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My net making experience with rhododendron

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My net making experience with rhododendron

Postby FishinJosh » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:38 pm

I live in western NC and we have an abundance of rhododendron bushes. They grow in thick stands near wet areas like rivers. The bushes also branch out in all directions to capture as much sunlight as possible. This leads to many Y-shaped branches that make good net angles. It was still very hard for me to find a split with equal diameter branches. But eventually I found a good looking one, used a folding saw to cut it off and take it home.
Unlike other woods rhododendron is stiff to start out. The branches would not bend into a circle while on the bush. At first I tried holding the branches over a pot of boiling water and bending by hand. This did work somewhat but was very slow and one of the branches would spring back while I was heating and working the other. The branches needed to be held in shape until the wood cooled and dried. The answer was a simple wooden form out of scrap 2x4s screwed onto plywood. Next I filled some plastic pipes with boiling water, then let the branches soak for 10 to 15min. After that the branches bent easily into the form. Once in the form I let dry for two days next to the woodstove.
Cutting the branches for the connection point was very tricky. I recommend using a fine toothed saw. The branches will also not cut well when under tension. When the first branch is cut the second one will snap halfway through the cut. Try cutting the first one, starting to cut the second but only start the grove so you can tell the angle and position of the cut. Then separate or unlash the branches to finish the cut. This will keep the tip from breaking.
Other things I learned:
I bent the rhododendron early without letting it dry at all. I was going to steam it anyway. One in good shape I let it dry then

rhododendron will darken when dried, the under-bark coming up as a light brown

I used boiled linseed oil and it worked great.

Thanks so much for everyone sharing lots of net making information. This form is what made it possible for me to get started.
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Re: My net making experience with rhododendron

Postby OutdoorsBen » Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:36 pm

wow that came out fantastic. Very very well done.
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Re: My net making experience with rhododendron

Postby rsetina » Mon Nov 12, 2012 11:22 pm

Very beautiful wood and you did a great job bending the wood to shape. I'm impressed.
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Re: My net making experience with rhododendron

Postby Daniel @ Tenkara USA » Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:43 pm

That is very nice! Well done, love it!
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Re: My net making experience with rhododendron

Postby adventureR » Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:56 am

Beautiful net FishinJosh.
Thanks for sharing.
The level look at the hoop shows a really natural look with the slight wavy bowing. Looks really nice!
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Re: My net making experience with rhododendron

Postby tenkara no janguru » Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:56 am

That net is really beautiful; I love it. Any chance you can post a picture of the form you created? Dax
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Re: My net making experience with rhododendron

Postby janosh » Sat Feb 02, 2013 2:13 pm

Hey FishinJosh,

did you only use boiled linseed oil?...how did you got this glossy finish?

By the way: this net is a real beauty!
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Re: My net making experience with rhododendron

Postby tsegelke » Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:20 pm

I like it. I am in the process of making a net myself and like to see all that others have made.
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Re: My net making experience with rhododendron

Postby FishinJosh » Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:14 pm

Net update.
I love my net and it has served me very well. It did break at the joint of the arms. So I re-glued it and used a small nail to hold the joint together. Make sure you pre drill for the nail and file off any excess nail that sticks out. I also lashed the tip of the net with masonry cord and superglued all of the lashing.

The finish is boiled linseed oil. I used a rag to wipe it on let it soak in for 30 min then reapplied. I put 3 coats on. 2 thin coats of spar varnish on top will protect it for years. Only the bottom of the handle is showing some scratches.

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Re: My net making experience with rhododendron

Postby DavidHE » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:38 pm

Beautiful net. Thanks for the update. I've been working with manzanita which is also very difficult to bend. I'll try using the boiling water in tubes method and see if it helps.
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