Thomas Penrose's Bamboo Fly Rod Pages

Handcrafting Your Own Set of Planing Forms (Page 4)

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4


frunout.JPG (13303 bytes)

You will be filing the groove into the forms by pushing the filing tool back and forth between the form halves until the sole of the tool rests level on the surfaces of the bars and no more material can be removed. When this occurs you will need to close the width between the bars at each station by .010 inches so that you can remove more material. When the tool again ceases to remove material you will repeat this process of closing the distance at each station by another .010 inches. You will be repeating this process quite a few times (particularly when filing the deeper groove on the butt side of the forms). As you approach your target dimension you may want to go down to only .005 (or even less) in order to avoid taking off too much material and ending up with grooves that are too deep to make anything besides salmon or bait casting rods. Note that in this image strips of wood have been clamped to the table to serve as runners for the filing tool to slide onto when it passes the end of the forms. This better enables you to do a consistent job of filing the groove accurately, and may also save you some badly bruised knuckles when filing at the very ends of the forms.

fnumbers.JPG (14585 bytes)

Each time you adjust the distance between the forms it is a good idea to write down the measurement at each station with a permanent marker to better ensure that you do not set a station at the wrong width.

fdepth1.JPG (6302 bytes)

As you approach the target dimension of your groove, it is a good idea to regularly check its depth with the depth gauge extension of your dial caliper. If you are making forms that are six feet long, the tip end of the butt section groove should be .085 inches deep, and the the deepest end of the butt section groove should be around .155 inches deep.   The tip end of the tip section groove should be .025 inches deep, and the butt end end of the tip section groove should be around .095 inches.  However, it is the depth of the tip end of the tip section groove that is the critical measurement.  Making the groove deeper than .025-030 could limit the rod tapers you are able to make using your forms.   If you successfully cut this shallowest tip station at .025-.030, and the rest of the tip groove has a slope that increases at approximately .005 from station to station, you should be in good shape (also try to get a .085 depth for the tip end of the butt section groove).   The measurement for the butt ends of the tip and butt grooves are not critical, and will likely deviate due to the mathematical issue that I had discussed earlier in which .00577 was the actual width increment one would need to use in order to achieve a true .005 increment in the slope of the groove's depth.  Since I used .005 for the width instead, the slope of the groove will not be exactly .005 deep from station to station.

When you approach your target dimension it is very important to not accidentally file the grooves too deep, which can be an very easy thing to do when completing the relatively shallow tip section groove.  It is better to err on the side of a tip station that is cut too shallow than to cut one that is too deep.

fdepth2.JPG (7011 bytes)

A trick that you can use in order to approximate when you will reach the target depth of your groove is to measure the depth of the groove at various points along the length of the forms. In the image above, the groove measures .025 inches deep, which is the target depth desired for the shallowest end of the tip groove. Since the width between the forms halves measures .175 inches at this particular station, I know that I can expect to arrive at my target tip dimension of .025 at the very end of the forms when the station at this location is set at a width of .175. Keep in mind that this only allows you to approximate when you will be arriving at target dimension. Rely instead on regularly checking the depth of the groove with the extension arm of your dial caliper.

fend.JPG (5663 bytes)

In this image the groove on the side of the forms used for planing the butt section of a rod has been brought to final dimension (this image shows the shallower tip end of the butt section groove). The groove for the tip side has also been completed, but the .025" depth of this groove makes it difficult to see in this image.

fpushdial.JPG (11712 bytes)

To test the accuracy of your filing job, set the dial indicator depth gauge on the forms with its 60 contact tip in the groove. Set the dial on the gauge to zero, and then proceed to push it down the length of the forms. Since the forms are still set relatively widely apart, the contact tip of the gauge may collide with the top of the shoulder bolts at various locations, so take care to slowly approach each shoulder bolt stations so that the fragile tip rides easily over the top of the bolt without being damaged. If you have done a good filing job the needle of the gauge should remain stationary (fluctuations of +/- .001" should probably pose no problem). If you locate a high spot, take a few more passes in this area with the filing tool, then test again using the gauge.

fadjust.JPG (9212 bytes)

Prior to planing a bamboo strip, the depth of the groove on the planing forms will need to be adjusted to correspond to whatever rod taper you have chosen to make. The depths are set at each station using allen wrenches to open and close the shoulder bolts and set screws, and a dial indicator depth gauge is used to take the depth reading.  The base of the gauge itself should actually rest perpendicular to the forms themselves when you are measuring these settings, rather than the way it is shown in the image above.  Doing so lessens the amount of the surface area of the base that is in contact with the forms, and makes your depth readings more accurate.

fdone1.JPG (12156 bytes)

In this image the forms have been completed and are being used to plane a strip of bamboo.

fdone2.JPG (7228 bytes)




Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4

Thanks goes out to Tom Smithwick for the assistance and instruction he offered me when making my first set of planing forms.


asmgreen.yellow.jpg (2156 bytes)

waldronsm.JPG (1875 bytes)

My Split Cane Fly Rod Building Pages

Tonkin Cane for Fly Rods

Making Planing Forms using Lawrence Waldron's Layout

smferrule2.JPG (4295 bytes)

smferrule3.JPG (5769 bytes)

corksm.jpg (11759 bytes)

Determining Ferrule Positioning on a 2 Piece Fly Rod

Determining Ferrule Positioning on a 3 Piece Fly Rod

Turning Cork Grips with a Hand Drill

This fly fishing site created and maintained by Thomas Penrose

For more detailed information on split cane fly rod making, look at these books:
A Master's Guide to Building A Bamboo Fly Rod, by Everett Garrison with Hoagy B. Carmichael.
Handcrafting Bamboo Fly Rods, by Wayne Cattanach.
How to Make Bamboo Fly Rods, by George W. Barnes.
Fundamentals of Building a Bamboo Fly-Rod, by George E. Maurer and Bernard P. Elser
Constructing Cane Rods: Secrets of the Bamboo Fly Rod, by Ray Gould
Splitting Cane: Conversations With Bamboo Rodmakers, by Ed Engle
The Lovely Reed: An Enthusiast's Guide to Building Bamboo Fly Rods, by Jack Howell
Cane Rods: Tips & Tapers, by Ray Gould

All images and text copyrighted 1997, 2008

The informational content of this bamboo fly rod and fly fishing site is not warrantied in any way or form, and any use of said content are at the reader's own risk, the author shall not be held responsible in any way for any damages or injuries arising from the content of this web site. Common safety practices are encouraged at all times, and the proper and safe use of all power tools and safety equipment (eye goggles, etc.) is the responsibility of the user.