoltz)

            That would be perfect. But here in Africa I've never seen them. I use nuts now, sunken in the wood and glued. Works fine.  (Geert Poorteman)

            The first forms I made were out of 1x1 hard maple. Thought about using threaded inserts, don't see why they wouldn't work, but just used 1/4x20 bolts for push/pull, no dowels and just tapped the wood. Thinking if the 1" long threads stripped I could always use the inserts, they never did strip.

            After about a year the wood where the push bolt pushed started to get chewed up, so I faced off a roofing nail and put it in a recess for the push bolt to push against.

            When the tops got nicked up, I just ran the form through a thickness planner and deepened the groove. Used  the forms for about 3 years with no problems other than nicks until I made steel forms.

            Haven't used the wood forms since except when I wanted a radical change in dimension between stations, they flex easier than steel.

            Do wood forms change dimensions due the humidity? I'm sure they do but not fast enough to affect your settings unless you take forever to plane the strips.

            That's my experience with wood forms. Hope it helps someone. Best advice I got on forms when I was starting out was from John Channer. John said " Go to steel forms as soon as you can and you will be glad you did. They are not that hard to make." He was right but he forgot "Time consuming."  (Don Schneider)

              Tim Abbott recommends using cup point set screws for the push bolts with ball bearings between them and the inside surface of your forms.  He does this on his steel forms and it works wonders on them.  I have just made the change on mine and it makes a big difference in ease of adjustment, and will protect the inside of your forms from marring.  I don't see why this wouldn't be a good idea for wooden forms as well.  (Carl DiNardo)

    I have wood forms from Golden Witch, If you want to make rods that light I would definitely look for metal forms. The wood forms are great for say 5 wt. I’ve done 2 - 4 wt’s and the tips are definitely tricky.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    IMHO I think the answer to your question is: Yes you can make any taper with wooden forms. I think in the long run however you will be more satisfied with steel forms. I made my forms, wood & steel, out of 1" square stock. Why? I just like the wider platform to work on.

    Few years ago I wrote an article on how to make wooden planing forms and it is here.  There are 2 tools you can make that will be very helpful in the article as well. I might add: these tools can also be used to make steel forms.

    There is also a Excel Spreadsheet that tells you how to setup the forms to cut the groove.

    If you decide to make your own forms and have any question, let me know.  (Don Schneider)

    Has anybody ever tried other metal than steel for forms? Steel is very very hard to work and cutting a V in my forms took like forever. I dulled several files on the job. Chinese files, OK, but still... I was thinking of an easier metal to work, like aluminum or brass. Would this be any good or are there other pitfalls I haven't seen?? I have also seen plans for a wooden form with brass corner profiles fixed on top. The V was cut in the brass. And the bolt in the wood. Any ideas??  (Geert Poorteman)

      Brass will do the job, so will Aluminum, also there is some steel that is softer than ordinary CRS, it contains more lead making it easier to file. Don't know what the English name for it is, but in Norway we call it "Automat Steel"....  (Danny Twang)

        Brass forms would look very nice too!

        Is there no health hazard with working with lead containing forms? In a former life I made stained glass windows and the glass is set in lead strips. A colleague of mine got 'lead disease' or saturnism from working with the lead and smoking. The lead got on his fingers and cigarettes and eventually in his mouth. It is not something you want to get!! And planing could have the same effect.  (Geert Poorteman)

          Yea, brass looks nice!

          I'm not sure about this, but I don't think You'll get much lead out of the steel while planing cane, but during making the form you probably will. But nothing worst than a good filter mask would take care off........  (Danny Twang)

    I hesitate to offer advice because I'm brand new at this. My first introduction was at the Catskill Gathering and as yet I haven't built anything. At that gathering, I believe at the table of George Barnes there were a set of homemade forms using woo to provide the body of the planing forms and aluminum angle stock to provide the working surfaces and solid tapping media for the screws. Hope this helps.  (Joe Xiques)

    A while back I picked up a set of Golden Witch wood forms on eBay, about 1/2 the new price, and found them to be "close enough", but did have to do some tune up on them. I got them to set up for final rough planing, but have a buddy who's just getting started, and has purchased them to save $, he's turning out some accurate strips, and can say that he'd be able to do some fairly fine tips.  (Chad Wigham)

    Well, after many emails from you guys I finally decided to go with the wood form. I purchased the maple today. One question, is it necessary to install dowel pins?  (Bill Tagye)

