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Pine Bark Rod Grip
Posted by: Austin Shaw (---.princeton.edu)
Date: October 03, 2018 02:48PM

Hi there,

Making a new rod for myself and want to make a pine bark grip. Been looking through the forum and am planning on using either douglas fir or ponderosa pine bark chunks for the project. Does anyone know where I can actually get chunks large enough for this? Additionally, what kind of sealant or preserver do I need to coat it with when I'm done? It's my first time making a grip so I appreciate the help!



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Re: Pine Bark Rod Grip
Posted by: Donald La Mar (---)
Date: October 03, 2018 04:27PM


Made several pine bark grips years ago. Don't remember the type, but it was not Douglas, and at the time there were 1 1/8" X !/2' rings with 1/4" holes available, and the color was a mottled tan and umber, and red. It was very attractive, My personal 5 wt is now 6 years old and the grip still looks great.

I glued up the rings on a mandrel using TiteBond III the same as you would cork rings, turned the grip to form on a poor man's lathe, again the same as cork, and finished sanding with 400 grit paper.

I finished the grips with TruOil - the gun stock varnish. Apply the TruOil as thin and sparingly as possible. Cosmetic sponges work wonderfully for applying TruOil. Unless you have ideal drying conditions each TruOil application will need at least 12 hours to dry, and it is very important to lightly sand or buff each thoroughly dried coat with 0000 wool or 400 grit paper. The bad news is it requires 8 to 12 coats to build finish depth, but it is well worth the effort. If you want a gloss finish do not buff or sand the last coat. The gloss finish will appear to be wet and slick - it will be neither and is surprisingly durable.

Let us know if you find a source. I've only enough rings for one grip remaining.

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Re: Pine Bark Rod Grip
Posted by: Phil Erickson (---.dsl.pltn13.sbcglobal.net)
Date: October 03, 2018 05:26PM

2X on Donald's process! Tru-Oil can give you any finish you prefer, matte to gloss, depending upon number of coats. The bark I have used is red Fir as it is a very thick bark from which you can obtain some very nice rings. They come our very rough after cutting them with a hole saw and then need to be cleaned down to the desire thickness.

Do not know of any current sources for rings or bark sheets.

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Re: Pine Bark Rod Grip
Posted by: Donald La Mar (---)
Date: October 03, 2018 08:40PM


If you strike out finding suitable pine bark, you can make a poor man's or faux pine bark grip using cork rings. Glue up 1/4" or 1/2" cork rings and turn to shape as usual. Then the fun begins. Make a trip to the big box hardware or local paint store and select a wood stain (I'm fond of MinWax red mahogany.) which you will apply to the cork and quickly remove all excess stain. If the color is too dark then use a cosmetic sponge or piece of cotton cloth dampened with mineral spirits to remove more stain. Once you've got the color you desire let the stain fully dry then finish with TruOil. Sometimes cork than is less than flor or AAA or whatever is marketed as the best grade will work surprisingly well.

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Re: Pine Bark Rod Grip
Posted by: Billy Vivona (---.nycmny.fios.verizon.net)
Date: October 03, 2018 09:16PM

Cactus Cork rings look very similar to pine bark, its' much easier to source, and easier to work with. I bought a box of red fir bark, it looks awesome but has a lot of soft spots and voids which have to be filled. I was able to get blocks 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" by 1 1/4" thick, and one long block abotu 8" long 1.5 x 1.5".
The regular pine bark is not difficult to find, but it is a pain to prep to be used in a grip. YOu just have to keep asking around and eventually someone will give you a lead.

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Re: Pine Bark Rod Grip
Posted by: Austin Shaw (---.princeton.edu)
Date: October 03, 2018 09:47PM

Thanks for all the awesome advice! I appreciate the insight. I'll let you know what I end up going with!

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Re: Pine Bark Rod Grip
Posted by: Linda Vance (206.127.76.---)
Date: October 06, 2018 12:25AM

One caveat I'd offer: I've done a lot of pine bark handles, with mixed results. Some have lasted for years, and others fell apart the first time I used them. Finally I figured out that the thickness of the bark is critical. If you get bark, make thin rings, not thick ones. The bark is layered, and the more layers you have between glued seams, the more likely they are to come apart under the slightest stress. I had been selecting for the thicker bark pieces because it was less work to glue them up, but it turns out that is the wrong approach. Once you get the thinner pieces glued up properly though, and finished with Tru-oil, they are the prettiest handles around.

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Re: Pine Bark Rod Grip
Posted by: Chuck McIntyre (---)
Date: October 07, 2018 12:27PM

Linda,that makes a great deal of sense. The handles I have seen that work composed of birch bark, or very thin rings. The thinner the ring, the more glue bonds it together. I can easily see that strengthening the handle overall. Thank you for your insight,shared from your experiences. Hard to go wrong with solid firsthand information.

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Re: Pine Bark Rod Grip
Posted by: Michael Danek (---.alma.mi.frontiernet.net)
Date: October 07, 2018 09:43PM

when applying Tru-oil you don't need anything other than your hands. Put a few drops onto the surface and work it around with your hands. This will give an even, very thin coat. You may do a number of coats like this. Don't hassle me because cork doesn't absorb, this works. Like you would do with a gunstock. Nice, soft, satin, look. I agree with the comment on cactus cork-it looks great with both Tru-oil and even wrap epoxy. The latter is better with small pieces, like butt knobs and small ramps. I'm not sure about doing it with long grips.

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