The Natural

My first crank...

27 posts in this topic

I was buying some airbrush paint at Hobby Lobby (just bought an airbrush), and while I was there I thought "Hey...I wonder if they have any balsa?". I found some 2ft long 1" thick boards, and bought one. I took it home and realized I didn't really have anything to cut out a crankbait with (this was a spur of the moment decision). I don't own any saws or anything, so I dug out my dremel tool and put on a little cutting wheel. After doodling a shape on the board, I cut it out. I found a couple of strips of sandpaper under my sink, and just watched tv and sanded until it started looking like a crankbait. I haven't read any tutorials or anything, but I know basically what they consist of. I know some have a wire frame inside, and some don't. I'm not sure I want to screw with that. What about the dowel rod deal that WEC cranks use? I mean I can't just screw the hook hangers into the balsa...I'm sure they will pull out. Anyway...here is my bait; it is still rough and not done...I just don't have any sanpaper finer than 150. It's probably 5/8" thick at the moment, and I want to thin it up. The only hard part is getting the sides to match. Out of 45min of sanding, 30 of it was holding it up in the light...do a little sanding...hold it up again...sand some more. I thought I was never going to get the sides identical. Constructive criticism is welcome...

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@ The Natural

Using balsawood you won't get around rigging a thru-wire harness into a slot to be cut into the belly of your lure .

As you have already mentioned , screweyes would never hold in this soft wood:yes: !

Also you won't get around getting yourself some tools to start out in carving wooden lures .

When using softer woods , that still hold screweyes , you might start out with a carving knife and different grade sandpaper , this is for shaping the body . The lip slot and pilot holes for screw eyes you could do with your "Dremel" for the start , only have to purchase the sufficient bits for the purposes .

For sealing your lure you need some kind of topcoats , the better their quality , the longer your lure would last !

One more thing :

Next time shape your lures in a way , so that the wood grain leads lengthwise the lurebody , not the way you did this one .

It would turn out far more stable , on this pictured lure the tail might easily break off under the force of a fighting fish , even with a glued in wire harness !

Anyway , it seems that you are hooked on luremaking already , you'd only get better here on TU:yes: !

Greetz , diemai

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Thanks for the tips. The Balsa is actually a little stronger than I thought...I figured it had the strength of Styrofoam. I had cut almost through the board I had and figured I just break off the piece I was cutting out, but couldn't! It isn't any more trouble to cut with the grain...I was just sharing. So when I get this thing done I have to cut it in half?! Crap. I didn't think Ed Chambers did...maybe I'm wrong. I'm a perfectionist, but at the same time I will tend to go the easiest way until I learn I can't :yes:

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Besides your Drumel tool, there are a few common hand tools for carving and shaping balsa that will really assist you in getting the results your looking for. These are:

X-ACTO No. 1 knife with No. 11 blade for general cutting

X-ACTO No. 2 knife with No. 26 blade for carving

Razor saw for cutting thick sizes of wood

Razor plane for shaping

Spare blades

Sanding blocks and sand paper.

The razor plan would have made the shaping process a lot easier. You may want to check some balsa modeling sites to learn a few of the basics of selecting and working with balsa. I used to have between 6 and 12 Boy Scouts at summer camp every year that would get there wood carving merit badge doing balsa and pine projects.

If possible, in the future you may want to seek 'C-grain' or Quarter grain cuts of balsa with shorter grains, mottled in appearance (typically) it is quite stiff but subsequently brittle and prone to splitting along the length of the sheet. The sheets of balsa are cut at a perpendicular angle to the growth rings. Good luck and the profile and shape is looking nice.

Edited by Spike-A-Pike

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I've never tried to split a body. I would be too nervous of screwing up after all the work.

I dowel two pieces of 10mm thick balsa sheets together with wooden BBQ skewers or satay sticks. This way I can shape until perfect and simply pull apart.

One solution to your hanger problem is to cut a trench, as mentioned by Diemai above, but I would cut it along the back. This would leave room for the ballast in the belly. Filling the trench is no problem, with a little filler.

Regarding sanding finer, not much point at this stage, as balsa is so 'hairy'. It will need sealing though. I cannot advise on what to use for this, as every time I suggest something, it turns out not to be water proof. One favourite here on TU, is thinned epoxy. This will soak into the wood surface and give you something solid to work with. After sealing, you could finish the surface with 600 grit, a bit fine, but it is what I have lying around.

