There has been quite a bit of discussion lately about making agate stripping guides on various forums. I thought I would talk about my journey into this area. When I first started making rods, maybe the first couple of years, I would be amazed when I would see an agate guide on someone else’s rods. Where did you get that? I would ask. The answer was always the same, “I salvaged it from an old…” Some of these ‘agates’ were actually agatine or glass! Some were genuine agate but maybe the wrong size for the rod just because the availability was next to none. So I started looking and scrounging what I could find. One day I walked into and old bait and tackle store in Denver, CO and just happened to ask, “Do you have any agate guides?” “How many do you want?” The owner asked. To my amazement he had a box full of them! About sizes 10 – 12 maybe a few larger ones mixed in. Many were genuine agate with nickel silver frames, and many were the old agatine with the stamped frames, there were even some tip tops included, a whole bunch of those in agatine! Anyway I bought the whole kit and kaboodle for about $2500.00! Of these I sold, some of to recoup some of my investment and I had a whole bunch of them to put on my rods! But there was that need for smaller ones… so off on the tangent I embarked! I decided to take a class in lapidary to learn the art of cutting and polishing stones. This was fun and I made a bunch of jewelry in the process. Also true to form I ended up with a tool box full of jewelry making tools as I also decided that it was a good idea to take a silversmithing class! As it turns out these classes have been a great help!
Well I did make several agate stripping guides for rods I was making, what a job! I once said: “If I were to get paid for the time it takes to make a stripping guide, I would have to charge $600 for each one!” Well as luck would have it agate stripping guides became available right about then, and they were selling for around $25 ea. What a bargain! I quit making them!
Recently, I found a source for agate rings, cool, back in production! I have been stocking up as my supplier has only been able to get me a hundred or two at a time I have been buying them as they become available. I put the word out that I had some when I first got a shipment and was willing to sell some agate strippers to other rod makers. I have made and sold about 200 of them and everybody really likes them! I ran out of rings and even though I have since stocked up I decided that I would not make anymore until I got caught up with my rod orders, is that going to happen? Don’t know! One nice thing is that since I do this as a hobby, things can change as I find time.
Well, there you have it, one of many tangents I have taken, as a craftsman this is way too much fun!
Reminds me of the time I decided to make a knife and the path I took with the knives…
Oh but wait … that’s another story…
Joe E. Arguello