Building my own Bamboo Rod – Day 4

Too fun! Too creative!  I am  mid-way through building my bamboo rod. I realized today how valuable this experience of building a bamboo rod is.

  1.  I fish bamboo – but I am really learning the characteristics of the bamboo material and build process that make bamboo, such a great fly fishing rod.
  2.  I am building skills with woodworking that I never had the opportunity to. If only I could have taken wood shop in high school! It  feels marvelous  to accomplish new skills.
  3.  As a fly fishing instructor, this is a good reminder of how intimidating and overwhelming learning a new skill can be. A humbling moment –  note to self “Remember when you teach fly fishing that you may know the ins and outs but the student doesn’t, so be cognizant and respectful of where they are at”.

So for the past few days I have been hand planing away at the rough formed strips of bamboo.  I would hand plane a few hours and then take a break. All in all, I think I planed for about 10 hours.  In all honesty, I was a bit overwhelmed and un-nerved with the first few strips I planed. With each new strip,I built confidence and appreciation for the hand planing process. I sensed a bit of sadness today  when  I finished hand planing my last piece, #12. I realized I had grown to really appreciate the zen and beauty of planing. It was amazing to see the  symmetry of each piece and the luster of the natural power fibers of bamboo develop with each pass of the hand plane.

 

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A photo from afar – you can see the planing form, the hand planer and the pile of bamboo shavings that slowly grow with each new pass of the plane.

 

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A photo from close-up. Given you a sense of the progress, new shavings, that occur with each pass of the plane.

 

So let’s talk a bit about the hand planing process. For starters the planing form is set twice, once for the butt section and another for the tip section.

 

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After I finished the six strips for the tip, I re-set the planing form for the dimensions of the butt section.

 

I always knew the hand planing process was time consuming and precision was paramount, but I never realized that a very important step between each strip was to sharpen the blade on the hand planer. At first, again I was skeptical of my ability to do this. However, by the last strip – sharpening the blade was as cool as hand planing. Making sure the blade was inserted precisely for the angle and depth is truly a hidden step of the accuracy and preciousness of each strips dimensions.

 

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Sharpening the blade with a black Arkansas stone.

 

So I finished hand planing today. What was really amazing was to see the transformation in the pieces of bamboo.  Check it out!

 

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The bamboo strips just after the hand split process.

 

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The bamboo strips after hand planing and all ready to glue up. 

 

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The tips of the rod – notice how fine they are up against the shavings.

 

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Just bringing the strips size into perspective. Each of the 6 strips that will be form the tip section are .032″ of an inch at the tip-top.  Looks smaller than a toothpick to me!