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Cane Prep - Staggering - Methods

I know there are as many opinions as there are methods for spacing nodes - so that should be five opinions (2x2x2, 3x3, Garrison, random, and nodeless - which I'm not doing) - has anyone done any scientific testing to determine if quantitatively one method has advantages over the others?  I don't want opinions because they are like "- - - -", everybody has one, but I would be interested to know if there is a reason (not opinion) to use one over the others.  I've used all and every one of them makes a nice rod that casts well and can even land a fish or two.  (Tom Key)

    "Gimme the facts, ma'am, just the facts".

    That's pretty rude, Tom, and pretty bluntly dismissive of the cumulative experience of the members.

    As far as I am concerned, you can work it out for yourself.  (Peter McKean)

      Geez Peter!!!!!!!!

      You are going to get plenty of opinions on this one Tom & that is just the way it is going to be.  Now here is my opinion.  I think it is a matter of preference some times but other times it works out to what works best for the culm.  I think every way makes a nice rod so you do what suits you.  Now maybe there is some scientific reasoning for which may be better than the other but for one.  I do mostly 2x2x2, but sometimes I use 3x3.  I have also used random & Garrison staggering.  They have all made nice rods so I don't think it really freaken matters.  (Bret Reiter)

        At SRG many years ago a rodmaker brought a casting or spinning rod with 6 X 6 spacing, that is all the nodes together in one spot. It flexed just like any other rod I have flexed. The moral; do it all wrong and it is still OK. (Morten Lovstad)

          6 X 6 isn't that called a culm?  (Ken Paterson)

            Split, planed and glued back together.  (Morton Lovstad)

      God I love this group for this very reason!  Thanks to Peter and all the rest who have given their "opinion" on the subject, but so far the one I like the best is the one Morten posted that said "The moral is do it all wrong and it still works."  And I promise I'm not a communist, as far as I know my mother never dressed me in funny clothes (guess is should look at early childhood photos to make sure), and I don't have a glue fetish - the inmates at the maximum security prison I worked at one summer did teach me an appreciation for sniffing contact cement.  Just kidding.  (Tom Key)

        Put 12 rod makers in a room and you'll get 13 different opinions.  (Mark Wendt)

          No you won’t!  (Brian Creek)

            Okay, I was wrong.  14 different opinions.  (Mark Wendt)

              We have it in writing - Mark admits to being wrong :)

              14 depends on the intake of single malt and multiple personality disorders.

              And is inversely proportional to the consistency of grits to absorb above mentioned single malt. Once the discussions rounds the bend, then it all depends on if it's a peaty, smokey or home brewed. Maturity plays into the game, 10 yr olds have not a clue, 12 & 14 year olds think they know, but it's the 16 + that have all the answers.  (Pete Van Schaack)

                Perhaps I should have said, "42"?  (Mark Wendt)

    You are correct.  It is important to have the nodes staggered.

    2x2, 3x3, Garrison have the advantage of adding a very nice element of design to the rod.  Random is for mouth-breathers like, well, I’m not going to disparage anyone.  But you know who you are.

    Only Communists build nodeless, period.  Their Mom’s also dress them in funny clothes.

    These are empirically derived facts, not opinions.  I done tested ‘em exhaustively.  (Brian Creek)

      Only Communists build nodeless, period.  Their Mom’s also dress them in funny clothes.

      Is that what happened???  I thought it was a glue fetish! :-)  (Larry Tusoni)

      I use 3x3 because I find it is usually the easiest and the least wasteful of cane. But unlike some opinions it has never been proven important to have the nodes staggered. If it was important structurally or strength wise the 10's of thousands of 50-100 year old Montys, H-Is, South Bends and others that have nodes touching or side by side would have self-destructed years ago. Yet they are still around doing what they were made to do! How much more empirical evidence than that does one need? And I guess poor old Jim Payne, who many consider the greatest rodmaker that ever lived, must have been a mouthbreather as he used a random spiral.  (Will Price)

        Like others, I usually go with 2x2x2, or 3x3, depending on what works best for that particular culm of bamboo.  But in the last year or two I have glued up two butt sections that were 2x2xOh crap!  (Harry Boyd)

          I have done that too. Then I have to keep it for myself. ANOTHER ONE!  I don't know why I just do. But really I don't think it makes for any real difference how you stagger the nodes. just don't tell the anyone I said that.   (Gary Nicholson)

          I have a Garrison 201 that I built early on which has 2x2xoops node staggering! Like has been said I kept it and my wife counted coup on that rod! It has 2 nodes side by side. Anyway I fished this rod again this summer and was reminded how nice that rod really is on a small stream.

