Cork Turning Methods

By Tom Kirkman

Here's a question from January/February 1999 Issue of RodMaker magazine:

RodMaker Magazine

"You seem to favor building up and turning yur cork grips off the rod, on a mandrel, rather than affixing the rings to the blank and then turning the grip. The latter is the method I prefer and I was wondering why you choose the former. Can you offer some insight as to any advantages of doing it this way? . . . Sam, Atlanta, GA"

Both methods work fine, but I prefer making my grips and handles on separate mandrels and then reaming them to size and affixing them to the blank afterwards. My reasons for doing this are two-fold First, if you make a mistake while turning, or get into some bad cork, you don't have to tediously remove the grip from the blank in order to start over. Second, I prefer the turning power and precision of a dedicated woodworking lathe and none of these of which I'm aware will accept a rod blank of even a fairly short length.

I suspect your reluctance to make your grips this way stems from the age-old problem of reaming the grip afterwards, to fit the taper of the blank you wish to mount it on. This really isn't a problem if you have an assortment of reamers which will allow you to step up gradually and easily match tapers. Also, it helps tremendously to start with a cork ring bore that's pretty close to what you're going to need when you mount the grip. As an example, if the area of the blank where the grip is to be located has an outer diameter of 1/2 inch, I'll bore my cork ring to 3/8-inch before gluing them on a 3/8-inch mandrel. After turning, I only have to ream a little bit to get where I need to be. Of course, if you don't have access to a large number of reamer sizes, this methd can be a bit tedious.

Let me stress that both methods are acceptable and work equally well, but the method I use does prequire a few more tools and a bit more patience. But I like it and will continue doing it that way. If your method is working well for you, I woudln't change. ~ 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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