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You don't have to do a thru wire harness but you cannot use screw eyes. Get some 20ga stainless steel wire and twist your hook hangers and line tie by hand. A 1/16" hole will allow you to push the wire into the bait. once epoxied in place those don't come back out.

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What's next? How do you want it to swim? How deep? What lip do you have in mind? Time to make some decisions.

I do like the shape.

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I did a couple more with the dremel tool on my lunch hour. I had sawdust shooting everywhere, and now of course those wonderful sawdust boogers. Things went a little quicker this time. I could churn one out about every 15mins (of course they aren't quite perfect yet). I'm heading to lowes or home depot after work, and plan on grabbing some screw eyes, steel wire, dowel rods, and sandpaper. Oh...and a saw (even though the dremel is working ok). I will probably churn out another 10 baits or so when I get home before I start doing hardware.

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What's next? How do you want it to swim? How deep? What lip do you have in mind? Time to make some decisions.

I do like the shape.

I really like the way the Lucky Craft square bills extend out from the sides of the nose....I mean they don't taper towards the nose if you can picture what I mean. So I guess I had a lip like the BDS 3 has on it in mind for the larger bait...or a BDS 2 lip. The smaller shad baits need a lip like my Zoom Hicky's have. That's the bait I had in mind when I made the 3 smaller ones. It's one of my favorite WEC's and I'm catching a lot of fish on it.

Edited by The Natural

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Looking great man...I'm interested to see some of your baits. From as much knowledge as you have on cranks they will be interesting

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I think I'm ready to take the next step with these...I'm burnt on carving any more today I guess. Do I seal them after or before I put the lip slot in?

Here is what I have at this point...

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has anyone ever tried out the following as an alternative to thru wiring when working with balsa?

1. Get a small diameter dowell rod (maybe 7 mm diameter or so and cut it to about 1.5 cm long).

2. Drill small hole in middle where screw eye will go.

3. Screw in screw eye (perhaps with a drop of superglue).

4. Drill holes that are the diameter of the dowell into bait where the hooks and tie in will go.

5. Super glue in dowells to bait.

6. Make surfaces "flush with rest of bait" by adding super glue and/or epoxy and sanding.

I've been making my lures mostly out of basswood and my hook hangers/tie in are all held in with super glue and super glue only (sometimes I seal the wood with super glue too). It absorbs real well into the wood and I've never had a hook pull out (smallmouth up to 18.5"). Heres a pic of how I do mine out of basswood. I usually cut the hangers shorter than they look in the pic (to about 1.5 cm length or so). It takes a couple days as I keep having to add super glue since it absorbs so well into the wood (and it would absorb even better into balsa as it is less dense), but as far as I'm concerned these these are bomber!

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Edited by pizza

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and to make my hook hangers/tie in I just use those plastic Xtools pliers that are completely useless for fishing. The key might be getting really thin (low viscosity) super glue so that it absorbs well (not the gel stuff). The stuff I use is 6 tubes for 97 cents and it works great for this.

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One tip that I don't think anyone had mentioned yet is to cut out your lip slot AFTER cutting the rough blank (while still flat & square) & BEFORE starting the shaping & sanding process. This will go a long ways to creating an operating crankbait. I learned the hard way that buiding the lure first, then trying to cut a perfectly aligned lip slot is kind of like playing the lottery:nono: A shame after spending so much time & effort to create perfection to find out your lure swims on it's side or spinning in circles!

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has anyone ever tried out the following as an alternative to thru wiring when working with balsa?

1. Get a small diameter dowell rod (maybe 7 mm diameter or so and cut it to about 1.5 cm long).

2. Drill small hole in middle where screw eye will go.

3. Screw in screw eye (perhaps with a drop of superglue).

4. Drill holes that are the diameter of the dowell into bait where the hooks and tie in will go.

5. Super glue in dowells to bait.

6. Make surfaces "flush with rest of bait" by adding super glue and/or epoxy and sanding.

I've been making my lures mostly out of basswood and my hook hangers/tie in are all held in with super glue and super glue only (sometimes I seal the wood with super glue too). It absorbs real well into the wood and I've never had a hook pull out (smallmouth up to 18.5"). Heres a pic of how I do mine out of basswood. I usually cut the hangers shorter than they look in the pic (to about 1.5 cm length or so). It takes a couple days as I keep having to add super glue since it absorbs so well into the wood (and it would absorb even better into balsa as it is less dense), but as far as I'm concerned these these are bomber!

