Home-Built Rod Dryer

Ethan G.

I do science.. on fish..
Hello- I'm trying to get started in rod building. I'm amazed at how much that a drying motor costs:eek:! 65 bucks for a motor and rod chuck!!! I think I can easily build a hand-wrapper and whatnot, and want to see if anyone has built a functional rod dryer. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Bert Kinghorn

Formerly "nextcast"
This Orvis model has served me well for over 30 rods. It is probably good for at least another 30. Of course you may prefer the Simms, Coors, or Kmart versions. Just line the rod sections up as you apply the wrap finish and rotate each section a quarter turn about every minute or so until the finish stiffens. For many finishes, that is 2-3 hours.

My point is that you don't need a motorized turner to build beautiful rods. This is an area where simplicity can be good and the rodbuilder who consistently turns out the best finishes I have ever seen, shuns powered turners and dries all his rods while turning by hand. If you decide you must have motorized version, please don't skimp on the chuck. There are WAY TOO MANY stories out there of rod builders (even some pro custom builders) who left a prized rod in the turner over night to come back to it in the morning and find that the rod had worked it's way out of the chuck, consequently stopped rotating, and the finish had sagged to the point of looking drippy.


Ed Call

Well-Known Member
I have two motorized options from a place called Fish Tales. I prefer to wrap by hand, but for finishes there is a lot of benefit to using the rotator. Both come with a nice chuck to firmly hold my rods and the two come in different rotation rates to be matched with your wrap finish or epoxy of choice. I also have a couple of light bulbs courtesy of another builders recommendation and sometimes have an old hair dryer circulating air (not on the rod directly) when my garage shop area is prett cold. My bench sits in a corner and is really a three sided box that is about perfect for warming with a small device like the hair dryer. I'm still wicked new, but I'm fishing with rods that I built and so are some of my family and friends who fish quite a bit.


Active Member
Workable rod turners are very easy to build yourself. All it takes is a low rpm AC electric motor, a 1.5" or 2" diameter PVC pipe end, some thumb screws of about 3/16" diameter, plastic covers for the end of the threaded portion of the thumb screws (this so you don't marr your rod blank, reel seat, or cork), and a 1/4" or 3/8" inside diameter nylon/plastic threaded sleeve, nylon/plastic nuts for same, and 1/4" or 3/8" nylon/plastic bolt about 2" long. Also, you will need to have some sort of stand to mount the motor on and another stand to rest the other end of the rod or rod section on (don't forget to cover the notch in the rod stand with a bit of felt). Almost forgot, you will need a small switch (so you can turn the power on and off), a few feet of 14 or 16 gauge speaker wire, and a plug.

The PVC end cap; nylon/plastic bolt, sleeve, and nuts; thumb screws; and plastic sleeves for the thumb screw ends can all be found at a hardware store including places like Home Depot and Lowe's. You can find the low rpm motors on-line or possibly at an electronics hobby shop.

Drill a hole in the center of the PVC end cap. This needs to be the diameter of the nylon/plastic bolt because this nylon bolt has to be placed through this hole with the head inside the PVC end cap. Use hot melt glue (or stick ferrule cement or 5-minute epoxy) and glue one end of the threaded nylon/plastic sleeve (you did remember to get on the same size as the nylon bolt didn't you?) to the motor output shaft. The nylon/plastic nuts are put on the nylon/platic bolt to act as lock nuts against the outside of the PVC end cap and the against where the bolt enters the threaded sleeve.

You also need to drill 3 (you can do 4 but 3 are sufficient) holes in the sides of the PVC end cap about 1" from the front end of it. The thumb screws are threaded into these holes so make sure the drill bit is just slightly smaller than the diameter of the thumb screws. After the thumb screws are threaded into the holes, put a plastic end cap on the threaded end of each one.

After the PVC end cap/rod turner collet is finished and attached to the AC motor, simply attach the 14 or 16 guage speaker wire to the motor's wires, add the switch, and put the plug on the end. Bingo, you now have a very useable and well-working motorized rod turner.

Just remember to use a low rpm AC motor that is between 4 rpm on the slow side to 36 rpm on the fast side.

The stand for the motor is very easy to make. Take a piece of 1"x3" or 1x4", cut a short section for the base and another short section for the upright (the portion the stands up). Drill a few snall diameter holes in the base and on into the uprights and hold them toget with screws. The mount the motor/rod chuck assembly with 2 screws in the mounting holes on the motor.

