Dave’s Handy Homemade Hotrod Helpfile

I made this tutorial quite a while back, but I thought I’d dig it up and front page it yet again. Enjoy!


Here’s my guide to making your very own multi-rods.

It’s very easy and will only set you back about $5/pair (instead of $15-$20 from the big boys.) Your cost may vary depending on the quality of your materials (like wood glue).

Plan on the project taking about an hour from start to finish. These materials will make a total of two pairs of multi-rods (a pair for you and a pair for your buddy that helped!)

So on with the show …

Here’s everything you’ll need to make your own multi rods: (26) 1/8″x48″ dowels, (4) 5/8″ plastic chair tips, at least a 2″ length of 3/4″ OD/5/8″ ID vinyl tubing, wood glue, measuring device, cutting device, electrical tape, and a handy pencil. All materials were purchased at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse.

First, start out by measuring and marking all your dowels at 16″ lengths. The lengths of dowels I got were 48″ which allowed for exactly 3 pieces per dowel.

After everything is marked, use your cutting device to cut the dowels down. Pruning shears are excellent for this. Don’t even bother with a saw as you’ll end up with many more split rods than not and you’ll only drive yourself to the brink of insanity doing so.

You should end up with a total of 78 16″ length pieces. Separate the rods into 4 piles of 19 rods each. You should have two left over that you can use as spare parts or as really long and springy chopsticks.

Now, you’ll want to make a mark at 7.5″ on one rod per bundle for tape and dipping purposes (more on that in a minute.)

Next, take each bundle and tamp the ends flat on one end.

You should end up with a rough, uneven end (the butt end) …

… and a nice smooth end (the tip end.) Note how the rods are bundled together. This is very important in maintaining a uniform shape. You should end up with one rod in the center, and then two more layers of rods that make a hexagonal shape.

Remember that 7.5″ mark from earlier? Now wrap tape below that mark around the rod. This not only helps to keep the rods together for dipping them, but also helps to maintain the hexagon shape.

Dipping time! Simply dip the butt ends of the rods into the wood glue up to the tape mark.

I got a big, fat bottle of wood glue so that I wouldn’t have to put the glue in a cup or try to dip the rods into a tiny bottle opening. Yeah, this glue was a bit more expensive, but it’ll last me 9 lifetimes and it has the word “Professional” on the bottle so it HAS to be good!

You’ll want to dip pretty close to the 7.5″ ring so as to make the handles nice and solid. While the rods are in the glue, swish them around to make sure the glue gets in and around all the inner rods.

When you pull the rods out, make sure to let the excess glue drip off.

After dripping, wipe off excess glue with a paper towel and wrap the butt end with a piece of electrical tape. Messy, yes, but this will help keep pressue on the rods for drying.

Let the rods dry for at least 30 minutes. This will make sure that at least the outside is dry enough for wrapping. Basically, dry until the rods are no longer tacky to the touch (and they’ll feel just like Vic Firth’s Akira Jimbo signature sticks … it’s weird.)

When the rod is dry enough to handle (handle .. get it?!) remove the butt end piece of electrical tape. Ewwwwww. Underneath, the rods are still pretty wet, but that’s ok, because we’re about to cap them off.

This is it. This is the secret to awesome, pro-quality homemade multi rods. These chair caps are sold in hardware stores and go a long way in making your rods look and feel great. Not only that, but the caps provide a good counter weight that helps with the odd balance felt by most rod sticks sold in stores. Granted, it’s not a hugely heavy counter weight, but it helps.

Simply slip (and by slip I mean cram with all your might and strength) the caps onto the gooey butt end of the rods. Not that it needs it, but the wood glue will further help to keep the cap in place.

Your rods should look something like this.

Now we’re ready to start wrapping. The color of wrap is entirely up to you. Any color vinyl tape will do. When wrapping, it’s very important NOT to stretch the tape. The vinyl will eventually stretch back and gunk up the stick. We glued these, so we’re not needing the wrap to hold the rods together – we just need a wrap for grip and aesthetics.

Start wrapping at the top ring of the rods and move down diagonally.

Take your time and be careful to overlap the tape consistently. I wrap mine with about a 3/16″ overlap, but the width is up to personal preference.

Wrap all the way down to the butt end cap but don’t wrap around it. This will stretch the tape and only lead to future gunking.

Go across the end with a separate piece of tape making sure to only wrap one time around. This will help prevent stretching and give the butt end a professional look and feel.

Now, do the same at the top to secure the beginning of the diagonal wrap.

Now that the rod itself is complete, it’s time to rip off Vic Firth’s Rutes and add an adjustable ring to our rods.

Get a piece of tubing available in the plumbing section of your hardware store. The size is 3/4″ OD (outer diameter) and 5/8″ ID (inner diamter). Mark off 1/2″ inch from the end. I know the pencil is very hard to see, but any other marking device (like a sharpie) would leave a permanant mark on the ring.

Now cut the tube off into a 1/2″ piece.

The ring may be tough to slip on at first, but will loosen up after a bit.

However, the ring will always be snug so you don’t have to sweat it flying off in the middle of a gig.

And you’re done! Don’t you feel empowered??

Like I said, the materials list that I outlined above yields 2 completed pairs so share the love of your new rods by giving a pair to a friend. Thanks for reading this and have fun making your own multi rods (and sticking it to the man for wanting to charge $20 for a pair of these things!)

© 2004 818 Studios. Photos by Shane Flynn

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