“….the guy that showed me how to make rods said I should get a set of Bellinger forms ‘cause they’re the best, he was right” MH
Of all the specialized bamboo rodmaking tools the planing form is the most essential. It is a big step to move from thinking about making bamboo fly rods to actually doing it because it often comes with a big financial commitment and a leap of faith. Deciding on a planing form is often the first decision a new-to-the-craft rodmaker must make and it is one that is not made lightly. The last thing anyone new to the craft wants to do is over spend and blow the budget on a tool they have little practical knowledge or experience using and certainly they do not want to under spend only to find out later when their skills have developed that the tool they bought was a dud and doesn’t provide them with the flexibility in dimensions or range of tapers they want to make and leaves them with the uneasy feeling that their skills have grown beyond the tool.
As an incoming rodmaker I was faced with the same decision. The lesson I learned from my rodmaking brethren was planing forms are not a commodity where price means everything; because not all planing forms are the same. There are differences in the how they are designed and constructed, how the grooves are laid out, how precise they are made, the kind of hardware that is used and whether they are made with rodmaking fundamentals and planing technique in mind. These are all considerations that go into a well made planing form that are difficult to place value on when one is first entering into the craft.
Bellinger planing forms are a great value. Like all things Bellinger we make our planing forms to the best of our ability to meet our own tough rodmaking tool standards.
- We start with two bars of ¾” x1-1/4” x 72” highly-machinable, 1018 cold-rolled steel. The bars are mated together and the surfaces are ground uniformly flat and parallel to create two 1-1/2” wide planing surfaces – this is critical to proper planing technique and sound rodmaking fundamentals. The width makes for a great visual reference and is ideal for keeping the block plane centered over the bamboo strip while planing; whether you use and an old school Stanley, a ported, modern marvel or a groovy soul plane.
- We machine the 60 degree tip and butt groove as precise as possible on a CNC mill with 72” length capability. We machine the slope with a consistent .001” to 1” drop - square and plumb to the uniformly ground surfaces which together creates the 60 degree equilateral groove in which we secure the strips. We have found the precision of the CNC mill exceeds anything we could achieve with our knee-mill. Taper reliability is directly related to the precision of the groove.
- We have designed our forms using an over-lapping groove rather than the more common continuous groove. The advantage of an over-lapping groove is that it provides for many more options on where the rodmaker can place the bamboo strip so it is securely held in the form while maintaining sound rodmaking fundamentals and proper technique. Also the starting depth dimensions of our over-lapping groove makes for a wider range of tapers that can be made on our forms; making the half-dimension for Catskill Fairy (.050”) size tips to the butt (.475”) section of a two-handed spey quite possible.
- The taper adjustment stations are on 5” centers throughout the length of our forms. Precision dowel pins are placed between the adjustment stations and keep the bars in alignment. The push/ pull adjustment stations operate by manipulating the two screws that are located on opposite sides of the form. This makes it very easy to operate the adjustment wrenches while reading a depth gauge. Our adjustment station hardware is sized for the dimension of our forms. For a “puller” we use a 3/8” shoulder bolt with 5/16” coarse threads and a 5/16” fine threaded cap screw for the “pusher”. We insert a ball-bearing between the push screw and the planing form. The ball-bearing reduces the surface tension between the end of the cap screw and the planing form bar and makes adjustment very smooth. Adjustments are made using hex-“T”-wrenches.
- We want to make keep our forms as affordable as possible without compromising those things that are important to rodmakers or those things that are important toward maintaining sound rodmaking fundamentals and proper technique. What we haven’t been able to accomplish with price we have made up for with discounts on reelseats and depth gauges; two other important rodmaking products. Take advantage of these discounts to gain even more value from purchasing our forms.
Watch our video to learn more about our Bellinger Planing Forms:
Our swelled-butt planing forms are made to the same tolerances as our standard taper planing forms but undergo an additional machining step ($40 additional charge) which increases the slope of the 60-degree tapered groove by .040" over 2-1/2".
This dramatic change in the swelled-butt depth can be expanded using the adjustment screws to execute tapers for the most extreme swelled-butt rods. The swell is located on the butt side of the form outside the normal planing area and will not interfere with your ability to plane non-swelled tapers on this form.
Custom penta and quad forms are available on an individual quote basis. Please contact to inquire.
Custom surfacing and re-grooving of your used Bellinger form $ 350.00
Custom surfacing and re-grooving of non-Bellinger forms $450.00
Swelled butt forms add $40 to above costs
Customer to pay freight.
Please contact to make arrangements.