Use caution when heating the rod tip top to get the tip top off, as it can be overdone and injure the rod material, so go slow and be careful to use the minimum amount of heat.
With regard to the guides, I would string up the rod now, as is, and put a bend in it by tying the line to something and pulling on it. You want to have the object you are pulling on setting on the ground, and hold the fly line with your rod hand at the location of the reel seat.
You want to bend the rod a bit like you were trying to lift a small fish out of the water with the rod, while holding the rod with your rod hand at the grip and pinching the fly line to the grip with your rod hand. What you are looking for is to see if the curve of the rod and the track of the line match. If you have a place where the rod bends well away from the line you need to adjust the guides locations so that such does not happen.
On the other hand, if you can get buy with less guides, and still have the curve of the rod and the track of the fly line track closely, then you need to use the new smaller number of guides for better casting performance.
What I am trying to get at is that you need to check to see if the current guide location is pretty much optimal, or if you can do better.
If you haven't already done so, be sure to look at the rod building section that Al Campbell wrote up here on FAOL. There are 12 parts that total to cover each step of building a rod. You can find it under the Rod Building section under the "Features" section of the main menu, so go to the "main menu", then "features", then "rod building", then "graphite rod building". It is good stuff.
I have also found several videos on rod building on Youtube, some of them are excellent.
Last edited by Gandolf; 05-11-2013 at 03:40 PM.