Hand Carving Your Own Wood Lure
18 replies to this topic
Posted 26 May 2011 - 08:56 PM
HAND CARVING YOUR OWN FISHING LURES
Do you have an idea for a “new and improved” lure or an oldlure that’s not available anymore? Or would you just like to copy another lureand make some modifications to it? That’s not a problem any longer. I'm going toshow you in the following steps how to hand carve your own custom lures. If you follow the steps below, you'll find outthat it's really not a hard thing to do and you can step away from repaintingother people’s lures.
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I’ll start by selecting a pattern for my lure. This can be apattern that somebody else has drawn up or I can create my own pattern. I usecardboard for my lure patterns. I then write on my pattern any informationabout that lure such as: location of hook hangers, location and amount ofweight for the lure, thickness of the lure, eye placement, lip angle and type,and any other pertinent information. That way the information is always handy.I also cut the lip slot into the pattern.
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Select the wood that you want to use to carve your crankbaitout of. Here, I'm using Paulownia. I have several boards that I have planned tospecific thicknesses. You can also use a block of wood and after you cut outthe profile of your lure, you can just cut the lures off at the thickness thatyou want. There are other various woods that can be used including basswood,balsa, and poplar. The choice is up to you.
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I’ll trace my pattern onto the wood making sure that I markthe location for the eyes and for the lip slot. I also want to make sure thatthe grain of the wood runs the length of the lure and NOT from top to bottom.This will ensure that the lure has structural integrity.
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Once I've completed that, I’ll take the wood over to theband saw and cut out the profile of the lure. At the same time, I’ll cut thelip slot. Before I cut out the lure I will check and see that the table of theband saw is 90-degrees to the band saw blade. This ensures that the lip slot will beperpendicular to the lure. If I wait until after I carve the lure, it's hard tocut the lip slot and get it right.
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Using a small 1/16-inch drill bit, I’ll drill a guide holefor the placement of the eyes. NOTE: This is optional. I do it to give me areference point to countersink my eye sockets.
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In this step I will widen the lip slot. For that I use a1/16-inch diameter diamond grinding bit. I like to use one that has a 1/16-inchshaft. That way I can get deeper intothe lip slot.
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This bit will follow the already cut lip slot almostperfectly. Be sure to widen the lip slot before you do the tapers on your lureas the bit will sometimes tear out a small chuck of wood as it exits the lipslot.
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After I widen the lip slot, I then hollow out a smallchannel at the bottom of the lip slot that will allow me to insert the back endof the line tie if the line tie is in the lip.
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Next, I'll go ahead and drill the holes for the rear hookhanger and line tie (if the lure’s line tie is not going to be in the lip). I willalso drill a hole to accept the belly weight.
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The next step is to taper the nose on both sides and thentaper the tail. I can do this taper either by carving the taper with a goodcarving knife or I can sand the tapers on a belt sander. I’ll try to keep thesetapers as symmetrical as I can. You can see in the picture that the nose istapered about a quarter of the way back from the nose and the tail is taperedfrom about midway of the body to the tail. This taper may vary depending a loton the type of lure that you're making.
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Now I’m ready to start carving the lure. I will start bycarving the shoulders on either side of the back as in Fig. 1 above. I willcarve until the widest point on both sides is about the same width as what I'veleft across the back. I want those threeplanes to be basically the same width. You'll see what I'm talking about in Fig2 above. Once I get those flat planes carved on the shoulders I will roll thelure over and do the same thing on the belly.
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I originally started with four corners on the lure. Now thatI have carved those corners off, I have eight corners. Carve those corners offand that will basically round the edges of the lure for you. For you guys thatare carving musky lures or large swimbaits you will wind up with sixteen corners.Just carve them off like I did the eight corners. That should be enough tofinish the rounding of your larger lures.
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After I carve the lure I glue in the belly weight, the rearhook hanger, and the line tie, if there is one.
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My carving is now done. I’m going to sand the lure. I liketo use the fingernail sanding sticks that you find in the beauty department ofyour local shopping center. The ones at Wal-Mart are 100-grit on one side and150-grit on the other side. I use these because they tend to round the lurebetter than just sandpaper. Sandpaper tends to follow all of the contours ofthe lure and doesn’t give me that good rounded finish that I want. It’s just myway. Your way may work better for you. After I have finished sanding the lure Iwill sand the lure again with some 220/240-git sandpaper to give me a finalfinish.
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I give the lure a final inspection to ensure that I have allof my tapers symmetrical, all of my knife marks are sanded out, and the lurehas a general overall good appearance.
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My lure is now ready for a couple of coats of sealer.
A few final notes: keep your knife sharp, take your time,and always check and make sure that you keep both sides symmetrical.
I hope that you’ll give this a try. One you create your ownlure that swims like you want it to, there will be no holding you back.
Good luck and I hope this helps.
Posted 26 May 2011 - 11:29 PM
Very clear cut and well explained. Thanks for taking the time to post this. Musky Glenn
Posted 27 May 2011 - 10:46 AM
Thanks for posting Gene. Your explanation along with the pictures make for a great tutorial.
Posted 08 June 2011 - 02:27 PM
Thanks for the great ideas.I was having a hard time getting my lip slot and eyes right.Now it should be no problem.Thanks again.
Posted 08 June 2011 - 09:26 PM
You're more than welcome guys. I hope it helps people.
Posted 31 October 2011 - 06:50 PM
Gene your tutorial has helped me create many new baits.
I would like to add one little safety tip to it. As a beginner, I have learned the hard way. It is so basic that i hesitate to even post this but here it is. Recently I cut my hand while carving. Some cuts at the beginning may be expected but this one could have been avoided with good form. While carving with a knife it safest to carve just as Gene seen doing in his picture with arms resting on table. The reason for this is simple. If you should drop your knife while carving, it is natural to try and catch it. If your working on a table like Gene, not much can go wrong. The knife can not go far and neither can your hands.
I was carving while sitting on a stool with nothing in front of me except my hands and the piece I was working on. When the knife slipped from my hand it landed butt down and blade up on my thigh. As i reached for the knife, I buried the blade in my hand. The sharpest longest carver i have. Luckily nothing important was cut. Only a flesh wound requiring a few stitches. I did however learn a very important carving lesson.
Great tutorial Gene! I thank you every new bait i create with it.
Posted 01 November 2011 - 07:20 AM
I didn't know I was going to have to write a disclaimer to put with my tutorial.
I've re-read my tutorial three times and I can't find the part about stabbing yourself. If you'll let me know where it's located, I'll remove that part so no one else stabs themselves.
I hope you're okay, my friend.
Posted 01 December 2011 - 07:16 PM
awesome tutorial but a video , would make it twice as good, im really confused on how to get the exact geometry on the sides ?
Posted 07 January 2012 - 02:44 AM
You carve and sand till both sides look the same. Simple as that.
Posted 07 January 2012 - 03:12 PM
Jay, some of us use templates and some use layout marks drawn on the bait. Others are good enough at carving that they can more or less eyeball it. I like to use templates. If your wanting to duplicate an existing lure you can take a picture of the top and bottom views as well as a side profile pic. These pictures can then be edited in a photo software program. You just erase all the background leaving just the image that's to be duplicated. These images can then be sized to the appropriate dimensions and printed out. The printout is then cut out with a pair of scissors and glued to a piece of thin cardboard, or any stiff paper, to be used as a template. It's a good idea to draw centerlines on the top and bottom profiles to help with centering them up on your wood blank. After marking it's just a matter of carving and shaping.
Posted 09 January 2012 - 09:34 PM
what are your favorite kind of carving knives and could someone post a link?
Posted 09 January 2012 - 10:40 PM
In my opinion the best carving knife for the money is a Murphy knife. You can find them at several locations but I would personally recommend Smokey Mountain Woodcarvers. Mac Profitt is the owner will take good care of you. I personally use knives that I make myself.
Posted 10 January 2012 - 01:22 AM
I bought the Murphy knife that Gene suggested to me and was well pleased with it.
Posted 02 September 2012 - 03:36 PM
Gene....excellent tutorial...always thought it would too difficult to make my own 'carved lure', but after reading this post, I feel I may could accomplish it even as a greenie...thanks for giving me the confidence to at least try! Of course I'm sure folks in the past on viewing some of Rembrandt's paintings thought....I think I'll try that...but I notice there aren't a lot of Rembrandt's look alikes out there...ha!
Posted 23 October 2015 - 12:19 PM
What sealer do you use after all the sanding is done? I typically just use a 2 part epoxy, by envirotex, but that stuff takes forever to dry. It's great as a finish coat, but not so much as a sealer. Thanks for the tutorial!