Reaming Rod Handles

Reaming Rod Handles

The most common reaming mistakes occur while rushing the handle assembly of a rod build. Although reaming a piece of cork seems relatively simple, if done quickly and carelessly this straightforward process can become inefficient, frustrating, and costly. With these top five tips on reaming, you can use both your time and material wisely.


1. Check Cork Rings Are Completely — If you chose cork rings for your custom handle build, its crucial to check that the glue inside the cork has completely dried before beginning to ream material out. If you start reaming before the cork rings have cured, then the handle will basically come apart in your hands, and you will have to start over. This tip seems obvious, but rod builders in a rush often overlook this step and end up far more frustrated than necessary.

2. Gradually Increase Size of Reamer — Some cork handles require more reaming than others. Let's say you have a cork handle and want to install it on a heavy action bass rod, this is going to take a considerable amount of reaming compared to smaller diameter blanks.

Especially popular when building several similar rods, rod builders tend to reach for the largest reamer in order to increase their productivity and save time. Unfortunately, this method will most likely lead to cracking the cork wall, restarting the reaming process, and wasting material. With this in mind, start with a smaller reamer and work up reamer sizes until you have reached the desired size.

For instance, if you are using the Extreme Reamer from Custom Rod Builder (CRB), their sizes come in the four tiers listed below:


  • EXR-S 14" 0.215 — 0.360"
  • EXR-M 14" 0.340 — 0.475"
  • EXR-L 14" 0.495 — 0.575"
  • EXR-XL 14" 0.550 — 0.700"
//www.in-fisherman.com/files/2016/10/Insert-1-CRB-Extreme-Reamer-Kit1.jpg

Despite adding a little time to the handle assembly, in the long run of your rod build it will save time, material, and maybe even some hair on your head. Note: If the handle material has no precut hole for installation, use a small drill bit to establish a starter hole.

3. Let a Power Drill Replace Manual Reaming — Manually reaming your handle material will work fine, but sometimes it can give you a fit, leaving you fatigued and frustrated. Luckily, manually reaming isn't the only option in rod building anymore. Try using the Extreme Reamer from CRB, which make removing the handle of a reamer and chucking that reamer into a power drill easier than ever. With increased speed and ease, reaming with a power drill reduces input time and increases output satisfaction.


Remember to begin with the smallest sized reamer and gradually work your way up in both reamer size and drill speed. Never ream with a power drill by going from stop to full speed, rather start by giving the power drill a few quick taps then continuing into a slow yet steady rotation. In addition to maintaining your grip on the handle while reaming, this method ensures you create a precise alignment while avoiding any reamer jams inside your handle. In order to feel comfortable reaming with a power drill, do some trial runs on spare handle materials prior to your desired handle assembly. After getting the hang of it, increase the reaming speed to save time and energy during your custom rod builds.

4. Watch Out For Dust — One natural by-product of reaming is dust. Dust can be troublesome once it gathers in your surrounding air and workspace. Complicating the epoxy bond, dust must be removed periodically during the reaming process. One easy way is to hold up the handle and blow through the center to remove all the excess dust and material that will later interfere with the epoxy bond between your handle assembly and rod blank.

5. Masking Tape Can Save Over-Reamed Handles — While reaming, you might be surprised how easy it is to actually remove too much material. This is a common mistake with a simple fix, but if you happen to be perfectionist it is best to start over on a new handle. If you are reasonably accurate in size and want to make the most of the handle you over-reamed, simply add some masking tape to act as a mini arbor between the blank and your handle material. Then just epoxy the handle to your blank to establish a firm fit that will work 99 % of the time. You can also use a winding check to cover up any slightly over reamed handle openings. Follow these 5 reaming tips and you will save time and money on your next rod build!

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