The rod stand is made the same way. It has a "V" cut into the upright to hold the rod section and the "V" needs to be covered in felt (although masking tape will do in a pinch, felt is much better and won't mark you blank). Make sure the bottom of the notch in the upright is same height as the middle of the rod chuck.

It cost me about $10.00 to make mine this way and I've been using it for about 15 years, so expect the materials (including low rpm motor) to cost between $15.00 and $20.00 today.

James Mello

Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"
It cost me about $10.00 to make mine this way and I've been using it for about 15 years, so expect the materials (including low rpm motor) to cost between $15.00 and $20.00 today.
FT nailed it, but I'd like to add one little bit of advice. When buying the motor, make sure that it's a constant duty motor, and not a standard stepper motor. You can find them for around the same price, but if it's not constant duty, it could burn out, or even worse start a fire.

Ethan G.

I do science.. on fish..
I built my rod wrapper today, so now I'm moving on to the dryer. Where do you think I can get a low RPM AC motor? I've tried Home Depot...nothing.:hmmm:
A lot of people have used rotissarie motors. That is what I use and it works fine although on the very slow end at 3 rpm. To me the price was free as it came off an old BBQ and wasn't being used. Probably a bunch of people willing to sell one for $5. Perhaps there is a a BBQ forum somewhere. I assume it qualifies as a constant duty motor. I would start by googling rotissarie motor if you want to consider this option. I bought a PVC holder like FT describes but everything else on my set up was scrap materials laying around.

James Mello

Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"
I built my rod wrapper today, so now I'm moving on to the dryer. Where do you think I can get a low RPM AC motor? I've tried Home Depot...nothing.:hmmm:
I got mine from a used scientific equipment web site... I don't remember the name, but the 6rpm constant duty motor cost around $10...
Lots of cheapo motors available for $2.00 to 5.00 from various suppliers, usually have to make a chuck to fit the shaft. Easiest is to find a barbecue motor, go to a bargain barn type of place, salvage store where they sell used appliances etc., can usually pick them up for $1.00 or so. Quite a few sellers on eBay have them for $15. to $20. but you still usually have to make modifications and rod stands. First couple I used were from BarBQ motors, then we built some pretty nice ones and a machinist buddy sure helps. Lots of good advice above, your imagination is the only limit.
I use Microwave turntable motors. I have to admit to being a bit of a scrounge, though. Every once in a while our city has one of those "put out all of your junk" days. I scan the neighborhood for old microwaves, bring them home, remove the turntable motor, and put them back on the pile.

BTW, this is my first post. Nice site you have here!


Ethan G.

I do science.. on fish..
Well, I purchased a nice little 15rpm motor/rod chuck off ebay for a reasonable price. All that's left now is the build a stand for it. I'll be turning a 2 wt. on it in no time!
I am just making a dryer myself, had one and sold it a few years ago due to relocation for work. I just found a good motor at a BBQ store cost is a little high at $140.00 but it is rated for continueous and can turn 100 lbs. I wanted one like this because I build a lot of rods and when the dryer is complete, with 2 drums at 18" diameter I can dry a few rods at once, the motor is extremely quiet.
QUESTION-My old dryer ran at 10 rpm and it worked great, this motor runs at 6 rpm, is this fast enough ???????????, not sure about this one, need some advice

Any assistance is always greatly appreciated


I built a dryer using a 4 or 5 rpm mirror ball motor (Ebay). They're cheap (~$12), already have a 110V pigtail, and are continuous duty. Make the collet from the PVC end cap- just drill a hole the diameter of the motor shaft for a tight fit and fill the bottom of the cap with epoxy to bond the collet to the motor shaft. Drill 4 holes 90deg apart through the forward rim of the cap, screw in some screws so that the head extends about 1/8". Connect rubber band to one screw head, then twist the rubber band about 15 times, and connect to the screw head 180deg opposite the first. Repeat for the other 2 screws and the other rubber band. Spread the twists in the 2 rubber bands in the center and insert the butt or tip section of the rod. I haven't had a rod section move axially into or out of the rubber bands and I've used it for about a dozen rods.

I made a small scrap plywood stand and connected the pvc collet to a second pvc collet with a large rubber band so that I could turn 2 sections at once. The big rubber band transmits the torque from the first collet driven by the motor to the second identical collet. If anyone is interested, I could post a pic.

Good luck.

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