Monday, March 14, 2011

Swimbait building 101

I said I would do this, so here it is. 

1) Trace the outline of a fish (in this case a blueback herring) onto a sheet of Lexan® with a marker. Cut out this shape. It will serve as the template for the creation of body "blanks". Lay the template onto the body material (here a 4"Azek® PVC board) and trace the outline of the body, again with a marker.

2) Rough cut the outline of the body with a scroll saw or band saw. 

3) Contour the body to the outline left by the template with a sander. A spindle sander would work best for this, but as I do not have a spindle sander (yet) I am using a drum attachment on my drill press. This makes a lot of weird smelling dust, wear a mask. Really, do not breath this crap into your lungs. It is plastic, and will be there the rest of your Godforsaken life. So wear a mask, preferably a HEPA filter. 

4) Radius the edge with a roundover bit on your router. This picture is amazing to me, because I used a timer on my camera. The router was going at like 10,000 rpm, and the edge of the bit is plainly visible. Holy smokes! Anyway, this is tricky stuff. I need to make a zero-clearance router table for this operation. I keep slipping and gouging the blanks with the bit, due to the large gap between the table surface and the bit. Not good! NEVER wear long sleeves when you are doing ANY of this. If the drill press, router, or any saw grabs your shirt, that is a real bad deal. Like a "fingers shot across the room" deal. Or a "bleed to death before you can make it into the house to call for help" sorta deal. Safety first numbnuts...

5) The PVC stock has a tacky faux woodgrain finish that must be sanded out. A planer would make quick work of this task, but I aint got a planer. So palm sander it is. This is very tedious. Do it.

6) I mark the bodies with a pencil when they are aligned. I clamp them together, and cut the groove for the bill in all the baits at once. This helps ensure accurate results. All the baits are cut in the same place, and at the same angle. I like a bit of deviation in the individual baits, the "handmade" element ensures that no two baits are exactly alike. Still, I like them to be as close as I can get them, and this helps. 

7) Mark the baits when they are clamped together nice and straight. This keeps things tidy. Take a deep breath, and saw that sucker in two.

8) Use an abrasive grinding wheel on your a rotary tool to gouge a concave groove into the front half of the bait. It does not have to be perfect, but try to keep it as straight as possible. We will sand it by hand.

9) Use the rotary tool to cut a rounded surface on the back half of the bait. Again, perfection is not required, as we shall soon see. 

10) Lay a piece of sandpaper across the concave surface in the front half of the bait. Use the front half as a guide to shape the back half. Sand a bit, and turn the back half 180º and sand a bit more. You are sanding a smooth contour that mates perfectly with the front half.

11) Turn the sandpaper around, and sand the front half with the perfectly rounded back half. 

This is what you get... a perfect, smooth cut, and white powder everywhere. Dr. Rockso would approve. 

12) Take a break. Have a nice strong Belgian ale. 

More to come...



1 comment:

  1. I am beyond amazed and very impressed. Great step by step tutorial.