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(Full disclosure, I am a beginner and still have a lot to learn. This series of articles are meant to be a very basic guide for those just starting or that have interest in building their own wooden lures.)
After my Pyramid trip in April, I had several people suggest I try trolling some Lyman lures for the big Cutthroats. Well, after some research I found out they are no longer made and the more popular colors are difficult to find…
This dilemma sparked an interest in me building my own plugs. So, I continued my research on what it would take for me to build a similar product. A simple google search yielded, which in my opinion is one of the better places I’ve found that has the necessary supplies to build pretty much whatever you want. (they don’t carry hardware for smaller plugs however)
I also had to decide if I wanted to paint the lures myself or send them out. I have sent out a couple in the past and as I recall they were fairly expensive, along with taking quite awhile to receive. So I went on youtube for some tutorials and to my surprise it didn’t seem all that difficult to paint. I managed to find an Iwata airbrush with a compressor and a bunch of paint on craigslist for $120. And with some old beat up lures I’ve found over the years, I started practicing a few patterns.
Depending on the type of lures you plan to build, you may or may not need all the supplies I purchased. The type can also determine the wood you use, as each kind will have different weight/density. I chose Alaskan Yellow Cedar due to the fact it is easy to turn, doesn’t absorb water as easily as other woods, and its one of the more popular woods used.
List of supplies:
wood – Alaskan yellow cedar
screw eyes – standard and heavy duty
swivels – Rosco Crane, various sizes
hooks – Owner, various sizes
split rings – various sizes
Through wire
Belly, tail, and nose grommets
Weights – various sizes
Sealer – Helmsman Spar Urethane
Painting supplies – Iwata dual action airbrush w/ createx paints
Epoxy – Started with Bob Smith and have since switched to Envirotex
I’m lucky enough to have a close family friend that has wood working as a hobby. He has a nice shop with everything I need for this project. So I didn’t have to purchase a lathe or any of the other equipment. On top of allowing access to all of his tools he of course gave me a lesson on how to use everything.
So heres the basic tools I’ve been using. The two chisels on the right are what I mostly use. The rounded tip I’ve been using for the rough cut at slower speeds and the angled tip for finish work at higher speeds. The calipers are to help keep things in check. I am also using the band saw and belt sander once I’m done with the lathe. A quick tip that I’ve learned from other builders is to cut your block of wood longer than your lure. Then when turning your lure, leave both ends square. The flat surface will make things easier when you have to drill eyes, belly weights, etc. (Of course you want to make sure your block is square prior to doing this)I also purchased a 1″ cylindrical burr that I’m using to cut the cup shape into the face of certain lures, like the poppers.
These pics show the basic process of how I built the popper. The blocks are 12” long and I got them in two sizes 2×2 and 1.5×1.5”. I’ve been cutting most in half at 6”. I didn’t take a picture of the drilling process for the through-wire lures, but it is pretty simple. I mark the center of the block and then take a small bit and drill pilot holes on each side with the drill press. Then I take a 12″ long 3/16 bit and slowly drill about halfway on each side of the block. The key I’ve found is to drill slowly and pull the drill bit out several times to clear the bit. If you don’t, the bit may wander. I also didn’t show but I do the majority of sanding while still on the lathe, starting with 100 grit and finishing with 400 grit sand paper.