The Hand Mill has proven to be a very versatile machine. You can cut 8-, 6-, 5-, or 4-strip sections just by changing the cutter head which takes only a couple of minutes. The flat head cutter lets the user flatten bamboo strips so that other materials can be glued onto the inside to allow experimentation with different materials as cores. Using the swelled butt accessory kit that is included with the Hand Mill it is easy to make swelled butts. A recent addition is the Hollow Fluting Cutter that provides a tool for hollow fluting either butts or tips to lighten the rod and improve performance.

My experience has shown that cutting the strips with a slightly greater included angle cuts strips that glue up well with a reduced chance of having glue seams show on the finished rod. When inspecting rods glued with the slightly greater included angle they are just as sound as strips with no noticeable increase in internal glue space.

46-degree Cutter Head
This cutter head cuts strips for 8-strip or octagon rods. This is a novel configuration for those interested in experimenting with new designs. The cutter head is provided with two carbide inserts and insert fastening screws.


61.5-degree Cutter Head
This is the cutter head that I recommend for 6-strip rod construction. The cutter head is provided with two carbide inserts and insert fastening screws.


73.5-degree Cutter Head
This cutter head cuts strips for 5-strip or pentagonal rods. The cutter head is provided with two carbide inserts and insert fastening screws.


92-degree Cutter Head
This cutter head cuts strips for 4-strip or square rods. The cutter head is provided with two carbide inserts and insert fastening screws.

 image coming soon ...

122-degree Cutter Head
This cutter head cuts strips for 3-strip. The cutter head is provided with two carbide inserts and insert fastening screws. $125


Flat Cutter Head
This cutter head reduces the thickness of bamboo strips so that other material can be glued to the inside to lighten them or change their characteristics. The strips can be either parallel cut or taper cut. A process similar to this was used by EC Powell to make his cedar core rods. After the inner material is glued to the bamboo they would then be cut in the normal manner. The cutter head is provided with one carbide insert and insert fastening screw.

Plane weight

Plane weight bottom

Plane Weight
Over the years I have heard from a number of Hand Mill owners they preferred using a weight on top of their plane to set tapers rather than the pliers I have provided. We tried a weight in our shop and it convinced us the weight method provided more consistent results, greater accuracy, and faster adjustments. Therefore, beginning in 2012 we started supplying the weights with new Hand Mills.

I am offering the weights to previous customers if they would like to replace their pliers. The blackened steel weights are 2" x 3" x 4 1/2" and weigh right at 8 pounds. They have a piece of soft hook (the product name of the original product is Velco) to cushion the weight on the plane so it won't damage the top of plane. In addition they have 4 nylon studs covered with surgical tubing so it won't scratch the side of the plane while keeping it centered. They will fit both the old style plane and the new ones.


6 strip aluminum star

Using star

Aluminum Stars
When I owned Winston there were 6 strip metal stars for easily assembling bamboo splines into a section ready to tape prior to gluing. It's certainly not necessary but we find it to be very handy to assemble our sections. You can see one in the accompanying photos to see how they work.

I inquired on the Hand Mill list server who would be interested in them and there was a good response so I am providing them in 6, 5, or 4 strip configurations. They were cut out of aluminum with a water jet, then vibratory finished to round the edges to provide a smooth surface, and clear anodized for durability.

6-strip star assembler $29.00
5 strip star assembler $25.00
5 strip star assembler $21.50

Enamel remover

Enamel remover

Strip Flattener/Enamel Remover
I have had several inquiries about a Hand Mill tool to flatten bamboo strips on the enamel side while at the same time removing the enamel. I built a prototype holder that fits into the dial indicator holder/anvil shaver and pushes the bamboo strip into a 60 degree groove cut into a flat anvil. Then I cut a 60 degree parallel groove into 4 anvils for trials. First we tried it in our shop and it worked well. I then sent 2 units to Hand Mill users to try. They also had excellent results flattening the strips and removing the enamel. One user tried the 60 degree groove with 6-strip, 5-strip, and 4-strip configuration bamboo strips and it held all three easily.

