For Christmas 2016, I decided to make a hobo fishing kit for my brother-in-law. I thought it would be a great personal gift that was both practical and thoughtful.
I did a fair bit of research on the types and styles that other users had made from all over the world; Pinterest was a great visual tool that provided the link through to the article on how to build as well.
I gathered a number of ideas, photos and descriptions, including dimensions, and started to make some key decisions on the style, the size and also what type of material I wanted to use.
To bring the idea to life though I needed some extra help – my Uncle Tim is a Master Woodworker and has every tool and machine needed for the job. So following a quick call, we caught up at the next family gathering and went through ideas over a beer (or two).
The research I was doing brought to light a number of things that we would have to consider and work through to ensure that we created a robust and workable piece of kit. The things I wanted to ensure we covered were the following:
- Large enough to be held with strength, in one hand
- Be able to hold all the extra fishing items within the body of the device
- Have a lanyard for attaching to yourself or your bag etc.
- Have a nice handle made from either leather or cordage
- Be made from natural material instead of plastic
So armed with our ideas, photos and plan of attack, we got to work.
Type of Wood and Design Style
I wanted a natural material so the first discussion was what type of wood to use. Tim recommended using both Camphor Laurel and Pine. The Camphor is actually classed as a weed in Australia, but the wood had a beautiful grain running through it, and smelt amazing once we started working with it.
The Pine again had a lovely grain and was a good choice due to its natural quality for building furniture and tools.
With the material sorted, we turned to the design. This was an interesting one as there were so many styles that we had both seen and used. Of all the natural designs I had seen, there were two that stood out as both aesthetic on the eye, as well as ticking the most requirements from my list. I found both of these designs on Pinterest:
We took these designs and dimensions as our base and move to the wood turning and shaping.
Both fishing kits started out life as rectangular blocks of wood, so the turning took up a fair bit of time with slow but steady work breaking down the block until it became cylindrical in shape. Constant removal from the lathe was required to gauge the thickness and ensure it was comfortable when holding in your hand. We also had a little helper ensuring that we took safety first, and cleaned up after ourselves!
For most of the afternoon, we turned the wood and the design started to take shape. Where the fishing line for Adrian’s hobo kit sat, we decided to make it more of a conical shape. This was to ensure that when throwing out the line from the device, it spooled correctly and didn’t snag. I was keen to try a flatter design, so on the other piece of wood, we made the fishing line storage area a consistent level throughout.
Great care was also taken when turning out the hilt that separated the handle from the line area. Again we had to stop and test a couple of times to ensure this felt comfortable in the hand.
This was a tricky point and again required a bit of thought before we dived in. We wanted to ensure that there was sufficient bite on the lid of the compartment that it held securely, but was not too difficult to remove when you needed to get in. It was slow and fiddly work, but Tim did a super impressive job and ensured the lids could be twisted to both open and close perfectly. At that point in the day, there was only the finer points and decorative elements to complete, and we had to get the kids home for dinner and bed. Tim finished the rest of these aesthetic details the next day.
The last few things required to complete the hobo kit were simple enough for me to do from home, so I picked up the items from Tim, and headed back to finish them off.
The lanyard hole was simple enough to do, I liked the simplicity of having just one hole driven through the handle so using a wood drill bit and a good power drill.
I secured the hobo kit in a vice and drilled a diagonal hole from one side of the handle through and out of the top of hobo kit as close to the middle as I could get it.
Mindful of the fact that the Hobo Fishing Kit is likely going to spend most of its life around the water, I wanted to ensure that the natural material I used didn’t get damaged.
I started the protective coat using Camellia Oil, which is a wonderful oil to use on wood, leather and metal products, as well as yourself due to the many health benefits it has. After a number of coats to ensure the oil had soaked in and dried, I then applied a number of layers of Linseed Oil.
I used the Linseed Oil due to its as it dries slowly and shrinks a little upon hardening. It soaks into the pores of the wood, leaving a shiny but not glossy surface that highlights the grain of the wood.
After a number of coats in Linseed, the final layer was of Australian Timber Wax made from Beeswax. This ensured the final coat was hard-wearing, 100% waterproof, smelt great and brought to life the natural detail within the grain.
Handle and Lanyard
Once the Hobo Kit was completely dry, I took some paracord and ran it round the handle. The process I followed for doing this can be seen in this video which shows how to add paracord to a knife handle. The instructions start from about 2:50. Same process, but different item!
I then made the lanyard with the leftover paracord and tied it off with a simple Matthew Walker (Two Strand) knot, as shown in this video.
There are a number of different ways you can do both the handle and the lanyard. It is personal preference as to what type of wrap or knots that you use here. I wanted to keep things as simple as possible throughout.
Adding some paracord also provides some extra functionality to the Hobo Fishing Kit, in that if some cord or string is required in a survival situation, you have some readily available as the handle.
The Finished Hobo Fishing Kit
The last things to add to the fishing kit were fishing items – 25lb line, some small weights, a selection of hooks of varying size, some barrel swivels and snap barrel swivels.
Finally, I added a cork that doubles up as a floatation device as well as a handy hook holder to ensure the sharp points are kept safe.
Overall I was really impressed and happy with the way the Hobo Fishing Kit came out. It was a fair bit of work and manual labour, but putting in the time and effort makes these sorts of items special, not only for the person receiving it but for the person giving it too.
We live in a very manufactured and industrial society, and hand-crafted items are becoming harder to come by. This project was a lot of fun, and when I get the space and cash, buying a lathe and starting to turn wood is something I would love to get into further.
Special thanks to Uncle Tim for helping with this project.