          So does it matter where you put the nodes? Maybe not but as aesthetics go it certainly does, part of being a craftsman is how your masterpiece looks, I really strive to make my rods as nice as I can. Are they perfect? I have said many times that I have yet to build the perfect rod! So the way I stagger my nodes is 2x2x2 and this is one of the many things that define what I do. And I think this is the best way. Good enough for me.

          As I sit here a write this, in my minds eye I can see many Wright and McGills, Grangers, and Phillipsons (not to pick on these, but they are local, so I have seen more of these) that were broken at the nodes, these were tipically made with 3x3 node spacing! So does it matter? I believe it does and like I said that's good enough for me.

          Anyway, I think that most makers today are doing some great work, and if you build a rod and fish it and it breaks on the field, that is part of the whole experience and one of the many things that makes this such a great part of my life. You learn from your mistakes. Fortunately I haven't had my customers calling me to say "my rod fell apart" I have had some call and say "I landed a 20"+ rainbow on my 7'9" 3 piece and it handled it just fine.

          Sorry for the rant, it's early and that's how I get when I first wake up!  (Joe Arguello)

    I do not like to have a node, a potential week spot!, within 5" of the tip. If you take a look just about any stress curve, you will see that the stress is highest in this area.  It is very difficult to obtain this distance with out using the 2x2x2 or the 3x3 method.  Sorry if that is not scientific, it just makes good sense to me.  (Don Green)

      I haven't seen any scientific evidence that the nodes are weaker. If you are talking about after heat treating, then perhaps, but I think you will find if you heat treat and press an internodal area it will be the weak spot also.

      More importantly - Stress curves. I learned to analyze rods using Garrison Stress, and still use them to test some facets of final design. But, other than as a way to contrast rods, Garrison's static model does not accurately depict rod deflection which, is the result of dynamic stress.  All you have to do is look at someone casting a rod and you can see that it does not bend as a stress curve would have you believe. The stress curve is accurate (in a static world) of depicting how much stress a part of the rod can absorb. What it does not depict is what really happens when the rod is moving under load. The stress load is actually moved down the rod as stress increases at a given point on the rod.  Proper casting technique implies that we start with a gradual acceleration of the rod and continue that acceleration throughout the cast. The reason I mention this is to explain that the total load of 4 g's is not placed on the tip of the rod only in one instant of time. The other factor in rod design that Garrison did not take into account is Modulus of Elasticity which is as equal partner in rod action as Moments of Inertia. Now don't get me wrong. I am not being critical of Mr. Garrison, without him rod design would still be in the dark ages, and he did it all with a slide rule. However, even some of Einstein's theories have been advanced upon as have Mr. Garrison's.  (Jerry Foster)

        You're absolutely right about stresses being distributed down toward the butt.

        My deflection program calculates and plots dynamic stress and it shows that the peak stress in any rod is toward the butt and it doesn't come close to the peak stresses calculated using Garrison's static method.  Where Garrisons's stress curve might show a peak stress of 250,000 at say the 15 inch station, it will dynamically be more like 80,000 down near the handle. The breaking stress in bamboo is around 600,000 - 700,000.

        Of course, the point of highest stress will be dependent upon the design but what is always true is that it never occurs near the tip.

        What I disagree with is your statement about the total load being on the tip at "ONLY ONE INSTANT IN TIME".

