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Shaping Bottleheads

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I have assembled some pictures on how I shape my bottle lips, I have tried to make it as easy to understand as I could. I know a lot of guys don't use large bottles but the pictures and dimensions are for a 3 1/2 oz. bottle plug. I did this because the larger size makes it easier to work with when you first start out. Once you make one to your liking it is easy to scale everything down a little bit and make smaller ones. The plug is 7 5/16" long. The head at the top is 1 3/8" dia. measuring down from the top of the plug 1" it is 1 3/16" dia. Measuring down from the top of the plug 1 13/16" is the center of the neck at 11/16'' dia. The taper of the head is probably the most important part to get the lip to form nicely.





These are the measurement that are laid out on the first one. You only have to do this once, further down in the pictures is a very quick way to trace that shape onto the rest of the plugs. For clarification the left and right sides are determined from looking down on the plug from the top. On the left and right sides I have measured down 1 1/8" and the put a mark 1/4" at that level towards the top of the plug. In the bottom view I have measured across the centerline at the top 7/16" each way to get the 7/8". Also in the bottom view the two measurements going down the plug are the chin weight and belly hook respectively.





Now all you have to do is connect the dots. One thing that is important is the deepest part of the lip is closer to the top than to the centerline. That's where the 1/4" mark towards the top comes in, that's the deepest point. I neglected to scribe this in but you can put a pencil mark on the centerline at 1 1/16" on the two sides as that is where your tracing should intersect the centerline.





This is how I shape out the lip using a 1" drum sander in my drill press. I go back and forth from one side to the other to try and get it to come evenly. In the second picture the first view is where I cut the top on the bandsaw to remove a good chunk of stock and save some time. Make sure you stay at least 1/4" away from the line or you will get a saw kerf that is deeper than you are going to sand. The next three views in the second picture show various stages of what it should look like while you are sanding up to the lines. On the first plug the drum sander make take it's own slightly different shape than the line you freehanded, that's ok. It's more important to try and not go past the depth marks on the top and sides.







Once I sand down to the line I take a rubber sanding block with a piece of 80 grit paper and smooth out the taper on the front of the lip which still looks a little ragged after the drum sander. You have to go easy with the hand sanding across the front of the lip, I've knocked off chunks of the edge before because you're sanding against the grain. I put a bevel on the front and finish with a little 220 grit paper with my finger inside the contours to smooth it out.





One of the hardest things to keep from doing is undercutting the face of the plug where the wire goes. I try to lay off the pressure when I get to the center of the plug while I'm using the drum sander. If you look at the space under the line in the first view, there is maybe a little more than 1/16". The second view has got too much space under the line, the sides don't slope enough to get a good wiggle. The third view is how I keep looking at the plug to make sure the sides are even. It's better to go past your marks on one side or the other to even off the edges. It makes for a straighter swimming plug.





Once you have a shape you are happy with and swims well, this is an easy way to preserve that shape. Wrap a piece of 1 1/2" masking tape around the plug,overlapping in the back.use an exacto knife or a single edged razor blade and carefully cut along the edge of the lip. Peel off the tape and transfer it to a piece of hard plastic that you can cut easily, I use bondo spreaders. Trace and cut out the shape in the plastic, now you can lay 2 or 3 pieces of tape over the plastic and cut out the exact shape very quickly. Usually after 4 or 5 tracings the stickiness has left the tape and I'll grab a new piece depending on how many I'm tracing.







[This message has been edited by mrpogie (edited 01-12-2003).]

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Once I cut a piece of tape I put a little center mark in the middle and use that to line up the tape on the top side of the plug. I use 5 marks, the one on top at 13/16", the two on the sides at 1 1/16" where the line intersects the center line and the two on the back at 7/8". Follow the marks with the tape and trace it out.





This is the weighting pic. One small piece under the chin it wieghs 4 grams,I'm not sure in ounces.This helps it to roll over right away and to start digging. The back piece is 5/16" thick and 1 3/4" long., it weighs 16 grams which is a little over 1/2 oz. With hooks and finish the plug weighs 94.8 grams which is 3.4 oz. ...mrpogie



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That is excellant Kevin icon14.gif Thanks for the pictorial and how to.


I wish there was a separate forum for the plug builders where we can put classic threads like this that are important enough to just have 1 or 2 pages of threads so it's easy enough to find them among all the other threads. Maybe Tim can do that, and guzz or someone could fill it with the how to threads and make them read only.cwm40.gif

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Outstanding! Almost as good as standing next to you at Slips and watching you do it.


I added the chin weight to a batch of 6 2oz swimmers I am making, and as you told me, they righted themselves on the table top. 1/4" dia x 3/16 deep wieght. I will have them finished next weekend and ready to test. I will give the locals something to chuckle about when I take the plugs for a test swim down in the North River, and they get to see some fool out there fishing in the middle of the winter



“Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” 

― Mark Twain

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icon14.gif Excellent pictoral and instructions mrpogie. You make it look easy, though I know these plugs can be a real pain. I second slips suggestion of a separate area to store step by steps like these that for future reference. I'm making a copy of this one. Thanks again for sharing.



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