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Making Long One Piece Rods

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Making Long One Piece Rods

By Tom Smithwick

The first step is to pick a taper. In this case, I am looking for a powerful 6 weight. This taper looks parabolic, but is not, because of it's overall steepness.

Making Long One Piece Rods 01Next, select a culm. Try to pick a straight one, with smallish nodes to keep straightening to a minimum. The strips will be a bit unwieldy, and you will save yourself a lot of fussy work if they are straight to begin with. Also avoid a culm with a lot of surface defects, You will have to split a strip over 8 feet long, depending on your node stagger and there can be no severe defects for the whole length. This culm is small at about 1 7/8" diameter, but is uniform for it's entire length and has good, dense power fibers. The 1 7/8" diameter includes a fairly wide check split, so there's not a lot of cane.

Making Long One Piece Rods 02For this particular rod, I would like to start with strips about 1/4" wide. I'm not much good at splitting into 1/3's, and instead split into halves and wound up with 16 strips about .350 wide. That made straightening a bit harder, but the strips were not bad to begin with so it was not too bad.

Making Long One Piece Rods 03Here, I have planed the partially straightened strips to about .300, making them easier to work with. I'll get some of those sweeps a bit better, too. The strips will then be rough planed to triangular shape, about .200 depth along the whole length. I have a Whitehead rough beveller that makes this work a lot easier now, but I hand planed this stage for years. These strips are 7 feet long. I'm going to splice a section in to the finished blank to get the 7.5 foot length. This is so I could use my 7 foot oven to heat treat, and come out with a blonde rod. The splice will be under the grip of the finished rod. If I wanted to, I could have flamed the culm to get the strips longer and avoid the splice.

Making Long One Piece Rods 04Now the fun begins, up until now, it's been more or less standard rod making, but now we have to plane the seven foot strips on five foot forms. It's actually easy, as long as you work carefully and take your time. I'm going to plane the butt section first, starting at the 40" mark. The rod dimension at that point is .205, half of which would be .1025. But instead of setting that into the last station on the form, I'm going to set in .110, which is half of the 45" dimension. The 45" station will also be set at .110, the 50" station at .117, and the remaining stations are also set to the half dimensions of the taper as usual. The cane is now planed away, alternating sides every few passes, so that a roughly equal amount is removed from each side. Plane until you reach final dimensions, but don't worry about getting the last station right to dimension. In this case, that would be the 40" station. Do all six strips. If you have done the work right, the strips should look like this:

Making Long One Piece Rods 05Now set the tip side of your forms to the taper for their full length. The section beyond the 50" mark can be set a bit deeper if you want. Begin planing by placing the swelled part of the strip at the butt end of the form and plane away, again alternating sides until the swell almost disappears. Then move the strip up the form until it is in it's proper position, and plane to finish taper as usual. The photo is of a partially planed strip, with the swell just removed, and ready for finish planing.

Making Long One Piece Rods 06I knew the planing was going to be no problem, but was apprehensive about gluing up strips this long without help. But a dry run through the binder went great, and I pressed on. I was concerned that the twisting force on the fine tip might increase enough because of the length of the strips, and put a twist in the rod. It did not happen. I rigged up 6 foot half sections of PVC tubing on either side of the binder to support the strips.

Making Long One Piece Rods 07The blank as it came off the binder. No straightening was necessary. Sorry to brag, but it's a Smithwick #2 binder.

Making Long One Piece Rods 08Site Design by: Talsma Web Creations

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