      I did not use dowel pins with my wooden forms.  (Bill Bixler)

      Yes, I think the dowels are necessary. I used steel dowels, available at Grainger and the ubiquitous McMaster-Carr. They do a good job of holding the halves in line.  (Rick Funcik)


OK I have almost finished building the form, I made the form from rock maple. I used a jointer and a planer to get the wood straight and flat as possible, the only thing left is the 60 degree bevel !!!! What is the best method for making the bevel? I have read most of the online sites.  Can I use just the lathe bit plane.  Can I use just the file plane - or both!!  (Bill Tagye)

    I suggest you use both.  The threading tool will take off the wood very quickly (too quickly I had to reface the first one).  Use the tool holder (scraper plane-like thing) you'll find in the web sites.  I added a plastic tail fin to keep the thing aligned.

    The scraper will tend to washboard and dig in around the reed of the grain so a nice big triangular file helps to smooth it out.  I used a 5/8" thick one from McMaster-Carr.

    Hope you used dowel pins.  They keep the top nicely aligned especially while you plane the surface true.  BTW I use a special sanding disk on my table saw to dress the top of the form.   (Jim Utzerath)

    I think you will find you need to use both. Don't try to take to much with the bit plane per pass or it will dig in. Use the file plane to finish up and take the chatter marks out. You will find the file plane will load up very fast when using it on wood. Save the tools to touch up the forms later and when or if you make metal forms.

    If you would like a copy of an Excel Spreadsheet that tells you how to setup the forms to cut the groove, I'll send you a copy.  (Don Schneider)

    What I would use is a 60 degree thread cutting tool available at a machine supply. Make a  jig to hold it vertical, open the forms to the desired taper and scrape away. The exact procedure was described in an issue of the Planing Form Publication. I am sure a triangular file would work also.  (Marty DeSapio)

    Don gave me a bunch of help when I was "tweaking" my forms.  The two tools work great together and made the grooving a whole lot easier.  By all means, avail yourself of Don's spreadsheet.  It's also a great tool for helping you set up the forms for the cutting and filing.  (Mark Wendt)


Anyone please have an URL for an explanation of how to make wooden forms?  (Carsten Jorgensen)

    I made me a "travel" planing forms of maple when going down under. I made it like I made my steel forms, as described on Penrose site. I used shoulder bolts, threaded in the wood and wooden pins to align it all up. Worked like a charm for the 3-4 rods I made on them.  (Danny Twang)

      Did you use tung oil or teak oil to keep the forms protected.  Is this necessary?

      Is it OK to set a taper in the forms (once they are finished), say a Fario Club butt, and just leave the screws set that way for a few weeks?  Will this damage the form?

      I appreciate the input about the forms. 

      I agree with your assessment about swelled butts.  Pretty to look at, stops the action before the grip and causes a difference in feel.  (Joe West)

        I didn't use any finish on my form, and I'm not sure if it is necessary. I do use the form in my workshop which I try to keep dry'n warm.

        I didn't find mine to shift much after setting the taper, actually it was not measurable...  

        On the other hand I did find it a bit harder to set the taper, not a problem really, but a bit more tweaking before it was set. On a steel form You have a more positive response when You adjust the bolts, a 1/2 turn is more constant from station to station if You understand.

        Regular Swelled butt. When I first started building rods, I was very impressed by the look of Swelled Butt, after seeing a Thomas & Thomas.  But on the 2-3 rods I've tried it on, I didn't like the feel of it. Even if the rod was delicate and light (Dickerson 6611) it made the rod cast like a broomstick. But then I'm a paraholic, like the feel of a rod bending all the way down in the handle....  (Danny Twang)

          I have exactly the same experience as Danny when adjusting the forms. But you can make very accurate rods and extremely fine tips if you would wish to do so.  (Geert Poorteman)

          I have Golden Witch's wooden forms, the newer laminated ones. Very happy with the way they work. When adjusting for a taper I loosen the push bolts and close them up with ALL of the "pull" bolts. Then I start at the tip of the section and adjust down from there loosen the "pull bolts as I go. You will need to loosen down two bolts once the gap starts opening up otherwise you exert too much force and this tends to make the previous setting go off. You should check it anyway after each station. I haven't put any finish on them, I like to gently sand the pencil marks and smooth the nicks after each rod.  (Pete Van Schaack)

    Try this: Wood Planing Forms.  (Bill Tagye)

    Once I had made a wooden planing form by following the method of Tony Young's web site.  I also made my web page which explains how to make it... but the page is in Japanese. I just wonder if you can take meaningful information form it but please look into the url below if you don't mind.  The page is not opened to public now but still there. If you can use some translation software of web page, you might be able to read the sentences.  Just take a glance on photos only, when no way on sentences.

