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Thread: Fly Reel Handle

  1. #1

    Fly Reel Handle

    I recently replaced my 5wt rod and reel , but the reel's handle leaves a lot to be desired. The handle is such a small part of the outfit, but its a cheap and lifeless bit of plastic for a $200+ object. Anyways, i looked at it and determined i could make a new handle in 20 mins. Im a poor turner and all previous attempts to turn things this small did not end well. What would be the ideal method to make something small and simple like this? The handle is about an inch long and about half an inch in diameter. The actual turning should be dead simple, but i want to make sure i do the necessary steps in the correct order. I read around a bit in bed last night, and some were suggesting to drill the screw head recess and through hole prior to mounting the piece in the lathe. I assumed the best method would be to drill it at the lathe, but i am not sure if i have a jacobs chuck for the tail stock on my lathe. Is it asinine to turn the little handle and then take it to the drill press afterwards? Plan on making it out of bubinga or rosewood.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Inver Grove Heights, MN
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    631
    Patrick, the reason to drill the hole before turning is that it makes it easy to center accurately. No guarantee that you could drill exactly on center after turning. but if you drill through the blank and then mount between centers it will be automatically centered. If I was making that part, I would cut the blank to length, drill the hole, secure it with a long screw/bolt and nut, and hold the end of the screw in the drill chuck in the headstock of the lathe. In this group you will probably find a dozen good ways to make that little piece.

  3. #3
    What size is the screw? If its around the same size as a pen mandrel shaft you could use that just pad both sides with spacers. Craft supply also sells a mandrel that is adjustable.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    6,212
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Kane View Post
    ... Im a poor turner and all previous attempts to turn things this small did not end well. What would be the ideal method to make something small and simple like this? The handle is about an inch long and about half an inch in diameter. ...some were suggesting to drill the screw head recess and through hole prior to mounting the piece in the lathe. I assumed the best method would be to drill it at the lathe.
    I'm not sure how you will construct this - you mention a "screw head recess". Does that mean you make a hole then epoxy the screw into the hole? Or does than mean there is a hole all the way through the handle and the screw head is in a recess on the far end? Either way, to drill the hole on the lathe use a jacobs chuck or a taper shank drill. If you don't have a jacobs chuck this might a good reason to get one.

    If you drill the hole off the lathe, you can hold it on the lathe for turning by devising a mandrel of some sort to hold the wood, sort of like a pen mandrel except smaller diameter I suspect. (it might help if you told the screw size) Pen blanks are drilled on a drill press then turned on a mandrel. If the hole is large enough for a pen mandrel that would be the easiest Otherwise, you can use a long screw or a rod as a mandrel by holding it in a jacobs chuck, a collet chuck, or an MT collet: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BH5Q7GM

    Hey, another way might be to just drill the hole perhaps oversized to fit a pen mandrel, then shim it to fit the screw with thin brass tubing from a hobby or hardware store. These brass tubes are made to slide into the next larger size so you can probably get very close to your screw diameter.

    Note that a relatively long through hole can easily wander off center, especially if the bit is a small diameter and especially if drilling down end grain. Best to start the hole with a center bit.

    In general, I hold a piece of wood in a chuck, shape it part way, drill a hole in the end as needed while the piece is spinning on the lathe to make sure it is exactly concentric. Then I support the piece by the hole if necessary (usually not necessary) and finish turning the piece. I save the very end for last, shape it except for a tiny piece holding it, then saw through that and shape the end with a knife or chisel by hand and sand smooth. If the hole is relatively long, I sometimes use the drill bit itself for a mandrel as in the second handle below.


    This is the way I make handles for horse rider's crops, handles for conductor's batons, and even bottle stoppers. The turning is almost done on the second handle and will be finished up after the decoration is done (a student is making this one.)

    handle.jpg crop_handle_detail.jpg

    I see you live in a secret location. If you live close by drop in and we'll make one.
    If you are not yet adept at spindle turning, that would be a fantastic skill to learn.

    JKJ

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    TX, NM or on the road
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    787
    I would get a 6" long 1/4" diameter steel rod. Drill and tap one end with the correct drill and tap to fit the screw that holds the handle on. This is basically making a bead mandrel. I would use the mandrel in a collet chuck, but it can be done using a drill chuck in the headstock. Then drill your selected blank with the size hole you need and screw it on the end of the mandrel. The screw you use to screw the blank to the mandrel needs to be a hex head socket or a Phillips head screw, both will center on the live center.

  6. #6
    Broke one, but ended up with a completed handle after about an hour. A little tricky working on something so small! The first one I didnít part off the lathe for some dumb reason, which ruined the drilling part. Like I said, Iím not much of a Turner, so lesson learned and on to #2. I can certainly see why some people drill the holes prior to turning, but I turned it with the tail stock off and just in a vice. I wasnít confident in chucking it up dead center to the drilled hole. Anyways, here it is on the reel. The smaller black plastic bit was the OEM handle. First fish on the bubinga handle.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    6,212
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Kane View Post
    Broke one, but ended up with a completed handle after about an hour. A little tricky working on something so small! The first one I didn’t part off the lathe for some dumb reason, which ruined the drilling part. Like I said, I’m not much of a Turner, so lesson learned and on to #2. I can certainly see why some people drill the holes prior to turning, but I turned it with the tail stock off and just in a vice. I wasn’t confident in chucking it up dead center to the drilled hole. Anyways, here it is on the reel. The smaller black plastic bit was the OEM handle. First fish on the bubinga handle.
    Nice job! Looks good and functional.

    One of the most challenging (and the most fun) part of turning is figuring out how to hold various things to turn, and even more, what to do in what order!

    JKJ

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Red Deer, Alberta
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    799
    Looks like you did a good job! Another way to do it is to chuck your piece of wood in the lathe, making sure you have plenty of length protruding for the final product. Square up the end.

    The Jacobs chuck (which is essential for a lot of lathe work) in the tail stock, would then be used to drill the hole. Big hole first, deep enough for the head, then through with the smaller hole for the screw. Use brad points and not aggressive drilling! Short drill holes will stay pretty centered.

    Turn the piece to the final shape and finish, and then part (cut) off.
    Funny, I don't remember being absent minded...

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