Narrowing Guide Feet
By Tom Kirkman

Here is a question from Volume 6, Issue #2 of RodMaker Magazine:

RodMaker Magazine

I've started paying very close attention to grinding my guide feet, in hopes of having very few occasions where the epoxy cracks right near the toe of the guide. I grind the guide feet to a long shallow angle and I grind them to be quite narrow. Further, I've gone to a slightly higher thread tension (understanding the danger of possibly breaking a flank) and I make sure to completely fill the "tunnels" on either side of the guide with epoxy.

Here's my question. On some Fuji guides, there are little flares that stick out on either side of the guide foot. They're about half-way up the guide foot. In my effort to narrow guide foot is it helpful or hurtful to go ahead and grind those off? I've done it both ways, but haven't fished any of the rods long enough to know how the guides will react. Andy, Siloam Springs, AR

In theory, a wider or flared foot provides more surface area between the guide and the blank, also more contact area between the foot and the thread. So again in theory, this all combines to make a more stable and secure fastening of the guide to the blank.

But in reality we find that it makes little difference. The contour of the foot underside rarely matches that of the blank, so the actual contact area between guide and blank amounts to a very narrow line right down the center of the guide foot underside. Grinding off the additional width doesn't seem to undermine guide stability in the least. In fact, during our tests for the article we did on the use of color preservers, we found that the number one thing that created a stable guide was having either color preserver or epoxy rod wrapping finish completely filling in the tunnels alongside the guide foot and providing a sort of shoulder for the guide to rest upon and against. Guides finished in this manner could withstand roughly 2 to 3 times the sideways pressure than those that did not have this build-up could withstand.

In terms of guide stability, the most important thing you can do is make sure your guides sit absolutely flat upon the blank. You do this by bending and flattening the feet. One of the best tricks I've utilized is to run the guide bottoms along an appropriately sized chainsaw file to help the underfoot take on the same contour as that of the blank where the guide will ultimately reside. Chainsaw files are available in several sizes and aren't very expensive. Consider investing in a set.

It's also imperative that you make sure you get plenty of wrap finish or color preserver in those tunnels that run alongside the guide feet and blank. As mentioned before, this makes a world of difference in terms of stability.

If removing that extra width or flare makes for a neater wrap and less of a tunnel alongside the guide (the smaller this tunnel is the easier it will be to fill in), I'd go right ahead. In fact, I've been doing so for 20 years or more and guide stability hasn't been a problem. ~ Tom Kirkman

Publishers note:

If you have any tips or techniques, send them along! Help out your fellow rodmakers! ~ Publisher, FAOL

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