Friday, March 15, 2013

"D.I.Y." Fly reel shelf

This one isn't nearly as cool as my DIY fly rod rack or even my DIY fly tying bench, but based on the popularity of those two posts (#1 and #2 most popular posts on this blog respectively) I figured this one might be of some interest.


This piece is far simpler than either of the aforementioned DIY projects. The only real figuring was deciding how many spaces I wanted and how big I wanted them to be. I ended up settling on 16 spaces that measure 4.5" each. My largest reel is about 4.25" so that determined the size of the spaces. It's a pretty close fit for that particluar reel. It's located in the space at bottom right. It is a J.W. Young reel branded for L.L. Bean's "Guide" series. The reel pictured to its left is the same type in a smaller size. I'm certainly no collector of Young reels, but I do have a thing for L.L. Bean. There are five other Bean reels on the shelf including my Hardy made GQS. I think some of the smaller reels, like the antique Pflueger Medalist #1492 in the upper left, look a bit dwarfed by the 4.5" spaces. So, if your reel collection trends toward smaller reels, I would recommend making the spaces smaller.

I used 1 x 4 pine for all but the top which is a 1 x 6. I got a little carried away during the process and ended up cutting too many pieces for the shelves. I actually used up wood that should have been left to complete the top, but it turned out to be a "happy accident" (term my 9th grade art teacher used way too often)... one of those situations that worked itself out in a really nice way. Without enough 1 x 4 left to make the top, I opted to use a 1 x 6. I think it capped the piece off very nicely, and I ended up with a larger, more functional top shelf.

I decided to employ the top shelf to help organize my pile of ultralight spinning reels from days gone by. Those reels have caught a lot of fish and have taken quite a beating over the years. Some of them are "Franken-reels" assembled from random interchangeable parts from several donor reels of different brands. None of those spinning reels were expensive or high quality when new, but they served me well and are still functional. They deserve a nice place to spend retirement... but they don't need to be mounted to a board or put in a sealed shadow box. They may be called back to active duty at any time.

In case you were wondering, this is how the boards are cut to create the square spaces.


This is not precision carpentry by any means. As with most of my carpentry pieces the finished product has a rustic quality. I used a Danish oil finish in a walnut color to give it the look I wanted.

My goal was to create a shelf that would get the majority of my reels (and spare spools) in one place... instead of stashed among several separate gear bags. I wanted to be able to look at the wall and easily locate the reel that I want to use on any given day. Now when a reel is out of place, I'll know it.

The only problem is that this shelf filled up so quickly, and I already need a second shelf. At least I got an unintentional head start...


If you have any thoughts or questions, please don't hesitate to ask or comment below.

16 comments:

  1. That's pretty nice and a great idea!

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  2. This is a pretty cool and simple idea. I dig it!

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    1. Thanks, Justin. Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. That is really great. nice work, Jay. I agree with Justin; the simplicity makes it even better.

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    1. Thanks, David. It is pretty simple, especially if you have a finish air nailer to help with assembly. It went together very quickly.

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  4. Pretty cool Jay. I'm glad you posted this as I envy people who can cut straight lines and make things. Everything I do looks and acts like an ashtray. Nice reel collection too!

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    1. Thanks, Howard. My reel collection is not nearly as impressive in real life... I promise. I'm glad to know the photo has at least given the illusion of a nice collection.

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  5. I'm impressed with both the reel collection and the shelf. It would make a great addition to any man-cave.

    You made a fundamental mistake, however. Where are your new reels going to go? In a book by Patrick McManus he explains the importance of having a gun safe with a false back. You see, you start with your four guns and place the false back right behind them, so the safe looks full. As you collect more guns, you gradually move the false back with them. That way, when your wife asks if you have been spending all the family's money on guns, you can say, "No, where would I put them anyway, the safe is full!" I guess you don't have that problem as Kelly probably gets as much use out of the reels as you do and probably has a collection of her own! (I highly recommend any Patrick McManus book, by the way, must reads for the outdoorsman!)

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    1. Kirk, thanks for the comment and the book recommendation. I thought Kelly might be a bit bothered when she saw how many reels there really are (now that they're all in one place), but she didn't have any negative comments... so I think I'm pretty safe.

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  6. Jay
    What an awesome piece of craftmenship; and a great way to store your reels. Just curious how many of the those fly reels do still? I really focused in on the bronze and silver finished fly reels. What are the brand names of the bronze reels. Thanks for sharing

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    1. The bright gold reel/spool and the nickel finish one to the right of it are Worldwide Sportsman Gold Cup fly reels for 7/8/9 wt lines. These are a Bass Pro house brand, but pretty well made with good reviews. I've only really used one of them. All of the reels pictured are in good working order, and most of them have been used. I'm still waiting to use the old Pflueger and the big J.W. Young, but hopefully they'll get some action this year.

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  7. If I had such a collection of reels, I would definitely want to showcase them like this. For now, I will just have to enjoy looking at your fine case of reels.

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    1. Thanks, RD. As I told Howard, the collection looks more impressive than it really is. It's a pretty lowly assortment, but they've all got their place and they're functional. I'm not real big on trendy or flashy stuff.

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  8. Excellent. I may try the display soon. I am working on an "air" hockey table in which I found designs in a Popular Mechanics. Kid sized. I have a nice little jig saw which will be perfect for your display rack. I am looking to make a shadow box too.

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    1. Josh, a jigsaw would work well, but I actually just used a handsaw and 3/4" chisel to pop the pieces out from the center. I like using old fashioned hand tools when I can... old skool.

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