The important first step in rod building is to find the spine and mark it. Talk with an expert or find a written description on this.
Make a few mono or thread loops, with bright yarn mini-handles, for pulling through the thread end when completing a wrap. Use little masking tape strips or hot gluestick for positioning guides on the blank. Take a little time to dress the underside and edges of guides with file and emory paper.
Generally, I prefer to use individual corks. Save time by boring the center hole larger with a power drill. You'll need a few round files/rasps. I use a big, coarse wood file for shaping handles, working freehand with the rod turning in my lap. Finish with several finer sheets of sandpaper wrapped around a paperback. Clamp the drying cork with several large rubber bands, doubled from the grip front to the rod butt. Or, I slip two spools of lead wire down on the handle, and prop the rod in a corner overnight.
Applying finish consistently, so as to have no gaps or bulges, is what gives me the most problem. At a minimum, turn the rod in a horizontal rack every 15 minutes or so for the first few hours.
As with fly tying, mastering a few tricks and techniques takes one from beginner to expert status.