Bowman

Wood types for cranks

21 posts in this topic

Hello all,

I am a newbie to this board and lure making in general. One of the more elementery questions I have when building a crankbait is what are the pro's and con's of the different types of wood used? I have heard of balsa, basswood, cedar, poplar and even pine.

Could some of you more knowledgable guys help a newbie out and explain the differences and your preferences for whichever type of wood you use.

Thanks in advance for the help,

Bowman

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Basically it all comes down to density. The heavier the wood, the more the weight is spread out and the harder it is to get the action. Not everyone wants masses of action, each to their own preferrences.

I prefer balsa, easy to work and good action but there are many disadvantages. Balsa requires through wire, as screw eyes will pull out. Because of its soft texture, it is prone to tooth attack and subsequent paint problems.

I have no real experience with the other woods, but if you do word searches on the wood names, you will find the information that you are looking for.

Good luck.

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Poplar provides a good choice overall and pine can be good if you choose a piece with smoother grain and no knots.

I've used both for musky and they're hard to beat.

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I have been using maple for musky baits (mostly just because I had some sitting around, also because I figured that there was lense chance of eye screws pulling out of a harder wood such as maple). I saw a few smaller luremaking companies that used it on some websites. Will this work okay? I know that it's more dense than pine and poplar. Will that affect the action of the lure?

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You can use hardwood, but it's less forgiving in design and weighting since it's already heavy. It will tend to have a more muted action. Two other popular lure woods are Basswood and Cedar, as each are harder than balsa yet still easy to shape. Most of the old vintage lures were made of poplar. The saltwater surf fishing guys seem to love Alaskan Yellow Cedar.

Clemmy

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I use several types of wood for different lures, but almost all of my cranks are balsa. There are solutions for dealing with its inherent softness as it can be coated with several different things including epoxies for not only surface hardness, but structural rigidity as well. I use a thru-wire harness, but there are other builders who use line-ties and hook-hangers made from twisted wire and epoxied in the lure, who tout the strength of that system also. For me, balsa imparts a liveliness in the lure that I like, and it is easy for me to work with as I have some chronic injury issues: and after cutting the basic shape of the bait, I can shape it into its final form using nothing but different grades of sandpaper.

Dean

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I plan on starting off making crankbaits and plugs. Balsa seems to be the most common wood used for these types of lures. However I'm not sure I understand the full reason for the thru wire harness. Is it only to remove stress form the wood itself by connecting(so to speak ) the hooks directly to the line tie eyelet or is there some other use?

If so, do you actually have to build two halves of a crankbait and sandwich them around the harness?

Again, I cannot tell you guys how much I appreciate any and all feedback.

Bowman

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I've used balsa, cedar, basswood, pine and Paulownia. IMO basswood gives the most consistent results if you do freehand sanding and shaping. It's a blonde hardwood with a nominal density of 23 lbs/cu ft. It has grain like all wood but it's so fine that grain effects during shaping and sanding are virtually nil, making it ideal for small objects like crankbaits. Another classic is balsa, nominal density 11.2 lbs/cu ft. It's so soft that you must have discipline when shaping and sanding or your crankbait will turn out to be a lopsided toothpick. However, balsa is the obvious choice for lively, very bouyant shallow crankbaits.

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Based on many factors is what wood you should choose. The most durable being the hardwoods and the easiest to sand and carve being balsa.Then take in consideration the type of wiring you want to use, thru wire gives most the sense of security that the hook hangers and line tie can never pull out although I have never been able to pull ro jerk one of ours out, but I'm not the one at the business end trying to shake a bait out of my face :eek: then the story may change.

My best humble advice is to look at your choices and weigh your type of fish and come up with what suits your nneds best. Jump in and start experimenting and with the end result stand back and say look at this....I did this.

There is a lot of experience here go for it and GET'R DONE

Happy, :lolhuh: frustrating,:mad: and enjoyable :worship: luremaking

Welcome to the insanity

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Balsa can be bought in various densities/hardness but if you order plain balsa, you will get very soft wood. Screw-in hardware will not hold reliably in soft balsa. Most builders take extra steps to strengthen and reinforce the bait. Thru-wire is a big plus since it combines all the internal hardware into a strong unified whole. Even better, splitting the body and gluing in the thru-wire gives the bait a strong epoxy "backbone". The second build strategy for balsa is to use epoxy or a similar strong substance as a waterproof coating over the raw wood. That creats a durable "shell" that resists dents and cracks. There are various ways to do thru-wire. I shape and sand the body and then split the bait with a single edged razor blade. Pretty easy. Just remember that you need a centerline scribed around the bait as a guide to split the bait, and you need to scribe that line just after you cut out the rough blank, while it's still "square". That's also the time to cut the lip slot, btw.

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The reason most use through wires for balsa baits is that while balsa has a very good strength to weight ratio, it does not hold a screw very well. although it would be fine in most circumstances, it might, MIGHT pull out on a big fish.

Clemmy

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Sorry guys I was'nt condeming thru wires. If you recall an earlier post I even posted a pic of ours. We do some thru wire and we also do hand twisted eylets and hangers.

Yes the thru wire is as close to perfect as you will get but on the other hand I've been on vice grips and Larry on them on the other end of the bait and we had to totally destroy it to get them to come out. I'm not saying its the only way.....just our way.

And yes also the prep on the bait (wood ) has to be done to acheive this. We have not had any returned because of line tie or hanger failure.

...........E

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i've used balsa, poplar, redwood, pine, maple and even mahogany. i seem to get the bast action from poplar, but i try to get an easy swimming action instead of the lively action of balsa. i am trying something new, PVC, carves easy and sands easy with no grain to worry about. about the same density of pine. maybe a little lighter. will post a picture when it is done and let you know how it works.

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Let's not forget about laminated balsa and basswood. Having the center line made from basswood in a balsa crank gives a stronger surface for hook hangers to attach to as well.

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I can't remember anyone here suggesting that idea before. So simple, I'm disappointed that I did not think of it myself. Nice one Ernel.

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If anyone has it saved somewhere, I recall this being done and discussed on the old TM site.

Clemmy

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If anyone has it saved somewhere, I recall this being done and discussed on the old TM site.

Clemmy

Not from here, but THIS is what you're talking about. I think Cheesehead made mention of it, way back.

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AHH,

That brings back some memories. I had forgotten he had put that up on his site. Even before that though the building of it was discussed on the defunct TM forum.

Clemmy

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The laminate method is how I built almost all of my cranks. I got the info from the above web site during the "great crash of '06". His web page was one of the few spots I was able to find information on lure building while TU was down. To say the least the method works well enough for catching bass and walleye, but I am not sure about other larger toothy creatures.

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