Replica 1870 Golf Clubs

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Project by Elm55 posted 04-02-2018 03:39 AM 2856 views 2 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My two favorite hobbies, woodworking and golf, have collided. Over the last couple of years, I have attempted to replicate some long nose era golf clubs from the pre-1880 era. I have tried to use traditional methods as best as I could figure it out.

The black stained club on the left is an original putter of the 1870 era which was what I used as a basis for the replicas. All three replicas in the first pic are putters and all beech.

Clubhead: Beech preferred. Apple, pear or thorn wood were also suitable. The beech I used I harvested myself ironically from the golf course I play most often. I have also used pear wood which mills very nicely, but is more brittle. Frame saws, rasps, spokeshaves, scrapers were used for shaping the head.

Shaft: Straight grained hickory, which supplanted ash as the shaft material after the first quarter of the 18th century. Shaft shaped traditionally with handplanes and around 1880, a trapping plane.

Ram’s horn for the sole’s leading edge (wear strip), 1/8” thick.

7 ply waxed linen thread for the whipping.

Sheepskin leather grip with wool underlisting.

Lead (I opted to use a bismuth and tin alloy from a company called Rotometals for safety concerns) used for the weight in the rear of the clubhead.

Hide glue

Liquid Asphaltum to seal and stain the hickory shaft.

Heads finished with BLO and modern wood stain or Aquafortis (nitric acid with steel particles – dangerous).

For the 1 or 2 that are interested, I have about a half dozen posts on my blog

Below is an xray of the “lead” (actually bismuth tin alloy) which gets poured into the rear of the clubhead. The intersecting holes help to retain the lead.

The shaft traditionally was riven stock tapered and roughly rounded by a handplane.

Working with hickory and hand tools is tough work, so here is a video of me making shafts with this trapping plane from Ashem Crafts

Mortise for protective ramshorn sole plate:

The angled scarf joint that connects the shaft and the clubhead was known as a scare joint. It is glued and wrapped with whipping thread:

13 comments so far

View Joanne Sauvageau's profile

Joanne Sauvageau

92 posts in 1873 days

#1 posted 04-02-2018 04:44 AM

I am not a golpher but most certainly appreciate the craftsmanship. Well done!

-- Joanne Sauvageau

View Ivan's profile


17283 posts in 4325 days

#2 posted 04-02-2018 04:45 AM

Interesting project. I don’t know almoust nothing about golf clubs, but those look pretty cool and ’’rustic’’.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 3225 days

#3 posted 04-02-2018 11:56 AM

Nice work. I had the opportunity to buy a bag full of wooden golf clubs for $15 at a yard sale but being ignorant about golf, I decided not to. Probably missed a good investment.


View Redoak49's profile


5585 posts in 3446 days

#4 posted 04-02-2018 12:52 PM

Well done and interesting build

View Woodknack's profile


13593 posts in 3838 days

#5 posted 04-02-2018 06:16 PM

The re-creation of the wood clubs is very interesting. :)

-- Rick M,

View SteveMI's profile


1175 posts in 4752 days

#6 posted 04-02-2018 06:16 PM

Fascinating. Have you tried using using any of the putters? Are you going to try other clubs?

-- Being sawdust or first surface awe are dependent on the tool kerf

View mel52's profile


2420 posts in 1722 days

#7 posted 04-03-2018 03:10 AM

Cool project. I don’t golf but I am impressed anyway.

-- MEL, Kansas

View Elm55's profile


38 posts in 2559 days

#8 posted 04-03-2018 04:05 AM

Steve- The putters get good use indoors with occasional ventures out on a real putting green. During the time the actual clubs were used, the greens did not exist like we know them today. They were just trampled down areas of grass close to the hole,

My first full swing with the spoon, like today’s 5 wood, resulted in a complete crack across the neck. I have hit some others since and they have held up. 180 to 200 yards or so. This really teaches you to respect the grain when building them.

View TangoFox's profile


60 posts in 1597 days

#9 posted 04-04-2018 02:29 PM

Those are also my two favorite hobbies… Unfortunately, I only ever have enough time for one of them, so I’ve only played golf once in the last 6 months.

I’ve always wanted to try something like this – I’ve definitely bookmarked your project and will come back to it for reference (someday…)


View Elm55's profile


38 posts in 2559 days

#10 posted 04-07-2018 12:20 AM

TangoFox -I got my start after an ankle sprain shortened my golf season. I will be happy to help you if you decide to get started.

View duckmilk's profile


5165 posts in 2782 days

#11 posted 04-07-2018 01:03 AM

Nice clubs Elm! When did they start using persimmon for the heads? I have an old set of clubs, a #5 and a #3 that I believe are persimmon. I prefer them over a metal head.

-- "Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

View Elm55's profile


38 posts in 2559 days

#12 posted 04-07-2018 02:01 AM

Most common clubhead material for woods by era:
Pre 1850: Thorn, apple, pear
1850-1890s: Beech
1890s to 1980’s: Persimmon (maple and laminates also used)
1978 “Pittsburgh Persimmon”, then titanium

View Peteybadboy's profile


4838 posts in 3407 days

#13 posted 11-22-2020 12:08 PM


Very cool! +1 on golf and woodworking!

-- Petey

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