I've made far too many mistakes as a rod builder to not write them down. So, this will become Shawn's lessons of rod building. I'll try to include helpful things for other builders to save them time and sources for stuff but mostly it will be the details to my own stupidity in rod building.
#15. Store your adhesives where they belong, the fridge. It takes some time to warm them up but will really help the shelf life. (I should read up on where to store my bluing solutions)
#14. If you make a wooden grip, don't accidentally lose the matching reel seat spacer (burl wood).
#13. Always keep a method to your steps. You should always look back and see what you need to add. You don't really ever skip steps, you just get better at doing them.
#12. Don't keep pushing your luck with how old your varnish is. Sweet way to have to re-wrap a whole section. If it looks bad, just get a fresh fill from the parent container (with whatever turp, spirits mix you like)
#11. Reiterate the no-masking tape rule, some just leave way more residue and with a little heat its like the liner completely released.
#10. Careful with old female ferrules that don't have a waterseal. It's best to solder one in, but if you don't, be sure not to use a expanding glue, like Gorilla glue. Awesome way to ruin a ferrule.
#9. Only buy denatured alcohol. The isopropyl leaves a residue and the only alcohol you will want is a denatured. Also, don't forget that isopropyl still contains water, which helps drives some unplanned chemical reactions.
#8. Really no need for masking tape on the work bench. It leaves way too much residue. Just stick with the blue painters tape where you would normally use masking.
#7. Avoid the REC ReCoil guides on rods that will have a interchangeable heads on the line, like spey and switch. The thin guides are great on trout rods, but catch the loop-loop connection too much on my switch/spey rods.
#6. Measure, Measure, Measure. A builder should know how much build up 2 vs 3 dips with give a section. What are the measurements prior to varnish? It's very easy for a builder to get in habits of a "few" coats for this, when you should really know and understand. Also, you must write it down for any of it to have meaning. I'm trying to be better about this and will post a pic of what I aim to be a log for each rod built. (Engineer in me talking)
#5. Planned repetition and order. It's key to develop a process and order to how you build a rod and then use and tune that order. It's the small subtle things that are key. Good examples are when you are going to put cork on the blank, be sure to prep the end for the reel seat and a counter bore for the live center on the lather when turning the grip. Do the extra stuff like putting grooves in the blank for under the wood insert to get a good bond. Proper prep work to gluing on that hardware. Do keep some of these things in mind for making repairs as well. Do these things every time and in a evolving order. Nothing wrong with tuning it, but set a habit for doing the
#4. Dipped 2 tips on a rod, one with Helsman Urethane, and the other with Helsmen Spar Varnish. The varnish takes several days to harden up enough for sanding, but way softer look. The Urethane dries much faster but really adds a yellow tint.
#3. Don't rush. Was trying to get two rods out for Norway and it's just asking for mistakes. Plan it out in advance.
#2. Watch the beers and rod building. (Don't ask)
#1. When shit hits the fan, fix it then. I had made a new dip tube that used a clear vinyl top with a coupling to the PVC tube for dipping. The coupling had created a small gap that was perfect for catching a guide on while pulling the section from the tube. So the first time around the butt section pulls from the hook pulling it out and into the tube goes the section to the cork. It's nice how cork will float a couple inches in varnish. So I re-fasten the hook and monitor the removal. I hang the section knowing I'll have to turn down the grip slightly to remove the varnish. Then I do the tip, same thing on falling in to the tube. This is when I realized what the coupling was doing. Though this time I had to leave for dinner plans and left the section in the tube and capped it. The next morning I fish it out with a small treble hook and find that the early varnish on the threads had softened. Now I have pealing varnish on all the thread. I let it dry for a week and then re-did the thread a couple times and we seem to be back in business without the full re-wrap. I should have been late and fished the section out then.