Thomas Penrose's Bamboo Fly Rod Pages

Handcrafting Your Own Set of Planing Forms (Page 2)

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You are now ready to scribe the locations where you will be drilling holes for the dowel pins and shoulder bolts (drilling for the set screws occurs later). After applying layout dye so that your markings will be made more visible, use a metal scribe to first mark the location of your shoulder bolts (you can also use a permanent marker to add color to the bars instead of layout dye). The first one should be 1" from the end of the bars. The next shoulder bolt will be located 5" from the first, and so on, down the length of the forms (refer to the diagram of these dimensions). After you have completed marking the locations for the bolts, you will mark the locations for the dowel pins. These will be located between each shoulder bolt location, down the entire length of the bars. You might consider identifying the dowel pin locations from the shoulder bolt locations by putting a mark next to them with a permanent marker. This will help you from confusing the two while drilling the holes.

 
Once you have finished scribing the marks for the dowel and bolt locations, you will need to repeat the process of clamping the bars down onto the table and then applying c-clamps down the length of the bars. The object here is to get the surface of the bars as flush with one another as possible. When you apply the c-clamps, try to place them in positions where they will not be in the way of the drill press vise or drill press table during the drilling of the holes for the dowel pins.

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In order to end up with forms that function properly it is imperative that all of the holes you drill go through the bars as perpendicular to the bars as possible. If the drill bit travels through at an odd angle it will ultimately cause the surfaces of the planing forms to skew as the two bars are drawn apart by the set screws when they are being adjusted prior to planing bamboo strips to make a rod. Although it is possible to use a hand drill and a quality doweling jig (the Stanley model #59 is the preferred doweling jig for this task), I much prefer using a drill press for its accuracy. The drill press I am using is a 1/3 HP unit (item # G4014) that I purchased from Grizzly Imports in Bellingham, WA. The cost of the drill press is only $80 (as of 10/97), and the drill press vise I am using only cost $11 (also from Grizzly Imports, item # G5751). However, if you do not want to purchase one, you may be able to find a way to borrow or rent one. Even when using a drill press, it is important to check and see if the unit's alignment is properly adjusted. It is absolutely essential that you drill test holes into scraps of metal stock or wood to check whether the exit hole made by the drill corresponds to the entry hole. Measure the distances using your dial calipers. If discrepancies exist between the entry and exit holes you may need to use shims to adjust the tilt of the vise so that the holes will be drilled straight through your forms. It is also important not to use too much downward force on the drill press handle while drilling, since this can cause the smaller drill bits to bend slightly, causing them to travel through your stock at an odd angle.

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In this image, the bars have been clamped into position in the drill press vise and a 3/16" hole for a dowel pin is being drilled. If you do not have a drill press vise, you can also use c-clamps to hold the bars to the drill press table (see illustration photograph). The holes for the dowel pins do not go all the way through the bars, but only go in about 1 1/4". After you drill each hole insert a dowel into it so that it helps to hold the bars in alignment. While drilling holes for the dowels you may have to end up moving a few of the c-clamps so that the bars will fit into the vise. Prior to removing any c-clamp, always place another one as near to it as possible (without it being in your way) before removing the old c-clamp.

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After drilling a hole for each dowel, you will be drilling the holes for the shoulder bolts. At this point the dowels will be helping to hold the bars in alignment, but continue to use the c-clamps as well (however, you will have to end up rearranging most of them as you drill the holes for the shoulder bolts, since the clamps will be in your way). Start by drilling a 1/4" hole all the way through the bars. Without moving the bars from their vised position, remove the 1/4" drill bit and replace it with a 3/8" drill bit (if you are using a drill press with only 2" of travel you may need a shorter than normal 3/8" bit in order to fit it into the chuck without having to lower the drill press table. It is important that you do not move the bars until both the 1/4" hole and the 3/8" hole have been drilled in order to ensure that both holes share the same alignment).

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Using this larger 3/8" bit, drill into the first hole you made, but only make the 3/8" hole 1" deep (the length of the machined shoulder on the shoulder bolt). Be very careful that you do not accidentally drill this 3/8" hole any deeper than 1"-1 1/16" into the forms. Continue this procedure until you have drilled holes at each shoulder bolt station. When you are finished, remove the c-clamps and disassemble the forms.

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The next step will be to drill the 1/4" holes for the set screws. They are located 9/16" from the center of each 1/4" shoulder bolt hole (see diagram). To drill these holes you will only need to work with one of the bars. Using a 1/4" drill bit, drill holes all the way through this single bar at each set screw station.
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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

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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.