CCASIONALLY, I still get sidetracked from "standard" woodworking to make graceful replica mid-19th century long nose golf clubs. There are two main parts of the golf club, the clubhead and the shaft. I enjoy making the clubheads, but the shaft had been another story. The shaft is made of hickory, and as you know, working with hickory using hand tools requires frequent sharpening and more sweat. On a prior post, I showed about a half dozen methods of creating the golf shaft which typically tapers from 3/4" to about 1/2". These methods could be used to make chair spindles, pool cues or whatever. The traditional method for a clubmaker of the era was to use a hand plane to taper the shaft followed by a spokeshave. Near the end of the 19th century, the clubmaker often purchased the shafts from a factory that used a lathe. This would have allowed him more time to tend to his other duties as keeper of the greens, caddying, playing for prize money and setting up member tournaments. I believe that since shafts were often purchased, explanations in books regarding shaft making are lacking as opposed to clubhead making. Also, with golf shafts often 43" or more, a lathe that large would not be common either in a 19th century golf shop or a modern home woodshop.
The shaft of this circa 1870 replica long nose putter, tapering from 3/4" to 1/2",
was made with a trapping plane and a hand crank
Five time Open Champion J. H. Taylor spent 15 pages discussing clubhead making and only 2 sentences on the shaft. From The Book of Golf and Golfers, Horace Hutchinson, 1899. My guess is that Mr. Taylor did not enjoy making shafts and purchased them.
|The standard trapping plane from Ashem Crafts|
This shaft was pretty badly bowed but still could be handled with the trapping plane
My Stanley 77 dowel maker now works double duty, not only making a 3/4" rod, but also serving as a hand crank after a simple modification. There is a video of the Stanley 77 dowel maker on that prior post.
The modification is needed so that the 3/4" dowel turns when the crank is turned. Normally, with the Stanley 77, the stock is stationary with the cutter rotating like a crank-type pencil sharpener.
After poking around The Home Depot, I was fortunate to discover that standard gas pipe fittings fit the thread on the drive shaft for the cutter. I used a 1" x 1/2" coupling-reducing fitting. The larger opening threads on to the crankshaft, while the smaller hole is 3/4". Three threaded holes were tapped into the fitting to grab the dowel.
|Normal setup of Stanley 77 with a 3/4" cutter|
|About to place adapter|
|1"x1/2" coupling-reducing fitting with threaded|
holes for retaining bolts, perfect for a 3/4" dowel
Trapping plane - motorized
The stock should be turning away from you. If you want to use a trapping plane with a lathe, you'll need to run the lathe in reverse or purchase a trapping plane specifically oriented for a lathe.
How did they manufacture golf shafts in the late 19th century?Descriptions of golf shaft making prior to the late 1800's described the use of riven wood. Initially, during the ash shaft era prior to about 1820, the shafts seemed to have been formed with drawknives and spokeshaves. Once hickory started to be imported to Scotland around 1820, the non-green timber was formed into shafts with planes. The lathe was not used until the last quarter of the 19th century. As a youth, the 1893 Open Champion, Willie Auchterlonie, served as the human power for clubmaker Robert Wilson's lathe aound 1880.
|Excerpt from Great Golfers in the Making, Henry Leach, 1907|
|Article originally appearing in the 1897 Golfing Annual|
and also in the St. Andrews Citizen, Dec 22, 1900, upon Forgan's death.
Here is a nice vintage British Pathé movie short showing a guy that really knows how to use a trapping plane to make a Brazilian greenheart fishing rod.
Some terminology for similar devices:
|Rounder plane: fixed diameter plane to make a dowel|
|Stail engine, adjustable rounder, turning plane or witchet: adjustable diameter rounding plane that adjusts by turning a pair of screws|
|From The Golfers, by Charles Lees, 1847|