Step 1: Prepare Your Workspace*
Before you start, you will need to locate and prepare a suitable
workspace. Choose wisely, as you will likely spill paint, shoot
sawdust, chip the furniture, and operate loud and dangerous machinery.
In other words, don't build wooden plugs on your nice dining room
table next to your children.
Once you settle into your workspace, gather the necessary tools
and materials and organize them on your workbench. Lock the door
to prevent any disturbances.
Step 2: Choose the Wood and Cut the Body Block
The body block is a rectangle block of wood slightly larger than
the dimensions of the lure you want to make. In this case, we will
be making a 4" (inch) crankbait, so we will need to create
a body block with the following dimensions:
Using a scroll saw, carpenter's saw, or other similar cutting device,
cut a block of wood with the dimensions shown above. Be sure to
wear your safetly goggles during any cutting, sanding or carving
The type of wood you choose will affect the action of the lure.
As a general rule, softer woods (balsa, pine, cedar, white cedar,
basswood) are lighter and thus have faster action and a tendency
to float. Harder woods (maple, oak, ash, and walnut) are more difficult
to shape, but make excellent suspending lures with tighter action.
These relationships are shown in the following diagram:
Each type of wood will catch fish. We suggest you experiment with
different types of wood until you find one that produces the best
action for the lure you are creating. (Note: most commercial
lures are made from basswood, cedar, white cedar or balsa).
We will start with basswood because it is easy to saw, carve and
Step 3. Draw the Lure Pattern onto the Body Block
You will need to draw the profile of your lure onto each of the
four sides (not the ends) of the wooden body block. The profiles
on the left and right sides must be mirror images of each other
so the two sides are balanced. The top and bottom profiles can be
different depending on the type of lure your are creating.
Although some skilled hobbyists can trace the shapes freehand, we
prefer to trace paper patterns onto the block so that our measurements
are precise and repeatable. Feel free to create your own lure patterns,
or print and use the patterns below. These patterns will create
a standard diving crankbait. Trace the side view patterns onto the
sides of the wooden body block. Trace the top view pattern onto
the top and bottom of the wooden body block. Do not trace anything
on the ends of the block.
Step 4. Cut the Body Along the Pattern Lines
Using a scroll saw, cut the sides of the block along the pattern
lines. When you are done, you should have three wooden pieces (see
Tape the three pieces back together to prepare for the top-to-bottom
Using the skill saw again, cut through the wooden block from top
to bottom along the top view pattern lines. Remove the remaining
tape and retrieve your rough cut plug.
Step 5. Carve the Plug
Using a sharp wood carving knife, shave the edges of the plug to
round the lure into it's approximate shape. This is also the time
to cutomized the shape of the lure by carving unique features into
the body (gills, fins, etc.). Be sure to always cut away from yourself
to avoid injury!
Step 6. Sand the Plug
After you have carved the plug to its approximate shape, sand the
plug to its final shape using 60 grit sandpaper. When the shape
is correct, use the 120 grit sandpaper to smooth the plug. Finally,
use the 400 grit sandpaper to give the plug a final surface for
Step 7. Prepare the Plug for the Hardware
Mark the hardware locations with a fine felt tipped marker using
the following diagram as a guide.
Drill a small pilot hole for the screw eye on the front (line tie)
and the hook attachment on the rear. Be sure to use a drill bit
that is slightly smaller than the width of the screw.
Using a larger drill bit, drill a hole in the area designated "weight"
in the above diagram. Insert a lead weight or "BB" pellet.
Seal the hole with wood glue or waterproof putty.
Step 8. Paint the Plug
Before you attach any hardware (screws, lips, eyes, etc.), you need
to paint the plug. The painting process must happen in a specific
order to protect the wood and highlight the colors. For more
information on painting processes, please see the Tips & Research
section of this site.
First, paint the wooden plug with a clear sealer. This seals the
lure and protects the wood against water corrosion.
Next, apply a white primer coat. Allow the coat to dry and repeat
until the white coat strongly covers the entire lure.
Now, paint the lure with any colors you desire. Allow the paint
Finally, seal the painted lure with a final waterproof clearcoat.
Step 9. Add the Hardware
After the paint has dried, you can add the hardware. Locate the
holes you drilled prior to painting and mark any additional hardware
locations with a fine felt tipped marker using the following diagram
as a guide.
Insert a 1" closed eye screw into each hole that you drilled.
(Note: if crankbait cups are used, insert the cup between the hook
attachment screws and the plug prior to inserting the screw.)
Insert a 1/4" hook attachment screw into the bottom of the
Attach any additional eyes, fins, rattles, stickers, weights, etc.
Attach treble hooks to the rear and bottom screws using split rings.
10. Invent Your Own Plugs!
Now that you know the basics, you can invent your own plugs. Play
around with body shapes, sizes, colors, and hardware until you find
something that works for your fishing conditions.
wear safety goggles and follow instructions provided by the manufacturer
or supplier of the tools and components you are using. TackleMaking
is not responsible for any damage (personal, property, or otherwise)
that results from reading, following, or referencing this article
and/or performing the actions described within it.