Genuine Bellinger Professional Grade Steel Planing Forms


This is the genuine article, essential for all bamboo rodmakers.

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Product Description


(Shipping estimates – your charge may be slightly higher)

  • $90 Inside Oregon
  • $125 West of The Rockies, except Oregon
  • $135 East of The Rockies
  • International Shipment On a Case by Case Basis – Please Contact Us BEFORE You Order.

These are well thought-out professional grade and professionally-made planing forms.

  • We start with two bars of ¾” x1-1/4” x 72” highly-machinable, 1018 cold-rolled steel. The bars are mated together and the surfaces are ground uniformly flat and parallel to create two 1-1/2” wide planing surfaces – this is critical to proper planing technique and sound rodmaking fundamentals.  The width makes for a great visual reference and is ideal for keeping the block plane centered over the bamboo strip while planing; whether you use and an old school Stanley, a ported, modern marvel or a groovy soul plane.
  •  We machine the 60 degree tip and butt groove as precise as possible on a CNC mill with 72” length capability.  We machine the slope with a consistent .001” to 1” drop – square and plumb to the uniformly ground surfaces which together creates the 60 degree equilateral groove in which we secure the strips.  We have found the precision of the CNC mill exceeds anything we could achieve with our knee-mill. Taper reliability is directly related to the precision of the groove.
  • We have designed our forms using an over-lapping groove rather than the more common continuous groove. The advantage of an over-lapping groove is that it provides for many more options on where the rodmaker can place the bamboo strip so it is securely held in the form while maintaining sound rodmaking fundamentals and proper technique.  Also the starting depth dimensions of our over-lapping groove makes for a wider range of tapers that can be made on our forms; making the half-dimension for Catskill Fairy (.050”) size tips to the butt (.475”) section of a two-handed spey quite possible.
  • The taper adjustment stations are on 5” centers throughout the length of our forms.  Precision dowel pins are placed between the adjustment stations and keep the bars in alignment.   The push/ pull adjustment stations operate by manipulating the two screws that are located on opposite sides of the form.  This makes it very easy to operate the adjustment wrenches while reading a depth gauge.  Our adjustment station hardware is sized for the dimension of our forms.  For a “puller” we use a 3/8” shoulder bolt with 5/16” coarse threads and a 5/16” fine threaded cap screw for the “pusher”.  We insert a ball-bearing between the push screw and the planing form.  The ball-bearing reduces the surface tension between the end of the cap screw and the planing form bar and makes adjustment very smooth.  Adjustments are made using hex-“T”-wrenches.
  • We want to make keep our forms as affordable as possible without compromising those things that are important to rodmakers or those things that are important toward maintaining sound rodmaking fundamentals and proper technique.

Swelled-butt planing forms are made to the same tolerances as our standard taper planing forms but undergo an additional machining step which increases the slope of the 60-degree tapered groove by .040″ over 2-1/2″.

This dramatic change in the swelled-butt depth can be expanded using the adjustment screws to execute tapers for the most extreme swelled-butt rods. The swell is located on the butt side of the form outside the normal planing area and will not interfere with your ability to plane non-swelled tapers on this form.


Joe wrote: Hey Golden Witch! I got your DVDs today.  I already watch the “Making Bamboo Blanks” and can’t wait for watch the next. … I am eagerly ready to learn how to build bamboo fly rods. … I need to start acquiring tools and I would like to purchase the Bellinger steel planing forms to build two handed fly rods as well as heavier weight single handed rods. I just want to ask and make sure this is the right planing form for me.  Thank you so much!  And looking forward to ordering so much more from you!!!  Tight lines!

