Bamboo Bonzai

Building A Cane Rod, Part VI.

J.D. Wagner Logo
In our last column we progressed to the point of having a cane rod blank sanded and straightened. At this point the ferrules can be mounted. Ferrules come in a variety of different styles, but they all perform the important function of joining and holding the rod sections together. All ferrules are simply pieces of nickel silver tubing with a male ferrule (mounted on a tip section) that slides into a female ferrule. (Mounted on the butt section).

Quality ferrules are constructed of machined nickel silver as the zinc in this alloy prevents the metal parts from 'sticking' together. It is imperative that ferrules are prepared properly to slide together well and to be mounted permanently on the bamboo rod shaft. The most common problem with vintage cane rods that we have encountered is a loose ferrule-to-cane bond. This malady presents itself a slight 'ticking' sensation as the rod is cast or the ferrule coming completely off the rod as it is disassembled. If such is the case, have the rod evaluated by a competent restorer.

Regardless of the type of ferrule used, ferrules are designated by the inside diameter of the tubing. The designation is in 1/64ths of an inch. For example a size 13 ferrule has an inside diameter of 13/64 thousandths or .203.

Most rodbuilders use a type of ferrule designed by Louis Feirabend and given the trade name Super-Z. This type of ferrule is designed so that the inside diameters of both the male and female ferrules are equal, as opposed to the Step-Down or Leonard style wherein the inside diameters of the male and female ferrules are different. Since the name Super-Z is a brand name, people making ferrules today may refer to the same style and construction method with another name, such as Super-Swiss. Notice from the photos the difference in the method of construction.

Step-Down Ferrule

Super-Z Ferrule

Step-down ferrules are designated by the inside diameter of the female ferrule and with this design the male ferrule must be of a smaller inside diameter in order to fit into the female. The difference between these measurements is referred to as a 'step' or 'drop'.

The theory behind the Super-Z is that since the inside diameters of a given ferrule size are the same, less cane has to be removed from the rod sections to mount the ferrules and therefore the rod section is stronger at this point. It is also easier to mount a Super-Z ferrule as the tip and butt sections need only be turned to one diameter. It is for these reasons that most builders prefer the Super-Z style.

In addition, ferrules may also be supplied as a truncated style. These ferrules are manufactured in the same fashion, but are just a bit shorter in length. These ferrules are used on three piece rods or on two piece rods in applications where the builder thinks that a smaller ferrule will be aesthetically pleasing.

Ferrules are traditionally supplied as a set with one female and two male ferrules. The male ferrules are supplied oversized, which means that the slide portion must be lapped (reduced in diameter) before they will fit inside the female. They are supplied this way so that the builder has control over how tight they wish the fit to be. Some rod customers wish to have their ferrules lapped a bit tight, while others prefer an easier fit.

After the ferrules are lapped, the inner surfaces must be cleaned to remove oxidation and residual flux from the solder used during their manufacture. Finally, the serration tabs must be dressed to make them taper to a fine thickness near the ends. Tapering the serration tabs allows the rod to flex freely at this point and also to provide a smooth transition from the ferrule edge to the rod shaft.

The choice of adhesive used to mount the ferrules is up to the builder. The various types that builders use are: hot melt (thermoplastic) cement, Pliobond (rubber) cement, epoxy, or urethane cement. If an adhesive other then epoxy is used, it may be wise to pin the ferrule. I would recommend a two-part epoxy that is formulated for industrial use and will stand extremes in temperature.

Mounting the ferrules is accomplished by turning the cane to the required diameter and applying epoxy to the inside of the ferrule and the seating area of the cane. Care should be exercised when turning the rod section to insure that the cane is turned concentrically. In addition, it is not a good practice to make the fit of the ferrule to the cane so tight that the ferrule must be driven onto the cane under extreme pressure. Epoxy bond needs a film thickness of .001 or more to function properly. The application of the ferrule to the cane may be facilitated by gently heating the ferrule and cane after the glue is applied. A firm and steady push will seat the ferrule, and the serration tabs can be bound down by wrapping with a strong thread or cord.

Customers can do their part to assure trouble-free ferrules by making sure that they are kept clean after use and also prior to joining the rod together. A small bit of dirt or a grain of sand will play havoc with a ferrule! If a ferrule should become stuck and difficult to disassemble it is good to enlist the help of a friend. Here's the procedure: Stand face to face. Each person takes a hold of the rod section with one hand grasping the butt section near the ferrule and the other hand grasping the rod section near the tip ferrule. The rod is slowly pulled apart. Do not 'yank', twist the rod section or use a guide for 'leverage'. A couple pieces of rubber inner tube material can also help to get a good grip on the slick varnish of the rod and can be stashed in one's vest for such an emergency.

~ J.D. Wagner ~
1999, J.D. Wagner, Inc.

With Bamboo Archives

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice