Brasstown Creek Bamboo Fly Rod Three (3) Piece Rod Wrapping Information Preparing and Installing Ferrules on Rod Blanks

The information below for making a 3 (Three) Piece Bamboo Fly Rod from Rod Blank to finish is one of several approaches used by Brasstown Creek, Inc., depending on a number of factors such as whether we coat the wraps with varnish or Flex Coat, two or three piece Bamboo Fly Rod Blanks, etc. There are many other methods, some certainly may be better.  Always use caution with lathes, flammables, razor blades, heaters, and other dangerous items.  Always follow manufacturer instructions.

1 Brasstown Creek uses a Sherline Model 4400 mini lathe to turn the ferrule stations for our bamboo fly rod sections. You can get it with a three jawed chuck and a hole through the headstock. The three jawed chuck will hold a hexagonal rod blank securely and the hole through the head stock allows the bulk of the rod blank to entend through during rotation.
2 Here we have the tip end of the butt section of our 3 piece bamboo rod chucked in the lathe; we cut this section to length in our Measurement and Cutting topic. Again we used the ubiquitous toothpick and measured the depth of female nickel silver ferrule from the edge of the tabs to the water plug. In this case it measures 1.392 inches. So, we marked 1.392 inches from the CUT point and marked it with a pencil.
3 The tip end of the butt section of our bamboo blank extends through the headstock (thanks to the hole through it). But if we don't support this rod section, the weight of the rod section will cause a slight sag, and then the high rotation rate when the lathe is turned on will cause a serious wobble. Supporting the rod (many mechanisms will work, such having someone hold it with a gloved hand) mitigates the problem.
4 This photo shows the bit aligned with the mark at the 1.392 inch point on the tip end of the butt section. We aren't going to start turning our station now because the sharp corners on the hexagonal rod can "chatter" if we cut too deep.

5 So we will begin preparing the ferrule station by rounding some off the angles with a small file. Once we have a bit of rounding on the edges, we will slowly cut with the bit. Use caution and go slowly with this process. If you cut too deeply with the bit with a given pass, you can cause the bamboo to bend while being cut and the result will be a distortion. We use numerous passes taking off very small amounts of bamboo with each pass. You will want to taper your ferrule station cutting (less of a cut at the 1.392 inch mark, more as you approach the cut end). The idea is to cut the bamboo down just enough for the ferrule to fit, but not have a lot of gap. You want the tabs to blend to the flats on the bamboo and if you cut the bamboo the same for the whole 1.392 inch length, then you can wind up with a gap at the ends of the tabs.
6 In this photo we have knocked the corners off the ferrule station on our bamboo rod section. This makes use of our lathe and bit considerably smoother.
7 We start our cut with the bit from off the rod and slowly move it to our pencil mark. Before turning on the Sherline lathe, we adjust the bit to take a really minute amount of bamboo off. As we said earlier, we don't want to cut so much at a time that we cause so much pressure that we bend the bamboo while it is cutting. Also, and VERY importantly, it is better to take many, many small cuts (checking constantly) than to try and save time but cut too much!
8 After another minute increase in cut depth, we take our bit back aross the bamboo. Remember we are also trying to take a small graduation from our pencil mark down to the necessary diameter to let the ferrule just slide onto the ferrule station. It is better to take 50 cuts and test after each one than to make one cut too deep. Like a haircut, you can't add it back on.
9 Now its time to start using sandpaper and smooth out our ferrule station. Again, SLOW is key here. Sand a little, test to see if the ferrule will fit on; sand more, test again.
10 Now we are using 400 grit sandpaper and making a few more passes. We are close.
11 OK, now our nickel silver ferrule fits snugly onto our bamboo. Notice that we make sure the tabs align with the flats on the bamboo.
12 This is the same process, but with the male ferrule on the butt end of the mid section of our three piece rod. See the blue masking tape on the jaws of our Sherline chuck? The masking tape is there to reduce the chance of scratching the bamboo when we tighten the chuck. Be careful to keep the thickness of the tape the same to avoid causing an offset. Some makers place tape on the rod, but so far we haven't found that necessary.
13 Here again, we use a file to round off the corners of the ferrule station on our bamboo blank.
14 This photo depicts the results of several passes on the bamboo blank with the bit.
15 Another application of 400 grit sandpaper. Remember to taper as you approach the pencil mark and do this slowly, testing quite often to be sure the ferrule fits snugly with no play.
16 OK, by now we have prepared all our ferrule stations. Here we have done a "dry fit" of the ferrules as well as the reel seat with wood insert (note that we didn't have to turn the bamboo blank to fit the wood insert because we purchased an insert with a larger diameter hole). You see we have accopmlished one goal of all three sections being of equal length.
17 Now you can "Crown" the flanges. This step is not essential, but a lot of bamboo fly rod makers do this for aesthetics. How much you crown the flanges is a matter of personal taste; we don't bring the flanges to a point (some do), we just Crown the nickel silver ferrules to a point that it is clearly noticeable.