As a result of these trials Im offering the flattening device with 2 anvils that have no taper with a 60 degree groove cut about .250 deep. You can shave these anvils down to the depth you want for both tip and butt strips. The plunger rod fits into the dial indicator holder/shaving tool and has a beveled 5/8 flat indicator unit on the bottom, a spring to hold tension against the strip, a nut to hold the unit in place, and directions. The dial indicator holder/shaving tool is necessary for the unit to work so if you dont have one you will need to purchase it separately. They have been provided for a number of years with the Hand Mill so many will have them.

Dial indicator holder/shaving aluminum block with insert $55.00

Star splitter
Click to Enlarge
Bamboo Steel Star Splitters

Ever since I started making bamboo rods at Winston I have used a bamboo pie type splitter to split poles into a variety of strip widths. Even though the grain of the bamboo is followed I think you get strips of a more uniform width and straighter than other methods and it's the easiest way I know to get them ready to power bevel or rough cut on the Hand Mill.

It was a challenge to find a method of cutting the steel fins from tool steel and to sharpen the blades but I've solved both problems by having the heads cut with a water jet. The water jet cutter is interesting. The working pressure is 87,000 pounds per square inch and it comes out of the nozzle at Mach 4 or about 2880 mph! Just before the water jet leaves the nozzle garnet sand is introduced and it does the cutting. They are cutting 90 splitter heads out of 2 pieces of 3/4" S7 tool steel sheet 24" by 36"and it takes about 15 hours per sheet. Then the fins are sharpened on CNC milling machine. I worked for several months on a bamboo splitter and had a design I was happy with. I tested an 18 strip prototype to split poles to make sure it worked properly. It did work but, as it ended up, not as well as it should have. I had a batch of 12, 18, and 20 fin heads made along with the bodies and pointed nut. I had them sharpened and chrome plated. I sent some to customers but they were much too difficult to get started into the bamboo because the top of the fins was flat. Also they were 2 ¾" in diameter which really isn't large enough to work well.

The only choices I had were drop the project or redesign the heads because the nut and body were good. I had an 18 fin head made bigger in diameter and with a 5 degree slope on the fins before sharpening. It enters the bamboo easily since the pressure is now on just a small area. Also since it’s bigger in diameter it’s always outside the bamboo giving well split strips. I am having a new batch of 12, 18, and 20 fin heads made that are 3 ¾” in diameter.. The Steel Star Splitters are available for immediate shipment.

The steel body is 1.4" in diameter and 3.2" long with a shoulder. The splitter heads are made from tough S-7 tool steel for strength and durability. The body and nut are made from 4140 tool steel and heat treated to a moderate temper so they are tough but, very importantly, not brittle. The fins are .065 " - .080 " thick for substantial strength, tapered 5 degrees on top, and are sharpened to a knife edge for penetrating the bamboo. The fins are 3/4" high which also makes them sturdy and helps keep alignment when you are splitting the bamboo poles. The heads are 3 3/4" in diameter with a solid core for the driver to hit against. If they need sharpening, which is unlikely unless they are used a lot, they can easily be sharpened with a regular or diamond file.

The nut is 7/8" in diameter and 1 1/4" long and is sharpened to a point so it will easily drive through dams. It's threaded inside so it will screw onto the bolt with a lock washer to hold the driver assembly firmly together. You can use a wrench on it and the bolt to tighten the unit together.

The bolts are also hard and won't deform as the splitter head is driven through the bamboo. I am supplying 2 so you have a spare even though I doubt you will need it. In the future if they should get damaged they are a standard bolt and can be purchased at hardware stores.

After the head is initially started using a heavy hammer you can use a 1" steel pipe to drive it through your bamboo pole. On the Hand Mill list server I asked users what fin configurations they would like. The three most popular numbers of fins were 12, 18, and 20.

