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Thread: Tips for those looking into building their first rod

  1. #1
    mmanolis2001 Guest

    Default Tips for those looking into building their first rod

    Since my fishing season is on hiatus until I get better cold weather gear or the water temps raise I have been quiet on this board. I decided to pull some info together for anyone that is looking into building rods this winter. I know we have several fine gentlemen on here that bought blanks this year and wanted to dip there feet into the rod building arena so this might help you get started.

    Basic Rod Wrapping Jig

    Although you can make rods with nothing more than epoxy, thread, a cardboard box and a phone book a simple and cheap rod wrapping jig makes thing much easier.

    I threw these plans together for a simple cheap jig. All the materials are readily available from any home improvement store and should cost around $20

    Materials List
    1 - 1” x 6” x 10’ wood board (Any cheap knot free wood will work) * see note below
    18 - small screw eyes (1/2” overall height)
    1 - 18” x 1” strip of Velcro (fuzzy side or felt) ** see note below
    2 – 1 ½” x ½” compression springs
    8 - 1 Ύ” wood screws
    2 - Ό” wing nuts
    2 - Ό” nuts
    1 - 12” x Ό” threaded rod (you can cut this down or leave it full length depending on what size thread spools you are using) *** see note below
    6 - large Ό” washers
    3 - rubber bands **** see note below
    10 - anti skid rubber pads ***** see note below

    * You will only use half of this board so you could make two rigs with one piece of lumber and double up on the other materials. If two people go in together you can save a couple bucks.
    ** This will be used in the V section of the uprights for blank protection. You can use the fuzzy side of the Velcro strip or a strip of felt. I don’t like using felt due to the possibilities of fuzzes getting into the finish while curing. The strip should be cut to size and glued to the V section.
    *** Leaving it full length will allow you to use Madeira threads which have 3 ½” spools. You can always add a spacer to take up some room if you are using smaller 100 yard spools. You may also need to decrease the spring length when using larger spools to reduce the tension on the spool.
    **** The rubber bands will be used to secure the rod to the uprights via the two screw eyes. The band should be tied to one of the eyes and then passed over the rod and attached to the other eye. You might need to experiment with different size and thickness of bands to get the right tension.
    ***** 4 of the pads will be used on the corners of the bottom of the main base. 2 will be used at the center point on the bottom of the main base and 4 for the bottom of the support base.

    Tools Needed
    Tape measure
    Wood glue
    Counter sink bit

    This plan includes the main base consisting of two upright supports, Thread carriage and a separate support base. The separate support base comes into play when working on the upper section of the rod. As an example you would put the handle section of the rod on the support base and move the main base up the rod to work on the guides.

    This shows the details of the tension device and thread paths. The tension device ensures a constant tension on the thread spool. You can increase or decrease the tension by adjusting the wing nut. You can also substitute the wing nuts for small binder clips to make changing spools faster.

    I would make sure the screw eyes are closed on the thread tension device and a little open on the wrapper base. Leaving the eyes open on the base will allow you to move the thread to another eye without re threading it thru the base eyes. This allows you to change positions while you are wrapping a large area. For more complicated butt wraps (Diamonds, Chevrons, etc...) I would bypass the base eyes and guide the thread by hand. Also make sure there are no burrs on the eyes that can catch or damage the thread. Thread under tension can break with the slightest nick.

    Depending on where you place the side eyes on the thread carriage you might have to file or sand down the angled edges to ensure the thread does not touch any sharp edges. You will have to experiment with all the thread paths and fine tune this.

    Rubber bands can be used on the uprights secure the rod in the holders.

    Tools Needed to Build Rods

    The following list of items are helpful when building a rod. They are not necessarily needed but they do make the process easier.

    Razor Blades – Single edge blades used in scrapers work great and there cheap. When the blade gets dull to the point of not cutting a thread under tension by touching it to the blade don’t throw it away. Dull the edge good with some sand paper and throw it in another container. These work great for stripping glue or finish off an existing blank if you do any rebuilds in the future.

    China Markers – Used for marking the blank when laying components out. If you make a mistake just rub it off with your hand and it’s gone. Be careful marking too heavily on the blank if you are using a thread with any transparence. There will be a possibility of the mark showing thru the thread after the finish is applied. In this case use smaller marks that are less noticeable.

    Good Straight Edge – With both standard and metric measurements. This is a must have for fine measurements and layout markings used in butt wraps.

    Tape Measure – used for component layout.

    Thread Burnishing Tool – Used for burnishing out thread gaps and packing threads.

    Thread Pick – Used for moving threads and packing in tight patterns.

