Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 21

Thread: Building a Bamboo Fly Rod

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Broadview Heights, OH
    Posts
    616

    Building a Bamboo Fly Rod

    A bucket list item for me is learning how to build a split cane Bamboo Fly rod. That process started this morning at a week long class Im taking at Sunny Brook Trout Club under the instruction of Master Rod Builder JD Wagner.

    Posting from my phone, so well see if this works.

    A Culm of Tonkin Cane and some splitting tools

    4A05CD94-48DB-4395-BF0C-06DD3718F9C5.jpg

    One section split in half with a simple froe and mallet:

    16B1DF88-DA84-42FB-9BA6-163345D5BFCD.jpg

    Flaming the cane with a 500000 BTU torch to dry out the cane and give the exterior a nice golden color:

    12B06ECF-623C-405F-8BAB-5BF8F15752E1.jpg

    A look at the culm after the nodes have been smoothed with a file:

    B76939F4-00FA-4254-AE1C-D11583FA7DD1.jpg

    From here its splitting the half into thirds and then each third into half yielding 6 total strips from one half of the culm. There is a slick trick to get them to split exactly in half which is done by adding side pressure while pushing into a framing nail:

    CFC2EA6E-D770-4B5C-8319-4842C64EF994.jpg

    Next, the most tedious part of the job, straightening the bamboo blanks with heat and sighting by eye. When heated, the blanks become very plastic:

    A59A320A-7FC0-443B-881A-F12977DDCC7D.jpg

    Next, the straight strips are planed in a wooden form to yield perfectly uniform untapered blanks. They are just rough planed at this point, not to final dimension. 6 strips form a perfect hexagon. The remnants of the pith is in the center of the blank and the hard and stiff power fibers are outside. These are for the butt section:

    678D4AE6-7A67-44DF-B0CD-25C5FDAD0DBA.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Broadview Heights, OH
    Posts
    616
    Next we sand what will be the outside of the rod to remove the enamel which was on the outside of the plant and remove scorch marks from the heat treating process. Shown here being held in the rough planing form:

    18FE225D-3F43-49A1-9102-ED4AF1FEC7E5.jpg

    Last step is to taper the blanks in a special steel form using a block plane. The taper in the form is set by a special micrometer depth gauge on 5” centers. The planing continues until it stops cutting. Bamboo is not that hard, but it is very abrasive and dulls your blade pretty quickly. I found a high angle of 58 degrees worked best while minimizing tear out:

    501830ED-A72E-4DB3-B6F8-25C25116B43D.jpg

    Done for today, tomorrow we work on the tip sections. After dinner there was plenty of time to relax streamside. 14” rainbow coming in:

    7BD0B771-86A6-4AEA-A082-D75CD333C051.jpg

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    2,090
    Thanks for sharing this build, Pete. Cool project. I watched a brief demonstration of the planing process at the annual fly fishing show outside Detroit a few years back. Did not realize all the previous steps needed. Look forward to seeing the rest of the process.

    Nice fish! Best I could do over the weekend was a 6” brown.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Indy
    Posts
    912
    Looks like a good time! For those interested, there is a school in Chicago that offers a similar course in fly rod building. I would have to dig through the old business cards to find the name, but a google search might reveal it. I recall it being in the city on the northwest side. Another of my unfullfilled fantasies.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Ellsworth, Maine
    Posts
    1,585
    This is great!! I would absolutely love to build a bamboo fly rod to give to my father. He lives for fly fishing and to gift him a bamboo fly rod would be the ultimate fathers day gift. I love seeing the process, it really puts into perspective how tedious and difficult making a bamboo rod really is. I hope you continue to post more pictures of the process! Projects like this is why I continue to come back to this site. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    East Virginia
    Posts
    716
    Neat topic, thanks for sharing. Curious to hear how the rod performs...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Broadview Heights, OH
    Posts
    616
    Today we planed the strips for the top part of the rod. The planing form has two sides so we flipped it over and adjusted it for the much smaller bamboo pieces required for the tip. Shown below is the gauge being used to adjust the form for the proper width at that point in the taper:

    2F886131-8679-4AA7-84EB-E49D856B0A7E.jpg

    Next was planing, a lot of it. The tip sections are much more delicate. As with the butt, six are required. Shown below is the very narrow tip section:


    7CFDF272-C6BF-4A57-830B-6A6D8C201E2C.jpg

    Finally the tip sections are complete. To put it in perspective, the very tip section measures .032” from the flat face to the point of each section. The finished rod will be .064” thick when finished. That’s .0015” thicker than 1/16”:

    2635FEB2-51C4-4564-BBA3-28AD7A0DAA27.jpg

    That completes all the wood for the rod. Bright and early tomorrow we will glue the sections together.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    1.5 hrs north of San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    694
    Thanks for sharing. I'm not a fisherman, but this brought back memories of my father-in-law planning his sections to a taper the same way.

