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Tenkara inspired net- In Progress.......

A place to discuss tenkara nets. Techniques for making it, woods used, designs, etc.

Tenkara inspired net- In Progress.......

Postby Englander » Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:32 am

Hello from Scotland

I decided to make a Tenkara inspired net, and im still in the process. Whilst i dont fish with Tenkara style i do river fish mostly with 3 wt rods. I've always liked making things and utilizing natural materials the main reason a Tenkara stlye net really appeals to me.

Im hoping with a bit of guidance from the more experinced here i will complete my project.

Wood ? Whilst out for a walk the other day and quite by chance i spotted a small Holly tree that looked "ideal" (to my untrained eye) So i decided to start with this...........


Basic form cut from a Holly tree and simply tied with twine to help it form the rough shape


I was pretty happy with the basic shape although i wasnt to sure about the angle of the hoop to the handle ?? But after searching the web for Kenkara nets ive seen others with such angles so im happy enough.

Now i stripped the bark off.........................



Holly is pretty slow growing, not as slow as oak but slower than pine a nice light coloured wood with a fine grain.

So far so good i think ............? Now im not too sure who to form the nice round hoop ? I dont fancy making a plywood jig seems alot more work and i like to follow the KISS principle i.e KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID ;)

Ive been trying to find a wire wok stand but i can only find sheet metal sheet, and none of my plant pots sem the right size !

To date ive simple tied it in rough shape with twine, im assuming i can steam the hoop later to a near perfect circle ? Should this be done after or before making the scarf joint :?:

Now i made my first mistake ............. :roll: instead of leaving the handle long untill its well dried i cut the handle shorter to make matters worse i left it on the kitchen table during the hottest day we've had for far this year ! The rapid dying in the sun caused the blooming handle to split ! :o Im really, really annoyed with myself ! I should have known better.


I shortened the handle to 13" cut on an angle


Here you can see the result of letting it bake in the sun :( Im still really annoyed !

However i figure its salvageable and after all its my MK1 so alot to learn and probably more mistakes to make. Well thats as far as ive got to date.

How long should the wood be allowed to dry / season before the scarf joint :?:

Its only been a week since i started this little project, over the last few days ive been looking for more wood suitable for the purpose. Im having real trouble finding another bt of wood the right shape ! Now i think i was pretty lucky to find the first one without really trying.

Been looking at Ash, Alder, Sycamore, Birch, Rowan, Hawthorn, i had high hopes for Ash but its proved pretty impossible to find ! Reckon i will need to seek out more holly, we do have lots of pine but i think i prefer harder woods.

Any input most welcome


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Re: Tenkara inspired net- In Progress.......

Postby rmcworthing » Sun Aug 07, 2011 7:48 am

Hey Stephen,

I'm working on my third net right now. I'm still perfecting the scarf joint and finishing, but I'm pretty happy with the results thus far.

I, too, have had the most luck with shaping and stripping bark immediately after harvesting the wood. I actually enjoy sitting in the woods where I cut my branch and accomplishing these steps on the spot.

Shaping: Looks like you have a wonderful shape. I've been avoiding the perfectly round shape, opting instead to keep the process as organic as possible, allowing the wood to do what it pleases. As long as the shape is reasonably round, attaching a traditional tamo net has not been difficult. Just another option you might consider.

Splitting: After reviewing prior posts, I settled on leaving an inch or two of bark on the cut ends of the branches to avoid the possibility of splitting. Seems to be working well.

Drying: I live in a dry climate (Utah). I seem to get good result with about a month of drying. This is with moist wood collected in summer. Any longer, and I encounter issues such as with the wood soaking the water content out of my titebond glue and leaving me with a weak joint, etc.

Just my two cents. There are others on the forum that are far more experienced at this than I am.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how the holly turns out. Good luck!

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Re: Tenkara inspired net- In Progress.......

Postby rsetina » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:03 am

First, welcome to the forum. I hope you find the content here interesting enough to stay and contribute and possibly in the future join in on fishing with a tenkara rod. Being that you fish a 3wt so much, I think you'd very much enjoy using a tenkara rod on your fishing trips. I know I do.

I would agree with Rob on the timing of the drying process. A month should be long enough for the wood you reach a good level of dryness for you to continue with the build. I know Daniel uses a wok to bend and shape the hoop in order to get to the correct size for the net you'll use, but I simply measured my hoop with a measuring tape and it came out fine.

I think it would be better if you are going to use a wok or similar device that you use it during the drying process. That will ensure that the wood will form a perfect shape, but more importantly, once it's dry, it's pretty stiff and it won't easily form to a different diameter without trying to go back to it's dried diameter. Does that make sense? The wood is pretty flexible now, but once dried, it won't like to be reformed to a different diameter.

Good luck with your build. Post some photo as you move along the journey.

My Tenkara Rods:
13' Ayu, 12' Yamame, 11' with a conversion handle, and an Ito.

