When you first get started in rod making, the most common safety warning is usually something in regards to how sharp the edges of split cane become, and to not slice your hand open. For me, however, I managed to incur my first rod making injury while binding up the tip section of a Payne 100 blank. What is typically a very safe operation, managed to turn gory for me. Shocker. I seem to have a habit of making those head slapping mistakes on a pretty regular basis. True Homer Simpson “DOH!” moments.
We were using tight bond 2 for this particular rod, and the working time for this glue is said to be around 10 minutes. Knowing this put a little pressure on the old man and me to get it glued and straightened. As Pops rolled out the last few inches of the tip section and half-hitched a knot, he asked me to cut the binding string. While holding the binding string spool in my left hand and a fresh razor blade in my right, I swung the blade through the string and straight into my left pinky finger. “FLOCK ME!!” I proceeded to assess the damage. I’m sure I had never cut myself so deep. For some reason I used enough force to cut a climbing rope when I was only trying to cut frickin’ binding string and I had managed to nearly lop off a chunk of flesh on the side of my finger.
I quickly grabbed a rag and wrapped it up; Pops looked at me and asked if he could finish binding before he took a look. “Of course,” I said, and then proceeded to get a little light-headed at the sight of blood and gap of the cut. Once he finished binding, Dad and I walked outside and got my brother Chow to come look at my finger (the old man damn near faints at the sight of blood). And no, Chow is not my brothers’ real name. Just a nickname he got so far back that I don’t even remember what it means, but damn, has it stuck. (Sometimes I forget his real name, and when he pisses me off I just call him pig man, because he looks like a half pig-half man.)
Chow’s medical opinion on whether or not I needed to get stitches was inconclusive. (If you can imagine anyone with the name “Chow” conjuring up a conclusive “medical opinion”.) So we headed down the dirt road to my Uncle Jeff’s, who has broken nearly every bone in his body, and been the recipient of numerous stitches. He grabbed my hand and raised it to the light, “If it were me… I’d tie that rag on a little tighter and deal with it.” The Doc had spoken, and back to the shop we went.
Glue is a huge topic with rod makers. And most recently that discussion has really blown up with the discontinuation of what was once the industry standard, URAC 185. This was our first rod using tight bond 2. It was great at first – no mixing and it cleaned up with water. However, after a few days of drying we attempted to sand off the remaining glue from the rod blank. It was a nightmare, instead of sanding off; the excess glue balled up and streaked down the rod. It was a major PITA. George and I vowed to never use it again. We plan on using the URAC 185 replacement Unibond for upcoming rods (if anyone knows the correct mixture for this please feel free to share).
This past week has been a struggle to find time in the shop. We did, however, manage to make some progress. We flamed two culms for what will become a pair of Payne 200’s. We have decided to make two rods of the same taper; however we won’t be a team on these builds. I’m deeming these our challenge rods; the old man and I will each build a rod using a few different methods. The idea is that we will push one another to make a superior rod, from raw culm, to finish. All in the name of progress. What also makes this interesting is that Jim Downes helped me to tweak this Payne taper a bit and smooth it out. Upon completion we will be using this rod as a base for further tweaking in order to get a rod to perform best for the waters we fish.
While I have been busy outside the shop, Pops has been working on our dip tube set up. He lives in our family farm house which was built some time around the turn of the century. If you have ever been in one of these old homes, you know that the ceilings are extremely low. To combat this we’re digging down. Cracked the concrete in the shop floor and plan on going down at least four feet. Our sections will slowly retract up and into a designated drying cabinet; so they won’t come in contact with any dust floating around the shop. That’s the plan, anyway. Hopefully the construction and operation of our dipping setup works out smoother than the binding incident.