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Question on Cork grips

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i am looking to get back into rod building and have a question for you builders.........what do you all use to turn the cork grips after they are glued together?

i am wanting to do some rods for myself and want a split rear grip similar to a Powell or Kistler rod but i dont know how to turn the grips after they are glued together?

i know that Craftsman makes a 12" lathe but i dont really want to spend the $130 on one if i dont have to........anyone have any ideas?

i was thinking about using a coordless drill with a dowell rod in the chuck with the cork rings on the rod but i dont know how i would make the cork rings not turn without glueing them on somehow

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Someone makes a set up for a cordless drill. Flex Coat or Pac Bay or someone like that. I've seen them in the rod building catalogs.

If you've got a drill press you can also use that as a verticle lathe.

I personally use a lathe. Only way to go in my opinion. I have two sets of Andy Dear's mandrels. Doing grips is an easy task.

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I have not tried to turn cork grips, but I have tried to turn other wood in a drill, similar to your suggestion. What I found was that they did not turn evenly until they where absolutely central, with no high spots.

I would spin the wood (not too fast) and touch the surface with a pencil. This would mark the high points. I would then remove the high points manually. Repeat until the mark is continuous. Then the cork can be sanded (lightly) while rotating.

You would expect the cork to be concentric already, but the above will serve as a good check. You would think that rotation sanding would 'pull' the cork back to concentric, but it doesn't, in fact, it gets worse!

When I was involved with rod building, the corks were small half inch sections, a bit like assembling a pack of polo mints. It was inevitable that they got mis-aligned. Not sure what you are dealing with.

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Ummm.... No one here uses a rod lathe?

I made mine from an old sewing machine, a PVC end cap and a handfull of misc. hardware. Works beautifully! I even used the gears from the sewing machine, so the lathe is 2-speed.


I've got a rod lathe but I use a woodturning lathe to turn my cork because I don't like all the cork dust where I'm wrapping and finishing.

That said, I will turn the cork on the rod lathe if I've individually reamed reamed fitted, assembled and epoxied cork rings right on the blank ........... have to be real careful to keep the rod level and use enough supports to keep the rod from whipping ..........

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I just build the occasional rod and am not going out and buying a rod lathe! You can do split rear grips using a 1/4" lag bolt of the appropriate length, a washer and a nut. The square "lag" protrusion on the bolt head holds the cork in place while you sand it down. Later, it goes away when you ream the cork to fit the blank. Chuck the assembly into a drill (preferably not cordless) and chuck the drill into a bench vise. Then sandpaper the cork to suit. No, it's not as easy as with a lathe. But it works.

Edited by BobP
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You could also purchase the grip turning mandrels from someplace like mudhole. set them up just like you would turning in a lathe only in a drill. Then you could turn an entire grip in a drill, not just the split grip. The trick is to not be in a hurry. I once did this out of cedar bark rings while camping. On a piece of allthread instead of a mandrell. The trick is to not be in a hurry.

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