So you have been bitten by the Bamboo Rod Bug! Well, here’s the bad news, there is no known cure! The good news… yes every cloud has a silver lining! You are in for a trip that is full of some of the most enjoyable times of your life! At some point you start to think maybe I can learn how to make my own and save some money! OK, hold on there cowboy, didn’t you learn your lesson when you thought you were gonna do that by tying flies… yeah right save some money… well you might use that on your significant other, but don’t try that on me cause I ain’t buying it! Good try though! And maybe it will get you a kitchen pass! OK so let,s look at this endeavor.
So by now you have already bought a book or two… you know you have! And in the back of your mind you are saying to yourself, “I can learn how and have a bunch of nice rods, and then start selling some and make back my investment!” maybe even do this for a living! Well this may be true, especially the first part of that statement, but it’s a hard row to hoe! So here’s the first piece of advise…take a class! Today there are a great deal of choices in people offering classes, everything you can think of from one week classes with several students, which can be a blast, to one on one classes which can also be fun. Just depends on how you are wired and the time you have to dedicate to learning this craft.
Next thing to consider, how many rods do you want to build? I really don’t think you can know that, you might think you do, but you may change your mind after you cut yourself, smash your fingers, glue yourself together and just totally frustrate yourself on that first rod. Second bit of advise…don’t give up! You can do it! You may just decide that it is not for you. That being said, what about all the tools? Well if at all possible you should seek out a class that will give you a complete rod at the end of the session. Maybe a rod with only one tip, but a rod you can actually fish with (two tips is better) I know that when I was teaching I would take the student through the whole process and show them how to dip the first coat of varnish on the rod. This gives you a complete rod that should get a couple of more coats of varnish. I would offer to do the final couple of dips as time gets stretched out here while you wait for the varnish to dry! If your instructor furnishes all the tools and materials, you end up with a rod and a decision on whether you want to pursue making more rods, thus tooling up (this can be expensive) but at least you haven’t bought a bunch of tools that you won’t use anymore (planing forms make very expensive pry bars!)
Now how about just buying a rod? “What!!!” you say. Why are we talking about that? Well if you are thinking that you might build your own and save money…let’s take a look at that. So a class will probably cost you about $1000. You will build a rod, maybe a very nice rod (probably, hopefully!) so let’s say you have a rod that cost you $1000 and a week of your life. Not a bad deal since it is a blast to do. But how do you start to recoup that investment? Remember you told SWMBO that this was the plan! OK now you have to spend another $1000 or so getting tooled up! And believe me I am talking about the bare minimum if you are very well disciplined! If you’re like me…well let’s just say there is a Bridgeport milling machine and four lathes, couple of belt sanders, oven, presses, dies, well you get the picture!
Back to buying rods, if you have invested in rods made by well known builders the chances of getting your money out of them is pretty good, you may even make a few bucks, that is the only reason we are talking about buying… kinda goes with that little thing you said about ‘an investment’
So make a choice and have fun, maybe do both!
Remember that you have been bitten, all we can do is try different ‘treatments’ …
There is no known cure to man!
If you want an easy way out…Here it is!
Joe E. Arguello
…words of wisdom…taking a class is how I got started…buying a rod from a well known bamboo maker also happened…and I’m still having fun…
“Give a Man a fish, and he’s in deep doo-doo if he’s stopped by the warden and don’t got a license!
Teach a Man to fish an’, well, Hell, there goes the retirement account!”
-some anonymous smartass
Truer wheels were never spoked, Joe! I paid as much for my class as I would have for a rod from the instructor, and to this day, my wife reviles him in a little hate shrine she built in a corner of the closet.
Most any weekend, you can hear her chanting, “Oh, Mister friggin’ Leonard, ya think you can gitcher bamboo-splintered butt outta the basement fer 30 minutes and mow the @#$%^& lawn?!? It’s on’y been three weeks!
(God, I never should-a let him take that @#$%^& bamboo rod class!)”
Yes, the entire family can get in on the fun if a member of the household takes the plunge and starts building cane. I still refer to my five-day adventure as the most fun a rodmaker can have with his/her clothes on!