  9. #9
    This looks like a lot of fun Pete. Look forward to reading more!
    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    NW Indiana
    Posts
    2,338
    Not a fisherman but fascinating to see how this is done.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Broadview Heights, OH
    Posts
    616
    Mid day update. This morning is all about gluing up the blanks into one piece. The glue is a two part phenolic resin glue that has a relatively long working time and is impervious to moisture. Here getting ready to mix:

    92F64AF1-4E2C-47F5-838C-A0941CBA3E26.jpg

    The blanks are in the proper order and ready to go. Applying the glue to the inner sections:

    008D6722-2F0B-47CF-A1A9-B54F260E23AA.jpg

    The blanks are rolled together and taken to what is called the binding machine. The binder is a stout cotton thread that applies uniform pressure to all six pieces:

    978191AB-554D-43E3-ADAE-B3080077565B.jpg

    Next the blanks are taken to a flat table where the squeeze out is removed and cleaned off with a wet rag. Minor straightening is also done at this time:

    10246676-2893-4B8B-9E2B-F93E0D44487A.jpg

    Next, the blanks are run through the binder again running the wrap the other way to even out the clamping pressure:

    86E5302B-3F5B-4110-89C2-8AF3B1052BB0.jpg

    The entire process is repeated for the tip sections which is infinitely harder due to the small size:

    76436E0E-DAB5-4612-9AEE-55DC05340CDB.jpg

    After lunch, on to the grips!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Broadview Heights, OH
    Posts
    616
    We finished the day by forming the grip and learning various other finishing tasks such as varnishing the rod and learning to wrap the guides.

    We glued up the grip by gluing 1/2” thick cork rings on a mandrel the day before. We then mounted it in a lathe and used a single point tool to true it up:

    86302E4F-1F70-4D86-8282-4CC131CDA430.jpg

    Next we shaped the grip by sanding with various grits of paper. As cork is very soft it goes
    quickly:

    6929B0B2-E33B-46E2-9563-42590C6EF79F.jpg

    The finished grip will be reamed and glued to the finished blank later:

    CA81435A-6C9E-4F46-8780-0C7D3C4BCBB1.jpg

    We spent a lot of time learning to wrap the guides on some practice sections of bamboo. The guides are held on with pure silk:

    932DFB49-D17C-44D3-9AB7-3A06EB612A3B.jpg

    Tomorrow we we will pull the binding off the cured blanks and sand off the excess glue. We will then do the final straightening, turn the blanks to accept the ferrules following by pinning and gluing the ferrules onto the blank.

    After dinner I caught quite a few rainbows on various streamer patterns:

    157EB144-0B18-40E0-B857-C021DE0C341E.jpg
    Last edited by Pete Taran; 08-07-2019 at 12:08 AM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    19,667
    Blog Entries
    1
    Fascinating to see all that is done to make a fly rod.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  14. #14
    That looks like such good fun! Looking forward to the finished product!
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Broadview Heights, OH
    Posts
    616
    Lots of work on the rod today. We first stripped off all the binder and final sanded the blanks:

    E7C2825C-E69C-4216-98BA-5B47F808C6BA.jpg

    We next final trimmed the blank sections to length. The glue lines are invisible due to eye extremely uniform stock preparation:

    F61CF36F-78B2-4763-835E-EBDFC362A3A1.jpg

    Next we mounted the ferrules which are made of nickel silver and hold the two rod sections together. Since there is constant flexing, the ferrules must be fitted as precisely as possible or they will fail and come apart:

    AE892F5C-E1A5-4785-BD95-A16A2FDE54E8.jpg2E7591CF-3333-4A74-92C6-D9A623518AE5.jpg7AE48588-C221-4F11-A2D7-55E6963D72C9.jpg

    The last thing we did today was to glue the ferrules with a special gap filling glue and bound them tightly while they dry:

    D405BCFE-00AE-4F5D-ACC4-7F39BB02C964.jpg

    Tomorrow is our last day working on the rod. We will prepare the butt section to accept the grip and perform final straightening. Since we finished early, plenty of time to fish:

    72016A3C-C93F-452E-84A1-E00BD73353C9.jpg
    Last edited by Pete Taran; 08-08-2019 at 1:18 AM.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •