aaron4mvp

Shaping Crankbait Bodies

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I was wondering what tools everybody uses to shape crankbait bodies? In particular, bodies that are not flat on the sides, but have more of a rounded WEC E1 look to them. Do you cut them from a square blank and then shape, or do you have some other sort of way? A step by step process would be nice. Some of the baits I see on here look so good and I want to be able to do that. Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Aaron,

I am just a hobbiest builder, but I've been able to make cranks that work.

I use PVC trimboard exclusively now for my bait making, but this is how I did it when I used wood, too.

I cut my cranks from a rectangular blank that is the right length, height, and thickness for the crank I want to build.

I trace the outline on one side, including the location and angle of the bill.

Then I cut it out on a bandsaw, including the bill slot. You can cut them out using a scroll saw or a jig saw, too, or even a coping saw.

I use an oscillating belt sander, one that moves up and down as it turns, to sand down to the outline. For me, shaping at a stationary sander gives me the most control, and I can change belt grits to cut material at the speed I want. 80 grit is what I mostly use on cranks. For big jointed swimbaits I use 50 grit to remove most of the material, and then switch to the 80 to finish shaping them.

Always wear a dust mask for the sanding. Sanding dust is murder on your lungs and sinuses.

Then I use a compass to mark a centerline all the way around the sanded perimeter.

I go back to the sander, and shape, using the centerline as a guide to keep the lure more or less symetrical.

I use a vibrating pad sander for my final sanding.

I try and leave the centerline, and restore it if I accidentally sand some off, because I find it is a key to getting my bills and line ties centered, too. I put a centerline on my bills, and use that to drill my line tie hole, and for alignment when I install the bill and line tie in the crank,

I do it mostly by memory now, and use my own lures for patterns, but I started out using successful commercial cranks that I liked as guides, for shape and bill size/shape/location, and to try and figure out what works and why.

I came up with a ratio of the lure length to bill size, based on each type of crank I liked, and also the ratio of lure to line tie, and line tie to bill end, that I can apply to new lures. It's not exact, but close enough for my needs. It varies with each size crank, but it's easy enough to figure out, once you have a lure to use as a guide.

I use how successful lures sit in the water as a guide for how I ballast my cranks.

I make my bills from either 1/16" or 1/8" lexan, and my line ties, if they are on the bill, from sst wire, epoxied in place.

I use sst screw eyes, .072"X7/8" , for my hook hangers, and for my line tie when it's in the lure, and not in the bill.

I am no expert, but I hope this helps.

Edited by mark poulson
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I build my PVC baits very similar to Mark. Rectangular block to start and then draw the outline on the block from a template I made which has the bill location, line pull, and hook hanger locations marked along the edge. I cut out the shape with my scroll saw, then sand to the pencil line with a 1" belt sander. Back to the scroll saw to cut the lip slot. Centerline around the entire bait and mark hook hanger locations and line tie. I pre-drill all the hangers and line tie and ballast holes.

Once the bait is to shape, I use an Exacto knife with a #11 blade and start carving to achieve the basic shape of my bait. Once that is done, I use the dremel with the medium size sanding drum and use the dremel like the knife to smooth out the paring marks left from the blade.

I use 80 grit sand paper to start and finish up with 150. After the sanding is finished, I'll ballast the bait to find out how it sits in the water. When it is where I want it, I'll epoxy the ballast weight with the hook hanger and then fill the remaider of the hole with epoxy paste and sand smooth.

Primer to follow and sand with 200 to remove runs and the like, then paint. All my hook hangers are hand twisted SS wire and I install 1/8" lexan bills once it's painted. When the paint is how I like it, I'll cover with a coat of Devcon 2 Ton epoxy.

I too am no expert and believe me because I have a wall of shame in my shop. Good luck....

Jerry

Edited by bassguy
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Both Mark and Jerry give solid advice but I'd add this to everyting they said...If you are using balsa you might want to check the archives (the search function) for any one of the threads about through wiring... If you are using basswood or any of the denser woods screw in eyes or hand twisted SS wire epoxied in will hold up just fine.

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Aaron,

I'm a hobbyist.

These guys have given you great advice.

The basic way I achieve a rounded body is:

The cedar in the picture was cut in 1 1/2" strips, then run across a router table to cut the groove.

Then it was hot glued and turned on a lathe.

Shaping is done on a belt sander with some final hand sanding.

I originally used the thru wire technique, but have realized it is not necessary on everything.

Still have a lot of these laying around so you'll see the two halves glued together.

Having had to cut out thru wire loops, the use of screw eyes or twisted wire is my new preference.

But I agree with BTH on balsa. Use thru wire. Don't think of running it across a router table.

It is so easy to cut by hand it is not necessary. And there is no need to turn it on a lathe.

DSCN1928.jpg

I'm opening an annex to my wall of shame.

G

Edited by garyo1954

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I started with and use the method described by Lincoya in the member submitted tutorials section of forums. It pretty much lays out how to carve a rounded bait. It takes practice, patience, time, steady hand and a sharp carving knife make it much easier. But with Gene's guide you can do it.

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I started with and use the method described by Lincoya in the member submitted tutorials section of forums. It pretty much lays out how to carve a rounded bait. It takes practice, patience, time, steady hand and a sharp carving knife make it much easier. But with Gene's guide you can do it.

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I started with and use the method described by Lincoya in the member submitted tutorials section of forums. It pretty much lays out how to carve a rounded bait. It takes practice, patience, time, steady hand and a sharp carving knife make it much easier. But with Gene's guide you can do it.

If I can ever tear myself away from balsa and move up to harder woods this is the tutorial I'll use to get going. I have a buddy who is vacationing in Townsend Tennessee this week and I got him to drop by Smoky Mountain Woodcarvers and pick me up a Murphy knife. I can't wait to try it out!!

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If I can ever tear myself away from balsa and move up to harder woods this is the tutorial I'll use to get going. I have a buddy who is vacationing in Townsend Tennessee this week and I got him to drop by Smoky Mountain Woodcarvers and pick me up a Murphy knife. I can't wait to try it out!!

Our version of "friends with benefits". Hahaha

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Works great on balsa too. I carve all my baits with the knife. Though, it might not be the material you wish to start with. Really easy to remove to much material. But with a little practice it won't be long.carving is my favorite part of the process. The knife is fast and can be carried with you anywhere. I have small plastic container which I caryy my knife, a few project blanks and a small piece of 150 grit sand paper. Now I can literally work anywhere. Hope you enjoy carving with your new knife.

Vic

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Our version of "friends with benefits". Hahaha

His wife already wants to have a "word" with me when they get back for turning him on to that place!! I wonder how much money he spent there??!?

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What helped me the most in rounding over baits by hand was to use layout lines for everything possible. Once I have the basic blank cut from my scroll saw and sanded to maximum final width, I use a compass to draw a center line around the bait. That locates my hook hangers, ballast, and gives me a cut line if I'm going to split a balsa bait for thru-wiring. Then I lay out the head and tail tapers with a ruler, measuring from the center line and then marking the taper lines with a straight piece of bendable plastic. I use a disk sander to to the tapers. When ready to round over the body, I use the compass again to mark out lines on both sides of each corner of the bait to guide me in making a facet on each edge. On the top and bottom of the bait, I usually adjust the compass to 1/2 the distance to the center line. On the sides, I usually make the lines twice that distance. When the facets are cut, that gives me the beginning of an oval shape in cross section for the bait's body. If you use this method, you will notice that the lines at the tail and head of the bait, if followed, would result in pointy ends on the bait- so you have to cheat when cutting the facets so as not to take off too much material. Nonetheless, the lines help me regulate how to facet the edges of the bait body, which I do with a Dremel sanding cylinder. Then I use the same cylinder to blend the lines of the facets into the bait body and finish/fine tune the shape with 220 grit sand paper by hand.

Dong all this layout is a pain in the neck. But it hurts worse when I don't use layout lines to control cutting and end up with a bait that is lopsided or a toothpick. And using the layouts allows me to do most of the shaping "on auto pilot" without having to worry so much about the grain effects in the wood misleading my eyes. Maybe there are those who can truly freehand a whole bait and make it symmetrical - unfortunately, I'm just not one of them.

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I use photo editing software to make templates for lure patterns. All that's needed is a side and top, or bottom, profile picture of the lure your wanting to make. You can also take a picture of an existing lure and change the shape of it using the deform tools. Sizing is also a breeze. You can make your templates bigger or smaller according to your wishes by varying the size ratio when printing. When you get the picture like you want it just print it out, cut it out and glue it to some stiff backing paper. You will soon have a collection of templates that will never vary in size and shape that you can keep for as long as you want to continue making that type of lure. Saving a copy of the adjusted photo on your computer guards against the loss, or destruction, of a template.

I do pretty much the same thing as everyone else when it comes to cutting out the blank. The lip angle and placement plus hanger locations are marked on the templates. After cutting out the side profile I mark a centerline around the blank and center the top and bottom templates on the centerline. Then it's just a matter of marking around the template to get the top and bottom profiles. The lure is then carved and sanded down to the desired shape. I forgot to mention that it helps to mark a centerline on the template. This makes it easier to line up with the centerline on the lure blank. This can be done while the photo is still being edited in the photo program.

Ben

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Wow thanks for the replies. I have all the necessary tools to do it, so as long as I think it through and concentrate I should be able to make baits that are rounded on the sides instead if just flat.

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If a numbskull noob (2 months and approaching ten complete lures in...)like me can do it I'm sure you will do just fine!! The guys here at TU have put me light years ahead of where I'd be if I were trying to figure this out on my own!!

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I second everything said plus"Get yourself some pvc to carve. You will never go back to wood for carving. No grain to worry about and you can test it with out having to seal it off. Musky Glenn

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Just to add to some already great information here, I have been laminating some balsa that I had laying around to make a couple Balsa lures. First I cut 6 small 2 inch by 3 inch squares of 1/8 inch thick pieces of balsa. I stack three together gluing them with super glue. Now I have two stacks of 3 each. Now I use some spray adhesive to temporarily glue the two sides together. Next I shape with a template that I affix to the stack of balsa using spray adhesive or double sided tape if I have some. I use a small pull saw to rough cut and then carve to final shape. At this point I also cut the slot for the lip. I have been using circuit boards for lips. Where I fish there aren't many rocks so the circuit boards seem to work. I cut these lips with ordinary heavy duty scissors and use a template.

 

I use a 2 inch section of cove trim with a piece of sandpaper attached to sand the round over corners (thanks to Paul Adams for that tip). You can also create your own convex sanding block by drilling a hole of the appropriate size in a 2 inch section of wood and then splitting the wood using a band saw. I have both and prefer the cove.

 

Once I have the body shaped to my liking, I use a knife to pry the two sides apart. I then carve out a channel for the through wire and using a drill bit (not with a drill just by hand), I spin it in reverse to start two shallow holes on either side of the belly hanger for my ballast weights. I use simple split shot. You do this on both sides of the body. One tip for alignment is to position the through wire and ballast on one side, take the other side and press it against the first side. This will leave an impression you can use to carve the channel and ballast depressions on the second side of the lure. If you want to add a rattle, follow the same instructions to create a depression on both sides for the rattle to sit in.

 

Next, shape your through wire and install it into the channel you've carved and place the ballast accordingly. Once everything is in place, I use 5 min epoxy and then clamp both sides together. This is when I do the final install of the bill as well. Make sure to use a couple small pieces of wood to sandwich the lure when you clamp. 