        Since the maximum acceleration, hence maximum force, cannot be applied instantaneously, the load builds up gradually. This gradual build occurs in less than one second, but nonetheless not instantly. As the load builds, the rod bends, mostly at the tip.  It therefore moves the stress down the rod right from the beginning so the tip NEVER "sees" the full load.

        If you place a rod on a deflection board mounted horizontally and put a load on it, the tip bends downward.  The shape of the curve of the bent rod very closely looks like the DYNAMIC stress curve for the rod where the butt end is a high value and the tip is the lowest.  (Al Baldauski)

          Sorry about my mangled sentence construction. I think if you reread that sentence, "The reason I mention this is to explain that the total load of 4 g's is not placed on the tip of the rod only in one instant of time." I guess I should have emphasized the "NOT", but your clarification is what I intended to say.  (Jerry Foster)

            Sorry,  I should read more carefully.  (Al Baldauski)

          In the last year that I have been a member of this list you have mentioned your  "deflection program" several times. Is this program something that you are willing to share with others or is it available for purchase.  (Don Green)

            I developed my program as a challenge to myself and it has expanded into a fairly comprehensive design tool.  It requires some experience with other programs in order to be able to jump right in and have it make sense. I have not created any instruction manual or help files/features.  It has been designed to be somewhat intuitive, though.

            Since it continues to be a work in progress, I never have a "finished" version.  My current incarnation is as nearly complete as I expect it will be.  So I am in a position to consider making it available at no cost with the understanding that YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.  Support will be available as and when I am at my computer through off list email.

            The application will only run in Windows, 800 x 600 screen resolution or greater, on a monitor of at least 15 inches.  There are some minor incompatibilities on various computers which my abilities and development software cannot address.  I run it on a 17 inch desktop for which it has been designed to be optimal.

            I have yet to put it together into a "package" which allows "one button setup".  If there is enough interest, I can do that.

            Anyone interested should email me off list.  I can then let you know when a "finished copy" can be made available.  (Al Baldauski)

    Sorry, Newbie Tom, but as rodmakers, we rarely get very far beyond opinions. Rodmaking is a craft, not a science, and while there are excellent opinions, poor opinions, and everything else in between, there's very little about the craft that holds indisputably true. Even scientific testing only seems to raise new sets of opinions. I hope that's not too disappointing, but the most revealing of our opinions are either the revised ones, or those that are happily in that process.  (Bill Harms)

      It seems some of the old masters didn't really care about node spacing that much.  Two members of the board are fortunate enough to own Dickerson 861711s made in the 1930s -- both of their rods have two nodes right next to each other!

      I'm a newbie as well, but I've decided on 3X3 spacing just because I'm used to it on my Granger rods.  (Reed Guice)

I know we want to keep the node well down from the tip of the section but: How about the node placement at the butt end of a section?

Dilemma:  I have a beauty of a culm cut off that will make a sweet 7'6" 3/2 5 weight.  Problem is there are two nodes. Plus it isn't long enough the move things around.  3x3 spacing will work if the node can be near the butt of each section.  Node at the tip of the sections will be approximately 10" to 12 " from the tip, no worries there.  Node at the butt of the sections with the stagger will be 3" and 6" from the butt end.

Personally I think it should be good to go, but then again I bind by hand. So how smart am I? (Pete Emmel)

    Would it work better if you turned half the strips end for end?  Heresy, I know, but I did it once when I got ahead of myself in cutting to length and it worked find.  (Neil Savage)

      Thought about flipping them as need but, that would put nodes within 6" of the tip.  That is too close for me.  Although I do tend to agree with Steve about nodes being strong.  Every time I have played bend a strip until it breaks, it has never broken at a node.  I always end up splintering the strip between nodes.  (Pete Emmel)

        Though a lot of makers say keep the nodes at least 10" from the tip,my criteria has always been , " no nodes between the first snake guide and the tip." Since the first snake is usually somewhere between 4 1/2" and 5'' from the tip,it wouldn't bother me one bit if the node was at least 6" away from the tip.

