I've been building rods from blanks for 26 years, and I have never used anything other than a heavy book as a thread tensioner. I simply run the thread through the book at about `/2 the thickness of the book and place the thread spool into a coffee cup so that it doesn't move around the table. Before I get beat up over this method, it works very well and you can't beaqt the cost nor the convience of it. Yes, I very much desire to have one of the aluminum 8 foot rod lathes and wrapping tools that sell for around $300.00; but I only make a rod every year or so and find it hard to justify the cost.
For wraping stands, I use 3 that I made out of 1x4 that have notches cut into them and that then had the notches covered with felt I picked up at a craft store.
The proper amount of thread tension is just enough so that you can move a guide into final alignment with a bit of pressure from your thumbnail on the guide foot. You don't want to use so much tension that you cannot move the guides with this method after they are wrapped in place for two reasons: 1) you really do need to be able to move the guides for final alignment; and 2) if the guide is wrapped to tightly to the blank you can damage the blank by creating a dead spot when it is flexed under load of a fish.
For rotating the rod to keep the finish from sagging, I bought a battery powered rod finish turner that came with an extra rod stand to support the other end of the rod section. The one I have is powered by a "D" cell battery. It is no longer made but no matter since there are ones available now that use a latern battery. They cost around $20.00. Also, when applying finish, do only one rod section at a time and apply the finish as the rod is rotating on the rod turner. Use a pencil or small peice of dowling placed into the female ferrules of all butt the butt section.
I'm certain you will be very happy with the results of your rod building venture.