At Canadian Cane 2011, Dave Van Burgel of Maine did a presentation on node prep. Dave used a flap sander and a simple fixture to hold and roll the cane to do initial node prep. It looked so simple and easy. I built the fixture and use it with a coarse file instead of the flap sander. This simple fixture works so well it makes node prep a breeze and filing the node in the round is superior to filing a narrow strip as you follow the natural contour of the culm. If you are good shopper it might cost you $10 or a high of $30 for the Big Spender. A plywood base and four casters is all you need. My strips have never looked better and I am saving time too. I know four other local builders that use the fixture too and everyone agrees it is the innovation of the year! So if you happen to see Dave, buy him a beer and thank him for a great tool.
I learned to build using Wayne's book and as a new builder I made sure I bought exactly the same tools that Wayne used. As time progressed I learned that there are many ways to do things and many different tools will do the job. One tool that Wayne used was a Turbo Torch for flaming so I got one of those too. I found the sharp point of the torch really wasn't well suited for the job and most likely it was a tool Wayne had for his plumbing needs.
I decided to buy a new torch so I asked around and many guys were using the low cost Chinese torches for killing weeds from Harbor Freight or Princess Auto up here in Canada. Perhaps it was my affinity for WWII movies and those brave lads with the flame throwers that whispered to me that a cheap import flame thrower might not be the safest tool. Hey, maybe I'm just not brave enough, who knows?
I found a nice torch made in USA that had a 1.5" nozzle and 50,000 BTU. It works well and I can control the toning of the cane and I feel safe. It is called the Red Dragon Torch Kit and it is made on West Hwy 4 in Lacrosse ,Kansas. (www.flameengineering.com) I thought it was a tad ironic to buy a USA made torch called Red Dragon but what the heck, the thing works.
RED DRAGON Model HT1 1/2-10CR –
50,000 BTU Vapor Torch Kit
The key to the whole process is to commit to a torch and save your off cuts once you find the colour you like. Set them aside and label them and scrape off half the enamel and throw on some varnish to see what the final look will be. Don't guess, don't trust your memory. The tendency is to over cook and then the colour is darker than you like. Remember that it will lighten when you scrape off the enamel so trust your "control" pieces and gain the consistency you need to repeat your rods in a similar fashion. If you are selling rods you need to learn to produce a consistent product and if your colour is off you will have disappointed customers.
When Jorge showed up with his 12' long strips for his Spey Project I must confess to being a little worried. These were fatties. Selected from a mega heavy culm with high strips and wide too because the spey rod is very thick in the butt section. Would the Bellinger L'Il Giant Rougher handle these massive strips?
We hooked a wood working style dust collector with a 4" hose and those strips did not stand a chance. The machine equipped with a Porter Cable router and custom 60 degree cutters ate through the bamboo in impressive fashion. We did three passes on 36 strips in under and hour without any trouble. The final strips were near half their size and were still .315". After a quick sweep up and a coffee the strips headed home and Jorge feels that he saved 4-5 hours of tough sledding. This is a tool worth owning, no strip is safe with a Bellinger rougher in the house.
So if you see a guy with a one piece bamboo two handed rod about 12' ft. long spanking Gaspe Salmon in August, that would be Jorge. Look closely to see the Canadian Cane logo on his shirt.
I have quite a few culms of bamboo that have been around for a while, not pre embargo but pre Lewinsky anyway. Many of the culms have some greenish areas and occasionally some grey areas in the nodes after you prep them. All you need to do is expose the culm or the strips to direct sun for a few days and the green or grey will go away. My culms are stored indoors in a garage so they have not had much sun time. So don't worry about the color variations just set them in the sun.
That little dial indicator that is so reliable and effective actually has needs. This device we take for granted, the one we use to set forms and many other machining tasks is a delicate tool that measures to .001". You can buy an import indicator for fifteen bucks or a USA model for ninety, the choice is yours. Once you have handled a USA model you can feel the difference and the quality. They are a luxury as the cheapies work quite well but good tools have a way of making you feel better about what you do.
It makes sense to treat them well, don't drop them, store them away from dust and grit but the most important thing to do is store them without a load on the spring. Store them on their side or upright with the point in a small hole to take all the pressure off the spring. Look after this tool and it will give you years of trouble free use.
I am a cane rod builder and co-founder of Canadian Cane