You all know I can be wordy.  Here’s my (edited) response:

Hi Joe, I earn my living helping folks…selling parts and tools pays the bills, but the reason makers buy through our shop is that I always try to take time to answer questions.  I will OFTEN point you in the direction of something I’ve already written – our Rambles and product details on the website – but if I need to work up new info, I will….and then I’ll post that info on the website for others to learn from.  I remember clearly how challenging it was for me when I was a beginner, and I remember how reluctant folks (other than my mentor) were to share information.  I’ve always taken the opposite tack.  I want to share how-to info, and some opinions as well, which is how I play my part in helping to preserve the craft.  Bamboo rodmaking, as a body of knowledge, requires skilled hands and skilled minds actively engaged in making rods; these hands, these minds, are in a constant state of turn-over as makers retire, pass away, or turn to other endeavors, so the craft needs new adherents.  I’m glad you’re asking questions and moving forward.

It sounds like you’re out to make large rods…big fly rods and maybe some Spey rods.  To the best of my knowledge, the Bellinger form (regular or swelled butt) is the best made form currently on the market.  They took some ideas from the forms we used to make and sell (GW’s Z-1 forms…long out of production; hat tip here to Tim Abbott for some of the notions employed in both of these forms).  There’s no other form I can recommend, which is why we sell these on our site.  In terms of diameter, you can make pretty darn large rods.  The catch is always length.  You’re limited to how long a section you can make, so you’d be very hard pressed to make a two piece rod longer than 9’ 6”…maybe 10’.   Even though the forms can accommodate a bit more bamboo, you always plan some scrap onto both ends of the rough blank sections which is then trimmed away after you glue and scrape the blanks, at the point when you’re figuring out ferrule locations and whatnot.  That said, this is not a problem.  Most makers and anglers don’t want to tote around ridiculously long rod cases, so the very long rods tend to be made as three or four piece rods.  Not a problem.  Plane out your butt; plane the mid on the butt side of the form (in most cases); plane the tips out on the tip side of the form.  If you have two mids, a lower mid and an upper mid, on a four section rod, you’ll need to fiddle with the forms relative to the desired rod taper to determine where to plane out each section.  Usually it would be the butt and lower mid on the butt side of the form and the upper mid and tip sections on the tip side of the form.

If I can offer a ‘nudge’ of advice: make at least one or two smaller (7’6” or 8’) rods first.  The smaller scale makes fitting ferrules a bit easier your first time out.  Once you understand experientially (as opposed to conceptually) how to make rods start to finish, then scale up your operation and make a few larger two-piece, one-handed rods, say a nine footer or two and a something a hair larger.  Once you’ve got two piece rods nailed, move over to working on three piece rods.  By adding challenges as you move forward, each challenge will seem modest relative to previous rods.  After you’ve made a couple three piece rods in the nine foot range, then start making three or four piece two-handed rods.  I really think you’ll be glad you worked through a progression of rods to get to the first two-handed rod.  You can always fish the others, or sell them.  As a novice rodmaker, you’ll discover all your very best fishing buddies and relatives will be angling for one of your bamboo rods.  Great…this is the ideal way to learn and keep costs low.  I always suggest that new makers charge actual component cost (the bamboo, ferrules, cork, and all the rest) when selling these first ‘trial’ rods.  Your time is your learning.  If your buddy wants to comp you for your time, fine, but only insist on being comped for parts because that allows you to instantly have the ability to start work on the next rod.  If you make ten rods in your first year (as opposed to ten rods over ten years), you’ll start to feel that each step is “old hat” and you’ll be ready to branch out creatively to explore alternate construction techniques, advanced aesthetics, taper modification and design, and all the rest.  There are an infinite number of rabbit holes to explore inside the warren that is custom rodmaking!

Also, if you don’t already have Roughing & Intermediate Forms (or a beveler), you’ll want something to prep the strips for the steel form.

Hope this helps your planning – and your planing.  If you have more questions, I should be back in the office tomorrow morning.  I try to respond to emails each weekday morning except when I’m working at the millhouse cutting bamboo.


Things to follow up with, starting with information:

Two Video Set – Making Bamboo Blanks & Finishing Bamboo Rods (DVD)


Our very short Bamboo Adhesive Ramble:

Bamboo Blank Adhesives

The Roughing & Intermediate Forms:

Roughing & Intermediate Forms

And I mentioned rolling out blanks…here’s that tool:

Bamboo Roller

Center Gauge

Additional information


Standard, Swelled Butt