Building A Cane Rod, Part IX.
This is the last installment of the building process and concerns winding the
guides on the rod with silk and sealing the wraps. As mentioned in an earlier
column, the guides can be wound on the rod either
prior to varnishing or afterwards.
Although some late manufacturers used nylon thread to wrap cane rods, silk is
the traditional and the most widely used thread for wrapping. Silk comes in
various sizes and the size within a grade can vary from manufacturer to
manufacturer. Most common sizes are A and 00, with the 00 being the finer and
most commonly used. The silk fiber comes from the silkworm, Bombix morii, and
undergoes extensive processing to reach the stage of becoming the thread we
use to wrap rods.
The individual filaments are spun from glands on the worm called spinnerets
and each individual strand in its natural form is composed of two identical
fiber units that are bound together with a type of biological glue called
sericin. These fibers are woven into a cocoon. These cocoons are then
harvested and the long process of unwinding the individual fibers, twisting
them into thread and dying then commences.
Prior to wrapping the guides on the rod a builder first must consider where
and how many guides will be used, as well as the color of the silk. As a
rule of thumb there is one guide for each foot of rod length (plus the
stripping guide) and the distance between each guide increases from the tip
to butt ends of the rod. A rodbuilder may either use the guide spacing used
on the original rod they are attempting to emulate, or they may experiment to
find what they believe makes the rod cast best.
On many classic production rods one difference common between models of
different price ranges was the number of guides wrapped on the rod and the
presence or absence of tipping or decorative wraps. Like all other steps in
the building process, wrapping is labor intensive and manufacturers found
they could cut costs by using less guides and wraps.
The choice of the silk color is another important consideration. Some
builders and buyers prefer color tones that harmonize well with the color of
the cane, while others prefer a more exuberant appearance. To each their own!
Once the placement of the guides is decided upon, most builders take the time
to grind or file the feet of the guide so that the foot of the guide tapers
to a fine point. This allows the thread to be wrapped over the guide foot
without a visible 'break' in the thread. The wrap begins by securing the end
of the thread by crossing over a wrap or two, then continued up the guide
foot. It is not necessary to use elaborate or expensive jigs to provide
tension to the thread while wrapping. Once the guides are all wrapped a
rodbuilder may use a burnisher to flatten the wraps and eliminate any small
gaps in the thread.
The next choice of the rodbuilder is color preserve and seal the wraps, or
seal the wraps without using a color preservative. The cosmetic look of each
option is very different. Color-preserved wraps in their finished state
appear opaque and much the same as the color of the silk as it comes from the
spool. The guide feet and rod shaft cannot be seen through a color-preserved
wrap. Either shellac or lacquer can be used to color preserve wraps.
The second choice is to simply apply varnish to the wraps, and this gives an
entirely different look to the wraps. In this case the wraps become
translucent and the color of the thread can change dramatically. Several
coats of varnish are usually used to completely seal the wrap and secure it
to the rod shaft.
Once the finish has cured, it's time to deliver the rod and go fishing!
As we draw this series to a close I hope that you have a clearer
understanding of how cane rods are made and the huge number of individual
steps necessary to turn our raw materials into a finished rod. Most
professional rodbuilders will have invested anywhere from 30 to 50 hours of
their time and creativity in this effort, and there is nothing they'd like
more then for you to hit the water and have some fun with your new toy!
~ J.D. Wagner ~
© 2000, J.D. Wagner, Inc.