 

Now all you have to do is some final sanding and you can seal the lure. I use 30 min epoxy to seal. Now you can tank test the lure if you'd like. After testing, I like to rough up the lure with 400 grit paper before painting. One thing I've been experimenting with lately is using spackle before I do a final sanding. I like how smooth I can get the lure with this stuff.

 

One other helpful tip that most of us learned the hard way, put tape over the bill when painting the lure but remove it to epoxy. You don't need the extra work of trying to remove epoxied tape from a bill.

 

Here's a crank bait I just finished using this technique.

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post-45642-0-82696400-1455807196_thumb.jpg

Edited by FrogAddict
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If you want to copy a WEC E1, note that the body in crossection is an elipse. I don't know how you would do it except freehand, or with a lure carving machine. I bought a couple of E1's before trying to make copies to get the weight, body shape, and lip exactly right. They are nice baits.

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Everything said here is great stuff! I guess I am a little lazy, or just like it this way, but I do everything freehand, starting with a block of wood, I come up with a shape in my head, and take notes/draft it up on paper, then transfer that to the wood and start to carve. I do add some guide lines sometimes and mark the bill slot and line ties/ballast. I have also started making templates of lures I make that I really like or that friends want. I transfer the design to some hard paper or a price of milk carton and cut it out. The milk carton or really any other flat plastic makes an awesome template that is washable and a little tougher than paper. I then freehand shape and sand and add hardware. I think the freehand carving has helped me greatly to be able to throw a shape out or copy another lure very well. Power tools are handy but I am happy with a basic exacto knife. The blades are easy to replace too. I also make laminate balsa cranks as Frog addict described, but I buy those 1/4 or 1/2 inch sheets pre-cut at the hardware store and use double sided tape to get the shape down and put it all back together with super glue. I might also add that If you use an even about of pieces in a lure, you can find the exact center and just split those 2 segments apart to add through wire and balsa where as with an odd number you would have to cut the balsa to get it perfectly centered. There is an intimate number of ways to go about all of this shaping and carving, so find the way you like it best and go with that. Also remember to take plenty of notes so you can go back for reference, and keep all your lures that you don't like, or especially the ones that don't run so you can look back and see what made them not work and correct that on future projects. I keep them separate in a box next to my desk and am always digging through them and messing around with them. ;) Also remember, if you can't get a design right keep trying until you figure it out! Have fun!

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Take your piece of square balsa and draw the profile and the top outline of the lure on the block. Cut out the profile and then cut your lip slot. Then cut from the top to shape the top profile. From there the only thing left is to shape your lure. Get a sharp knife and a piece of 220 sandpaper and get to work. There are no shortcuts to making handmade baits.  It takes patience, dedication, and skill. You develope these with time.

 

Take your sweet time and get just one right. Learn from your mistakes and correct them. Eventually you will be able to train your eye and shape your bait more quickly. Get an E1 in front of your face and start shaping your lure to look the same. The only complicated part of the entire process is developing your skill. Developing your skill will test your patience (believe me) and dedication. To truely be above the rest takes hard work. There are no shortcuts. Get busy and good luck.

 

Skeeter

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Yes, don't forget to cut the lip slot immediately after sawing out the bait's side profile, while the lure is still "square".  Carving wood freehand requires skill and experience.  IMO, balsa is particularly unforgiving because it's so easy to cut and sand.  You can start with a block of wood and end up with a toothpick if you're not careful.  I use layout lines to define the limits of where I want to shape the corners of the bait.  Once you begin shaping, the grain structure in the wood makes it very difficult to judge whether the bait is truly symmetrical just by eyeballing it.  Drawing layout lines is tedious work but it allows you to do a majority of the shaping on cruise control, without having to worry about screwing it up.  

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As always brother....... your exactly right.

 

Skeeter

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