My Wife's Tenkara Rods:
12' Ebisu and 13.5' Amago, 12' Iwana with a conversion handle, and an Ito.
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Re: Tenkara inspired net- In Progress.......

Postby Stephen McGowen » Sun Aug 07, 2011 4:50 pm

Sounds like you are doing fine and don't sweat the crack in the handle...the only place to avoid cracks is in the hoop and in the hoop/handle join. A crack in the handle butt won't affect the use or strength of the finished net and some makers accept things like that as adding character to the net.
Get the hoop to the shape you want before cutting the joint. Steaming slowly and over time lets you do this. Use a tea kettle and work on a small segment of net at a time. It is best to work from the hoop at the handle first and then work your way around to the joint. You can even correct with steam after gluing the joint by covering the joint and the adjacent few inches of hoop with tightly wrapped aluminum foil so that heat and moisture can't get at the glue while steaming.
Most Japanese makers use pine, spruce, and juniper because they are easier to work and the finished frames are plenty strong enough. It is also easier to find the required branch geometry in those species.
I've made a couple of holly tamos and they allow a superb finish to be obtained. Persevere..... and post further pics as you progress.
The more time you allow the wood to season the better. I understand that Yoshimura-san in Japan lets his hoops season for a full year.
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Re: Tenkara inspired net- In Progress.......

Postby tnitz » Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:47 am

Doesn't sound like it will help you, but whereas Daniel uses a wire wok stand, I use one of the solid sheet metal ones that have holes around them. It works great and the holes allow me to wrap the cordage around the hoop as needed. I don't know since I haven't tried a wire one, but I kinda think the solid metal one may be better than the wire one - I suspect both Daniel and I are simply using what we have.

If you do decide to make more nets, a plywood form would be a good idea, made to the size hoop for the net size you wish to use. If I were doing it, I would glue two pieces of 3/4" plywood together, cut to diameter desired and drill a series of holes around the periphery for tying. It's basically the same jig often used for kayak cockpit rims.
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Re: Tenkara inspired net- In Progress.......

Postby Daniel @ Tenkara USA » Tue Aug 09, 2011 10:32 am

Nice net start.
The spliced joint is the crux of the matter, in my opinion. Work at it slowly. My favorite method has been a free-hand slowly sawing it with a Japanese saw. Yoshimura san uses a belt sander and sands each side at the desired angle, very interesting approach which allow for great consistency, but difficult to get it right in the beginning too and requires equipment.
After spending time with Mr. Yoshimura in Japan, and starting a few net frames while in Japna, I think I have now abandoned the use of a form. It is handy, but I may focus more on shaping the wood myself. First with an initial/pre-drying shape, then one shaping before gluing, and a final detail shaping after gluing if necessary.
Also, while the tea kettle worked okay, it was very slow going because it didn't product a whole lot of steam and I had to replenish the water frequently. Based on the advise of Yoshimura san I have now turned to using a very large pot (preference for taller, narrower pots). The idea is not to work on the entire net at once, but say about 1/5 of its circumference, and a tall pot seems to allow for stronger steam for a longer period of time. I put part of the net on top of it, cover with aluminum foil for a few minutes and shape it, the wood feels like rubber at that point. Also, because the pot is higher, there is little risk of burning the wood if you just let it stand.
About wood drying, indeed he'll let the wood dry for at least 1 year, a couple of batches were 3 years in the drying process. I personally based my initial nets on the moisture content, and about 2-3 months seemed sufficient, especially if you're only making a couple of nets. I now have more frames than I can work on, so these will likely dry for over a year.
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Re: Tenkara inspired net- In Progress.......

Postby ToddW » Tue Aug 09, 2011 6:53 pm

Englander...very nice looking start for your first first half-dozen attempts didn't look near that nice. Like Stephen said, don't sweat the crack - my favorite net got several cracks in it during the drying process. I've found the large pot method that Daniel mentioned works best for me and I recommend it especially for hardwood nets. Cheers, TJW
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Re: Tenkara inspired net- In Progress.......

Postby Englander » Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:37 am

Hi Guys

Ive done a wee bit more work to my net today ..........heres a few pics and a couple of questions ;)




Next step the scarf joint ................ :?

Ive fashioned to small pegs from the off cut of holly , its a extremely white wood !

Im a bit unsure what glue to use for the scarf joint ? Ive been toying with using 5 minute epoxy resin ?

Any tips most welcome ..........


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Re: Tenkara inspired net- In Progress.......

Postby erik.ostrander » Sat Sep 10, 2011 5:26 pm

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Re: Tenkara inspired net- In Progress.......

Postby Englander » Tue Oct 04, 2011 1:57 pm

Hi Guys

Ive finally joined the hoop on my first Tamo with a rather poor scarf joint :oops:


To be honest i found it really hard work, partly due to how thin the arms are and they both differ in diameter. I was also surprised just how much pressure was on the joint !
Not pretty but i hope when i take the wrapping off it will all hold up :lol:

Next the finish ............ ??? Im going to try a similar method i used on a rifle stock i refinshed.


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