    I used male threading byte of lathe to make V channel, as it has precise 60 degrees.  (Max Satoh)

      Answering to the request of several list members, I translated the contents in English, sigh...

      Please go to this page.  You will find the navigation to wooden PF at the left column.  (Max Satoh)

    Maybe I can share my experience here too.  After making about 15 rods or so, the pull bolts shot through the treading. First I made another hole for the pull bolts, but the same happened. The solution I came up with now is to glue a nut on the far end of the forms for the pull bolt to go in. Furthermore, the heads of the bolts have a tendency to bury themselves in the wood. Remedy here was a big washer. Until now this set up works fine. I would recommend wooden forms to any new rodmaker. Farst to make and you can get lots of rods out of them. If they get  too much nicks, just machine plane the whole thing and make another 'V'. I do have the impression it is easier to set metal forms (at least mine, the ones I made after about 25 rods on the wooden forms). More precise. But maybe this is just an impression, giving myself  a reason, a posteriori, for having slaved for weeks on making metal forms.  (Geert Poorteman)


Someone recently posted a problem with the adjustment screws loosening up in a wooden form.

I have a wooden form built with Ed Hartzell based on the use of a 1/8 X 3/4" piece of cold rolled steel screwed and epoxied into a long dado down the middle of the two halves of the form. The two pieces are then clamped firmly together for drilling and tapping the holes for the push pull screws. The directions for this can be found in The Planing Form issue 43. Since the screws are threaded into and bear on the steel, loosening or slop is not a problem. I used hex head screws and with two T handle hex drivers find it very easy to adjust the form.

When I went to buy the wood for my form I wasn't able to find suitable straight grain maple but found a very nice slab of purple heart. The grain is very straight, the wood sufficiently hard and the appearance is striking. If some wood is planed off the form, touching up with 60 degree thread cutting bit mounted in a block of choice (See Jack Howell's book) is an easy task.

I have only made one rod on this form but it came out very well in regard to dimensions as planned. After a hiatus of several years, the form is retuned and ready to be put back to work.

I just recently read an article in the July issue of American Woodworker about a wood called Ipe (E-pay) which is apparently as hard as many metals and would very likely make an excellent planing form. I am currently on sabbatical from the list and thus haven't been following what is being discussed, but you can drop this hint to those who might be interested in building a wooden form. It could well be unnecessary to use the CRS inserts with Ipe. Apparently it isn't a true exotic wood, and they say it is not particularly hard to find ($6/board foot). Contacts are Cecco Trading (414-445-8989, It is so dense it sinks in water. The web site is interesting and the wood can be found under the "commercial" tab.

I am beginning to think of a lot of other uses for this product.  (Barry Mayer)


When you folks give advice to fund-limited newbies, I often wonder why the notion of aluminum (or wood) planing forms are not proposed. They are easy to make, like in one afternoon, they work well and last a long time. Is aluminum a contaminated material or something?  (Bill Fink)

    If anyone would know how well aluminum forms work Bill is the one. Think about getting some of the articles he has written on the subject. I bought my forms but that has nothing to do with what works for you.  (Adam Vigil)

    I just made a set of steel forms. Total cost was about 150.00. I made one out of maple, but it just didn’t do the trick. If you need any pointers I'd be happy to help you out!  (Bill Tagye)

    I still have the wooden forms that I made in "98. Made a half dozen rods on them and I  am sure there are a dozen left in them. Figured I would be making rods for a while after the first six and made a set of steel forms.  (Steve Trauthwein)

    I agree with Bill, I made an aluminum form using his plans from "The Best of The Planing Form", I have done several rods and they work fine.  (Joe Esther)


I have a wooden planing form I built some years ago. It has cold rolled steel bars embedded in the inside of the wooden strips. The form works well but I have been having some trouble with the screws binding. They are #8-32 socket head cap screws. I feel they are a bit flimsy and want to retap the steel so I can use a stouter screw.  Question is what size should I go to?  I thought 1/4-28 or perhaps 5/16-24. I think the steel bars are 3/16 thick by 13/32 wide so would accommodate a either diameter. Important issue is the type of screw and the thread.  (Barry Mayer)

    I vote for 1/4 28 cap head. You don't have a lot of depth to play with.  (Don Schneider)

    I would use 1/4-20. The coarse thread will work better for holding and not stripping out. Less chance of binding also.  (Tony Spezio)

    I have wooden forms too, and the pull screws pulled loose. Finally, I drilled out the far side of the tapped hole and glued a steel nut in it. Problem finished.

