Do-It-Yourself Hosel Boring Fixture

Dave Tutelman -- August 17, 2015

If you ream out or re-cone hosels, it is easier, smoother, and an overall better job if you use your drill press and a hosel boring fixture. But the fixtures are expensive enough that most clubmakers do it with a vise and a hand drill. Here's a hosel boring fixture you can build yourself for less than $20 in parts, and it does the job just fine.

I recently fell into possession of a nice set of forged Mizuno irons. The only problem: half of them had the graphite shaft broken off in the hosel. (See companion article for how this came about.) In order to re-shaft the clubs, I needed to ream the heads out to fit a .370 parallel tip shaft and cone the top of the hosel. I wanted to do it right, and decided the time had come for a hosel boring fixture for my drill press. A quick shopping expedition on the Internet put a damper on this; they started at $80 and went up from there. Not a lot for a high-volume shop to pay, but I do this as a hobby, not for a living. What to do?

It didn't take long to design one I could build myself from standard aluminum stock. I ordered the aluminum from Online Metals for less than $20. With the smallest order being a one-foot length of anything, I wound up with enough aluminum for two fixtures -- so I'm open to an offer for a "parts kit" for the fixture. (Follow-up: the parts kit is gone.)

The fixture worked fine reconditioning the hosels for the set in question, and I now have the tool for future projects.

The rest of this article is a DIY manual for building and using your own fixture.

Parts list


All the parts you will need are:
  • Aluminum angle, 4" x 4" x 1/4" thick, cut to 6" length.
  • Aluminum square bar, 3/4" x 3/4", cut to 2.5" length.
  • Aluminum rectangular bar, 3/4" x 3/8", less than 3" length cut into two pieces detailed below.
  • 2 Carriage bolts, 5/16-18 by 2.5" length.
  • 2 Wing nuts, 5/16-18.
  • 2 Flat washers, 5/16".

Cutting, drilling, assembling


The first step is cutting the aluminum to size and shape. Aluminum can be cut with a carbide-tip saw. It is best done with a blade with lots of teeth in a power miter saw or radial arm saw. It's easy enough, but be sure to take all sorts of safety precautions; you will have metal chips flying around like sawdust. Don't even think about doing this without safety goggles. Oh yeah, vacuum well when you're done; you don't want to track aluminum chips around for the next few days.

Here are the pieces you need.
  • Cut the big aluminum angle to 6" in length, and file off the burrs.
  • From the 3/4"x3/8" bar, we cut two pieces at least 1.25" long, with a perfect 45 bevel on one end. The bevel is the reason you really want to use a power miter or radial arm saw.
  • Cut the square bar to whatever length matches the two beveled pieces laid tip to tip. For instance, if the pieces were each 1.25", then the square bar would be cut to 2.5".
Epoxy the two beveled pieces to the angle, as shown. Placement is important:
  • The tops of the beveled pieces must be exactly flush with the edge of the angle. This is necessary in order to insure that the hosel will be held perfectly vertical by the fixture.
  • The bevels must touch tip to tip -- that is important -- and meet on a line at the midpoint of the length of aluminum angle. It isn't critical that the line be exactly the midpoint, but don't get it too much off center.
The epoxy should be strong stuff. (I used a good shafting epoxy, EpoWeld 24-hour.) Allow it to cure completely before proceeding. The epoxy will have to hold these pieces in place while drilling through them, hence the need for strength.
Once the epoxy has cured, it is time to drill a few holes. Click on the thumbnail for a drawing with the locations and sizes of the holes.
  • Use a drill press for all of this, to make sure the holes are square.
  • Drill small pilot holes first, to be sure the holes in the base (the base is blue in the drawing) line up with the holes in the clamp bar (yellow in the drawing).
  • Enlarge the holes in the base carefully. Remember, the pieces of the base are held together by epoxy. If you choose a drill and a speed that causes the work to heat up, it might destroy the epoxy bond. (Don't ask me how I know.)
  • The holes in the clamp bar are counterbored 1/4" deep for the square shank of a carriage bolt. It may even help to top off the counterbore with a small countersink, perhaps 1/16" deep.