Yes...that is why I mentioned the dowel rods in my original post (just nobody commented on it). Ed Chambers has always done it this way, and he builds some of the finest baits around. I wonder why more people don't do it this way. I heard someone say that they didn't want to 'weigh the bait down with any wooden dowel pieces'. I can't imagine two small slivers of wooden dowel rod the size of pencil erasers would weigh more than a stainless steel frame (less I'd think). Anyhow...that's the way I plan on doing it; I've got plenty of WEC's that have been to hell and back, and they are holding up like champs. Anyway...I've heard the comment about cutting my lip slots before I get to sanding like crazy, but it was too late for this batch. Wish me luck ;):)

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Great idea but not always practical. For example if your finished shape ends up being significantly different in shape than your rough blank (sometimes its nice to just shape away and not be restricted by any design constraints like a pre-cut lip slot) it can be difficult to envision where to cut the lip slot. I just sand/file/shape away until I get the shape I want. I eye up "eyeballing" my final lip cut with a hand saw. Thus far I've made perhaps 30 baits. Some of my first baits needed tuning (mostly lip filing) to swim straight but I just tested my latest 7 baits and none needed any tuning. So it can be done fine with practice.

Don't get me wrong though, in general that would be the way to go.

I don't even have the tools to do that if I wanted to. The only saw I own is a $4 stanley hand saw (whose blade just happens to be the same width as 0.040" thick lexan---if I use 0.060" lexan I just sand the slot wider)

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and to make my hook hangers/tie in I just use those plastic Xtools pliers that are completely useless for fishing. The key might be getting really thin (low viscosity) super glue so that it absorbs well (not the gel stuff). The stuff I use is 6 tubes for 97 cents and it works great for this.

I know it's OT, but I'm so with you on the XTools...How did those make it past the product testing phase?! They sucked so bad I wouldn't even give mine away...I threw them in the trash. Anyway...back on topic, I honestly plan to use tips and info I gather on here in addition to some ideas I have about assembling baits. Some are going to work, some aren't, but that's just the way I like to do things. I've got some loose clippings of balsa left over from cutting out my crankbait shapes, and I'm going to experiment with some different seal ideas. I'll post back up later....

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Great idea but not always practical. For example if your finished shape ends up being significantly different in shape than your rough blank (sometimes its nice to just shape away and not be restricted by any design constraints like a pre-cut lip slot) it can be difficult to envision where to cut the lip slot. I just sand/file/shape away until I get the shape I want. I eye up "eyeballing" my final lip cut with a hand saw. Thus far I've made perhaps 30 baits. Some of my first baits needed tuning (mostly lip filing) to swim straight but I just tested my latest 7 baits and none needed any tuning. So it can be done fine with practice.

Don't get me wrong though, in general that would be the way to go.

I don't even have the tools to do that if I wanted to. The only saw I own is a $4 stanley hand saw (whose blade just happens to be the same width as 0.040" thick lexan---if I use 0.060" lexan I just sand the slot wider)

Hmmm...that's very true. I should have posted up what I drew on the balsa chunk and initially cut out versus what my baits look like now :). Not even close! I just watched tv and hacked/sanded away until I liked what it looked like. I seem to think that is how I'm going to end up with a super-special bait. One I have no idea on how to make again :yay:

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I was super close to tossing those pliers and only ended up keeping them bc I thought they could come in handy when working with electricity some day (they were given to me). Never thought I'd end up using them for this. But when it came time to making eyelets I didn't want to use anything metal that would nick up the wire.

At any rate, I'm a newbie myself, but all I fish are my baits (well 98+% of the time) and have done extremely well on them. I feel they are as good as anything I could buy and have complete confidence in them.

I've seen some of your postings on TT (I'm not a member) and jeeebus I can not believe how well some of the guys on there (yourself included) know their cranks! Good lord?!?!?!!! (that's a good thing, I'm a crankbait nut myself)

I'm sure you will do well with this new hobby!

Welcome to the addiction.....

