STEP 1: Ripping lumber into bendable strips. I start by ripping selected pieces of wood into strips. Thinner strips enable me to use as many as 7 layers to form the wood frame, which makes a markedly stronger net than what is typically found on the market.
STEP 2: Making the handle. Selecting from amongst the nicest figured wood I can find, I carefully choose the handle wood for its outstanding visual characteristics. Highly figured wood such as curly walnut (Shown Below), birds-eye maple, and ribbon mahogany make stunning handles. I may or may not make the handle from glued up components. This is where the artist in me gets to play! Handles can be long, short, round, square, whatever! I rough out the handle with planes and the band saw, and then smooth out on a belt sander.
STEP 3: Glue Up. Gluing up is probably the most critical (and often most stressful) time of making a landing net. Time is not on my side as I paint on a water-proof glue onto both sides of six or seven 5-6'strips, and onto the sides of the handle. Beginning at the top of the net, I begin bending and clamping until it is completely clamped around its form. It is an exercise in clamp-em-all-ogy! This is where you need clamps, and a lot of them!
STEP 4: Forming the net to final shape. I let the net dry a solid 24 hours. I plane off any excess wood and glue, remove from the jig, and then begin the sanding process. I first sand on the belt sander at 120 grit to get it flat and to remove any excess glue. After rough sanding, I begin the handle shaping process. This may involve, scraping, rasps, files, and sandpaper, but every net is shaped to be ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing. I route a groove for retaining cord to be inset on the outside of the hoop. This keeps it from getting abraded during use. One by one, holes are hand-drilled to accommodate the net. Finally, the net is hand sanded to 150 grit, 180 grit, 220 grit, 320 grit, finally to 400 grit for an extremely smooth feel.
Sanding under an inspection light using 400 grit sandpaper. This final step makes the net velvet-smooth.
STEP5: Finishing. I use a proprietary mix of oils that are hand rubbed onto each net. First 3-6 coats of a penetrating oil mixture are put on over a day’s time. This makes the grain really pop. After it thoroughly dries, I add a small amount of spar varnish with UV inhibitors to this oil mix. The net again gets 3-5 coats to help build a film. Finally, that blend receives carnuba wax into the finish. Carnuba wax is a very hard wax and can be buffed to produce an amazing, silky smooth finish. After a few coats of this over a couple of days, the frame is ready for a net, or bag as we call them.
Some clients request custom inlays of Copper, Brass, Aluminum, or Wood.
Here, I prepare a carving of a Royal Wulff fly to be inlaid with aluminum
The inlay after final sanding & 1 coat of oil
STEP 6: Sewing on a net and tying the lanyard. Each net is secured to its hoop using very strong and rot resistant string. After that, I hand tie a lanyard onto the handle and we are done!