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hydro

How to make a crappie landing net

38 posts in this topic

Over the years I have done a lot of fishing for crappies with an ultra light spinning rig, using the lightest line possible, normally 2lb test but when I can find it I go to 1 lb test line. I’ve found that the light line gives me many advantages but at the same it allows more break offs during the landing process. Another of my hobbies is woodworking and I had made a net specifically for landing crappies out of the boat that I had at the time, a 17’ Alumacraft. The net was laminated out of strips of Koa, a hardwood from Hawaii, and featured a short handle and a shallow net to avoid tangling. It worked great from the seat of the old boat, but I now have a different boat and the old net handle is to short. I decided it was time to make a new net, and this thread will document how it was done.

Here is a picture of the old net

net6a.jpg

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Since the old net hoop dimensions worked very well, I decided to keep the hoop the same size. To establish the new handle length, I taped a stick to the old net and sat in the boat seat to test where the grip felt the best. I decided that an overall length of 36” would work the best. With the dimensions set, I drew a scale version on the computer, then drew the added the form necessary to glue everything up. Once I had the print to scale, I lofted out the hoop dimensions and drew a full scale pattern of the inside of the hoop and the mating handle shape, then cut them out to use as patterns.

The plan

net7a.jpg

The pattern

net13a.jpg

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To make the new net I used some old rosewood veneer that I had laying around and some matching color wood for the handle core. The veneer is .028” and I used 8 strips for the lamination to give a hoop thickness of about .230”. I wanted the handle to be 1.125” wide so I subtracted twice the lamination thickness to find the handle core width. Since the handle featured flares at each end, I glued blocks on then cut them away to shape the flare.

Here is the veneer

net1.jpg

The form is made with a core for the hoop and it used the handle as its own core. I made cauls to follow the shape around the hoop and handle, accounting for the lamination thickness. The veneer strips are cut a little wide to give some overlap for cleanup later. Weather resistant glue was applied to the laminate strips and the handle with a small paint roller and the assembly wrapped around the form and clamped up. It should sit for at least 24 hours to allow the moisture from the glue to even out throughout the lamination and the glue to cure properly.

net2a.jpg

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Once the glue has cured, the net frame can be carefully removed from the jig and inspected for any defects. At this stage it is easy fix small splits in the lamination. The assembly should now set for a couple more days to dry out and gain strength. When the lamination is still damp it is quite flexible but it stiffens up as it dries out.

Here it is just off the jig

net3a.jpg

Once it has sufficiently cured, I cut off the excess lamination with the bandsaw and a hand plane, being careful to maintain a constant width on the hoop portion. From here it goes to the router table for rough shaping. The handle gets a ½” radius cut and the hoop gets a smaller ¼” radius. The two cuts blend at the flare to the hoop.

Here is the first pass over the router

net4a.jpg

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Now, the net that I chose was for an 11” X 14” trout net, and I needed to set up the attachment system. The net is laid out on the table and the attachment loops counted.

net15a.jpg

This net has 42 loops so I measured the inside of the hoop with a piece of tape, then I divided the length by 42. It came out to just short of .900” so I set my compass to a fat 7/8” and starting from the centerline, I divided out the perimeter of the hoop.

net9a.jpg

I drilled the holes and countersunk them, and put one hole in the center of the handle that will accept a small screw eye. From here it is really beginning to look like a finished net frame. The frame is sanded with 120 grit paper to remove the machining marks and blend the contours. Any remaining small defects can be addressed at this stage. The last step here is to sand with 180 grit paper to clean up the holes and final blend all contours.

net10a.jpg

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The next step is finishing the frame. I chose a gloss polyurethane varnish which will give a nice shiny finish. I do the finish in several steps, the first is to apply a thin coat and sand everything smooth with 180 grit paper followed by a buff with a red scotchbrite pad. That gets rid of all the dust nubs and defects in the surface. Following the sanding coat are more coats until the desired depth of finish is achieved. A note here is to use spar varnish which gives a nice thick finish build up and contains UV inhibitors to keep the wood from fading.

First coat

net14a.jpg

Well that's all for today until the varnishing is done. I'll update with the net modification and attachment in a few days.

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Very Nice! I could have used that net recently. I found some nice crappies and I lost two of them due to the line breaking just about the time I was reaching for them.

Good Work and Thanks for sharing your efforts.

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Hydro, that is one sweet looking net. You are a heck of a craftsman. Good stuff. Can't wait to see the finished product. Don't forget to show us a pic of a thick slab laying in that thing too.

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All I can say is, awesome! I wish I had the patience for that. Looks really cool.

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Why not just take an old tennis racket, remove the webbing and attach a net to it. I know it just would be the same though. Nice craftsmanship - you got skills!

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Dude ... that is frickin' amazing. Great work! You should consider selling these on-line. I would think they would sell pretty good.

Ever consider making a custom ice scooper for ice fishing?

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Just curious, why veneer? With all of that work why not make it solid wood? My woodworking mentor is religious about solid oak and while I see the benefits of other hardwoods I do know I will never veneer anything. Like putting a dress on a pig IMO.

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Fishinjohn,

Two responses to that one.

First I used veneer for the beauty of the wood and the fact that it is aready conveniently sliced to thickness. Wood like the rosewood that I used is rare in solid planks, and never at a cost that is close to affordable. The original net was fabbed from solid Koa cut into thin strips (to enable it to be bent dry) and the process of sawing and smoothing the strips produces about 75% waste. Veneer is the best choice for this application. Solid wood will not bend around a form like this without being softened first by steaming, and even then many woods will simply not bend without snapping.

Second, I have been doing woodwork for over 25 years and I've heard the comment about veneer being "like putting a dress on a pig" many times. That is a viewpoint held by those who do not understand the correct ways to work with this material. While there is a place for solid wood construction, there is also a place for veneering a surface. Consider that a plank of tropical hardwood will fetch upwards of $50.00 a board foot, is inherently unstable to work with, and makes a piece of solid furniture that is prone to cracking and warping. The same piece, properly constructed of stick frames and veneer panels will remain solid, straight and beautiful for generations.

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Wow, that is really nice. Looks like Bjorn Borg's tennis racket. smile You have a true woodworking gift.

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Have you ever thought about adding a couple layers of Carbon Fiber?

I was watching "How it's made" the other night and they went through the process of making a Yacht Wheel. The carbon fiber was not only appealing to the eye, it also added a bunch of strength.

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dtro,

Carbon fiber would make a very sharp looking frame and very strong as well. Considering that my lamination is about 1" by 87" long it would get rather pricey too smile

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Thats a beauty all right! I've been useing my smelting net for years as a crappie net on big Red Lake slabe. Not quite the looker that yours is, but it works great!

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Hydro, anyway you look at it that is a nicely done net. I build custom rods and that is a tedious hobby too, so I do appreciate seeing something like that. Thanks for sharing your process of making it. May have to make a stab at something like that some day.

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Great Information.

As a fellow woodworker, that is some premium work.

Beautiful.

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