The first thing I was assigned in my last trip building was polishing the blank – 600 grit paper was used to put a nice shine on the rod and finalize the glue removal.
Ferrule attachment included lapping the blank with sandpaper (220) to get a tight fit on the ferrule. We lapped the blank using Jerry’s lathe (Sherline 4400) and a self-centering chuck – it’s strange how strong the cane blanks are, but we were careful not to overtighten the jaws. The RPMs were controlled to about 120-150rpm, and starting at the end of the blank, we worked it down, little by little, checking the fit frequently. The fit was best described as “comfortably snug” – the ferrule slid on easily but with moderate resistance. Care was taken not to round the corners of the blank outside the ferrule tabs.
Prior to gluing them on, Jerry scratched a single small channel on one of the flats to let the air out. A small but crucial step.
We glued the ferrules on using 2-ton epoxy, which had about a 20 minute cure time. Swirl some inside the ferrule covering all the walls, dab a little on the butt end of the cane, and push it in until it seats. The air pocket will provide some resistance, but pushing the cane firmly against something solid (a workbench, or wall) will squeeze the air bubble out. It might take a second or few, but it will come. Wipe the excess off, use a solvent-soaked Q tip to get rid of the rest, then using some heavy thread (we used 10lb backing) wrap the ferrule tabs down. Stand the section ferrule-down until it cures.
We didn’t lap the males down while I was there. I was told to use 1000-1200 grit wet/dry paper for it. I picked up some 1500 grit to be on the safe side since lapping is critical. Little by little is the best way to go. If you feel the need to hurry, put it down and come back later.
Once the ferrules were on, we did the final cut to length. Using the marks previously made to denote the “proper” ends, we measured the depth of the tiptops and set the tip of the tube as the tip of the rod; a slight correction was made in the length of the cane to compensate for it. Similarly the depth of the reel seat was determined and a fraction of an inch was removed from the butt of the blank to allow for the added length from the seat. All 3 sections were exactly 45 inches long when we were done.
Then we made a winding check and blued everything. Bluing was easy, it was swabbing or dipping the bluing solution (caution: toxic) on the ferrules until the appropriate color was reached. The ferrules had to be CLEAN or the solution would show where it wasn’t reaching the nickel silver substrate. Touching up was easy with 4/0 steel wool. I would imagine 320 grit paper would be okay too, so long as you’re gentle and don’t scratch it too badly.
I’d write down how we made the winding check but I think that’s a private matter. Sorry! The maker has his secrets, I won’t disclose them.
And that was it. This concludes my adventure in building a blank. In leaving Saturday night, I was hit with a profound sadness and sense of loss that it was all over. While driving to Cincinnati was always something I looked forward to, I realized just how much I really enjoyed my building experience. I have GOT to put together another cane blank – it feels like this has become a part of me.