Combining two hobbies is usually unheard of. However, ever since I began working on my lathe, I looked for ways to apply it to other things I enjoy. One of these activities is fishing. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a nice day on the lake competing for the biggest catch? Although a lathe can’t cover all your bases, you can make some incredible wooden lures with it. If you enjoy fishing or want to build a very personalized gift for a fellow fisherman, this article is definitely for you.
Best Wood For Making Fishing Lures
Although we really wish we had the perfect answer for you, there’s no specific wood for all applications. Depending on the type of lure you’re looking to make, different wood kinds will be better or worse. In general, you want to consider three parameters for your lumber selection: Strength, Hardness and Density. We will briefly go over them below in order to give you an idea of each one.
The hardness of a particular wood refers to the resistance it provides against dents, dings and other types of damage. Due to the nature of the harsh environment that is fishing, we recommend paying close attention to the hardness of the wood you select. In addition to the coat of paint you will be putting over the wood, it’s important to apply a cost of epoxy which will further strengthen the lure.
Wood density is typically proportional to its hardness. It is a measure of how much weight per volume a certain object is. In simpler terms, it has to do with how compact the fibers are which in turn translates into lighter or heavier lures if the density is low or high respectively.
Wood strength is slightly different than hardness. It is the measure of how the wood is resistant to splitting or crumbling under stress. It has less to do with impact damage (described in Hardness) and more to do with long term damage such as constant forces of pulling on it.
Final Word on Wood Selection
The bottom line is that we recommend harder wood types such as Cedar or Beech for most lures.
Turning a Fishing Lure Blank
Start with a rectangular block of wood. Although size will depend on what you’re fishing for, the most common sizes would be 2 inches (5cm), 3 inches (7.5cm), etc. Select a block which is slightly bigger than the final lure; you will have to sand down the ends. Just like a larger block of wood, mark the two centers with a pencil. Center the block on your lathe and secure the tailstock at the end. Using either a skew chisel or a spindle gouge, turn your block into a cylinder. Using the same tool, create the desired shape of the lure. The most common and easiest to turn style is the torpedo (See picture below).
To finalize the blank, use fine grid sandpaper while it’s turning on the lathe. This gives your lure a smooth finish.
Optional – Wooden Lure Mouth in Popper Lures
If you’d like to add a mouth to your lure, you need the right tool. With the aid of a Ball End Rotary Burr, you can do just that. Inserting the burr into the spindle of the lathe, you may remove the necessary amount of wood for a perfect mouth finish of your popper. See image below for an example of a finished result.
Painting The Lure
Applying paint to your lure is crucial. It will seal the wood and protect the lure from damage. However, the process is not as straightforward as you might think. You must start with several protective procedures before even getting to the painting stage.
Epoxy Wood Lure Treatment
You’ve got several options when it comes to wood treatment. One of these options is an epoxy coat. It’s great at penetrating deep into the wood effectively hardening it and acts as a great adhesive for the paint primer. Here are the steps for applying Epoxy onto your lure:
- Heat The Resin and Hardener – Take your time to warm up the epoxy. It will penetrate the wood better and last much longer. Temperatures in the range of 50C (120F) are recommended.
- Prepare The Epoxy – Epoxy must be mixed prior to application. Generally, you want one part resin to one part hardener. Make sure to follow the instructions outlined by the vendor for proper mixing and precautions.
- Apply The Epoxy to The Lure – Apply liberally all over the lure. Place the finished lures in a dry place to dry. Examine lures after about 30 minutes; re-apply a second coat especially in the areas which don’t have perfect coats.
- Cure and Sand – The final step for a perfect finish is to let the epoxy cure. This process will typically take up to 3 days. Once that’s done, use fine sand paper for a smooth finish.
Applying Paint Coats
If you’ve completed the above steps on Epoxy; you’re ready to apply the multiple coats of paint. An airbrush can give a better and more even finish, but might take a lot longer to master. The bottom line is that you’ll have to apply a primer followed by two main coats of paint. Depending on how detail oriented you are, you may choose to draw intricate or scale like patterns on your lure. Our goal isn’t to cover all the advanced painting techniques there are, but we will go over the basics.
- Paint Sealer – Paint sealer is applied right after the epoxy coat. It makes the surface much more adhesive to the subsequent layers of paint.
- Primer Coat – The primer is the base coat. It will be either clear or light gray.
- Main Coat – There are many different colors which are suitable for different kinds fo fish. We recommend following a lure color chart based on what you’re fishing for to determine the best coat. Apply two to three coats of paint to make sure that your lure finish is durable and seals the coat.
Finalizing The Lure
At this point, you should have a fully painted wooden lure. Some of the final touches, such as eyes, scales, etc. are optional, but you definitely need hooks, split rings, swivels and other small hardware. Installing the finishing touches is simple and can be done by bringing a line through the lure. Be careful to use small drill bits to install these parts and make sure they all tie back to the main split ring at the mouth of the lure.
So many possibilities are available while making wooden lures on a lathe. Experiment on your own to see what works best for you as well as the fish you’re trying to catch!