    Did anybody make forms in brass? Must be pretty and brass is probably easier to work with.  (Geert Poorteman)

      George Barnes has made planing forms from brass.  I think he used a carbide router bit to make them.  Maybe he will respond.  (David Van Burgel)

        George and I did make my planing form out of brass. It was his second one. And yes, they are very pretty.  (Wayne Caron)


I am planning on building some wooden forms using Don Schneider's tutorial on the bamboorodmaking web site. My question for those of you who have done it is this: since the bolts are tapping into wood and not metal, I assume the threads will eventually strip. That said, has anyone used metal or brass inserts to accept the bolts so the contact is metal to metal?  (Louis DeVos)

    I have a set of the old Golden Witch wood forms, they have a threaded sleeve epoxied in them.

    They work nice for the most part, one or two are not quite straight and  get tough to  turn while adjusting, other than that - They work!!  (Pete Van Schaack)

    Yes, I made a set of wooden forms with brass and steel inserts.  Here's the story.

    Years ago I made a set of steel forms with Garrison's differential screws.  I didn't like the one piece screws because you can never get them to start in the same place for both halves.

    So... I made three piece differential screws for the steel forms and used the one piece screws for the wooden forms.  The larger diameter of the screw has recessed brass inserts and the smaller diameter has steel claw type inserts.

    I take some pictures if you like, just as soon as I get my camera back from my daughter.  Halloween pictures of the twin granddaughters are more important.  (Ron Larsen)

    I just finished making two new sets of wood forms.  (I made metal forms last years, but wanted forms for trying integrated bamboo ferrules, and a set for 1 piece rods up to 8 feet).  I was going to use threaded inserts (but at 60 cents a piece I couldn't stomach it) so I just used regular nuts ( a box of 100 was only a couple of bucks) instead.  I drilled all my push and pull holes for 1/4 bolts.  Then I drilled a counter bore big enough for a 1/4 nut on the outside of the forms for the pull bolt and the inside of the forms for the push bolt.  I was going to epoxy these in place, but so far they haven't slipped at all.  I used a drill bit just smaller than the size of the nut and pounded it into place.  So far they work well.  I haven't planed nay bamboo yet, just set and reset them many times while filing the groove.  (Aaron Gaffney)

      Here's my answer to the question

      Seems like a lot of work  but I've been very happy with these forms.  (Terry Kirkpatrick)

      This is a lot like what I did with my forms after the threads started slipping. I glued up some nuts, but didn't bother with the others and they did just fine.  I will also make new forms for integrated ferrules.  (Geert Poorteman)

    I made wooden forms without metal reinforcement for the bolts. They worked fine but after a few rods bolts started to get loose. A few rods meaning 10 or so. So I glued a nut on the opposing side of the forms for the pull bolts. The push bolts are all ok and didn't need any reinforcement. I was lucky the pull bolts were sticking out a little. The forms are fine now. So I would suggest you  look out for some kind of reinforcement... after a dozen rods or so. If you want to make like two rods a year, don't bother, you'll be fine.

    After a while, your plane will take slivers off the top of your forms, and you don't want that. What I did was to take them to a woodworking shop and have the top machined off. I then filed a new 'V', which takes not too much time. Good as new.

    I also made metal forms, where I had most of the work done by a local technical school. I just did the 'V', but even that was a LOT of work. I used several (Chinese...!!) files on that job. If you don't want to go semi professional, making dozens of rods each year, make a wooden form. Its really a lot less work than you might think. And they do a good job really. Metal forms are a little easier to set the taper.  (Geert Poorteman)

    I made my first forms out of hard strait grain maple. Used them for about three years until I made my metal forms. Never had a thread strip. If you should strip one of the threads you could always repair it with a brass insert.  (Don Schneider)

    I have used my set of wooden planing forms for almost 15 years. Ed Hartzell, the gentleman who taught me rodbuilding, only used wooden forms. Ed built his forms with a 1/4" x 3/4" cold rolled steel strip at either side of the form joint and used the push/pull method of bolting. One bolt would go through an over sized hole in the near side strip and tap into the far side. The other bolt would tap into the near side strip and push on the far side. The system works very will and eliminates the need for inserts and still produces a long lasting form. Place alignment pins a few places along the form joint also to aid in drilling and keeping the form true after assembly. The other thing I would add, is to use hard maple with a very straight grain and assemble the form halves with the grain running  perpendicular to the planing surface. The grain is less likely to lift in this configuration.

    In have added some pictures (hope this works this is my first reply on this list) pic 237 shows four wooden forms, left to right (top to bottom) is: Ed's spring loaded form with one screw, Ed's small tip form, Ed's standard form and the tank on the bottom is mine. Mine weights about 30 lbs. and is nice and solid. pic 238 is the back side of the forms, pic 239 is a blurry close up of my form but hopefully you can see the grain running up and down. pic 240 is my steel forms that never get used and pic 241 is an end view of a form blank.

    About a million years ago, a wrote a handout for one of the rodbuilders gatherings about wooden form construction, If you would like, I will send you a copy.  If you really get stuck on getting this form together, let me know. I had a number of those form blanks made and I sure we could work something out.  (Kevin Callaway)

      Kevin sent me some pictures of the forms that he's talking about in this post.  I've posted them on the tips site here.  (Todd Talsma)

    I think you'd have some trouble keeping everything aligned if you have to drill extra holes for the inserts; once for the screw diameter, another for the insert. And most inserts can be hard to install REALLY straight. I used straight hard maple for my wood forms; saturated the holes with thin CA glue, and they held up fine until I got suddenly rich and bought Bellinger steel forms. (I'm no longer rich of course.)

    True, wood forms don't wear as long on the surface, but it's not difficult to resurface them maybe every 8 or 10 rods. You don't have to plane off down to the whole groove, you can just take off maybe .010, freshen up the grooves with the same tool and block you made them with, and go back to work. A large bench plane (Stanley type) or a decent jointer will do the job.  (Rick Funcik)


I am starting on some quad forms for 4 or 5 rods, made of UMHW and wood. The left and right hand thread tapers will be part of the same form. I've looked at the designs in the Best of the Planing Form, Power Fibers, and Ray Gould's second book, Cane Rods (p. 36), and I am going with Gould's design. I have the materials now. However, Ray did not make clear in his book how one passes a 45 degree router bit horizontally over the middle bar of the form and taper jig to cut the tapers. I can't picture it yet in my mind, and even wonder if he actually ran the form and jig under a Medved style beveler?

So perhaps I will cut the 45/90 degree tapered groove by hand, instead of making a jig and using a router. I am wondering if Don's spreadsheet (which I have) can be adapted to cutting a 90 degree quad taper on a 60 inch form?  I would remove the middle bar on the 3 piece form, cut the 90 degree taper between the left and right hand bars, and then put the middle bar back into the form. Am I missing something? Advice is welcome on cutting the groove by hand, and if the spreadsheet is flexible for this purpose.  (Paul Franklyn)

    I don't see why the spreadsheet wouldn't work for quad forms. You would need a 90° point for your DI and a 90° lathe bit however.  (Don Schneider)


I am going to build wooden planing forms out of maple following Don Schneider's instructions.  However, the idea of tapping wood seems like there would ultimately be issues with stripped threads.  It seems that others utilize threaded inserts, nuts, or steel strips from the tips site.   I have access to a well equipped woodworking shop, and no experience with metal so wooden forms seem like a viable option to see if bamboo is something to continue beyond a few rods.  Any info regarding building the forms would be appreciated.  (Ron Delesky)

    There is not that much stress on the threads. They will likely last you as long as you want to use the forms. If they ever do fail, you can install inserts, blind nuts, or whatever, at the time.  (Tom Smithwick)

      Another trick that helps is to tap the holes in the wood, then drip a little cyanoacrylate glue (super-glue) in each hole.  After it dries completely, run the tap back through.  (Harry Boyd)

    I built my forms three years ago using Don Schneider's directions and with plenty of helpful advise via email from Harry Boyd. Threading the maple was not a problem for me. Getting the groove cut right was the real fussy part. I did mess up one pull bolt hole a little but salvaged it by getting a longer bolt so that the treads are engaged the full length of the hole for all adjustment positions. I just finished final planing rod #5 and the threaded holes are still doing fine. I do need to resurface the forms a little since the forms are dished in about .002 inches deeper at the groove than the edge from planing and scraping wear. On the last rod I have gone to a grooved plane for the last .010 or so inches of planing and it seems to have eliminated wear on the form to a large degree.