Now we have all the machining done. Let's get all the pieces together and assemble them. We press-fit the carriage bolts into the counterbored side of the clamp bar. Well, more like hammer-fit. Hammer them into the holes, letting the square shank dig a tight-fitting channel into the aluminum.
Bolt the clamp bar loosely to the base, as shown. Use the washers and wing nuts to attach the pieces together.

The original design used hex nuts, and a wrench to clamp the hosel in the fixture. Charlie Badami suggested that wing nuts would be secure enough, and he was right. And it's much more convenient not to have to look for a wrench whenever I use the fixture.

If you've got sharp eyes, you noticed the holes in the bottom leg of the base -- and realized I haven't said anything about them yet. We'll get to that in the next chapter; have patience.
And here is the fixture holding a clubhead, with the hosel perfectly vertical and ready for reaming.

Hand strength on the wing nuts is quite enough to hold it for most purposes. If you have some concern about the head twisting in the fixture, turn it full clockwise so the blade rests against the vertical leg of the base; now it can't twist any further.

The fixture is aluminum, which is softer than steel or chromium. Therefore, it cannot scratch the hosel, even if it twists or slides in the grip. But it can dent the hosel, if you bring enough force to bear. That won't happen with hand-tightened wing nuts, but it is conceivable with wrench-tightened hex nuts. If you must use a wrench, don't overdo the strength or you might damage the clubhead.

Mounting the fixture on the drill press

Now let's see about those holes in the horizontal leg of the base. They are for bolting the fixture to the drill press.

For cleaning old epoxy and remains of graphite shaft from the hosel, and perhaps even for coning, you can get away with holding the fixture on the drill press table by hand. But reaming the hosel from .355 taper tip to .370 parallel tip requires a sturdier support. So does reaming out the remains of a steel shaft (thought there are usually better ways to remove it). Hand-holding the fixture is a serious hand safety issue as well. So let's talk about what mounting holes we need and where they go.

Holes for table slots

My drill press table has slots oriented at 45 for bolting a vise or clamp to the table. I don't have a way to cut slots in 1/4" aluminum. If I did, this would be a much easier chore. I would just cut a slot or two in the base in a place that is sort of right. But if I'm going to do it with holes instead of slots, I have to get it more right than "sort of".

I put a hosel in the fixture and clamped the fixture to the table with a C-clamp. I made sure it was clamped so the hosel bore was centered with the spindle of the drill press. I made sure of this by lowering the drill press (with the motor off) with a coning reamer in the chuck. The coning reamer centered the hosel perfectly -- and I tightened the C-clamp right there.

Then, from below the table, I traced the slots in pencil. You can see in the photo the penciled-in slot. Then I drilled holes that were centered in the pencil tracing.

My drill press has an arrangement that seems pretty common. The table slots (and the slots in my vises) are 1/2" wide, but the bolts supplied are 3/8" diameter. So there is a certain amount of wiggle room for adjusting the exact position of things. I drilled the holes 1/2" in diameter, which gives me 1/8" of play on each side, or a total adjustment range of 1/4". That turns out to be plenty, because you always want the hosel centered under the spindle.
Here's the result -- the fixture bolted to the table for coning.

Holes for base slots

I have a very nice carbide .370" chucking reamer. The only problem is a very long shank. I can't fit the reamer between the chuck and a hosel in the fixture on the table.

But it fits just right when the fixture sits on the base of the drill press. The base itself has parallel slots with a wider "keyway" to insert a bolt head first. So I drilled a second pair of holes spaced for the base slots. Here's a picture of my setup for reaming to a .370 diameter.

Conclusion

You can make your own very serviceable fixture for reaming hosels with a drill press. The cost for the aluminum is small, and the major tools needed are a saw with a carbide blade and a drill press. And you wouldn't be undertaking this if you didn't already have the drill press.


Last modified - Oct 17, 2015