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@ pikester

Off course cutting the lip slot at that stage is an option not to be overlooked .

Just like you I had to learn it the hard way:wink: !

@ pizza

I once rigged eyelets exactly looking like yours to some lures , these I made of SST wire , 1,0 mm dia. !

I did this terms of an "How-To" foto-essay , that I wrote for a German angling magazine , because special lure-eyescrews are not widely available over here(only one or two internet stores carry them !)

Anyway , but these lures were not made of balsa , but of abachewood(or similar) and pinewood .

Since I didn't use such eyes before , I had to test them , before publishing them in my essay .

I took a piece of a broomstick , at the center of each end of it I rigged one of these homemade wire eyes , in away that it's shank sits very snugly in a fitting bore .

This bore I have filled up with 5min. two-component glue before and then slowly twisted the eyelets in , for perfect coverage with glue , and wiped off excess glue (more about this glue in my thread "new Banana lure") .

The shanks were about 20 to 23 mm long !

After 72 hrs. of curing(that glue achieves its full strength after this time)

I fixed one of those eyes with some cord onto my vise , the opposite eye I tied to a 25 kilograms (55 lbs) fishing scales and pulled as hard as I could !

At about 23 kg indicated one cord snapped , due to the sudden release the scale spoilt , but the glued-in eyes did not move a bit:nuhuh: !

I found this quite remarkable , since the pull direction was in alignement of the eye-shanks , and not under certain angles , as it would be the case on a real lure !

Greetings , diemai

Edited by diemai
spelling mistake

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Natural. I did read your suggestion of the dowel insert and have been chewing over since then. I think it is a very good idea. Increases the contact area of the glue.

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Love to read your posts diemai. You have put in your time and then some. I'm not worried about my superglued eyelets as fishing poles are flexible and the largest forces those eyelets is gonna see ain't squat(and I fish with mono which is forgiving/stretchy). The super glue absorbs extremely well and I bet there is a large volume in there that has superglue. If it breaks it will probably break at the superglue/wood interface or just in the wood part which will mean the lure will end up snapping in two rather than the eyelet pulling out. Plus you've then got your epoxy clearcoat(s) adding yet even more strength/structural integrity.

Works for me and as the saying goes "if it ain't broken don't fix it". With balsa I would do the dowell rod thing for sure.

I did buy some balsa 1/4" X 1" X 36" and do plan to do thru wire with that since I'll be putting two pieces together anyways.

cheers.

The joint on this bait was made using a modified dowell rod technique. Instead of using screw eyes I used wire and cut slits opposite each other in each of the two dowell rods. I had no idea that people were using dowells in commercially available baits, glad to know my idea wasn't completely off the wall.

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Edited by pizza

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@ pizza

I have also considered to use superglue for the purpose , since it's a lot faster process , but I left it for that two-component glue , since I was scared about the glue curing too fast and I'd end up with an eyelet fixed only halfway into its bore , not possible to pull out again:( !

But I guess , this depends on the type of brand , that one uses :huh:?

Once got a balsa lure blank from a Finnish friend , haven't used that wood before , but I was aware , that its surface somehow has to be rendered harder prior to painting :wink:.

Well , I painted it over several times with a special two-component laquer , that I purchase from a local mailorder store .

They state , that it is used in the auto-industry , it is quite liquid(consistency like superglue) .

The balsa soaked very well with it , after the third or fourth coat a glossy surface developped , a sign , that it won't soak no more , so I gave it another three coats of ordinary epoxy clear coat , just to thicken the outer layer , after I sanded it a little rough and started with the first white primer coat !

The surface turned out quite hard , but never caught a pike with it to tell , how it would withstand the abuse of its teeth .

But for bass fishing such a treatment would surely be sufficient , sadly we don't have them over here:( !

Greetz , diemai

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@ pizza

Just noticed your picture and explanation .

These slotted dowels are a very smart idea , I'll have them in mind , very clever , indeed:yes: !

Thanks for the input:worship: !

diemai

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Natural. I did read your suggestion of the dowel insert and have been chewing over since then. I think it is a very good idea. Increases the contact area of the glue.

Cool...just to clarify that definitely isn't something I came up with. I knew Ed Chambers does this, and was just wondering who else did as well. Maybe he is the only one? Maybe he invented the technique...the dude is old and has probably been making cranks a long while.

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