Tools you can make

Taper info
Ferrule Puller
Wrapping Tool
Sanding tool
Turning tool
Calibration block
There are a lot of tools that are called "special" rod building tools.  This means that you can't buy them in a home improvement store.  You can buy most of them over the Internet.  Or you can do what I'm going to suggest and build them.  Most take very little time and money.I've tried to make all my tools as simple and functional is I can.  One reoccurring theme you'll find in these tools is the use of gravity.  Why not, it's free and you'll never be without it. (unless you reach terminal velocity, that is.)

Ferrule Puller
How about a ferrule puller?  I've seen lots of designs for them, but most use screws to hold them together.   I want my ferrule puller to do one thing, pull ferrules when the ferrule is hot enough to come off.   That means I don't want to take a lot of time tightening nuts or bolts.   My ferrule puller is like a nutcracker.  It's hinged on one end and the other end is free to open and close.   The holes are as close to the hinged end as I can make them for leverage.  I put one side of  the puller in my shop vice to hold it steady.  I check to see which hole I'm going to be using and look for any pins that might be holding the ferrule in place.  I  heat the ferrule over a candle, or alcohol  lamp.  I rotate the section with the flame just under the ferrule.  When I see indications of the glue loosening, (or smell it)  I quickly put the ferrule in the puller, clamp down with my free hand and pull STRAIGHT away from the puller.  I don't pull to one side or try to WORK the section lose.  If the section is hot enough to loosen the glue, it's hot enough to allow me to bend the bamboo with out any trouble at all.

Thread wrapping tool
Like a lot of people I started out wrapping using a book or a weight to hold my thread taught.  Of course, like a lot of people, I ended up with a mess and had to unwind.  The problem was, as soon as I started to unwind the thread, it lost tension and became a "bird's nest." 

I tie flies too, and got the idea, why not use the same bobbin technique, only on a bigger scale?  It's not new, I found the same idea in The Complete Book of Sportfishing, (c:1988, AB Nordbok, Gothenburg, Sweden)  The idea is, using a weighted bobbin (A.), to run the thread over the edge of the work bench.  A support arm, made from a coat hanger, works great.  It not only holds the thread away from the edge of the work bench, but also works as a shock absorber.  I put a single spiral (B.) in the end  of the coat hanger to allow me to insert the thread without having to push it though a hole. 
I attached  a piece of fly line, with a weight on the front (C.), to the back of the bench and pull it over the rod toward me. ( I turn the rod counter clock wise, as you'd look at it from the left, wrapping away and over the top.) the weighted fly line will act as a break on the rod if I have to let go for some reason, keeping the thread from unwrapping. 

I pull the weighted bobbin close to the floor and wrap the rod until the bobbin is at the support arm.  I  repeat the process as long as needed.  If I have to unwrap it's simple to reverse the direction.  The weight of the bobbin keeps tension on the thread.  When I'm done with the work I remove tension by putting my finger on top of the wrap and put the bobbin on the workbench.  From there on it's no different then any other wrap. 

The weight for the bobbin is made of 1/2" washers, held in place by masking tape.

One more Design for a 
From Garrison to Gould there have been many designs for binders.  Some years ago, at a fly fishing club, Jon Clarke demonstrated the first binder I ever saw.  It was a Bob Milward design and so unique that I had problems picturing how Wayne Cattanach's version of  Garrison's binder worked.  There are other versions of binders around, and most of them fall into the Garrison or Milward school, in one way or another.  I guess my version would be a variation on a Garrison binder.
A. 4 in pulley
and crank.

-B. supports 

-C. drive belt guides

-D. bobbin

-E. weight

-F. drive belt inter guide 

-G. Binding string guide.

-H. adjustable arms

Parts list for binder.

7½ rubber band drive belt 
3/4 x 6 x 8" plywood back panel
10" x 1" x 2" hardwood adjustment
   arms (4)
4' x 1" x 2" hardwood guide
6 large cup holders
2 medium cup holders
4" pulley
4" metal rod for binding string  guide
1/4" washers (3)
Anchor washers to match screws
Various sizes of copper hobby
Various screws, wood screw and

Click here for a photo

My binder uses 7 ½ rubber bands for the drive belt and an adjustable support for the rod section.   I put the large cup hooks (B.) in the 1x4' facing up and the two medium cup hooks (C.) facing down. I used the bobbin trick again.  This time I used several more 1/2' washers to give it much more weight. ( about 1/2lb)  The bobbin, itself, is made out of much heavier wire then the coat hanger wire I use for most of my bobbins. 

