I took a class years ago from Dawn Holbrook. Pardon me Dawn if I misspelled your name.
Anyway, he made it seem pretty straight forward and even an old wood butcher like me could plane the spline to tolerance. Dawn had a car load of tonkin bamboo he brought out of China in 1949 before the Commies took over. He split the clumes and made a planing board for all of the class. There must have been twelve or so. I never did finish mine because one of the fellows in the class was building a rod for another guy and he needed a second rod for somebody else. I gave him mine and he scraped the glued blank and wrapped it. Never did see the finished product.
If you have woodworking talents it could be a fun and profitable hobby. I would never make it because I did not find the magic in the game and prefer my graphite sticks.
I joined Dawn Holbrook's class also, and built a 9' and then a 7 1/2' rod. I fished them, but not in years. They aren't works of art, so I fish cane made by better craftsmen than I. It's a lot of fun though if you like to build things, and you'll learn a lot, like bamboo rods are worth what they cost and graphite rods aren't.
Go for it! The guys over at rodbuildingforum.com have convinced me to make a go of it. For the first, you might consider a Poor Man's Quad - it's a two-strip quad blank you can make without investing in planing forms. Of course, you can go all out and buy/build planing forms and do some amazing stuff. Either way, there is invaluable information over there.
The 12ft 6wt Waara taper is calling me this winter...
I've been making bamboo rods for nine years. I took a class in Grayling, Michigan from Wayne Cattanach, then bought all the tools and equipment to make rods in my garage. It's not difficult to make a blank once you get set up, and get a feel for the attention to detail required. Once the blank is done and the ferrules are installed, it's actually easier to finish a bamboo rod than a graphite or fiberglass, because you have flat surfaces to wrap guides on. There are a lot of books, web sites, and forums that can help you get started.
Send me a PM or e-mail if you'd like to drop by & see my workbench sometime.
Take Tom up on his generous offer to learn at his knee. He and other infrequent posters here indeed build cane rods regularly, many of them works of art as well as quality fishing tools. Tom can point you to a bamboo rodbuilding message board where you'll find answers to any possible question from an online community that is both highly competent and supportive of newcomers.
A friend took up rodbuilding 18 months or so ago. His first effort was so impressive (a Cattanach 7042 taper) that I pestered him to build me one as well. His #2 has become one of my favorite rods ever and an absolute joy to fish with for trout.
Are you willing to host a small Bamboo rod class/workshop for some of us on the WFF board? My first fly rod which I still have is a nice little 4 wt made in Greenfield Mass (not a Thomas & Thomas though). Making a bamboo rod is a lot more appealing to me than wrapping a graphite/glass one. This goes for boats for me as well.
I don't have the space, tools, or time to conduct a training class or workshop. However, I'd be glad to have any WFF member over to see my workshop and get an overview of rodmaking. I'm sure other rodmakers in the area would do the same.
I bought my planing form from Lon Blauvelt, it has served me well for about ten years. Do a search, he has a website and sells rods and tools.
It is a pretty substantial investment to get started, and expect to produce some fine tomato stakes, but when you build that one rod that feels so sweet in your hand it is well worth the time and effort.
You will find there are lots of builders out there and a few true artists. They all have opinions and techniques that differ. You have to find what works for you and perfect it. I find I improve with each rod I build and am never quite satisfied with the results knowing I can do better.