You can buy it with one, two, or three heads.
12 Fin Splitter Head and Body -

18 Fin Splitter Head and Body -

20 Fin Splitter Head and Body -

12 Fin Splitter Head, 18 Fin Head, and Body -

12 Fin Splitter Head, 20 Fin Head, and Body -

12 Fin Splitter Head, 18 Fin Head, 20 Fin Head and Body -

(After having the original splitter heads that didn't enter the bamboo well or be the best diameter I have decided to cut every other fin off them to make a 9 & 10 fin head for those who process double width strips. They require a splitter body & nut to use. They do have fins that are flat but penetrate the bamboo easily because there aren't many fins. They are 2 3/4 "in diameter which is't ideal but by taping the top after the splitter goes through they will work.

9 Fin Splitter Head Only -

10 Fin Splitter Head Only -

Hand Mill Plane
The newly redesigned plane is available to current Hand Mill owners separately. Please write to me directly regarding availability and cost.


Shoe Assembly
The hold down shoe assembly consists of three parts: a body, a pivot arm, and a shoe. The whole assembly is fabricated from 303SE stainless steel that assures longevity and rust resistance. It mounts easily with just one screw in the present hole in the center of the cutter heads.

The pivot arm that holds the shoes is spring loaded so that it will hold the bamboo strips down and provide enough force to keep the bamboo strips centered within the shoe. The front of the arms has two slots to hold shoes; the first arm slot is about 1.80" from the cutters, and the second slot is about 1.40" from the cutters. Some rod makers prefer using the shoes in the front slot whereas others prefer the rear.

There are three different hold down shoes of 61.5 degrees, 73.5 degrees, and 92 degrees for 6-, 5-, and 4-strip rods. The shoes, which will hold even the smallest tip, are beveled in front so they slide easily on bamboo strips without digging in or catching.

The hold down shoe assembly is a significant improvement over the original plastic tip finger. I am recommending that the shoe be used with all Hand Mills, and in the future I will supply all new Hand Mills with hold down shoes.

measuring block

Aluminum Measuring Block
One of the challenges in cutting bamboo strips is their accurate measurement to provide glued sections that match the design taper. The Hand Mill provides a special situation for measuring bamboo strips because I have designed the cutter heads with a slightly increased cutting angle. To solve this dilemma I have made a measuring gauge block that includes special angles for the three primary rod designs that I make cutter heads for: 6-strip, 5-strip, and 4-strip. It has been proven that this method of measuring strips is the most accurate available.

The measuring block sits on a caliper and is held in place by a brass fastener so as to not damage the caliper. It is machined from 6061T6 aluminum alloy, is black anodized, and has the identifying angles labeled with engraved numerals coated with white paint. It comes with a .100" drill for calibration and instructions that include photographs.


Hollow Fluting Tool
The base and block of the Hollow Fluting Cutter are aluminum and are clear anodized for protection. The aluminum block has a bronze bushing pressed into it that guides the precision ground stainless steel rod and guide wheel. The rollers are made from stainless steel and have included angles of 64 degrees, 76 degrees and 94 degrees for 6-, 5-, and 4-strip rods respectively. This larger included angle makes sure that the rollers don't ride on the outsides edges of the bamboo when hollowing.

The Hollow Fluting Cutter comes with 6 carbide inserts that have an 11-degree positive rake for good chip clearance: 2 each with tip radiuses of 1/32", 3/64", and 1/16". Generally the 1/32" and 3/64" inserts would be used for hollowing tips or small butts whereas the 1/16" insert would be used for larger butts. The specifications for the carbide inserts are provided with the instructions.

Included with the hollowing tool is a micrometer tip that goes on the bottom anvil of a micrometer so you can measure the thickness of the hollowed wall. This attachment measures approximately .500" high. The tip has a 1/32" radius that will fit inside the hollow of a strip.

In order for the Hollow Fluting Cutter Attachment to work properly the shims from a swelled butt kit must be used. If you don't have the kit you will need to order it along with the fluting cutter.

Included with the Hollow Fluting Cutter is a detailed set of instructions with photographs.

Aluminum Angle
The aluminum angle accessory is available separately for original Hand Mills that were shipped prior to its inclusion. It is my recommendation that this accessory be used with all Hand Mills.

