Restoring Irons

The following technique was six years in the making as part of an effort to extend the life of hickory shaft clubs. It is my hope that these pages will serve as a resource but also as an on-going forum and clearinghouse for new methods.

Getting Started

It may seem an obvious place to start but before any work commences make certain a club is really worthy of restoration. Test the shaft by employing the same flex test used on woods. Next, remove the old grip and straighten the shaft. Now is the time to find out whether the shaft is conducive to restoration, not after its been glued to the head, or on the golf course. (Voice of experience talking here.) With a 1/8th inch pin punch and hammer, knock out the pin. It's best to have some stability; I use a block of lead as an anvil. For the first couple of hits I actually try to drive the pin a short ways into the lead. This provides a little extra leverage in loosening it. Next, slide the pin over the edge of the anvil and drive it out the rest of the way. With any luck the head will fall loose. If it doesn't, a little hammering (with a wood block or rubber mallet) should get it off. Expanding the hosel by heating it and then twisting or hammering the head also does the trick.

A Rat and a Bastard

Old glue, whipping or any other fill material inside the hosel and the tip of the shaft should be removed. I'll use a rat tail file on the hosel and a flat bastard file to scrape the grunge off the shaft tip. This is a prudent time to closely examine the shaft tip for cracks or splits. Fix any you find with a high quality wood glue.  

And check the butt of the club for the direction of the grain before shaving the tip to fit the hosel. With a head other than the original, the tip should be scrutinized and likely will need shaving. The new shaft should have a tip that fits, or be a slightly larger one that can be shaved down to size.

Old pin holes in the shaft can be used as a guide but the grain still needs examination. On rare occasions shafts will have been installed incorrectly. Always double check just to be on the safe side. A smaller shaft tip, with shims added to bring it up to size, is not recommended for play clubs. Also pay attention to the width of the shaft where it meets the hosel. The diameters of both should match.
With all the components cleaned and ready to assemble:

​ Mix the shafting epoxy and liberally spread it inside the hosel and on the tip of the shaft. (Because of its shock dampening abilities, I've been using shafting epoxy for resetting heads.)

Again, check the grain direction before inserting the shaft to make sure you've got it properly lined up.

S-l-o-w-l-y insert the shaft allowing air to escape along with any excess epoxy. (If you are using the original shaft, insert a toothpick into the pin hole to confirm proper alignment.)

Wipe off excess epoxy and then stand the club on the butt of the shaft with the head up. (This drying position will keep the epoxy concentrated in the gaps between the shaft and hosel - where it's needed. Otherwise it could flow down into the tip, leaving gaps.)

Check the joint of the shaft and head after a couple of minutes to ensure that air bubbles inside the hosel haven't shifted the head.

Allow for the possibility of some epoxy dripping down the shaft and, yes, possibly on the floor. (I've fashioned my own drying rack but leaning clubs up against the wall also works well.)