        I'm in complete agreement with Bob as well on the nodes close to ferrules. Pick up almost any production rod from South Bend, Montague, Heddon, H&I, and even some Grangers and you will likely see nodes very close to the ferrules. These rods have been holding up and doing what they were made to do for 50-75 years or longer and still going strong. How much more empirical evidence does anyone need?  (Will Price)

    Build it.  Your node placement is going to be just fine.  I'm sure there are some that will disagree with me, but I don't feel like nodes close to ferrules are a problem.  (Bob Nunley)

      I agree wholeheartedly, Bob.  If given a choice, I will leave the tip zone node-free, and don't like them right close to the tip, but I won't go to any extraordinary lengths to avoid them.

      As far as I am aware I am not encountering any difficulties;  well, not any that are attributable to node placement,  anyway.  (Peter McKean)

    Do you have enough cane to build nodeless?  (Scott Moran)

      Not with this section.  It is a cut off of a culm.  If I split everything just right and sacrifice some blood to the boo I will have just enough to get 24 strips with no left overs.  Maybe an inch or two in excess length.  That means plane slow and steady with a razor sharp plane.  No pressure about messing up any strips, is there?  (Pete Emmel)

        How wide are you trying to split them?? How many rods are you trying to get out of this culm??  (David Dziadosz)

          Let me see if I can answer your post(s).

          Trying to get 24 strips.  That will allow me to build a 7'6" 3/2, 5 weight.  I was taught to keep the nodes as far away as reasonably possible, old habits die hard.   And finally I wouldn't know about nodeless splice locations.  I don't do them....yet.  (Pete Emmel)

I have just completed  my 9th and 10th  rods and am about ready to size the strips for 11 and 12.  I have always used a 3X3 stagger and have had no problems with the rods.

I am wondering  those of you who have tried different staggers have noticed a difference.  Stiffer, less prone to break, easier to set up, use less cane, looks, etc.  I have checked to archive and didn’t find much on the topic.

What stagger do most of you use and why?  (Rick Barbato)

    I settled on the 3x3 as well. It's just the easiest and least complicated as far as I'm concerned. And I figure that what was good enough for Hiram Leonard, Goodwin Granger and Bill Phillipson among others is good enough for me.  (Will Price)

    I spiral nodes 1-3/8" and after all strips are planed, I number them in order and then stagger them 1-5-3-6-2-4 because it is my opinion that nodes are a weak point and why not distribute them in the rod the best you can?

    Garrison p.18 compares this order with a 6 cylinder engine and that it would have no imbalancing effect on the performance of the rod.  (Doug Alexander)

    I started out with 2X2 and found that there was always a couple of nodes too close to the tip end especially on light tip rods. I went to the 3X3 and find it saves bamboo and is a lot easier to keep up with. I have done several random and the Garrison stagger. With these I find I have to do a lot more straightening. The 3X3 has been the best for me.  (Tony Spezio)

      OK. Help me out here. I thought I knew the terminology for node staggers.

      I thought there was 3 X 3, in which strips 1, 2 and 3 are each 2 inches (or whatever) apart from the previous, then 4, 5 and 6 repeat the first three.  The nodes sorta spiral up then start over, then spiral up, when you turn the rod.

      And I thought 2 X 2 X 2, was where all the odd strips had the nodes aligned and all the even nodes aligned 2 inches (or whatever) away from the odds.  When you turn the rod, the nodes alternate position.

      Now I am confused.  Tony, I know you know what you are talking about, based on you previous posts.  I am just confused by terms.  Is your 2 X 2 what I thought was 3 X 3?  And your 3 X 3, what I thought was 2 X 2 X 2?  I hope I am not confused about random and Garrison too!  (Dan Zimmerlin)

        What you describe as 2x2x2 below is what most folks call 3x3.  I think -- though I'm not sure -- what you describe as 3x3 is what I call 2x2x2.

        There are some rather poor (pre-digital) pictures of various node spacing schemes here.

        Below is what I call 2x2x2.  It may or may not get through the List filters. 


