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Post 09 Aug 2012, 13:20 • #1 
Master Guide
Joined: 08/02/10
Posts: 373
Location: Bay City, Michigan.
I just finished a couple of rods, one a Steffen 8' 3 piece 3/4 model and one of my bamboo rods utilizing a new material (at least I think it's new) that I haven't seen used before on fly rods. Stacked leather. Stacked leather has, as you all know, been used as a handle material for over a hundred years on fixed blade knives, hatchets, hammers, and perhaps other tools and has proven to be a very durable material over the years. I've long toyed with the idea of making rods with leather grips and finally got around to doing it. I unveiled my first offerings at this years Michi-Glass Gathering in Lovells Michigan a few weeks ago and they were met with quite a bit of interest. I just thought to share these pics with those who perhaps didn't see the post on this years gathering.
I welcome all thoughts and observations.
Mark McKellip.
ImageImageImageImage


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 13:35 • #2 
Master Guide
Joined: 05/08/06
Posts: 777
Location: RenoNV/FranklinWV
Well they look beautiful, but are they heavy as compared with cork.

Do they act as a wood grip in feel as the one's I've seen on knives and hammers are very firm?


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 14:03 • #3 
Master Guide
Joined: 08/02/10
Posts: 373
Location: Bay City, Michigan.
rsagebrush wrote:
Well they look beautiful, but are they heavy as compared with cork.

Do they act as a wood grip in feel as the one's I've seen on knives and hammers are very firm?

I just finished an exact model Steffen utilizing a cork handle and wood spacer with the only difference being that it was with a cigar grip, and the difference was 1 1/2 ounces. Although the leather one is heavier, while casting both of them side by side, the leather handled one felt more balanced, due to the counterweight effect that more weight in the hand will give you while casting. As to firmness, they are firm, but not like wood. As to feel in comparison to wood, they are closer to the texture and feel of cork than that of the smoother feel of wood.
Mark.


Last edited by fishwoodrods on 09 Aug 2012, 14:15, edited 2 times in total.

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Post 09 Aug 2012, 14:12 • #4 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 11/30/11
Posts: 1228
Location: Fresno, CA
I really like the look reminds me of a high end rattan grip. Can one still feel the blank flexing though the leather?


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 14:25 • #5 
Master Guide
Joined: 08/02/10
Posts: 373
Location: Bay City, Michigan.
Glass Enthusiast wrote:
I really like the look reminds me of a high end rattan grip. Can one still feel the blank flexing though the leather?

I can feel the rod into the grip as well as a cork grip, and if you look at the Michi-Glass event post under "Messages, Claves", it was "Barcks" observation as well.
Mark.


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 14:57 • #6 
Master Guide
Joined: 11/17/10
Posts: 726
Location: Riversdale Southland New Zealand
Very cool look Mark, reminds me of those palm pinching Estwing hammers in look.
The hammers had plastic rings near the top and when they broke the rings of leather used to slop up and down pinching your palm with each blow ... somehow I don't see that happening with a flyrod!


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 15:59 • #7 
Inactive
Joined: 05/14/12
Posts: 107
Location: US-VA
Those handles are absolutly beautiful. Is there any chance you may be selling finished grips to go on blanks in the near future? Also, I saw a small whole near the top of the handle of I think the first picture. Is that a pin hole to hold the top washers together?


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 16:23 • #8 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 11/30/11
Posts: 1228
Location: Fresno, CA
VAtransplant wrote:
Those handles are absolutly beautiful. Is there any chance you may be selling finished grips to go on blanks in the near future? Also, I saw a small whole near the top of the handle of I think the first picture. Is that a pin hole to hold the top washers together?

It's one of his awesome builtin brass hook holders ...


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 16:35 • #9 
Master Guide
Joined: 08/02/10
Posts: 373
Location: Bay City, Michigan.
Mataura mayfly wrote:
Very cool look Mark, reminds me of those palm pinching Estwing hammers in look.
The hammers had plastic rings near the top and when they broke the rings of leather used to slop up and down pinching your palm with each blow ... somehow I don't see that happening with a flyrod!

They won't come apart, they're all glued together, and compressed as a cork grip would be when glued on a rod.
Mark.


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 16:53 • #10 
Master Guide
Joined: 08/02/10
Posts: 373
Location: Bay City, Michigan.
VAtransplant wrote:
Those handles are absolutly beautiful. Is there any chance you may be selling finished grips to go on blanks in the near future? Also, I saw a small whole near the top of the handle of I think the first picture. Is that a pin hole to hold the top washers together?

It's a hook keeper of my own design made of a small brass tube glued and imbedded in the grip on the underside of the handle. It's function and reason for my employing it are given full treatment on my website at http://www.mckellipbamboorods.com/
As to selling them, the only way that would be possible is to glue the rings on your blank and turn it to your specs, finish it and send the rod back to you. Working with leather isn't anything like working with cork. It's very difficult to sand and finish. I would rather do two wood ones or four cork ones as a point of reference as far as work goes. It really loads up the sandpaper as well. The results are spectacular though, I'm really pleased with the outcome.
Mark


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 17:38 • #11 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 12/26/09
Posts: 1106
Location: Richmond, TX
Mark, fantastic idea, concept, execution, and originality -- kudos. Something else to add to my reference list.

I like the half wells shape of the first one (the Steffen fiberglass rod), and the 'integrated' wood reel seat on the second one (the bamboo rod).

