A bit of ingenious forethought meant that the raw cork rings were mounted on a mandrel that could set into a small lathe, fitting into the chuck on one end and a nipple on the other. The first step, before even considering the shape, was to even out the surface. This was quick and easy to do with a rasp, followed by some pretty large grit sandpaper.Then the work began. The first tasks were to slightly round off the edges of the butt end and taper the top.
Shaping began next. Again, Wayne had a homemade tool for this; a piece of wood shaped in the negative image of the desired profile — half wells in this case — and coated with sandpaper. This form included a cutout by which to align the butt edge, ensuring proper application of the form.
After some time and a bit of pressure, the cork became recognizable as a fly rod grip. It took just about as long to fine tune the profile, but sooner than expected we had a serviceable grip. Then the sanding began.
Differences between the density of the natural cork rings and the burl cork rings (a composite of colored chunks of cork) required selective sanding to even out the surface and smooth the transition between the rings. With the grip still spinning on the lathe, the final fishing began with 150 grip sandpaper and progressed to 200, 400 and finally 500 grit paper.
After a cleaning, liberal application of cork sealant brought out the colors.
When as was done, though not appearing exactly as I had pictured in my mind, I think it turned out pretty nice.
I’m already thinking ahead to a new grip design for the next rod I hope to build. But first, I have to finish this one.