    Thread snips – Used to cut thread tag ends and general thread/tape cutting

    Masking Tape – ½” and 1” wide rolls. It is used for practically everything. Creating arbors, Taping down guides, Taping down threads in butt wraps, protecting the blank/reel seat when sanding or gluing up components. Buy several rolls of each size because you will go thru it quickly.

    Small Spatula Set – Great for mixing up epoxy and applying it to the blank for gluing up handles and reel seats. They are cheap, reusable and mix epoxy better than sticks or disposable brushes. The larger versions (1/2” wide) can also be used for applying finish on butt wraps and guides.

    Mixing Cups – Used for mixing batches of epoxy. Make sure you get silicon free cups to avoid contaminating the epoxy.

    Disposable Brushes – Used for applying finish on the rod. Grab up a bunch of acid brushes in bulk if you find a deal. They are much better than the cheap plastic brushes.

    Sand Paper – In various grits used for blank prepping, handle shaping, etc…

    The above items and plans will get you into the game on a budget and if the whole process ends up unappealing you are not out any serious coin. I used a similar setup for years and it worked vey well.

    I will work on a set of plans for a cheap rod dryer next and post them up here as well.

    Good wrapping

  2. #2
    surfdog Guest


    WOW Mike, that needs to become a sticky. very nice

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Severna Park, Md


    Are you volunteering to build one for me Mike? Just to test your plans I mean. When you take on a build like this you should have an R&D Team. I volunteer to be your Quality control engineer and your R&D guy, all in one. LOL!! I have the blanks and a book or two all I need are the materials and a Rod Building Station/Lathe...Have your people get back to my people and perhaps we can go into business together. All joking aside, I agree with SD. This is a cool thing that should be a sticky for all to consider. It looks alot harder than I'm sure it is.
    Thanks for posting that.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Louisa, VA


    This is great!! I plan on getting cracking on my build in Jan/Feb! Might have to build this versus buying one...


  5. #5
    mmanolis2001 Guest


    Rod Drying Setup

    Here are some plans for a quick rod drying jig. The jig is based off countless models and plans available all over the web. You can get pre made setups like this from various online stores (eBay, Mudhole, etc..) for $50 to $80. Some use the same chuck design while others like the Flex coat unit use a rubber diaphragm setup. If you want to save some cash you can get all the parts online and build it for around half the price.

    Materials List
    1 – 1” x 6” x 3’ wood board (Any cheap knot free wood will work) * see note below
    2 - small screw eyes (1/2” overall height)
    1 - 5” x 1” strip of Velcro (fuzzy side or felt) ** see note below
    4 - 1 Ύ” wood screws
    1 - rubber band *** see note below
    8 - anti skid rubber pads **** see note below
    1 – Lamp Cord with switch (Length based off your preference)
    1 – 4” section of heat shrink (Should fit the dia of the phone cord.)
    1 – 115V to 120V 8 to 15 rpm rotisserie motor
    1 – shaft coupler with screws (Should match the dia of the motor shaft) ***** see note below
    1 – 2 ½” PVC end cap ****** see note below
    3 – Ό” x 2 ½” vinyl thumb screws

    * If you are making this with a single rod jig at the top of this thread you can forgo the wood and use the remainder of the rod jig wood for this.
    ** This will be used in the V section of the upright for blank protection. You can use the fuzzy side of the Velcro strip or a strip of felt. I don’t like using felt due to the possibilities of fuzzes getting into the finish while curing. The strip should be cut to size and glued to the V section.
    *** The rubber band will be used to secure the rod to the upright via the two screw eyes. The band should be tied to one of the eyes and then passed over the rod and attached to the other eye. You might need to experiment with different size and thickness of bands to get the right tension.
    **** 4 of the pads will be used for the bottom of the support base and the other 4 for the motor support base.
    ***** The shaft coupler is used to fix a mounting point to the motor shaft. They will come with 2 screws (1 hex set screw to attach the coupler to the shaft and 1 mounting screw to mount items to the coupler). This will be used to attach the chuck to the motor.
    ****** This will be used as the chuck to hold the rod (centered) in the jig. See below for assembly instructions.

    Tools Needed
    Tape measure
    Wood glue
    Counter sink bit
    Crimper or soldering iron (depending on the connections available on the motor)
    Wire Stripers/Cutters

    This plan includes two support bases and two upright supports. One Upright support is used to hold the rod. The other is used to mount and house the motor assembly.

