A Fishing Reel

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A Fishing Reel

Fig. 8.29

Techniques Taught:

Turning deep, narrow scotias

Tools Required:

Roughing gouge, skew, medium- sized detail gouge, parting tool, parting-off tool, calipers

1" (25-mm) and 3/8" (10-mm) drills

Small drills for the holes for the round-head screw and to tie on the line

Jacobs chuck on an arbor

Small inboard screwchuck

Small outboard screwchuck or faceplate

Figure 8.29 The finished reel. For casting you hold the rear handle on the main spindle and point it in the direction of casting. You reel in your catch in the conventional way.


Disks 5” (125-mm) diameter and 2" (50-mm) thick for the reel body. Squares 2 x 2 x 6-1/2 in (50 x 50 x 160 mm) long for the main spindle. Squares 1 x I x 3” (25 x 25 x 75 mm) long for the winding handle. Cubes 2 x 2 x 2 in (50 x 50 x 50 mm) for the keeper disk Waste disk for reverse chucking the reel, minimum size 7” (175-mm) diameter, 1” (25-mm) thick The reel is shown in figures 8.29 and 8.30. It’s importance is as an exercise in cutting scotias into radially-grained disks, and it is a useful item if you fish off jetties or boats. I show the reel body being turned outboard-you will find it far more difficult to turn its front face inboard over the bed.

To chuck the reel body workpiece, you could:

I. Drill the 1"(25-mm) through hole first in a drilling machine, then center and mount the drilled blank on a backing disk with a spigot.... You could also expand the small-diameter spigot jaws of a scroll or collet chuck into the hole, or use a pin chuck.

2. Mount the blank on an outboard screw chuck and drill the through hole later.

3. Screw the disk onto a small outboard faceplate. This is the method shown in figure 8.31, but the workpiece disk has first been glued onto a waste disk to avoid unsightly screw holes being left in the back face of the reel body.

A Fishing Reel

Fig. 8.30

Figure 8.30 A longitudinal section through the reel. The dimensions are not critical. The reel body’s through hole should be an easy sliding fit on the spigot of the main spindle. Wax the spigot to make the reel spin more smoothly.

After preparing the pencil gauges and chucking the reel body workpiece, the first turning operation is to flush the front face of the disk. Use face-skimming cuts with a detail gouge.... Then bring the reel rim down to its finished maximum diameter with rim skimming cuts.... Pencil the edges of the scotia onto the disk rim, and cut the scotia as described in figures figures 8.31 to 8.34. You then mark out and cut a recesss and the scotia into the face of the disk (figures 8.35 to 8.37), before drilling it (figure 8.38).

This article is excepted from The Fundamentals of Woodturning By Mike Darlow.

A Fishing Reel

Fig. 8.32

Figure 8.32 Cutting the side of the scotia by face-scraping.

A Fishing Reel

Fig. 8.31

Figure 8.31 Cutting a scotia in the rim of a disk.

Starting a cut with a pointing presentation. 

Cutting a scotia into the rim of a disk is a similar process to that of cutting a cove in a spindle except that you enlarge the scotia by cutting radially outwards to work with the grain. You can use face-scraping (figures 8.31 and 8.32), face-skimming (8.33 and 8.34), or any presentation between.

To deepen the scotia before widening it you cannot however avoid cutting radially inwards, against the grain. If you are going to widen the scotia by face-scraping, you first deepen the scotia by making a pointing cut with the gouge flute facing horizontally and the blade pointing at the lathe axis in elevation. The angle in plan between the gouge bevel and the lathe axis does not have to be 90° and is usually less as here.

Once you have suitably deepened the scotia, start to scrape radially outwards. You can continue the face-scrape to the edge of the scotia. If you wish to reduce the subsurface damage, you can modify your tool presentation towards that of a face-skim as you bring the nose out.
A Fishing Reel

Fig. 8.33

Figure 8.33 Deepening the Scotia by rim-skimming.

A Fishing Reel

Fig. 8.34

Figure 8.34 Cutting the side of the scotia by face- skimming.

A Fishing Reel

Fig. 8.35

The more open the scotia, the lower the risk if you enlarge it using a gouge presentation near that of face-skimming. And the closer your presention for cutting the sides of the scotia will be to face-skimming, the nearer your starting presentation for deepening the scotia at the start of the cut can be to rim- skimming. As in figure 8.31, you can decrease the risk of a catch by presenting your gouge with your right hand well to the left of square if you are about to cut the right-hand side of the scotia, and vice versa. 

A Fishing Reel

Fig. 8.38

You can widen the scotia by levering the gouge nose away from the lathe axis in any presentation between face-scraping and face-skimming. The nearer that presentation is to face- skimming, the less the subsurface damage and the greater the risk of a catch. The shallower the scotia, and the narrower the gouge while still being stiff, the lower the risk of a catch. 

This article is excepted from The Fundamentals of Woodturning By Mike Darlow. 

Figure 8.35 Turning a V-shaped recess into the front of the disk.

Figure 8.38 Drilling the through hole with a 1" (25 mm) sawtooth drill held in a Jacobs chuck. 

A Fishing Reel

Fig. 8.36

Figure 8.38 shows how to hold the reel to axially bore it. Unless the central area of the left-hand face of the reel is in hard contact with the press-fit chuck, the wood will splinter when the drill tip emerges through that face. You can minimize that splintering by turning a V-shaped recess where the drill will emerge. The recess should be a touch larger in diameter than the drill. After marking the radius of the through hole and the extents of the scotia, use pointing cuts at lathe-axis level to turn the recess.

Figure 8.36 Starting a cut to enlarge the scotia in the face of the reel body. You can cut this scotia in almost exactly the same way that you would a cove in a spindle because the disk’s grain is “parallel” to the toolrest. However the wood is only moving vertically downwards at lathe axis level. Therefore if the initial contact between your gouge’s cutting edge and the wood will not be at axis height, you need to modify the way you present your gouge to counter the sideways force. 

A Fishing Reel

Fig. 8.37

Figure 8.37 Completing the cut started in the previous figure. After completing the outboard turning, sand the accessible parts of the reel body in the lathe. The next operation is to reverse chuck the reel body to finish turning the reel’s back face and bore the through hole. There is little risk of a workpiece coming out if it fits tightly into a press-fit chuck. However experience has convinced me of the value of insurance. I often screw down small rectangular pieces of plywood to give greater security. Before drilling the through hole, finish turn the right-hand face of the reel using radial-skimming cuts. Then sand.  

To complete the reel:

      1. Turn the main spindle between centers with the spigot which passes through the reel body at the tailstock end. The imprint of the tail center then gives you a central recess in which to start the drill when you hand drill the pilot hole for the threaded part of the screw.

        2. Spindle turn or better cupchuck turn the small winding handle.

        3. Chuck a 2” (50-mm) cube of wood with its grain radial on an inboard screwchuck. Faceplate turn the keeper disk which holds the reel onto the rear handle. Bore the clearance hole for the screw with the drill held in a Jacobs chuck mounted in the tailstock. Then part off the keeper disk, ideally with a parting-off tool.

      4. Bore the pilot hole into the end of the main handle’s spigot to hold the fixing screw, the hole to hold the winding handle, and the hole to secure the end of the fishing line.

      5. Glue the winding handle into the reel body.

      6. Varnish with polyurethane or marine varnish.

      7. Fully assemble the reel, finishing by screwing through the keeper disk into the pilot hole in the main spindle.

      8. Proceed to your favorite fishing spot.

This article is excepted from The Fundamentals of Woodturning By Mike Darlow.

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