I've just completed prepping a bunch of strips and am ready to start planing tapers. I have yet to do all the staggering and grouping for rod sections but will do that in the next couple days. I plan on soaking prior to planing and am wondering about what other's processes are like, for soaking, what sort of soak tank/tray and processes for keeping groups together as they are removed soaking for planing, etc.
I've been in frequent contact with Steve Yasgur on my whole prep process, making tooling for both of us, etc. I have been soading in vertially setup PVC pipe. This works, but it is modestly annoying to try pulling individual strips out and it isn't really possible to select them. Steve uses a length of rain gutter horizontal on a bench. We've discussed a similar arrangement using 4" PVC pipe opened lengthwise with caps on the end. I like this idea even though it requires significantly more space that the vertical pipe tanks.
I'm also curious how others are staging additional groups in the soak tank while working on planing strip from any given group. It seems necessary to have some in the tank soaking for a while so they are ready when the first group is completed.
I'm interested to hear from folks,
I now steam my nodes as part of node prep, but I used to soak. I used vertical PVC pipe and pulled individual strips out of the water with a flexible gripper. It has a springloaded plunger that you push on to have 3 claws come out the other end.
We also use a rain gutter tank. After rough planing and heat treating we soak strips at least overnight and up to 2 days with as many as 4 rods in the tank separated with a metal divider so the strips stay in their groups of 6. This is much easier than trying to fish them out of a small opening in a vertical tube and delicate tips are visible rather than submerged at the bottom of a vertical tube.
We take them down with the Handmill to 20 thousandths over and dry bind them to address any gaps or potential glue lines. Then (usually the next day when they are fully dry) we soak one strip at a time for the time it takes to plane another strip to final planing dimensions. That way each strip only gets a few minutes of soaking so the last few passes with the handmill are on dry bamboo. This ensures an accurate stable measurement as they will shrink with drying. We plane them to 4 thousandths over final at that step and then take the enamel off after glue up to final rod dimensions.
This is essentially the same procedure we learned from Ric when we took the rod making class at TMR a number of years ago. We've never felt any need to change it as it works very well for ease of planing and hitting the taper numbers.