Dial Indicator Holder/Shaving Tool
This attachment fits on the front of the Hand Mill plane and is provided with new Hand Mills. It is a combination dial indicator holder and anvil shaving tool.

The dial indicator for adjusting a taper was originally affixed with a special holder to the rear of the plane in lieu of the plane handle with the dial indicator sticking out the back. This put the dial indicator at the opposite end from the cutting head and separated by the length of the plane. This method of attaching the dial would sometimes, but not always, result in slightly inaccurate readings. It was also cumbersome to use the dial indicator particularly when truing anvils. As a result of these observations I, along with my assistant Bill Blackburn, designed a combination dial indicator holder/shaving tool that not only holds the dial indicator but also provides a method of truing the top of anvils. The new unit mounts in lieu of the cutter head and puts the dial indicator just ahead of the point where the bamboo is cut resulting in very accurate measurements. Another feature of the new design is if you are truing an anvil it's easy to remove only the dial indicator and to readjust the truing cutter for precise anvil shaving.

The dial indicator holder/shaving tool holds a regular carbide insert perpendicular to the anvil so that when the anvil is trued the top is flat. Since the anvils are flat on top they will accommodate bamboo strips that have the natural outer curve of the bamboo or, if the user flattens the enamel side of the strips, they will also accommodate flat strips. Sometimes during the use of the Hand Mill an anvil may become damaged or it may be cut too narrow at the tip. You can use the shaving insert to dress the top of an anvil removing a few thousands of an inch of plastic anvil. The new shaving tool can be used for limited shaving of bamboo strips to flatten them on the pith side but won't hold up nearly as well as the tool steel flat cutter head for long term use.

The new dial indicator holder/shaving tool is made from aluminum and is clear anodized for good durability. A standard dial indicator fits into the tool and is held in place with a stainless steel set screw with a nylon tip to prevent damage to the indicator barrel. Included with it is a carbide insert and screw, two button head screws to attach it to the Hand Mill slide, and instructions.

Ingvar Nilsson of Sweden designed the original dial indicator holder that fit on the front of the Hand Mill and even though it was somewhat different from ours I appreciate and acknowledge his creativity.

Swelled Butt Kit
The swelled butt kit allows the user to cut strips with a swell for the traditional swelled butt rod designs. The kit consists of precision plastic shims that are 1/2" by 2" of .010", .020", .030", and .060" thickness and instructions. With this kit you can make a swelled butt from .020" to .120" in .020" increments over a distance of 2.5". This kit is standard with new Hand Mills.

Carbide Inserts
The carbide inserts are 60-degree included angle with a positive rake and a 1/64" tip radius. As of June 2011 the carbide inserts have been changed from C2 grade to C5 grade which provides a substantially longer cutter life as does a TIN coating on the rake face. In addition, the rake angle has been increased from 11 degrees to 15 degrees and the inserts are super polished on top both of which gives them a sharper cutting edge. The carbide inserts are sold in sets of two. As can be seen in the photographs the cutter head and not the carbide cutters themselves determine the cutting angle.
$20 per set of two.

Replacement Anvils
Should anvils become damaged any anvil can be purchased as a replacement. Some customers have purchased extra finishing anvils to provide more support when cutting quad strips. Normally, this would not be necessary unless quad rods over 8' are regularly made.

Magic Star Cutter
See Main Hand Mill Page

Extension Bed Attachment
See Main Hand Mill Page

Note about honing device:

There are some photos of the honing device I made for honing the outside of the male ferrules. It is a remarkable tool that works extremely well. Unlike most outside honing devices with large incremental adjustments for size this one adjusts in increments of .000050" or 50 millionths of an inch! Since posting the photos I have had a number of inquiries asking about purchasing one. I am not producing them but have considered it for a future project. If you are interested drop me a note and I will put you on a contact list in case I do make them.

Questions? Contact us:
21505 Norris Road
Manhattan, MT 59741


Phone: 406.282.7110
Fax: 406.282.7167

(Note: is no longer a working address)

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