    The Ύ” hole in the motor support upright should allow enough clearance for most couplers. If you find your coupler is rubbing on the inside of the hole increase the bore as necessary. Just make sure you keep the hole centered for proper alignment.

    You will also need to make sure your motor shaft is centered in the motor support upright hole when attaching it to the back.

    Laying out the chuck assembly is critical to ensure the rod and chuck remains centered while turning. To make sure you have a centered chuck it very important to find the exact center on the rear of the end cap (Side facing the motor and where the screw connects the chuck to the coupler.

    Another import measurement will be spacing of the holes (3 of them) for the vinyl thumb screws. These are used to secure the rod in the chuck and prevent the rod from slipping. The holes have to be spaced equally around the circumference of the PVC end cap. A simple way to do this is to take a piece of masking tape and wrap it around the outside of the end cap. Make sure to keep the tape straight and overlap the ends. When the tape is secure take a straight edge and razor and cut the tape. Now when you remove the tape you have the exact circumference of the cap. Measure this and divide the total length by 3 this will give you the center points for all thumb screws. Now mark the tape with the measurements from the last step. The two marks in the center of the tape and account for two holes and the junction of the tape ends when wrapped back around the end cap account for the third hole. Rewrap the tape back around the end cap and now you have guides for the three holes needed.

    When drilling the holes make sure to leave them sung enough to allow the threads on the thumb screws to bite but open enough not to strip the vinyl threads. When placing a rod in the chuck be careful not to over tighten the thumb screws to avoid stripping them or damaging the handle. If you can find small rubber caps to fit on the thumb screw ends even better. Since this is a drying jig you don’t need allot of force to secure the rod.

    In some cases the rod might not be level when turning due to miss centered handle bores, blank tapers, blank warpage and mis-centering of the thumb screws when placing the rod in the chuck. This is not a major issue but it could cause finish migration (finish piling up on one side of a wrap) when applying thick amounts of finish. You can solve this with a couple of magazines under a base and a level. After placing the rod in the dryer check it with a level and add a magazine under a support base. Continue checking and adding magazine as necessary until the blank is level.

    The motors and couplers can be found on eBay for a relatively cheap price. You can also by packages with the motor, coupler and assembled chuck for a fair price and save some time. See the below image and link for an example.

    Note: This is not my image and I take no credit for it. I used an image from an ebay posting as an example.

    Link to image source.

    Let me know if you have any questions about this or the rod jig. I hope this information is useful for anyone looking into rod building as a new hobby
    Last edited by mmanolis2001; 12-30-2011 at 01:01 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Silver Spring, MD


    Thanks a lot. This is some great info!

  7. #7
    mmanolis2001 Guest


    No problem. I have mentioned writing up a guide to building rods in the past for this site but have either been too lazy or to busy to write it. Maybe this thread will give me a kick start and force me to get the info out here for those interested.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010


    Attachment 1691

    This is a photo of the my electric rod winder I built about 30 years ago. With some adjustments and modifications its still going today. After working on a guide, I move the motor towards me to work on another guide. The motor moves along the track on wheels. I like to use a tension device that puts tension directly on the thread spool. The tension devices that place tension directly on the thread, tend to fray metalic thread. After building my first surf rod, I decided I needed to go to an electric winder. I tried a commercial rod winder and didn't like it as it would not let the blank turn freely, when needed. I went back to my winder. Some smaller guides still need to be done by hand. An electric winder make underwraps a breeze.

    Mmanolis has done a great job with the specs.

  9. #9
    mmanolis2001 Guest


    That's a fine lathe you built for your self Dogfish.

    Nothing better than trial and error to perfect something to fit your needs. I have the same thread carriage on my wrapper. You are absolutely correct about the tensions devises that use friction on the thread. it will eat up metallics. The friction on the thread also has a tendency to add twist to the line.

    I switched to a power wrapper last year. It took me a while to get used to it but after a dozen or so rods on it i don't think i could go back to a hand wrapper.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Southern Maryland- Charles County


    I took a rod building class from the Virginia Beach 19th Street Tackle Shop through the Parks and Recreation- City of Virginia Beach taught by "Chief" back in the 70's- I mostly built the "Hatteras heaver" surf rods and stand up tuna rods....haven't built a rod in years but when I did I really enjoyed the attention to detail and quality components you choose when you build your rods- for a few bucks more you can significantly upgrade the quality of components used in building a rod- better guides, better reel seat, better blanks...the one thing you can't do is change the quality of the blank, so choosing the right raw blank used is the key-
    "Lady Luck" 2016 Red Hibiscus Outback
    "Wet Dream" 2011 yellow Ocean Prowler 13


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