For clubmakers, there are few key steps in the pre-assembly stages of clubmaking that often go unperformed that can make a difference in the final product you sell or make. Instead of accepting the tolerances of the components you received as they are shipped, there is a small task list of items that can be incorporated into your assembly routine that takes little time and effort.
Organize and inspect all of your components
Make sure to lay out all the components and make sure everything is on hand. Yes, this includes even the ferrules. Nothing is worse than promising a customer you will delivery his or her clubs on time, only to be missing the correct size or style of ferrule. This is also the time to take the wrappers from the head or sleeves for the shafts and grips to ensure they don’t have any cosmetic blemishes or nicks or scratched that may have occurred during shipping.
Weigh your heads
What may be a mundane procedure, weighing you heads is useful for a couple reasons. Swingweight and flex are directly related to the weights of the heads which will have some tolerances to them. Usually this is 2 to 3 grams either way of the weights listed in the catalog. Heads on the light side of the tolerance might require tip pins or some sort of weight added to achieve the desired swingweight. Plus by weighing the heads, you can pre-calculate your swingweight and then be better prepared to achieve your desired target swingweight later in the assembly process.
Sort your shafts
If you think that the shafts you purchased are all identical, then you better think again. There are tolerances in both the weight and stiffness that make sorting a good habit to keep. This way you can identify any problems ahead of time and be able to use the tolerances to your advantages. Obviously you cannot do this with taper tip shafts unless you have multiple sets as each raw length is dedicated to a particular head. In some cases you may pay a premium for the shaft to ensure that the shaft are consistent. A good example are the Rifle shafts from Project X that have been frequency calibrated by the manufacturer.
For steel shafts, weight sorting is all that is necessary. By using the lightest shaft in the longest iron and then the next lightest shaft in the next longest iron…and so forth, makes for a more consistent set than random installing the shafts. For graphite or composite shafts, frequency sorting is by far the best method. Instead of the lowest weight, use the lowest frequency shaft in the longest iron and proceed throughout the set that way.
Lie and loft adjustment
I find it easier to do lie and loft adjustments prior to any assembly rather than later. If the hosel accidentally breaks (which can even have to an experienced clubmaker every once in a while) you won’t have to redo all the steps in the assembly process again.
Pre-Calculate tip trimming
If you are working with a set that consists of hybrids, irons and non-matching wedges from the irons, then you might want to check the bottom of bore to ground line measurement (BBGM) first. It may not matter much if you have separate shafts for each club category, but flex can easily be affected if you are using the same shafts throughout that set.
It is not uncommon to see the wedges have a higher BBGM than the irons and the hybrid have less. By accounting for these differences when pre-calculating the the necessary tip trimming, this can ensure that flex is more uniform throughout.
Keep good notes
If you have taken the time to weigh your components and/or sort your shafts, you might as well spend the few extra minutes to write that information down either into a spreadsheet or assembly form and then save it. The reason for this valuable information is in case your customer has lost a club or the set was stolen, you have the ability to match it as close as possible using these specifications.
For additional tips and a further explanation on these key pre-assembly procedures, look in the Modern Guide to Clubmaking 6th edition. While these steps may take a little bit longer, the benefits of better quality clubs outweigh your time and your customers will thank you for that.
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