Graphite Rod header image -  blanks

Part Seven

  • Montaje de una caña de grafito

  • Gluing The Reel Seat
    Handle to the Rod Blank

    by Al Campbell

    It's finally time to start playing with the rod blank. I know, you've been waiting for this moment for seven weeks, and you can hardly contain your excitement, right? I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but we still have a couple more things to do before we glue anything together. But, don't put the glue away yet, we'll still get to use it this week.

    Handle and Reel Seat Components

    Before you can glue anything to the rod blank, you need to find the spine or spline of the rod blank. The 'spine' is the stiff side of the blank. It is created when the graphite is wrapped onto the mandrel during the creation of the blank. The overlapping layers of graphite create a stiff side and a soft side of each rod blank. Each section of the rod blank will have its own spine. Blanks from the better rod companies will have a less noticeable spine, and will be better casting blanks because of it. The lengthwise line in this picture of a blank is the edge of the graphite triangle that was wrapped around the mandrel. This will often be the stiff side.

    Rod Seam

    How you place the reel seat and guides on the blank will effect the way the rod casts. If you place the guides on the soft side, it will cast with more power, but the weakest side will be facing the fish during the fight. If you place them on the stiff side, you will have more fish fighting power, but you will be casting with the weakest part of the blank.

    You'll get two different answers on which side of the blank to place the guides if you ask a few rod companies. They are both right, but we'll take the problem a little farther than that. The most important thing is to make sure you don't place the guides on the side (between the soft and hard sides). That creates twist in the blank and produces a rod that casts poorly and breaks easily.

    How do you get it right? Simple, you locate the spine of the blank. To do this, place the tip of the rod blank on the floor, hold the butt end with one hand and apply some moderate pressure to the middle of the blank with the index finger of the other hand. With the tip of the blank bent, turn the rod with the hand that's holding the butt end.

    Spine Checking

    When you get to the soft side of the blank, you will feel a thump in the index finger that's applying the pressure to the middle of the rod blank. When you rotate the blank, the blank will naturally rotated until it stops with the center of the soft side facing up. Mark this side with a little piece of bee's wax, paraffin or a china marker. I use bee's wax because it is easy to remove. Check it again several times to be sure you have the soft side properly located and marked. Repeat this process for each section of the rod blank.

    Now you have to decide which side of the blank to place the guides on. My suggestion is to let the rod's intended use determine guide/spine orientation for you. If you're building a light weight rod for chasing small fish, you might want the extra casting power and it might be nice to protect light leaders by placing the guides on the soft side of the rod blank. If you're building a rod for strong fighting fish, placing the guides on the stiff side of the blank might be more appropriate. You'll have to decide which is right for the rod you are building before you can glue the reel seat to the blank.

    Once you've decided which side to place the guides on, mark that side with wax so you can align the reel seat properly. If it's the soft side, you will already have it marked. If not, erase the old wax mark once you've marked the stiff side. Again, do this to all of the sections of the rod blank.

    Once you've marked the blank's spine, very lightly sand the rod blank with 200 grit sandpaper where the reel seat will be glued. The finish of the blank must be scuffed for the epoxy to hold. Then, wrap 3/8 inch masking tape around the blank in two places under where the reel seat will be glued until the reel seat fits snug over the tape. This will keep the reel seat centered on the blank.

    Reel Seat & Blank Next, mix a batch of waterproof epoxy to glue the reel seat to the blank. You'll need enough glue to fill in the bottom of the seat and the gaps between the tape. First drop some epoxy into the reel seat center to glue the bottom of the blank to the reel seat. Start the blank into the reel seat adding epoxy as you slide the blank in so that the gaps between the tape are completely filled. After the last wrap of tape is in the reel seat, add a little epoxy, but not enough to completely fill the seat. This extra gap will collect any excess epoxy that is on the blank when you glue the handle down.

    Carefully align the reel seat with the spine marking and prop the blank upright in a corner or on your work bench to dry. Although you can normally work with your rod blank after the glue has been drying for about four hours, it's best to let the glue set over night for the strongest bond.

    Next, carefully file the inside of the handle, using progressively larger rat tail files until the handle slides snugly down to the reel seat. I use a drill set in the reverse direction with the file in the chuck to do this fast. You need to make sure it is a snug fit that contacts the blank the entire length of the handle.

    With the handle in place, mark the blank where the top of the handle ends. Remove the handle and scratch the blank with sandpaper where the handle will be glued. This will ensure a strong bond of the handle to the blank.

    If you're using an uplocking reel seat, you'll have to hollow out a cavity in the bottom of the handle for the reel seat hood. You can use a rotary tool and a grinding bit for this task. Be careful to center the hole and check often to insure the hole is snug to the hood. Once the hood will slide fully into the bottom of the handle, check the handle and hood fit to the reel seat. If you did everything right, it should fit snug in the handle and over the reel seat.

    Reel Seat & Handle

    Mix up a small batch of waterproof epoxy and spread it thinly over the area where the handle will be glued. If you're using an uplocking reel seat, apply a thin coat of epoxy to the outside edges of the hood cavity and slide the hood into place inside the cavity. Slide the handle gently onto the blank, turning it as it slides down over the glue. This will spread the glue evenly over the blank. Spread a thin coat of epoxy on the inside of the reel seat hood on uplocking models. Continue turning the handle down until it is tight against the reel seat. If you are using a burl handle, turn the handle until the best grain is on top so it will be visible when the reel is on the finished rod, or line the hood up on uplocking models.

    Handle & Butt

    Using a paper clip or toothpick, apply a thin line of epoxy immediately in front of the handle and slide the winding check in place. This line of epoxy will glue the winding check to the front of the handle.

    Winding Check

    Wipe up any excess epoxy with a paper towel before it dries. On uplocking models, you'll need to clean out the inside of the hood with a paper towel and a thin screwdriver. If you need to, soak up a little acetone in a paper towel to clean up any excess epoxy. Be sure to have proper ventilation when using acetone. Also use care when cleaning the handle area and wood reel seat barrel so that the acetone won't remove the finish. Then prop the rod blank in a corner and allow it to dry overnight.

    C.Beard Seat & Burl Handle

    Next week we'll start working with the guides. Until then have fun and catch a big one. ~ Al Campbell

    [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ] [ Part 6 ]
    [Part 7] [Part 8] [Part 9] [Part 10] [Part 11] [Part 12]

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