Tip #3 - Finishing screws and washers

Tips from The Eclectic Angler's monthly Newsletter.

Tip #3 - Finishing screws and washers

Postby TheEclecticAngler » Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:18 am

From the December, 2010 Newsletter

Tip #3 - Finishing screws and washers
Stock machine screws and washers look very "plain vanilla" but with just a little work, you can dress them up to add a little extra style to your reels. Here are some ideas, and maybe you will come up with others.

  1. Reworking screw heads - Slotted machine screws have a domed head that can actually interfere with your fly line and tippet. A very simple enhancement is to file the tops of the screws flat with a smooth file. I like to clamp the screws between 2 blocks of wood - 5 or more together - in my vise with the heads facing up. The wood prevents damaging the screw threads. A few strokes with a file flattens the heads quickly. You can see the effect in this photo.


    Brass screws are easier to work than steel or stainless. Once the head is filed flat, polish them with 400, 600 and 800 grit sandpaper followed by brass or metal polish.
  2. Contrasting screws - Another simple idea is to use stainless screws on a brass reel or brass screws on an aluminum reel to add a little contrast. Another interesting technique is to patina brass screws with a bluing agent or home-brewed patina (see Tip #1 in the October Newsletter). You can also create a matte finish on the screw heads instead of a bright polished finish by sanding with 600 grit sandpaper.
  3. Washer beveling - Commercial washers are stamped out of sheet brass in high volume. I instruct builders to sand the flat surfaces to provide a nicer (and flatter) finish. Another simple detail is to bevel or round the edge of the washer as seen in this photo.


    It's easy to do, simple put the washer on the appropriate sized screw and fasten with a nut. Chuck the screw in your drill, drill lathe or lathe. With the washer spinning, bevel or round the edge with a smooth file followed by 400, 600 and 800 grit sandpaper. Remove from the screw and polish with brass polish.
  4. Custom washers - You can also make your own washers starting with round rod. Drill a hole about 1/4" deep in the end of the rod. Using a lathe helps but this can be done by hand too if you are careful. Slice off your washer - a little thicker than commercial washers gives a custom look. Finish the washer using the ideas above. I recessed the face of the washer in the following photograph to add a little more detail. This can be done easily on a lathe but you can also use a drill press with a counterbore to make the recess.


If you have any story requests or would like to submit a story or tip to the newsletter, please contact me at mhackney@eclecticangler.com.
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