Introduction: Fishing Rod Wrapping Jig Made From Crutches & HDPE Cutting Board

About: I enjoy fishing, kayaking, woodworking and making a wide variety of things.

I have embedded my YouTube video of this build to this Instructable. The video demonstrates how to thread the jig and shows a test wrap done on the jig as well. I thought it would be useful to see how it all works together.

If you are into building or repairing fishing rods, a rod wrapping jig of some sort is something you are going to want to invest in. Luckily that investment doesn't always have to be heavy on the monetary side of things! If you don't mind investing time, you can make a wrapping jig just as good or better than many commercially available ones at a fraction of the price.

By repurposing used items, you can use some fantastic and expensive materials used in items that were no longer wanted, give them new life and save a lot of money as an added bonus. The aluminum tubing in the crutches used in this project is very sturdy (the crutches were designed to support up to 300lbs) and the HDPE used in the cutting board is a great type of plastic to work with with many desirable traits that make it well suited to this particular project. HDPE is easy to cut and drill (common woodworking tools including hand saws will easily cut and shape HDPE), is naturally slick (will not scratch any sort of rod blank finish that I am aware of) and it is resistant to many solvents used in rod building, including Acetone. As a matter of fact, 100% acetone fingernail polish remover is actually sold in HDPE bottles.

I was able to build this wrapping jig, a variable speed (2-50 rpm) reversible finishing/drying motor with a slip clutch chuck and an extra blank support for about $30.

Here is a link to my Instructable for how to make a slip clutch chuck if you are interested in that:

I used inexpensive used items I found at local thrift stores to save money and the items worked out really well. The rails are made of very sturdy aluminum tubing from an old pair of crutches I found at a local thrift store for $1 each and the rod blank supports, motor base/stand, extra blank support and thread routing area are all made from a large used HDPE cutting board which was also purchased at a local thrift store for $1. I paid $13 for plumbing fittings and conduit mounting clamp brackets. I also paid $5 for a small DC 50 rpm gear motor via eBay, $7 for a very small PWM speed controller which included the pot/control knob as well as a forward/off/reverse switch. I paid $1 for a package of music wire from a hobby store. Everything else I used in the build I already had on hand.

This Instructable isn't meant to be an exact tutorial or plan. There are so many manufacturers of crutches out there and some use different diameter tubing than others. This is meant as a guide to give others ideas on how they could go about making a similar jig.

On to the build!

Step 1: Making Guide Rails From a Set of Crutches

I used a tubing cutter to cut the aluminum tubing from the crutches into long straight pieces. The underarm supports of the crutches were removed by drilling out a rivet from each side and then it simply slides straight off. To align the halves of the tubes and provide a way to attach them together, I used some acrylic tubing I had that was a tight fit inside the aluminum tubing and epoxied it to each side. To get better adhesion, I sanded the acrylic tubing. After the epoxy dried, I cleaned off the stickers and labels from the tubing. That completes the assembly of the the rails.

Step 2: Making the Sliding Mechanisms and Platforms to Build On

In order to attach the the rod blank supports and make them adjustable, I used some plumbing fittings found at a local hardware store to make the rail sliding mechanisms. What you use to make the slides will vary from crutch to crutch depending on how they were made and the size of the tubing. I just took a straight section of the crutch into the hardware store and tried different parts until I found what worked for me. It is a tight enough fit that the slides will not move on the rails without a little effort which is just the sort of fit I was hoping for. I found some conduit mounting clamps in the electrical section of the same hardware store that I used to attach blocks made from the HDPE cutting board onto the plumbing fittings which provided me a base to build the blank supports and threading area off of. In order to keep everything together and keep the two rails from moving independent of each other, I made the center platform that will be the thread tensioning area stationary by bolting it to the rails. To do that, I just drilled holes all the way through the plumbing tubes/aluminum rails/acrylic and used machine screws with nuts to attach it all together. I used bolts and nuts that I had on hand that were a little too long so I went back and cut them all off for a better fit.

Now we have two adjustable bases to build the sliding rod blank supports off of and a stationary base to build the threading station on.

Step 3: Making/Attaching Rod Blank Supports

The rod blank supports are also made from the HDPE Cutting Board. I just cut rectangular shapes to fit and cut notches in the top to set the rod blanks in. These were then screwed into the adjustable platforms on the jig using sheet metal screws. Wood screws would also work. HDPE is easy to work with. You can easily tap threads or use many types screws to attach the parts. Another option is to heat the parts enough that they bond to each other when pressed together. Because heat bonding is a little more involved, I chose to use mechanical fasteners instead. To make all of my cuts on the HDPE, I used a tablesaw and a bandsaw. HDPE is easy to cut, so you could also use handsaws to cut your pieces.

Step 4: Building the Threading/Tensioning Station

To make the area for the thread routing and tensioning, I just used a long strip of HDPE and screwed another piece on the back to make a T-shape to allow room for two spools of thread and attached it to the stationary block. I used screw eyes for thread routing and a sewing machine thread tensioner to tension the thread, metal rods as the thread spool holder shafts and music wire as a constant line tensioner that allows you to back up several turns to correct a mistake without losing the tension on your wrap. I also attached a small spring to the front of the threading station that acts as a clamp so that you can clamp your thread in it under tension and free up your hands to do other things.

Step 5: Dryer/Finishing Motor-Stand and Stand Alone Rod Blank Support

I also built a rod dryer/finishing motor stand. I used a small PWM speed controller that allows me to vary speed from 2-50 rpm and uses a forward-off-reverse switch. I used a wall wart transformer as the power supply and a small DC powered 50 rpm gear motor. The housing was built out of HDPE from the cutting board and the front and rear closeout panels are thinner ABS plastic panels from a discarded printer/scanner. I chose the ABS plastic because it is more rigid than HDPE in thin pieces so it can withstand the pressure from pushing the selector switch. ABS plastic is NOT resistant to acetone so care must be used not to get any on the front and rear panels.

I also built a stand alone rod blank support using the same pattern as the adjustable rod blank supports and attached support legs to it using screws.

Step 6: Modifications

I wanted the adjustable rod blank supports to be able to move closer to the thread tensioning station so I cut off part of the rail guides so they could move in closer. I also ended up making a ring on the bottom of the music wire so that it could be screwed down to the tensioning station. That provided a more solid and rigid attachment method.

Step 7: Thread Routing

I think the pictures explain this process more clearly than I ever could with words!

Step 8: Finishing Up...

As you can see there are black ponytail holders on the rod blank supports. The ponytail holders are pulled down over the supports on top of the rod blank to provide downward pressure on the blank.

If you would like to see the wrapper in use, please check out the YouTube video embedded in the Intro of this Instructable. A thread routing and test wrap demonstration begins at about the 5:20 mark of the video.

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I try to do an Instructable for my projects that I feel need a little more in depth explanation than I give on my YouTube videos. The two methods really work well together!

Thanks for checking out my Instructable and please let me know if you have any thoughts, questions or suggestions in the comments!

Tight Lines!!!

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