Cork Repair?

Discussion in 'Rod Building' started by Mike S, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. So I started fishing my latest build, and of course, right where my fingers rest on the grip a couple of gaps (for lack of a better term) have opened up. they are about an 1/8" deep and look to be just a fault in the cork.

    My question is can I repair this or do I have to sand it out? I do not want to loose too much of the grips diameter, so if there is a way, or a person, that can fill these that would be cool.

    If not, guess I will go with sanding down the grip till they smooth out,



  2. You've got a couple of options, but none of them are permanent. The best option would be to use a very strong *flexible* epoxy mixed with cork dust and fill the pits. Don't use the standard 5 minute stuff, it's brittle and won't work. Then sand it down until smooth. You'll want to mix a lot of cork dust into the epoxy, then fill the pit *lightly* with some of the uncut epoxy.

    The cheap cheesy way of doing this would be to just use wood filler. Often times the oak or maple fillers look very close to the color of the cork, and fill well. It will fall out over time, so be forewarned.

    Finally the best way to avoid this is to look at your cork and to try to figure out where the pits will be located. Then arrange the rings such that the biggest faults are either sanded out, or never will be exposed. Time consuming, but well worth the efforts
  3. I use a mix of cork dust and Elmers wood glue for filler. Epoxy and polyurethane glues aren't flexible enough. I also use the Elmers for gluing cork grips to rod blanks, for the same reason - flexibility.

  4. I've had serious issues with just plain elmers before. If you do use elmers I would highly suggest that you get the kind of wood good that is moisture resistant. I've seen instances where grips exposed to long days of rain have just fallen apart at the seams. Tightbond II and TightBondIII fit the bill, but I'm sure the elmers product line has a similar choice.

    Finally, if you do use epoxy, the stuff I would suggest would be to use Rod Bond. Pretty flexable, very tuff and strong. But for readily available materials Tom is right, wood glue (of the right variety) is tough to beat.
  5. Thanks for the suggestions.

    I have the Flex Coat Rod epoxy but I have also worked with the Elmers wood glue (waterproof) before and will likely drop by Home Depot tonight.

    As far as mixing the glue and dust, can you give me some pointers on that? What grit sandpaper should I use to create the dust to mix into the glue? 100Grit? higher? lower?

    I read that you say use a lot of dust, in the mix, so I am thinking that I want a fairly heavy mixture with just enough glue to allow it to be workable?

    I do not have a lathe, when I apply the mix I can just trowel it in with a stir stick, then should I wrap it with something like plastic wrap to force it into the grooves I want to fill?

    Finally, it sounds like the repair may not be permanent, so sounds like I should only fill those areas I absolutely need to and let the other areas stay as they are.

    Thanks for all the advice, will let you all know how it goes,

  6. found an old rod in the garage, experimenting with the cork repairs now. Will post some results shortly,

  7. Anything you sand off from a 220 grit sanding would be ideal.

    You essentially are going to be creating wood putty, only from the cork dust. Take a tooth pick and dab in some unadulterated glue into the pit. Next, press in as much of the glue/cork mixture that you can into the pit. After that, smooth it out with a popsicle stick and let it dry. Wrapping it in anything will just make it stick to the surface, and may pull it out. Let it dry for 24 or more ours then lightly sand it with *very* fine grit sandpaper (220 or 400). If you don't have a lathe it can take some time. But *BELIEVE* me, going slower is better than going too fast.

    Absolutely. The real fix is like I said, plan the cork by reading the pits and applying it based on how your going to sand it down :) Have fun though, learning this trick is a good thing to improving the cosmetics of the stick you've built.
  8. Thanks for all the advice.

    I tried a couple of approaches on my test handle and found that less is better. I tried the dabbing but watched the glue 'shrink' as it dried, only to look like I needed a second coat. I tried spreading it on thick and then sanding it down but felt that it was more work and more potential to sand to deep while trying to remove all the excess glue mix.

    The plastic wrap did make a nice even layer, but being air tight also prevented drying.

    Lessons learned, pick the cork first! plan where your grip is and put the best pieces there.

    If you have to patch, use as flexible of glue as possible (elmers exterior waterproof) and use as little patching mix as possible to fill the hole and allow for some shrinkage while drying. Lightly sand patch to blend in with the existing grip.

    It will definitely be an improvement for my next trip. No more gaps right where my finger tips touch the grip!

    I wonder how Sage and Winston get those butter smooth grips? same approach but with years of practice?
  9. They purchase the cork in batches of 10,000 a month. Because of that, they can afford to purchase better cork for a pretty good price. On top of that because they do move such a large volume, they get some pretty good "first choice" dibs in the cork farms in Portugal. Also, they have peopel who do nothing but grips. Because of that, looking at the cork and figuring out where it goes is pretty quick for them, and they do a *really* good job of hiding the flaws by placement Finally to be honest, there cork is pretty good, but it isn't great. There is *really* good stuff available, you just have to know where to find it, and be willing to pay for it. I'm buying lots of 100 rings at a time, and even then for the buttery premium stuff I'm paying nearly $3.00 a ring. I've seen similar stuff on Ron's and Kristin's rods at All About the Fly they made, and so they may be able to help you as a local dealer too.

    -- Cheers
    -- James
  10. Rather than epoxy, which is not very sandable, I use Duco clear cement from a tube, mix with cork dust and fill the voids. Works much better than trying wood putty or any epoxy which is much harder than the cork. Will sand and finish like the original, end result looks better than the filler which most rod companies use.
  11. Hmmm... another trick to try ;) Thanks :)
  12. A follow up question on the cork repair.

    I talked to a fellow rod builder and he mentioned that when he wants to do a repair or fill he will actually cut out the bad spot, then replace with a good piece of cork.

    This sounds a bit more complex and more potential for error.

    Has anyone tried this? if so can you give details? (how big of a piece did you cut out? how did you get the new piece to fit, etc).

  13. I just tried Couleeflyfisher's method on a piece a new cork I bought for a current project. I'm very pleased with the appearance and sandability of the patch. My guess is the fix will stand the test of time too given how long Duco has been around. Thanks Couleeflyfisher. Great technique.
  14. Form small hole cork repairs I have used water putty. It fills small holes and sands well. It is a dry powder you mix with water and is about the color of cork. You can get it at McClendons. I have also tried the cork dust and various glues, works about the same as water putty.

    Dr Bob
  15. After you fix your cork use a cork seal on your grip. It will change he look of the grip (I think it looks better) but it will hold everything together. I use it on 90% of my rods.

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