1/16/2010

The Flared Wood Spacer





                 Mad River Rod Co. Spacer for the “Trails End” a 7' 4wt.

I consistently get questions in regards to my flared wood spacers and matching hardware and repeatedly get asked if I will make custom spacers and hardware for rod makers and hobbyists. Last year I stopped selling hardware and only sell rods, with my own hardware on them. Reason being my hardware is balanced and scaled proportionally for different sized rods, the bores are all custom, along with matching ringsets, etc. The nickel buts have a pronounced domed profile and fit like a fine machined part into the eliptical recess. All of these parts are made one at a time and are not popped out of a CNC machine like many manufacturers do. The double slide bands interiors are bored using a chamfering jig that allows them to seat themselves securely to the reel foot. So to make a long story short there is much more to these pieces of hardware than meets the eye. The wood spacer is not turned from a standard pen blank or from a supplier, these spacers are from very expensive select pieces of hardwood and spalted maple and sent to a stabilizer. They are turned from 2.0” x 6.0” blocks that are cut down to get the best figuring lined up with the geometry of the spacer. If I was to sell these pieces individually, the customer would then need to make the diameters, bores, chamfering, mortises, ect. of of all matching hardware and components correctly or the reel would not seat itself correctly along with a multitude of other obvious fitting problems. So it’s a bit of a headache to sell these pieces individually and spend half of the day on the phone explaining to a customer how to use a boring bar on a lathe correctly. It’s simply not economical or practical for me as a craftsman. 



Mad River Rod Co. hardware detail for the “Trapper”


Recently a component manufacturer tried to emulate some of my hardware patterns. They have an uplocking slide band (not a double slide band set) with a flared spacer. It falls short in proportion, depth, and contouring, and of course with an up-locking seat you run into the age old problem of having to much spacer protruding behind your reel so you are constantly untangling line hanging up on your butt section. Further the manufacturer uses a flat nickel butt insert that does not contour as a dome shape to compliment the spacer profile. The stereotypical stabilized pen blank looking spacer is something I've always steered away from as well (see below some very unique figuring). The other down fall of the purchased component is the defaulted proportion, there are dozens of rod lengths and weights and to expect one or two sized seats within a series to cover such a range is unrealistic. I feel pretty strong about everything singing on the same song sheet when it comes to rod componentry. The proportion of the components should match it's given rod down to .125" in length. The variables are simply too limited I feel with the selections from manufacturers. I suppose this is why I make all my reel seat components, I'm just picky that way.


                  Mad River Rod Co. various spalted maple spacers

I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that there is no easy way to make a really beautiful component that works pefectly for everyone’s bamboo blank. Every piece of hardware has to sing in tandem with it’s given rod. It’s kind of like putting a pair of dragon fly wings on a mayfly, some things have to be created as a single thought in order to fly right.

                         ~Clint Joseph Bova