The arms allow me to adjust the tension on the rubber bands and by lowering or raising one side, or the other, or both.  I can also use them to control  the direction the thread feeds.  Best feed seems to be a little less than 45°.

Problems:  I had to move my small cup hooks, and replace the original pulley in the feed with a much smaller pin and washer (F.) arrangement.  I find I have to change the angle of the guide as I bind. tension on the binder should just make the strip contact the two smaller cup hooks.   Also be careful at the end.  The rubber band can bend a tip if you don't stop and remove the tension.

Sanding tool
Another tool I built was a tool to hold sandpaper square with the top of my work surface, no matter how high the sandpaper was above that surface. (See Drawing)  I need to do this because I sand the sides of rod sections and it's to easy to tilt a sanding block, ruining the hex shape.

I built on an idea from The Best of the Planing Form.  The Article, by John Borkstrom, "Don't Laugh It works or How to Make Better Splines with Less Effort," shows how to put "outriggers" on a block plane. I simplified the idea and adapted it to a sanding block.
    Critical parts on the tool are:
1. The bottom of all three parts  must be flat.
2. The hole that the axis pin runs through must be parallel to the bottom of the tool.
3. The back bottom edge of the tool must be square with the bottom.  This is the point where the outriggers will come in contact with the work surface.  If they are not square to the bottom, the tool will tip to one side or the other.

The sandpaper is wrapped over the front and rear edges of the sanding surface.  It's  is kept in place by double sided tape on the face of the sanding surface and masking tape on the front and rear edges.
click here for a photo

Simple turning tool

A. 4 small casters
B. 1/4"x18" sc. 40 PVC 
C. 1/2" PVC pipe
D. Masking tape "chuck"
D1. Paper filler
E. Work area
F. Spring
G. Pull cord
H. Pull cord handle.
I didn't have room for a lath and I didn't want to put out the $500 to over $1000 it could cost , so I designed a simple turning tool.  This tool allows me to turn ferrule stations accurately, though it won't do many other jobs that a true lath would handle.  The idea goes back to   colonial woodworking days. 

It's fairly straight forward.  The base is a 2"x4" about 16" long.  attached to the base are two pair of casters, each pair facing each other about 1/16" apart.   The main section is a piece of 1/4" (or 1/2") PVC Schedule 40 pipe, about 18" long..  Get the 1/4" if you can find it.   If not go with the 1/2".   The 4 guides are simply the next larger size pipe.  Shim them in place and make sure they can't slip.  You can glue them or tap and screw them, just make sure the screw doesn't go beyond the inside wall of your tube.  The closer they fit, the better the tool will work.  But remember there has to be a small amount of clearance between the casters and the guides, or there will be friction and you don't want that. 

The inside of the working end of the tube is flared just a bit.  The reason will become apparent. 

Power is applied by your free hand.   I'm left handed so I've set mine up with the work on the left side.   For right handers, just turn it around.   The spring can be mounted anywhere.  Use pulleys to turn the cord in the correct direction.  (my spring is attached to the ceiling and  comes down behind the tool then through a pulley, up and wraps around the tube three or four times.)   Simply pull the cord to turn the tube.   When you release pressure on the cord, the spring will turn the tube in the opposite direction. 

Using the tool is simple.  Mount the tool in a vice or other non movable mount.   Mark the depth of your ferrule on the rod section. Carefully wrap the section with the edge of the masking tape at that mark.  Take your time and don't let the tape get any wrinkles in it.  Nows where that flair at the end of the tube comes in.   Build the tape up until it just fits in the end of the tube.  End the tape just before the place you started the wrap on the rod section.  This will keep the tape form having a "hump" in it.  Slide the section, other end first, down the tube until the tape is wedged in the tube so that only the work is protruding.  Now wrap a 1" strip of any kind of paper around the other end of the section until it too fit's snugly in the rear of  the tube.  It really doesn't have to be tight,   It's to align the section in the center of the tube. 

