The Association of
Golf Clubfitting Professionals.
Starting a shop for beginner clubmakers
Tools and supplies youll need to begin
by Robert Gibson
So you want to get into golf clubmaking. The thoughts of making that dream driver and pinpoint accurate irons are dancing in your head. Now you've decided to give it a go but you need to ask one more question. What do I need to start making golf clubs? Well that answer depends on what it is you plan to do. Are you doing this as a hobby, part time business or are you planning on making clubmaking and repair a full time career. Your choice of activity will greatly influence you needs and purchases of tools, equipment, and supplies.
Before we discuss shop supplies and you involvement as a business entity you need to think hard about one very important issue, liability. Liability insurance can be obtained through one of the clubmaker associations for just a few hundred dollars. Even if you are a hobbiest you need liability insurance because most homeowners policies will not cover potential losses. The possibility of possibly loosing everything is enough to scare even the bravest to get insurance.
Clubmaking associations such as the Golf Clubmakers Association and the Professional Clubmakers Society are invaluable resources in helping you become better clubmakers and knowledgeable advisor to you customers. Youll find the fraternity of clubmakers is a open group willing to help novices and experts alike. Other clubmakers are some of the most valuable resources you can have.
A word about clubmaking schools. The schools run by the major component companies are excellent at teaching the basics of clubmaking in a short time frame. However, the investment on your part can be high $400+ for the school, $200 for a hotel room, $200 for a rental car, $300-500 for a plane ticket etc. Three books, that in my opinion, are excellent resources to educating yourself are The Practical Clubfitting Program by Tom Wishon ($24.50) and available from Golfsmith, The Modern Guide to Golf Club Making by Jeff Jackson ($24.95) available from Dynacraft and Golf Club Design, Fitting, Alteration, and Repair by Ralph Maltby ($39.95) available from Golfworks. Golfsmith also has an excellent video collection available as well. These resources are a good alternative to the schools for learning some of the basics.
As many new clubmakers are really hobbiests let start with focusing on basic needs for clubmaking and not repair, as many additional tools are required for many repair jobs. So heres a list and uses for some of your basic tools. Ive include prices where I had some idea of cost.
Retractable razor knife ($2), be sure its retractable for safety
Phillips head screwdriver ($2) for weight ports
Hex (Allen) wrenches for weight ports
Shaft tube cutter and replacement cutter wheels ($10) for cutting steel shafts
Hacksaw with a grit edge blade ($10) for cutting graphite shafts
Ball Peen hammer (a regular hammer will work also)
48" ram rod ($10) for swingweighting down the shaft
Bench vise, a Columbia vice ($60) from a home improvement store is your best bet. A cheap vise will only be a pain as they tend to slip at the base.
Rubber clamp ($2) to hold shafts on the vise with do for most hobbiests
Good quality swingweight scale ($60) is also a must since swingweight is directly related to feel and swingweighting insures a better level of quality of workmanship.
48" ruler ($10) for measuring clubs and shaft lengths
Wrist to Floor measuring stick ($10) for getting accurate and consistent measurements
Combination grip and shaft gauge ($13) for measuring grips and shafts.
Countersink and Deburring ball for coning heads for graphite shafts ($50). This is a must item because to ensure compliance with shaft warranties the heads do need a 20 degree countersink.
Blade Style grip Remover from Golfsmith ($17.50), when you get a grip on only half way and it stays youll understand.
Good quality gram weight scale ($25) for weighing components, lead powder, etc.
Propane torch or heat gun for removing clubheads and grip tape (heat gun only)
Thats the basic tools youll need to start. However, youll need other supplies such as:
Invisible Glove, for protecting your hand or you can use "surgical" type glove but be sure they protect from chemicals
Shafting epoxy, use 24 hr type with a high shear strength
Lead powder or tip plugs for swingweighting
Cork plugs for using in iron and wood shafts when using lead powder
Grip Tape, the 2" stuff is the quickest and easiest to use
Grip Solvent, the organic leaves a nice smell in the shop
Coarse Grit (60) sand paper belts for preparing steel shafts
Fine Grit (180+) sand paper for finishing ferrules
Surface Conditioning Belt for graphite shaft tip preparation
(NOTE: a 1"x30" or 42" belt sander is great for saving time, prepping tips correctly, and finishing ferrules with a cloth belt)
Acetone for finishing ferrules to a luster
Paint Roller tray for catching and reusing grip solvent
With these basic tools and supplies you can make clubs about as well as anyone. This list isnt all inclusive and does reflect my opinions as whats best to have to start out. All the big component suppliers have "starter" kits available with many of these items but not all of them. The swingweight scales in the kits tend to be on the low end of the quality scale and will do an adequate job but you may end up wanting a high quality scale.
Youll find clubmaking a rewarding hobby or business. Theres nothing like it when a customer or friend calls up and says with excitement "You wont believe what happen today...." Its that comment that will make all your efforts worthwhile. Knowing that youve made a positive
impact on someone's game is all the motivation youll need to constantly strive to be a better clubmaker.
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