By John Mills
So, you want to make a crankbait? Well just sit back as we are going to walk through the steps, from selecting wood to shaping the body. These first baits will require minimum tools; and for this tutorial we are going to use hand tools only.
We are going to make this crankbait:
- 2 1/2" long
- Medium-depth diver
- Has a commercial lip
- Stainless steel screw eyes
- 1/8-ounce egg sinker
Just a single disclaimer here: Bait making can be very addictive, so proceed at your own risk.
Tools: drill, 5/16" drill bit, 1/16" drill bit, coping saw, knife and sandpaper.
Wood selection: Balsa, basswood and cedar are the most common used by bait makers, but for your first few baits, use what you have or what is readily available. Any scrap lumber will work for starters. Pine, fir or poplar will all work well and are fairly easy to carve.
Make a pattern. You can trace a manufactured bait or draw your own design on a piece of cardboard or plastic (magic markers work well here). A piece of plastic from an oil can or milk carton will work fine and it's a little more durable. Once your pattern is drawn, cut it out with an Exacto knife or scissors.
Lay the pattern on the wood and trace around it, and then mark for the lip slot and hook hanger locations.
Drill the holes for the rear hook hanger and the belly weight/hook hanger. You can use a small nail with the head cut off to drill for the hook hangers, they will drill straight without following the grain.
Now cut out the bait profile and the lip slot with a coping saw.
With a marking gauge or compass mark the centerline all the way around the bait. Make this line as true and straight as possible. Believe me it will pay off later.
Start rounding over the sides using your knife. Work your way around the bait slowly, checking often to maintain your angles. Once you're satisfied with the round over, finish shaping with sandpaper to the final contour. If you are new to carving, now would be a good time to stock up on Band-Aids.
Check alignment of the lip and hook hangers before final assembly. The straighter this alignment, the better this bait will run.
Your bait is now ready for assembly. In the next tutorial we will complete with the assembly of parts and prepare for finish.