I live on the North Branch of the Ausable River in Lovells MI.  In 2009 I began machining parts for a fly fishing reel (no prior machining experience). This blog helps me to remember what I have since learned. Maybe it will also help some others who are just starting out.

Prior to 2015, I did all the work that you see here with a Sherline lathe and Sherline mill. In 2015, I bought an “X2” size mill from Little Machine Shop.
More recently I have added a Micromark MiniLathe.

November 2016: I have just moved to Rio Rancho NM.

17 Responses to About

  1. David "Grizzly" Lambert says:

    Wow what a great primer on reel making! i also am working with sherline tools and want to make a reel, could you post more on your set ups on making the spool and frame of your reel please. it would be an awsome help.

    thanks Grizzly

  2. Greetings from Southeastern Arizona,
    Thanks for your great blog. I am a mechanical engineer and an amature machinest, I really enjoy reading about your projects. Also I am a reel collector and hope someday to make a reel or two. For now I build cane rods with the little bit of spare time I can devote to the shop.

    Keep up the great work and be safe!

  3. LC Meyer says:

    My “hat’s off to you!” I am so envious of all of you guys that have the know-how, machinist experience and techniques, and skill set to construct a fine fly reel. I wish I could do the same. However, I am destined to whileaway my last productive years at the practice of law and cannot do as you have done.

    Your reels are a handsome lot and you should be proud.

    LC Meyer
    Lakeway, Texas

    • dave49 says:

      Don’t confuse my blog with long-term experience. It’s compulsive for me to write about things as soon as I figure them out (and sometimes it’s too soon). I have machined very little besides these reels. But my education and work were engineering, and that is definitely a plus for this kind of thing.

  4. JimmyB says:

    Congrats on the site, very informative. Any suggestion for media type to facilitate removing fine scratches and assist in finishing nickel siver reel seat parts? I am using a Lyman tumbler, I have their Tuffnut, it polishes but does not remove fine scratches, it has rouge in it. Thanks.

    • dave49 says:

      In my March 3 post on Metal Finishing, I mention the “1/4 inch plastic pyramids” from Contenti. These are sold in grits “medium” and “extra fine”. I have done no finishing on nickel silver except for the small caps on the click end of my reels, which I did with sandpaper. But I think that the extra fine grit pyramids might work for you; they will give an overall matte finish. Add some water to the pyramids. It will foam up quite a bit at first. Rinse regularly to keep washing out loose grit. Then use your media w/ rouge to get a shine.

  5. Fred says:

    share your frustration by ruining a day’s work in an instant. after long hours
    carving, milling, drilling an expensive piece of ebonite into a raised pillar face plate, I lost my concentration briefly after another hour of polishing. the edge of the piece caught in buffing wheel, crashed on the concrete floor and broke in half. was ready for a padded cell, but compromised by padding the floor.

  6. Jim Anderson says:

    Hi Dave. We met you on the river last night at the boat landing just down from Wakely Bridge. WOW what an awesome undertaking and beautifully displayed on your web site. We did not get any big fish last night and all laughed when Justin mention, “hey I bet that guy at the boat launch did great!!” Take care Dave and keep up the great work and progress reports…………..

  7. Bruce Petray says:

    I have just found your blog. I work as a CAD operator/Designer in Custom Aircraft Completions Industry. The software that I use and own is AutoCad and Solidworks. I will be purchasing both of the publications, in the hopes of producing 3D Models of your drawing. While I am very interested in building my own Reels, you drawings and information will be a base point, if acceptable to you! Once I create these Models, of course they will be provided to you. Thanks in advance for any feedback……


    • dave49 says:

      It is certainly acceptable to me, proceed.
      Note my blog post of 21 May 2013, “3D Modelling”.

      • Sean McSharry says:


        I can’t find your email address on this page, so am using the comment section to start.

        I’d like to know the price of your ferrule shrinking tool, and the airmail postage to Sydney, Australia, please.

        Thanks. Sean

      • dave49 says:

        I used the Email address on your comment to reply. Advise if you have received no message.

  8. Just saw you moved to NM. We recently bought a second home in East Mountains. Mostly plan for summer time there. Maybe we can cross paths someday😊

  9. Dave, I am a 1971 graduate of Purdue mechanical engineering. You and I took some courses together. I just ran across your reel site and after all this time, I just wanted to say hello and hope life is good for you. I am very impressed with your “hobby” and your documentation. I think you have enough here for a book.

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