Thomas Penrose's Bamboo Fly Rod Pages:
Turning a Cork Grip on a Split Cane Fly Fishing Rod Using a Hand Drill

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The cork rings glued to the bamboo fly rod shaft and compressed as the glue dries.

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A hand drill mounted horizontally in the jaws of a vise.  This drill has the advantage of having a speed control on the trigger as well as a trigger lock.   This makes it easier to control how fast the rod spins, since you definately do not want the fly rod blank spinning at the drill's full rpm.

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In this image I have mounted one of the rod support to the workbench with screws.  I have also wrapped tape around the butt end of the rod section at the point where it will be making contact with the support.  This protects it from both wear and heat build-up as it spins.  I have also often turned grips with the reel seat in place.  You will need to wrap the reel seat insert with tape to protect it, and also tape the reel seat lock rings so that they do not flop around as the rod spins.  Once the fly rod section is protected with the tape wrapping, an elastic strap is used to hold it securely in place.  This strap does not need to be very tight.  It is used primarily to keep the rod from accidentally jumping out of the support. 

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The tip end of the fly rod's butt section is also given a heavy wrapping of tape to protect it from the jaws of the drill chuck. 

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I have also turned many cork grips on butt sections that already have the female ferrule mounted.  Most drill chucks have a dead air space at the very back, behind the jaws, so the trim ring soldered on the end of the ferrule is not in danger of being caught in the chuck jaws.  However, it is still a good idea to put a very heavy wapping of tape around the ferrule to protect it, as seen here. 

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You will want to add a second support toward the middle of the rod section.  You also need to put a wrapping of masking tape here to protect the rod shaft from heat build-up.  This support is also lined with a strip of plastic milk carton material to reduce friction.

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This image shows the complete setup.  Probably the most time-consuming aspect is aligning the wooden supports with the drill itself. For very thin fly rod sections (3wts., etc.) it would be a good idea to mount the middle support closer to the grip itself.  If your rod does not have a reel seat installed, and if your drill chuck can accomodate it, you can also put the butt end of the rod section into the drill.   However, since I am usually turning a grip that is mounted on a rod section that already has a reel seat installed, I typically use the setup shown here.

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The rod spinning on the supports.  Start the drill off slowly, and only make it go as fast as necessary in order to avoid stalling while you are sanding.  

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The sanding pad should be positioned on top of the grip as it spins, with the top of the grip spinning away from you. I begin sanding with a 60 grit grit sandpaper and progress down to a 300 grit paper.  For final polishing I may use 600 grit.   During the sanding process you need to stop often to take measurements to make sure you are not sanding the grip too small.  Also check regularly for heat build-up at the contact points on the rod shaft.  I have not found heat build-up to be a problem, but it is a good idea to make sure it is not occurring.

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These fly rod cork grips were all turned using a hand drill.


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Making a Split Cane Fly Rod

Making Bamboo Planing Forms

Tonkin Cane for Fly Rods

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Determining Ferrule Positioning on a 2 Piece Fly Rod

Determining Ferrule Positioning on a 3 Piece Fly Rod

Making Bamboo Planing Forms using Lawrence Waldron's Layout

This 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 ©Thomas Penrose 1997, 2001

The informational content of this 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.