Bamboo Tips - Contributors - Davis, Grayson

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In '93 or '94 I bought a copy of Krieder's book from a "hurt book sale" to read on vacation as a mental exercise.  I had no real intention of building a rod, I just like "how to."  Then, a friend got a long printout of some new-fangled things called "list-serves." He showed them to me and wondered if I was on the bamboo rodmakers group.  I was not, so I joined up.  Next thing I knew I was pestering Wayne Cattenach with questions as I bought my tools.  I met Greg Flowers at a "Spring Fever Show" here in Valparaiso, Indiana, and he was just filled with enthusiasm.  Garrison slowed me down, Barnes speeded me up (Greg insisted I read that one), Gould gave me some great tips of things to try and Milward told me theory.

Somewhere in the beginning of that mess of reading, I went to Grayrock in '95 (still got my apron!) and finished my first rod that winter.  I showed it to Bret Reiter, and he said it wasn't entirely worthless, so I stopped asking for opinions, mostly.  Since then, I purchased a drill press, three grinders, radial arm saw, band saw, two metal lathes (one from Winston Binney), a stationary belt and disk sander, a dust collector (must have!!!) a mill-drill (damn-near killed me getting that sucker into the basement, and now I'm too old to get it back out) and more than a half dozen routers.  I've rebuilt my beveling mill and tapering mill several times and expect to do it at least twice more before I die.  My son used to help me make rods, and he invented a hand plane leveler that's a marvel of simplicity.  We described it for Ron Barch and he put it in the Planing Form.  I still use it.  These days, my wife does the flaming, splitting and sawing of nodes while I am strictly a supervisor doing the fine finishing.  Please don't tell her I wrote that; the garage is COLD.

Terry Ackland was and still is my hero.  He never told me or anyone else how to do anything, but he was spot on at telling us all what we should try to do next.  If you are listening, Terry, I'm still trying, and we're all still wankers!  I should know because I fired one of the first, if not the first, shots in the Grit Wars when I informed Yankees how to eat grits without being exposed as blue-bellies.  They didn't learn.  [Hint #1: Never order just one grit because you aren't very hungry.]

All my rods are nodeless, and all that I admit to having made are flamed.  I make my own hardware (except tip tops) and sew my own bags.  Soon I hope to make leather rod tubes.  Concerning Garrison's math I have little to say except that Paul Young was a genius, Dickerson must have been pretty smart, Poppa Payne was no dummy and Gillum may have been crazy, but he made some wonderful casting rods.  With Excel and the Wise Encyclopedia article (Kreider) I manipulate their tapers into rods I very generously call my own.

Mixed in that stew, I met a Sports Afield Hero of Conservation: Joe Mitchell.  Joe and I have been hauling college kids out into the woods and showing them how to rehabilitate trout streams for more than a decade now.  Perverting our youth is a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

It's clear that Rodmaking has paradoxically driven me crazy and kept me sane, and you guys are at least partly to blame.

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