(Did you look up how to make stacked leather knife handles for reference, is the blue handled tool was used to punch out the rings?)

Andrew.


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 19:13 • #12 
Master Guide
Joined: 08/02/10
Posts: 373
Location: Bay City, Michigan.
rewynd wrote:
Mark, fantastic idea, concept, execution, and originality -- kudos. Something else to add to my reference list.

I like the half wells shape of the first one (the Steffen fiberglass rod), and the 'integrated' wood reel seat on the second one (the bamboo rod).

(Did you look up how to make stacked leather knife handles for reference, is the blue handled tool was used to punch out the rings?)

Andrew.

I didn't do any research as to how they were made because the knife handles aren't round. They are compressed and held in place by some kind of threaded/squeeze arrangement. I knew that I was going to be gluing the rings together directly on the shaft, in the same manner that cork rings are, and I didn't look for any other advice as to how to do it. The blue handled tools in the picture are leather punches. A number of different ones are needed to cut the different size discs required for the handle and reel seat. To cut the holes in each disc requires different sizes for different size rod blanks too, so I have a pretty good size range of punches.
Mark.


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 19:26 • #13 
Global Moderator
Joined: 03/21/08
Posts: 1417
Location: SW Oklahoma
Mark,
Very fascinating idea and execution. I didn't see any mention of what type glue was used or if you seal the leather when complete. I'm still amazed by the inovative hook keeper every time I see it. Kudos!

Doug


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 19:38 • #14 
Master Guide
Joined: 08/02/10
Posts: 373
Location: Bay City, Michigan.
Glass Stixs wrote:
Mark,
Very fascinating idea and execution. I didn't see any mention of what type glue was used or if you seal the leather when complete. I'm still amazed by the inovative hook keeper every time I see it. Kudos!

Doug

I used Pliobond for the glue, and after fine sanding to 2500 grit paper, finished with multiple coats of Tru-Oil.
Mark.


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 20:51 • #15 
Master Guide
Joined: 11/05/07
Posts: 589
Location: ID/MT
I think those look wonderful, Mark. I particularly like the look of the grip on bamboo. Really, really nice to see something new. Incidentally, I like your hook keepers and the rationale behind them, as well.


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Post 09 Aug 2012, 22:25 • #16 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 12/26/09
Posts: 1106
Location: Richmond, TX
Mark, thank you for being so forthcoming in answering mine and others questions. I think I understand the process. I have been planning on trying my hand at a rattan wrapped grip. I am now thinking I may also try a staked leather grip at some point, or maybe just a reel seat. Again, thank you for sharing.

Andrew.


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Post 21 Aug 2012, 21:07 • #17 
Sport
Joined: 04/27/08
Posts: 35
Location: US-MO
Wow, that looks nice, very unique. Don't think I've ever seen that ideal before.
Mike


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Post 12 Sep 2012, 12:30 • #18 
Master Guide
Joined: 02/05/11
Posts: 702
Location: US-FL
How would they hold up in saltwater flyrods?


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Post 13 Sep 2012, 11:31 • #19 
Master Guide
Joined: 08/02/10
Posts: 373
Location: Bay City, Michigan.
When the handle is finish sanded, Tru-Oil is applied and it soaks right in the leather because of it's porosity. When it cures, the handle is essentially sealed. To finish it further, about six coats of Tru-Oil are applied to accomplish the desired finish. I think you could literally soak it in saltwater for a period of time without fear that it would deteriorate the handle. Guide wraps that are varnished are unaffected by saltwater and the finish on the handle isn't unlike guide wraps in this regard. If the handle is finished correctly, occasional contact with saltwater wouldn't effect anything.
Mark.


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Post 02 Oct 2012, 01:00 • #20 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 02/19/08
Posts: 1091
Location: Branson, Missouri
I cannot help but to share this picture off your web page.

Image

That is one of the sexiest photos of rods/reels I have ever seen.


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Post 09 Oct 2012, 00:24 • #21 
Master Guide
Joined: 08/02/10
Posts: 373
Location: Bay City, Michigan.
That picture was composed by my good friend Greg Barckholtz.


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Post 30 Dec 2012, 19:43 • #22 
Sport
Joined: 12/10/12
Posts: 76
Location: jersey shore
That grip does look great. Could you bring it all the way down and use as a reel seat?


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Post 05 Jan 2013, 03:11 • #23 
Master Guide
Joined: 08/02/10
Posts: 373
Location: Bay City, Michigan.
jojobee wrote:
That grip does look great. Could you bring it all the way down and use as a reel seat?

I guess I don't understand your question.
Mark.


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Post 05 Jan 2013, 05:14 • #24 
Global Moderator
Joined: 04/20/07
Posts: 8508
Location: US-ME
I think the left hand picture in the original post shows the leather full length, including the reel seat/barrel, just as a full length cork/rings grip and seat would be.


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Post 06 Jan 2013, 10:33 • #25 
Glass Fanatic
Joined: 07/05/10
Posts: 5152
Location: Mid Hudson Valley of New York
The grip is beautiful. The idea to use leather, and the design of the hook keeper, are ingenious. I am curious as to what inspired you to use leather?

For me, the feel of a broken-in baseball glove comes to my mind. It is an extension of your hand.

Does the leather grip retain the soft "cushiony" feel of a nice leather glove? Or does the glossy finish affect that?


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