        (Harry Boyd)

              _      = 3x3 spacing (3 each at 2 different levels)

                  _  = 2x2x2 (2 each at 3 different levels)

          Yes, Harry, you're correct...(Mike St. Clair)

            That is the way I have always done it.  2X2X2 gives you nodes in opposing flats.  3X3 puts them opposite but off one flat to the right and left. Easier for a marketer also.  (Gordon Koppin)

              I hang out with the old farts, and have learned terms like "3 around", "2 around", "staggered spiral", etc.  Those I like better because they're self explanatory, at least to my thinking.  (Bob Nunley)

      Starting out, I learned that we should use the butt of a culm for the butt of a rod, and the tip of a culm for the tip of a rod.  So I always did it that way (usually 3X3, although that's irrelevant).  I understand the theory for doing it that way, but have never seen the proof, if you see what I mean.  I followed the rules, on faith.

      So recently, as I was messing around with another geometry, I tried using 3 strips from the tip of the culm, and 3 from the butt, for each of my sections.  That way, the untapered, roughed-out sections should all have the same natural amount of "bendability", and so the only thing that will affect the rod's final "bendability" is the taper, not the fact that strips from the butt culm are supposed to be stiffer than those from the tip...  I THINK this should lead to more consistent actions and rods over time, but I don't have any more "proof" for this theory than did anyone who advocated the butt-to-butt and tip-to-tip theory.  (And I'm not going to spend my time making parallel rods both ways to "find out" because I'd rather spend time making some tapers I've been coveting.)  Maybe it would make no casting difference at all.  (There's a thought!)

      Anyway I did notice that this method has node staggering advantages, which is why I'm reply to Rick's post:  the nodes pretty much stagger themselves, and you can end up losing absolutely zero cane to staggering cutoffs.  Oftentimes, in the classic butt-to-butt and tip-to-tip method, on a tip, you'll have 2 nodes to deal with in the strip, and in the butt, you'll have 3 nodes.  Using this method, each section has 3 strips with 2 nodes, and 3 strips with 3 nodes, and they are pretty much guaranteed not to fall in the same spots and, if you cut the culm correctly, also not to have any nodes next to the ends.  Next time you're laying out a rod, put the tip strips nexts to the butt strips, and you'll see what I mean.

      I'm sure dozens of guys before me "discovered" this and consider it old hat (or hogwash), but I hadn't heard of it, so I thought I'd share.  (Lee Koch)

        Being among the newest of newbies I am sure that I have not yet delved into all the possible permutations of node placements.  So far, my rods completed to date have all been staggered 2x2x2 as described by Harry and they have worked out fine for me.  It just seems like a logical arrangement.

        What has me puzzled at the moment is that several responses have referred to certain staggers "saving cane" and I have seen this mentioned in other discussions and in the standard books.  What, if I may ask, are you all doing with this "saved cane"?   (Rick Hodges)

        Along the lines of node spacing I recall an article written by Richard Tyree a few years ago. Where he build a rod where all the nodes were grouped together. Said his son fished the rod all that summer and it was his favorite rod. Made me think about the reasons for node spacings so I built one also. Like Richard said it is a great casting rod. I flamed it and before putting on the hardware I flamed the nodes so you couldn't tell where they were. I used it for a while and finally gave as a gift. AS far as I know it is still going strong. Sort of changed my mind about nodes although I still use 3 X 3 maybe I should try another node to node, makes you think.   (Bob Norwood)

        Done this, and it works fine ...no noticeable difference from conventional. (Chris Obuchowski)

    I also have settled on a 3 x 3 stagger for my rods and am satisfied. (Of course I'm a simple being....:-) )  (Jim Tefft)

The strip sequence for Garrison node staggering in the George Maurer/Bernard Elser book (p. 71) differs from that in the Garrison/Carmichael book (p. 83). Can someone explain the advantage of the deviation in the former reference? (Vince Brannick)

    Without us going to our libraries to find the references, can you tell   us   the   differences?   I   always   thought  Garrison  was 1-5-3-6-2-4, or something close to that. As a proponent of 2x2x2 or 3x3, I'm not positive my memory of Garrison is correct. What do Maurer/Elser suggest?  (Harry Boyd)