18 The way we do the Crowning is to take our sandpaper (we use progressively finer grit sandpaper), cut into narrow strips, then slid the strip between two opposite slits between the ferrule tabs. This way we can sand the side of two tabs at a time. Sand gradually and evenly, continually moving the sandpaper strip to the next pair of slits. Again, this is an exercise in patience. Do this slowly else you will not be happy with the results.
19 This photo shows one of our nickel silver ferrules that has been "Crowned".
20 The toothpick (toothpicks are very useful) points to one of the crowned tabs.
21 We gradually move from a 400 grit to a 600 grit which we show here.
22 This is a dry fit of our crowned ferrule onto our turned and sanded ferrule station. If you enlarge this photo, you can see that the edges of the tabs are relatively thick, particularly compared to the thickness of silk thread. We have to handle this.
23 First, remove the dry fitted nickel silver ferrule. We placed it along side the ferrule station. You can see where we gradually sloped our cut of the ferrule station so that the tabs lie close against the bamboo flats.
24 In order for the silk thread to wrap over the nickel silver ferrule tabs well, the tabs must be filed down very, very thin. We will start smoothing the tips of the tabs with 400 grit sandpaper. You certainly don't want to finish with 400 grit, but you can start with this in order to speed things up.
25 If filed (sanded) enough, the silk thread will transition from the bamboo to the ferrule smoothly. No matter how much you thin down the ferrules tabs, once you start wrapping with silk you will probably wish you had filed a bit more. But use caution, I finally thought I had filed enough on a ferrule and realized I'd worn the tabs down and had to throw the ferrule away. If you sand the tabs by drawing theferrule toward you, you mitigate the possiblity of snagging a tab and bending it.
26 Here is a look at the sandpaper strip after a little work on the ferrule. Note we are slowly working the ferrule tabs thinner.
27 Continue to work the ferrule tabs a while with the linear motion described in line #27 above; like sharpening a knife, don't work any tab too long before rotating to the next tab - that keeps things even. Now you can fold the sandpaper and work the tabs by rotating the ferrule tabs against the sandpaper. Don't hold the sandpaper too tightly against the tabs; slow and easy is the way to go.
28 In this photo, you can see where we continue to abrade the nickel silver ferrule tabs (like in line #28).
29 If you enlarge this photo, you see we are making progress with thinning the tabs. But you can also see where the 400 grit sandpaper is leaving some marks on the finish. We want to work those marks out.
30 To start eliminating the scratches from the 400 grit sandaper, we will now use 600 grit. As with everything when making bamboo fly rods, slow and easy is the key.
31 If you enlarge here, you can see that after a while of using 600 grit sandpaper the scratches from the 400 grit sandpaper are getting harder to see. Yes, you get your fingers dirty.
32 This photograph shows our two male 18% nickel silver ferruels for the two tip sections, the female 18% nickel silver ferrule for the tip end mid section, the male 18% nickel silver ferrule for the butt end of the mid section, and the female 18% nickel silver ferrule of the butt section.

Next we use 0000 Steel Wool to remove all scratches resulting from sandpaper.
33 This is the 0000 Steel Wool we use for polishing the nickel silver ferrules used on our bamboo fly rods. Be sure you get steel wool that has no form of additives. Note, it will eventually rust if you don't keep it sealed and away from moisture and oxygen.
34 OK, now we begin with the steel wool. Using 0000 steel wool is a great way to polish out all imperfections left by using 400 grit and 600 grit sandpaper. Also, as we will see later, it can both remove extremely small amounts of nickel silver on the slides of the male ferrules and simultaneously polish the the ferrule.
35 Rotating the ferrule in the 0000 steel wool accomplishes the final polishing of the ferrule tabs that we earlier sanded with 400 grit then 600 grit sandpaper. This is not quick; spin the ferrule perhaps 6-10 rotations in the steel wool, then stop and check it out. Repeat as often as necessary.
36 Here is the nickel silver ferrule for the butt end of the mid section of our three piece bamboo fly rod blank. It is presented on a small piece of scrap bamboo rod blank.
37 After Crowning, tapering, and polishing the nickel silver ferrules, it's time to prepare them to be epoxied onto the ferrule stations. To insure a secure bonding, we need to scratch the inside of the ferrule (where it slides on the ferrule station, NOT the inside of the female ferrule into which the male ferrule slides). You can use a number of tools to do this, but we use a hardened stainless steel pick. Clean any metal residue from the ferrule; an Acetone swab is helpful.
38 This photo shows a "pot" of 60 minute epoxy (mixes the same as is in Line # 22-24 in the Measurements and Cutting Segment (equal parts of epoxy and Hardner). We use a stirring stick to wipe the epoxy inside the ferrule.
39 Using the stirring stick, make sure you rub epoxy all over the inside walls of the ferrule.
40 Apply the epoxy to the ferrule station; don't skimp. This photo shows us finishing the liberal coating of epoxy onto the ferrule station. Any excess will be squeexed out and can be wiped off.
