Do-It-Yourself Shaft Puller
Dave Tutelman -- November 27, 2011
What it is and why
This article is about a Shaft Extractor, a tool that helps a clubmaker
remove a shaft from a clubhead. The featured tool is one you can build
for yourself. The original idea (including the key components) comes from Ron Blanchard,
and I modified his initial prototype to be easier to
build and more practical to use.
Traditionally a shaft extractor has been called a
Shaft Puller -- even though it could be reasonably argued that it pushes the clubhead off the shaft
more than pulling the shaft out of the clubhead. But let's begin at the
beginning, and see the procedure of removing a shaft from a clubhead in such a way as to save both components for reuse.
With a steel shaft, you can do the pulling by hand. (Be sure to use a thick
glove. That clubhead is hot!)
- You clamp the shaft in a vise. Very securely, because you are
going to use considerable force pulling the head off.
- Heat the hosel with a torch, to break down the epoxy that holds
the clubhead to the shaft. If you are prepared to heat it for a long
time, even a heat gun will do the trick.
- Once the epoxy bond releases, pull the clubhead off the shaft
tip. This takes a lot more force than you might imagine, because the
epoxy is still mechanically attached even if no longer adhering
You can't do it that way with a graphite shaft, for several reasons:
- The carbon fibers are held together with a resin, either epoxy or
something very similar. If the heat breaks down the epoxy cement (as it
should) it is also close to breaking down the resin that holds the
shaft itself together. So you want to use less heat and more force for a
- Following up on the previous point, the force needs to be
straight along the shaft axis, and applied at the clubhead's hosel. No
twisting. No off-center force. Any of these could damage the shaft
(especially since it is on the verge of being compromised by heat). And
even if you are not interested in saving the shaft, twisting it during
removal can leave chunks of broken-off shaft in the hosel; you will
need to ream it out. (Don't ask how I know this.) BTW, you are
interested in saving the shaft. Today's composite shafts are usually more
expensive than the clubheads.
graphite shafts, you need a tool that will exert a lot of force
on the hosel, straight along the shaft axis, to push the clubhead off
the shaft. Here is a typical commercial shaft puller. This one is made
by Ed Mitchell's Steelclub company, one of the best suppliers of
heavy-duty clubmaking tools.
The shaft is clamped horizontally just above the label. You can see
this is a hefty clamp with a T-handle, capable of resisting a lot of
There is a second screw drive with a T-handle, this one moving a
carriage horizontally. Mounted on the carriage is a metal "fan" with
four slots in it. The shaft fits loosely in one of the slots, and the
metal surface mates up against the hosel. (There are different slots
because shafts come in different diameters. Each slot has a slightly
different width.) Let's refer to the piece with the slots as a "claw",
because it grips both sides of the hosel like a claw and pushes the
When you turn the T-handle for the horizontal screw drive, the carriage
moves the claw forward to apply force to the clubhead. There is enough
room around the clubhead to move a torch to heat the hosel; this is an
important design feature for any shaft puller.
You may have noticed that there is no stand for the tool. This shaft puller was
made to be clamped in a bench vise. Other designs have a flat mounting
plate to be screwed to the workbench.
Models like the one shown sell for about $200. A full professional
model (made to be permanently mounted to the workbench) can easily run
over $300. And there are even more expensive models, as well as designs
based on a
hydraulic jack rather than a screw thread.
These prices are easily affordable by a shop that does dozens or
hundreds of reshafts a year. But the hobbyist or sideline business may
be looking for a less expensive tool -- or looking to trade sweat
equity for a lower price. This article presents the plans for a good
DIY (do-it-yourself) shaft puller.
(Before I continue, Golfsmith and GolfWorks
recently introduced budget shaft pullers for about $70. I haven't used
either one, but they look useful. If they do the job, then they are cutting the dollar value of your sweat
equity, should you choose to build one yourself. This
one cost me about $30 in parts, roughly half the $70 of the budget
puller. The difference in cost
is not nearly as compelling as when the alternative started close to
$200 and went up from there.)
Prior DIY shaft pullers
Tom Flanagan's design, and my version
bunch of years ago (probably the late 1990s) Tom Flanagan, a California
clubfitter, came up with a DIY shaft puller based on a bench vise. The
plans are posted on Clubmaker
Online's resource pages.