      Check out chapter 2 of the Garrison/Carmichael book. As usual, it makes things overly complicated, but I think you will see that they are both saying the same thing. The Maurer/Elser book just simplifies things. It is 1-5-3-6-2-4 which was based on the firing order of a Chevy in line 6 cyl. engine. I never understood what that had to do with a bamboo rod, but Mr. Garrison liked it so it is good enough for me. I like 3x3 just because it is easier.   (Hal Manas)

      Garrison sets the 1-5-3-6-2-4 sequence  before staggering  and cut-off, then resets to 1-2-3-4-5-6 for binding, prior to 'heat-treat' and later glue-up. I usually follow this procedure with butt ends of all sections at RIGHT end of bench, and stagger to Left end. Maurer's orientation is 1-2-3-4-5-6 before staggering and cut-off, With tips ends at Right end of bench. and reset to 1-5-3-6-2-4 for binding, etc. Either one will stagger nodes, but the latter just doesn't seem to be the Garrison method as illustrated. Hope this is a clarification of the puzzle.  (Vince Brannick)

        If I'm not mistaken the difference you are seeing is that in the Garrison book the bound/glued strips end up in their original 1-2-3-4-5-6 sequence as you move around the finished (or bound) rod.  In the Maurer/Elser book the bound/glued strips are in the 1-5-3-6-2-4 sequence.  In either case the node stagger is the same.

        In other words, the difference is that when using the strict Garrison method the strips stay in the same order they came off the culm when bound whereas the Maurer/Elser   method  results  in  strips  that  were side-by-side on the culm are, in the finished rod, staggered in the same way as the nodes.

        I think the (age-old) question then becomes; is it better to have all the strips from a culm kept together in sequential order, or staggered in some way?

        If I were pressed I'd vote for the latter and cite the evidence in "Bamboo in the Laboratory" by Wolfram Schott.  (Chris Carlin)

          Having been known to be wrong (on occasion), this is what I see. With the Maurer version, there appears to be a 'staircase' spiral, and with Garrison, it appears to be a random displacement of nodes. The question being, if this is an accurate description of both patterns, what is the advantage of one over the other? Or ~ are they in fact the same? Methinks NOT.  (Vince Brannick)

            Both exhibit the same sort of spiral, they are just rotating in the opposite direction in the photos (and the spacing is a little more irregular in the Garrison drawing so its harder to see) because, as you mentioned in your first email, Maurer works from the left and Garrison from the right.  In fact, if you look carefully you'll notice they both actually exhibit 'spiral' in both directions.

            Flip the Garrison book upside-down and you can see it better, especially the 'Heat Treating Rotation - Butts' drawing.  In this orientation the illustrations in both books look identical.  (Chris Carlin)

              Ha! Did That ~ (turned book upside down), before starting the discussion. You're absolutely correct. There is a spiral in each, but the 'staircase' has a couple of 'stairs' missing here and there, thus a 'difference'. Could it have been an intentional revision or an inadvertent misnomer?  (Vince Brannick)

    IIRC, the intent of the Garrison stagger was not about balance or harmonic vibration, but simply to ensure each node was surrounded by power fibers on the other 5 sides of the hex--almost like building nodeless without the splices.  The order of "cylinder   fire"   could  be  spiral  (123456)  or "random"  (153624...143526...or whatever), but spiral is, to my mind, a lot easier to understand and check for QC than a "random" arrangement.  I could be totally wrong.  (Chris Moore)

    The Garrison stagger is what I used for my first half dozen or so rods. I believe there is also a Payne stagger, is it different?

    I like the look of a spiral stagger, but I have had problems with a node being within 3" of the tip top. I think the most distance I ever got was 5" from the tip.

    Which brings me to a different question, what is the difference in all actuality with a node being 3", 5" or the often recommended distance of 6" from the tip?

    Is there that much difference in stress from 3" of the tip to say 6"? I know what the books say, but do many of you even worry about this detail?  (Tom Vagell)


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