41 Here we slide our 18% nickel silver ferrule onto the station after the liberal coating with epoxy. Note that this may be very difficult as a side effect of having enough epoxy on the station is that an air pocket may get trapped inside the ferrule and it won't slide on to the full extent. That is the reason for marking where the tabs should reach when you "dry fit" the ferrule. If you apply steady, constant pressure, the ferrule will eventually slide on to where it should be. If you enlarge the photo in Line #43, you see that we aligned the tabs on the nickel silver ferrule with the flats on the bamboo blank.
42 After securing a proper fit of the nickel silver ferrule onto the ferrule station, you will see a lot of excess epoxy squeezed out of the ferrule onto the bamboo fly rod blank. This needs to be removed before it dries. So, first simply wipe the excess off with a clean lint-free cloth. Then, dip more of the same clean lint-free cloth in some Acetone (you can probably use the leftover in Line #41) and wipe off any and all epoxy residue. Don't over-do this and damage the blank.
43 To insure a tight fit fo the ferrule onto the ferrule station, wrap the tabs securely with strong twine. We use 100% Cotton 16/4 Glace (white). Anything similar will do, but be sure it is lint free and strong. A couple of half-hitches will get the Glace wrap going, so just keep a tight turn going until you are comfortable that the tabs are secured to the bamboo.
44 You can tie off the tag ends of the Glace thread, but an easier method is to simply take some some masking tape and wrap it around the loose ends of the Glace Thread that you have kept tightly turned.
45 This photo shows one end of the bamboo rod blank segments with their ferrules snugly wrapped on and secured with masking tape. The Reel Seat, on the butt end of the butt segment is discussed in the Reel Seat Module. We place our three piece bamboo fly rod segments into our drying cabinet (approximately 95 degrees F) and leave it for 24 hours.
46 After the epoxy has dried, remove the masking tape and unwrap the Glace thread.
47 If we have done things right, after you remove the Glace thread there will only be very minimal evidence of epoxy on the nickel silver ferrules or bamboo rod blanks. Generally, this can be resolved using the 0000 steel wool.
48 This is the other end of our 3 piece bamboo fly rod shown in line #49.
49 The female ferrule on the tip end of the mid section has a residue of epoxy; the parallel lines are a result of the epoxy being absorbed into the Glace thread and then hardening on the nickel silver ferrule. We will have to remove it using the 600 grit sandpaper and then 0000 steel wool.
50 Here we spin the ferrule tabs (where the epoxy has leaked and dried) in a strip of 600 grit sandpaper.
51 This photograph shows some improvement in removing the dried epoxy. We'll finish it off with 0000 steel wool.
52 Like in Line #37, spin the ferrule in the steel wool, checking it continuously, until you are satisfied.
53 A straight pin can help clean out any epoxy in the serrations between the ferrule tabs.
54 A triangular scraper is useful in getting residual epoxy off the bamboo flats than may have been missed in the initial clean-up.
55 A bit more work with the 0000 steel wool on the nickel silver ferrule and we are done.
56 It cleaned up pretty well. Using 600 grit sandpaper, a three-sided scraper, and 0000 steel wool, the epoxy has been cleared up and the ferrule itself polished up nicely.
57 Here I lined up all the butt ends together (male ferrules). They are polished up quite well.
58 Similarly, the tip ends (female ferrules) are lined up and polished.
59 The final part of the ferrule segment of our three piece bamboo fly rod is to lap the male ferrules to fit into the corresponding female ferrules. Some makers will put their rod sections in their lathe then lap them with fine Gorbet files. Instead, we hand lap the male ferrules beginning with 600 grit sandpaper. We cut a strip of sandpaper, fold it over, then twirl the slide part of the male ferrule. This requires CONSTANT checking with the female counterpart for fit.
60 Once we begin making progress with the 600 grit sandpaper, we switch to 800 grit sandpaper. This is a very slow process with monotonously frequent checks for fit. Someone once said that the difference between a male ferrule not fitting in a female ferrule and having a perfect fit is "the thickness of smoke". It is better to lap slowly and check a hundred times than to fail to check and wind up with a loose fit. You can't fix that.
61 Using 0000 steel wool for the final lapping of the slide on the male ferrule seems more like polishing than lapping However, the very slowness of the process is perhaps your best insurance against turning the male slide down too much. Check it, check it again, and then again.
62 This is what the fit looks like as you begin working on the male ferrule slide. Generally, the male ferrule will not fit into the female ferrule much if at all when you first start.
63 This is what the fit looks like after you have worked a while with the 600 grit sandpaper. You see the male slide will insert a very small distance in the female but no further. So back to work you go. Check CONSTANTLY.
64 More turns with 600 grit and many checks, then many, many turns with 800 grit and checks, then the same with 0000 steel wool. And SUCCESS! Our 18% nickel silver ferrule fits together snugly and pulls apart with a pleasant "pop".