    My guess is that thread wear in the maple would come from too much stress between the push and pull screws when setting the forms. I try to sneak up on the planing form settings over about four iterations. This may seem like a baby the forms but I have essentially no wear on the wood threads in five rods plus practice planing.

    All I can add over Ron's directions is to be sure and use a three square triangular file and not a slim taper saw sharpening triangular file. Also keep the file chalked so the saw dust doesn't clog the file. The maple I used was air dried and was being sold out of a local barn at a very reasonable price where it had been stored since being sawn from  trees cut at a new housing development. It could have been a little drier so now the forms have a little warp and twist but the strips still turn out fine. If you use kiln dried maple it should prevent the warping problem for you.  (Joe Hudock)

      I only thing I could add to the original article would be to select the straightest grain maple you can find. To eliminate wear on the wood at the push side of the form you could add "no hole" washers counter sunk and pressed into the wood to push against. Other than that they should work fine. I used wooden forms for a few years before making metal forms. Never had any problems with threads.  (Don Schneider)

    I can vouch for the satisfactory nature of wooden forms,  too. I built my first set out of a local Australian timber called Jarrah.  I actually used a design which used barrel bolts set in to the wooden body as an adjustment; it turned out to be cumbersome and detracted from the accuracy of the adjustment quite a lot.  If I were doing it again I would  certainly just drill and tap the holes, and probably just dress the screws with hard beeswax to give some protection.

    When I did mine, I got a perfectly satisfactory V-groove by doing the calculations and then setting up the wooden bars, clamped together via the screws plus some clamps, on a Rockport mill, with shims inserted under the bars at the appropriate places to define the groove profile (like another .005" every linear 5"), and then just running a 60 degree cutter (router bit, I think, in this case) down the length of the forms.  As the shims got higher, the groove got deeper.  Then turned the whole shebang over and did the other side the same way, having end-for-ended the bars so as to have the butt and tip sides running the same way.

    They don't have to be dead accurate, as they are adjustable after all!

    These days, with Lie-Nielsen's planes with .003" rodmakers' grooves a fact of life, the surfaces should last indefinitely.

    Mine lasted until a kind of spurious steel form envy overcame me and I just had to have a set made out of BMS.  I still have them, and they are fine.  I think from time to time of resurrecting them and modifying them to cope with extreme butt swells, but so far have been stopped by having enough sense to realize that I don't really want to make rods for people who want extreme butt swells anyway!  (Peter McKean)

    Thinking of wood - there's also a product sold at West Marine Stores called "GIT ROT"  it's a very watery epoxy that soaks deeply into the capillaries of wood , and really hardens up nice.  (John Silveira)

    There is a very good section in Barnes book.  Check it out.  (Gary Nicholson)


I am planning on constructing a set of wooden planing forms based upon directions from Don Schneider as my initial attempt. The push/pull bolts are located on the same side of the forms. I would like them to be on opposite sides because it seems like it would be easier to adjust them as opposed to potentially being in the way on the same side. I assume that if the push holes are drilled on the opposite side of the forms to the pull/dowel holes than the directions can still be used as is. Do I have to change anything regarding the instructions if I ultimately drill the holes this way? Also, if a metal slug is placed so that the push bolts have metal on metal contact instead of metal/wood do they have to be perfectly flush with the wood surface or could they be recessed slightly deeper than the surface?   (Ron Delesky)

    Either setup will work fine. If you put the push bolts on the back, you will want to elevate the forms on blocks when setting them, so you can manipulate the hex wrench easier. The metal slugs would be fine, and they can be recessed, but an easier solution is to drop a polished steel ball into the hole before inserting the screw.   (Tom Smithwick)

      Good point, I made mine with screws on opposite sides, I set the forms on three short pieces of 2X4 to elevate the forms so that my "T" handle Allan wrenches clear the bench top. Never thought about using ball bearings for the slugs. Good idea.  (Tony Spezio)


Site Design by: Talsma Web Creations

Tips Home - What's New - Tips - Articles - Tutorials - Contraptions - Contributors - Search Site - Contact Us - Taper Archives
Christmas Missives - Chat Room - Photo Galleries - Line Conversions - The Journey - Extreme Rodmaking - Rodmaker's Pictures - Donate - Store