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Shindig

Cutting a graphite shaft - straight

18 posts in this topic

Hi all, First, thanks again to everyone who helped me with cutting a steel shaft. A few months ago, I had some somewhat amusing failures with cutting a steel shaft. Then I had an amusing failure at applying a grip (I left some of the paper on one side of the grip tape on!), but fortunately a friend caught the error before I posted evidence online. Now I'm fully comfortable with steel shafted clubs - I even assembled a few recently and have them in my bag. But onto graphite, where I have my first issue: I knew (from others' warnings in advance, some in my previous help post) to use two layers of masking tape, draw the line on which I'll cut, and then cut (using a handsaw, not the pipe cutter that I use for steel). I can cut the graphite shaft cleanly, no problem - however, it isn't straight. Pictures: For some reason, I haven't had this problem with steel shafts. Can anyone suggest what I might do to fix this in future cuts? Alternately, is this something I shouldn't worry about? (I'm cutting through a few old shaft pulls that I both have and don't care about before I cut down a club I want to use, which will itself be before I assemble a graphite-shafted utility club and then fairway metal, so I'm fine making plenty of practice cuts!). Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.
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See if you can find someone who has a graphite arrow cutter. That should work. Otherwise, what if you used the pipe cutter to slightly groove the shaft so the saw would follow the groove and stay straight.
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I use a $5 mitre box you can by at any hardware store.  Been using it for years, made tons of cuts for both steel and graphite, always straight.  The blade you use makes a difference as well.  If you don't already, use a 32 TPi or more blade and don't skimp on it.  Get a descent $10-15 blade.  They hold its tension better, has nicer teeth so each cut is smoother, in turn, keeping the blade dead straight.

And last, it takes a bit of practice.  When I first started clubmaking I used the butts you cut off from your previous cuts to practice on.

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Originally Posted by Stuffs

I use a $5 mitre box you can by at any hardware store.  Been using it for years, made tons of cuts for both steel and graphite, always straight.  The blade you use makes a difference as well.  If you don't already, use a 32 TPi or more blade and don't skimp on it.  Get a descent $10-15 blade.  They hold its tension better, has nicer teeth so each cut is smoother, in turn, keeping the blade dead straight.

And last, it takes a bit of practice.  When I first started clubmaking I used the butts you cut off from your previous cuts to practice on.

A buddy of mine set up a a " V " shaped block that he can rest the graphite in, in front of a sanding wheel. Holding the shaft firmly down in the "V" will result in no movement and the V block has a level on the side. Once he locks it, the grind/cut is completely straight.

I also saw this similar set up at Golf Galaxy last weekend when they cut my Titleist 910 D3 shaft down from 45" to 44.5".

I've also seen similar "push blocks" that have a miter saw inspired "push block" with 45-90° angles set up to ensure straight cuts. Another buddy of mine successfully cuts these on his band saw, but he is sure to wrap the shaft with several layers of tape and the wraps are very tight to prevent splintering or cracking.

Just some "hillbilly" rigs if you ask me, but they're functional and do the job 100%.

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Originally Posted by 14ledo81

Otherwise, what if you used the pipe cutter to slightly groove the shaft so the saw would follow the groove and stay straight.

I am pretty sure you don't want to do this.  The problem is that Graphite is a fiber based build.  A pipe cutter cuts by compressing the cutting wheel into the shaft.  The cutting wheel isn't very sharp, so to make a groove, you would have to apply quite a bit of force, which is likely to start delaminating the graphite fibers in an area larger than just then intended cutting area.

I think people here have lots of great ideas.  I personally use a dremel tool with a cutting wheel.  I clamp the club into the vise, mark the tape where I intend on cutting, make a small cut, turn the shaft, cut a little more, etc.  I basically cut into the shaft surface a little at a time until the cut is complete.  The shaft wall is very thin, so it still takes maybe 45 seconds or a minute to cut a graphite shaft.

Are you planning on doing alot of stick and glue work?  If you are, I would consider purchasing a shaft cutter.  http://www.golfworks.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_CSM6_A_cn_E_46

Several people I know have purchased a chop saw from Harbor freight and had excellent results.  Just make sure it has the appropriate blade type, and it should be fine.