The picture to the right is linked from that site. The bench vise is
the chassis of the instrument, the shaft is clamped to the fixed rear
jaw, and the movable front jaw is the carriage. The vise is assumed to
have removable jaw inserts; they are removed, and replaced with parts
fashioned from thick aluminum stock.
liked TFlan's design, and built my own version (shown at left). I had
found a solid aluminum bench vise at a yard sale, and picked it up for
a dollar. I figured aluminum would be easier to drill and tap, which
would give me a better clamp. Turns out it did, but still not good
- The shaft clamp is pars A and C.
- The claw is part B.
- There is a drop-on insert, part D, with a narrower slot
than the claw; it is inserted for pulling narrower shafts.
The clamp only acted on a little over an inch of shaft, which
was not enough to prevent slipping. The tremendous force exerted by the
claw just overwhelmed the clamp force, unless the epoxy was really well
broken down. The vise could exert enough force, but the shaft clamp
could not properly resist it.
I bought a drill-press vise from Harbor Freight, intending to somehow
mount it to the rear stationary jaw, but I never got around to it. (But
we shall see that my having the vise on hand was a good thing; it was there for the next design.)
Ron Blanchard's shaft puller
In March of 2010, Ron Blanchard emailed me:
This may be worth sharing with Shop
Talk or other appropriate forums at some point.
His design was based on two tools from Harbor Freight, a
favorite hardware vendor for inventive clubmakers.
have just finished a prototype shaft puller for my own use (my third
different design, actually) and I thought it would be useful to have
you put an eye on it and give me some feedback.
(Click on the
thumbnail at left for a picture of Ron's shaft puller.) Ron mounted both subassemblies to a piece of wood, using light
aluminum angles as brackets to hold the pulling spindle. The cap of the
spindle presses against the vertical edge of the vise, just below where
the shaft is clamped. He uses a socket wrench on the hex head of the
spindle to crank the carriage away from the vise, which generates a
huge pulling force between where the claw holds the clubhead and where
the vise holds the shaft.
- He clamps the shaft in a 4" drill press vise, using
commercially available auxiliary jaws for protecting shafts in a vise.
- The pulling thread and carriage are an automotive pulley
puller (part #66868), with the pulling arms removed from the
(The arms are removed by unscrewing a pair of knurled bolts.)
The most important feature that makes this a superior shaft puller is
the very high threads per inch (TPI) of the threaded spindle. More TPI
you can exert more force on the clubhead (the reasoning is given
below). Most vise threads are of the order
of 4 to 8 TPI. The vise I used for my Flanagan shaft
puller was at the high end of the scale, at 8 TPI. The spindle in Ron's
prototype has 18 TPI, meaning it can exert
more than twice the force of my Flanagan-design shaft puller.
Simple machines, and why more TPI gives more force
(You can skip this if you're not
interested in the physics of it.)
Screw threads are one of physics' "simple machines", the most
elementary of which is the lever
The lever trades motion for force; you can use a
lever to exert more force, but as a result can not move the pushed object as far.
Since the total work done is the force times the distance through which
it moves, this does not violate conservation of energy. The work
(energy) is the same; you have simply traded distance for force. See
the tutorial on torque
for another way of looking at the lever.
The next simple machine is the inclined plane
push something up an incline, you don't have to use as much force as if
you lifted the object straight up. Just like a lever, you are trading
distance for force. If you are lifting something that weighs 100
pounds, you would have to exert a force of 100 pounds to lift straight
up. But you get a "mechanical advantage" from an
inclined plane. Mechanical advantage? That is a technical term, meaning
the force multiplication you can get from a simple machine. For an
inclined plane, the mechanical advantage is equal to the length of the
plane divide by it's height. Suppose you have a 30-foot-long incline
that rises 6 feet. It would have a mechanical advantage of 5 (30
divided by 6). So if you were pushing the 100-pound object up
that incline, you would need to exert only 20 pounds of force, not 100 pounds.
And again, energy is conserved; you only exert 20 pounds, but
you push it 30 feet to achieve a rise of only 6 feet.
