Building Your Own Epoxy Drier For Better Saltwater Flies By: Jason Akl
Many of today's popular saltwater fly patterns are using the rediscovered great minnow imitator: 5-minute epoxy, in their construction. Epoxy has recently become a popular material to use when creating saltwater flies. This is due to the added durability it brings to flies against toothy fish, as well as the superb realism it allows fly tiers to yield when creating bait-fish mimics. Epoxy is not a new material to the fly tying world, it has been around for the better part of four decades, but many fly tiers still feel imitated by this basic 2- part adhesive. Some of the fear comes from the belief that in order to use epoxy effectively on flies the individual is going to need an expensive rotary drier to allow the fly to set smoothly and finish properly. This statement contains only half truths. Yes, an individual does need some sort of rotating device to finish flies because turning more than two flies a day by hand can be a trifle overwhelming, but on the other-hand it does not need to be an expensive undertaking either. There are many good epoxy drying devices on the market today such as the NuWave Head Spin HS-1 fly drier but these types of products can be a little expensive for the recreational fly tier who wants to try his hand at epoxying just a few flies for his own needs. Building your own epoxy drier can be a weekend project for most people, and the product will produce a quality drier that will outlast even the most ambitious tiers.
The approximate cost of building your own epoxy drier runs anywhere between 15 and 30 dollars, depending on what kind of materials you have lying around the house. If you are like myself and have trouble throwing away anything (you don't have to admit it aloud) then you probably have almost everything you need right in your basement or closet. If you decide to go through with this project the material list is as follows: 2 foot piece of 1x4 wood, one 7 rpm motor, one AC/DC adapter (or 6 volt battery), two wire locks, one old wine bottle cork, a small piece of foam, and eight assorted screws.
First and foremost you will need to find somewhere to get the motor. Make sure that you buy a motor that is between the 7 and 18 RPM rating (I have found 7-RPM motors to be the best for drying flies, they are slow and smooth giving the perfect shape). Nuwave tackle sells them for around 20 dollars, but if you are good at searching the Internet I have heard from friends that you can find them for as cheap as 7 or 8 bucks. The motor is the most important part of the set up, so make sure that the one you buy is right for the job. Next, you are going to need some source of power for the motor. A lot of the epoxy dryers purchased on the market use 6 volt batteries to power them and you are suppose to get quiet a long life from each battery.
Supposedly, 6 volt batteries give you around 400 hours of turning power, which sounds like an eternity, but if the one time you finally epoxy the perfect minnow and the battery runs dead, you will have a not-so-perfect sagging fly. If you are building your custom epoxy drier from scrap, why not spend the time and attach an AC/DC adapter. The adapter will allow you to directly plug the drier into any electrical outlet so you can run it for any amount of time without worrying about the battery going dead while you are not around. Who knows, you might someday need the drier to finish that new rod you have always been dreaming of building, would you chance that to a battery? I was lucky enough when building my own epoxy drier to find an old AC/DC adapter pack tucked away in my basement, after some simple wiring it was ready to be mounted. If you have trouble finding an adapter pack to attach to your motor, try going to Home Depot; I have heard from friends that they carry them for a good price. You are also going to need some wood to mount the motor on. Almost any wood will work; just make sure that it is sturdy enough so that when the motor is mounted it will not fall over.
Finally, you are going to need something to stick the flies into so that the drier can spin them. There are many ways in which one can do this, but personally I use an old wine cork glued inside of some flexible foam. The cork is used as the center mount for the spinning apparatus because it can be pulled on and off the rotating motor shaft and still not slip the next time flies need to be spun. It sounds like quiet a bit of work, but you will see that if you follow the step-by-step instructions and pictures below you will have a great rotary drier for all your epoxying needs. The step-by-step construction of your epoxy drier: Step 1. Start by getting a 1x4 piece of wood (does not matter what type) and cutting it into two strips that are of equal length. I used two 12-inch pieces of pine.
Step 2. Cut one of your two strips of wood in half, making two separate 6 inch pieces (Make the cuts with what ever tools you have - circular saws make this easy and a give nice straight cuts, but a basic hacksaw will do the trick as well). Cut the other 12-inch piece down to 7 inches in length. You now should have two separate 6-inch pieces and one 7-inch piece of wood.
Step 3. Mark ½ inch in, on all four corners of one of the 6 inch pieces to be drilled (to attach the two 6 inch pieces together). On the second 6-inch piece mark two holes to be drilled along the centerline (to attach the center stand). On your 7 inch piece of wood, mark out where you are going to be putting the hole so that the motor can be mounted (I used a 2 ½ in drill bit to bore out the hole for the motor).
Step 4. This is the completed stand for the motor. The two six inch pieces are used to make the stand base and the 7-inch piece was bored out to make the motor rest. I also finished my epoxy drier with some left over cherry stain to give it a nice finished look.
Step 5. Strip the end of the AC/DC adapter and connect it correctly to the end of the motor (there is only four wires to connect together the 2 positive and the 2 negative). Add wire locks to the connected wires to keep them from loosening and a little electric tape to keep everything in place. Make sure you do not forget to feed one half of the wire through the opening in the stand you made or else you will have to take it all apart and do it again.
Step 6. Place the motor in the hole you bored out for it. If the hole is too big, like in my case, simply add side straps of wood to make the bored out hole a little smaller. Make sure that your completed stand, with the motor in place is sturdy and won't shake and fall over. The last thing you want is the whole thing falling over when it begins to turn your flies.
Step 7. Take your wine bottle cork and a piece of 1/2 x 4-inch thick foam. I used the foam from an old bike pad, but anything else you have will work. Make sure to push the cork onto the motor's rotating shaft first to make the center hole. Them simply place the foam around the cork and either staple or glue it down.
Step 8. After the roller is complete, place it on you motor and plug the unit in. The roller should rotate as the motor turns, nice and slow without slipping. Now all that remains is to tie up a batch of your favorite minnow patterns and splash on some epoxy.
Tight lines and Smooth treads. Jason Akl
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