Fold a piece of course sand paper around the work so it's ends are touching each other.   Hold them between your thumb and forefinger.  Start turning the tool with the other hand.  Work both directions.  Check your work often.  (I frequently stop and run the back side of an X-acto knife along the work, cross ways to the sanding scratches.  This will remove the bamboo quickly.)  As you approach the final dimension, switch to finer grit sandpaper. 

I see the 6 edges start to disappear first. eventually I'll see the flats start to show scratches from the sandpaper.   I'm getting close.  I really start really looking at what I'm doing as I approach the final size.  It's easy to go too far.   By folding the sandpaper around the work, you can apply equal pressure along the entire surface,  but look for low spots and areas that are out of alignment. 

That's really all there is to it.   It usually takes about as long to wrap the masking tape and set up the tool as it does to actually turn the ferrule stations.  Bamboo is tough, so don't worry about messing it up when you start.  It's only toward the end of the process that you need to be careful.

A Calibration Block for your Depth Gage


A. metal block 
B. Base 
C. V grove 
D. Tip relief slot 
E. Backstop

One problem you can have, when setting your forms, is caused by the 60º tip on your depth gage.  The tip is machined to a very fine point. When you "0" the gage, you can actually blunt the point.  Over time this will cause your forms to be set incorrectly.  To prevent this problem you can create a calibration block that uses the sides of the 60º tip to adjust your gage.  This makes sense, because you're using the sides to measure the opening in your forms. 
One way to do this is to use drill a small hole in a piece of metal and center your form on that.  This is based on mathematical principles that say any equilateral triangle (the tip) will be x tall if the base is y wide. So if the base is resting in a hole with a diamater of y, then x amount will be extending below the base.  Here's the formula.

Somehow I never felt right about doing that.  I wanted something closer to what I was measuring.  The gage I came up with isn't unique but is simplicity itself.   Just a V grove in a flat piece of metal. You can buy them from various sources, or you can build you own. 

Critical points.

The V grove must be 60º. 
The bottom of the V grove can't be rounded.
The surface must be flat.
There should be some way to make sure the tip rests in the same place each time.
To make the V grove, place the block in a vice and use a three sided file to get close to your final depth.  When you get close, switch to a three sided jewelers file.  You'll be able to feel the difference between the block and the back of the file by placing your fingers on top of the file.   When you're close, place the file on a flat surface, point up.  Turn the block over, bottom side up and file by moving the block over the file.  Once the block touches the surface on both sides of the file you can quit filing. 

Next cut a shallow slot, about .005" deep, in the bottom of your block (the red arrow).  You'll need to do this because the edge of most files are rounded.  The bottom of the V won't be true.  The very point of your depth gage can rest on the bottom of the V grove, giving you the same problem you're trying to correct.   The slot will insure the tip rests against the sides of the V and not the rounded bottom (green arrow). 

I glued my block to a 1"x2"x4" piece of wood and added a small backstop made of 1/16" plywood.  I set the gage on the block and push it back until it rests against the plywood backstop.  This makes sure the tip is always reading the same. 

Using a new tip, zero you're depth gage, then place it on the calibration block.  Read the depth of the V grove. So you don't forget write this number on the block.  This is the number you'll adjust to in the future. 

That's all there is to it.

A simple Beveler

Beveler parts
A. Bed
B. Beveler blade
C. Bed axis (1/4" bolt)
D. C-clamp 
E. Hold downs
F. Plexiglas shield
G. Top shield
H. Router Support
I. Eye-bolt and wahser weights

J. Router
K. Back supports
L. Base supports
M. Offset Top shield (see G.)
The Beveler is fairly simple.  It requires a router held horizontally in a 1/16" plywood.  The frame is made with 1x2".   The hold downs are made with simple heavy duty coat hanger wire bent to shape.  The bearings on the hold downs are made from nylon spacers.  Make sure you have all the shields in place!  The router is very unforgiving of fingers!

I make several passes through the Beveler, rather than on deep pass.  If I'm getting to deep the router blade tells me by grabbing the bamboo strips.   Keep it moving.  If you stop the router will put a "crease" in your work.
for more information see this page.

Well, That's about it for now.  I'm sure that as I experiment with more home made tools, I'll have something to add.   See you then.

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