Traditional Rod Making?
I have been checking out some of the web sites of new rod makers and
besides using the plural "we" as in "we are custom rod makers. . .",
there also appears regularly the phrase, "traditionally made one at a
time" or "traditional hand planed." This gives the erroneous impression
that hand planing was how cane rods were manufactured and that any other
method is inferior.
According to all the information I have ever read, all rod makers, from
the greats like Payne, Gillum, Leonard, Dickerson, Thomas, Edwards, Young
and Montague, all used bevelers or mills. The first beveled rods were made in 1868 and the
beveler continues in use today. This means that whether a small batch maker or a mass producer, beveling or milling was/is the "traditional" way rods were made.
There were amateurs or semi-pros like Garrison who were hand planing
but this was just on a hobby scale and would not have been considered back
then as a professional method.
Another misleading claim made by the hand planers is their
ability to reproduce tapers from the great names of the past.
Hand planers use "forms" which are generally adjustable every
5 inches, so a copy of a Dickerson taper which had been beveled
will only be a Dickerson every 5 inches! If there happened to
be a taper change on that Dickerson that fell in between the 5
inch setting screws on a planing form then the taper would not
be as per the original. The problem is the bevelers used by
the rodmakers were set at every THREE inches. Would it
be out by much? It sure as heck would be out by more than
the +/- .001 standard that the hand planers claim to work to.
Cane rods were manufactured in the old days by craftsmen who had to
make a living from producing them to survive. The torch has been picked
up by a new breed of part timers working without the constraints of
having to put food on the table with their efforts. This enables them to
use inefficient methods and the luxury of unlimited time to produce "the
best rods in the world" and where cosmetics has replaced performance.
Are they rod makers? Sure, just as those that enjoy "messing about in
boats" are sailors. ~ Reedwhacker
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