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Thanks to everyone for the feedback; I'll get this eventually. [quote name="Stuffs" url="/t/68371/cutting-a-graphite-shaft-straight#post_866592"]I use a $5 mitre box you can by at any hardware store.  Been using it for years, made tons of cuts for both steel and graphite, always straight.  The blade you use makes a difference as well.  If you don't already, use a 32 TPi or more blade and don't skimp on it.  Get a descent $10-15 blade.  They hold its tension better, has nicer teeth so each cut is smoother, in turn, keeping the blade dead straight.  [/quote] Can you recommend a particular blade? Also, I have no idea what TPi is for the blade information. My hardware experience is incredibly limited (and is more than anyone in my immediate family). [quote name="Stuffs" url="/t/68371/cutting-a-graphite-shaft-straight#post_866592"] And last, it takes a bit of practice.  When I first started clubmaking I used the butts you cut off from your previous cuts to practice on.  [/quote] I'm doing similar: shaft pulls from some re-shaftings many years ago, glad I saved. [quote name="clearwaterms" url="/t/68371/cutting-a-graphite-shaft-straight#post_866667"] I am pretty sure you don't want to do this.  The problem is that Graphite is a fiber based build.  A pipe cutter cuts by compressing the cutting wheel into the shaft.  The cutting wheel isn't very sharp, so to make a groove, you would have to apply quite a bit of force, which is likely to start delaminating the graphite fibers in an area larger than just then intended cutting area. [/quote] Yeah, worries me a bit too. I'd love it if a tool similar to that existed for graphite: once I learned to use it, cutting steel became incredibly easy! [quote name="clearwaterms" url="/t/68371/cutting-a-graphite-shaft-straight#post_866667"] I think people here have lots of great ideas.  I personally use a dremel tool with a cutting wheel.  I clamp the club into the vise, mark the tape where I intend on cutting, make a small cut, turn the shaft, cut a little more, etc.  I basically cut into the shaft surface a little at a time until the cut is complete.  The shaft wall is very thin, so it still takes maybe 45 seconds or a minute to cut a graphite shaft.  [/quote] Ah, with the saw, I started at one point and kept sawing until it went through the other side. I'm using this: http://www.golfworks.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_GW1080 (came in the "intro to club building" kit - or whatever they call it) [quote name="clearwaterms" url="/t/68371/cutting-a-graphite-shaft-straight#post_866667"] Are you planning on doing alot of stick and glue work?  If you are, I would consider purchasing a shaft cutter.  [URL=http://www.golfworks.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_CSM6_A_cn_E_46]http://www.golfworks.com/product.asp_Q_pn_E_CSM6_A_cn_E_46[/URL] Several people I know have purchased a chop saw from Harbor freight and had excellent results.  Just make sure it has the appropriate blade type, and it should be fine.  [/quote] I'm not sure what stick and glue work is... so I don't know. Immediate plans are to build 2-3 graphite shafted clubs - I'm happy with my steel shafted 4-iron, so it's just a hybrid, a fairway wood (keeping my 3-wood) and maybe a driver. It looks like I have a bit to learn about tools, too... at least I think that skill will transfer when I eventually get a house.
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TPI = teeth per inch. The more teeth per inch, the smoother the cut, but it also take a little more time.

If you continue to use a hacksaw, one thing I found is that after you cut a little way through the shaft, rotate the shaft about 90 degrees, and use the end of the previous cut as a guide for the next cut. Then after you make some progress, rotate the shaft again, and then again as you go around the circumference so you make a uniform cut. Don't just hack though the shaft all at once, as you can split the shaft when making the final through strokes; the technique above prevents that.

If you are only building 2-3 more clubs, a hacksaw should be fine. If you plan on building a lot, a cut-off saw might be a good investment.

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Yes, bobtrumpet brought up a very important point with rotating the shaft.

As with blade brands, Lenox isn't bad for the price at all.

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I use the diamond cutting tool on an oscillating cutter from harbor freight. I use this setup for carbon arrows with and without aluminum embedded in them. Cuts really straight. To clean up your cut, you can use some 300 to 600 grit sandpaper. I would use the wet kind to avoid getting the dust in your lungs. Just hold the shaft vertical and make circular movements on a flat hard surface.
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Thanks again for the help guys. Yesterday I picked up the hacksaw, 32 TPi blade (Lenox), and am doing better with the cutting. I even tipped two shafts, one each for a 3H and 5W I'm going to assemble, and put the heads onto the tipped shaft (and I just realized I didn't smooth the tip after cutting... oops. Will that make a huge difference? I'll be sure to do so for the grip end when I do that, probably tomorrow) Once again, thanks to everyone for their help. I now feel I can more-or-less correctly assemble a club, steel (previous thread) or graphite (this one).
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For the tip, you do need to prep it if that's what you were referring to.  Otherwise there will not be a very good bond between the head and the shaft.  Its a very crucial step.  All you have to do is lightly sand the insertion area until the clearcoat and paint is gone.  I usually start with a 230 grit sand paper to remove the clear coat, then 400 grit to remove the paint.  Once its all black, a spray with rubbing alcohol to clean it and its ready to go.  Be very careful when you start getting to the actual graphite not to sand off the fibers.  Very light pressure.  Again, you can use to the tips you trimmed off as practice, to get an idea of how much sanding and pressure you need to get to the graphite.  You'll notice that the feel when sanding starts to change once the paint is remove and when you've reached the graphite.

For the butt end, just trim to length.  I use a 1500 grit to smooth out the edges to prevent any stray fibers from forming.  On some shafts, usually the cheaper ones where the lay up is more sparse, I give the butt end (just the very rim of it) a quick spray of urethane clear coat but this step is purely optional.

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Yes, I did prep it with sandpaper. However, given my past with club-building, I do appreciate the reminder :-) I meant that I didn't smooth the edge - the part that connected with the blade when I did the cutting. So there's a slightly ragged edge in the hosel.
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Ah, that part.  Not too big of a deal.  Its good practice to do so but if you forgot, it should be fine.  Once its in there, the epoxy pretty much engulfs that area so any ragged edges will stay that way and shouldn't get worse.

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Excellent, thanks! I'm guessing evening out the cut is a bigger deal for the grip end, since the grip should go on it. Is there any big difference I should know about for putting a grip onto a graphite shaft (as opposed to a steel one)? Thanks again :-)
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I never had the problem and I use the same tool.   You are probably applying too much pressure and gets the tool off line?   Anyway, good luck.

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Super thanks again guys! Finished the two clubs (a 3H and a 5W) today. Then I let them dry (the heads were assembled over the weekend, so today was cut to playing length and then adding a grip) and took them to the good range (the one with grass). Hoo boy, I'm going to enjoy Wednesday's round that much more! Hmm... might have to build a driver next.
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