Now let's look at a screw
. It is just an inclined
plane wrapped around a cylinder
. A single turn of the screw
moves the screw forward
by 1/TPI of an inch, but the edge of the screw travels the full
circumference of the cylinder. So the mechanical advantage of the
thread is the circumference divided by the "pitch of the thread" (which
For instance, let's look at an everyday 1/4-20 screw thread. That
designation means a diameter of 1/4 inch (radius of 1/8 inch) and
20 TPI. The mechanical advantage of the thread is the
divided by 1/20 of an inch. Doing the arithmetic, it comes out about
16. That's a pretty hefty mechanical advantage.
We can generalize this to a formula for mechanical advantage:
circumference divided by thread pitch.
|Mechanical advantage =
| = 2πr * TPI
So we can see that we can get more pulling force from the screw if we
have more threads per inch.
But we also have the shaft radius there.
How does that affect things?
Turns out it doesn't! Remember, we are exerting force through the
handle of a vise or spindle. That handle is a lever
, the most basic
simple machine. We exert force on the long handle, and that force is
applied at the threads. The lever, being a simple machine, has its own mechanical
advantage: the handle length divided by the radius of the threads. When
we compute the total mechanical advantage -- that of the lever times that of the screw thread -- the shaft radius cancels
Bottom line: We get pulling
force from our design proportional to the crank handle length and the
threads per inch.
|Total Mechanical Advantage =
|2πr * TPI = Handle length * TPI * 2π
The Blanchard-Tutelman shaft puller
on thumbnails for the full-size image)
Ron Blanchard had asked for my comments, which resulted in a
substantial email exchange. It was almost a year later (January 2011)
that we fully understood what was good about the idea and needed to
be preserved, what needed to be improved or fixed, and how to go about
it. Here was our list.
- Good - High
threads per inch for a very powerful pull.
- Good - Drill
press vise made a very secure shaft clamp. (This was needed even more
than for the usual shaft puller, because of the extra pulling force
provided by the high TPI.)
- Mounted on
a wooden board. I'm an electrical engineer according to my degree, and
I'm used to prototyping electronic circuits on "breadboards". This
mechanical breadboard was a
good way to start, but had a couple of problems as the base for
a real-life shaft puller:
- The base occupied enough space around the clubhead that it somewhat
restricted access for the torch or heat gun.
- Wood can be burned, and we were using heat that could easily
burn the board.
- Bad - The claw
was far enough back on the carriage so that the carriage restricted
torch access a bit, and might even threaten to interfere with the clubhead itself.
- Bad - The
spindle occasionally hung up on the holes in the thin brackets that
held it in place. A redesign of the spindle supports was necessary.
already had the vise on hand, and the Harbor Freight store in nearby
Brick Township was having a sale on the pulley puller, so I built a shaft puller that addressed the shortcomings of Ron's first
prototype. Here is a photo of my shaft puller in action. The
configuration of the working parts is the same as Ron's prototype, even
though it may not appear so. The differences are aimed at the specific
shortcomings of the prototype:
You can permanently attach Wilton multi-grip vise jaws like Ron used. I chose
to use a standard rubber shaft clamp, the sort that every clubmaker has
lying around. They fit the 4" vise perfectly.
wooden board - The whole assembly is now mounted on a length of
heavy-duty aluminum angle. Much narrower, and non-flammable. Instead of
clamping it to the bench, you can mount it in a bench vise.
for the claw
- The claw has been turned 180 degrees. The
business end is now at the outer end of the carriage, and the carriage
is not in the way of the torch nor the clubhead. (This introduces a potential stability problem, which we deal with below.)
for the spindle - Our first thought was a bushing in the
bracket. Plastic bushings were out; they melt at the temperatures we
are using. And brass bushings are expensive and harder to work with. We thought of
using thicker aluminum for the brackets, and rounding the edges of the
spindle hole. That gave me an idea! Eye bolts already had holes with
rounded edges. On top of that, they had little material except for the eye itself (the
"bushing") to get in the way of a clubhead or torch. So I did it with
I just got some neat CAD software (TurboCAD Deluxe) and finished the exellent video training supplied with it. I thought I'd do a set of drawings of the
Shaft Puller as my first real TurboCAD project. Here it is. If you click on a
thumbnail, you'll get the page as a PDF file.
The cover sheet
has a quick overall rendering, plus the bill of materials for the
Three rendered views show the tool from different angles: southwest
dimetric, northeast isometric, and southwest from below to show the
working drawing ("wireframe" style) with dimensions. This shows how to
drill the aluminum angle that will become the main beam of the shaft
Note that the holes for the eyebolts and the mounting holes for the
vise are not on the same centerline. That is intentional; we don't want
the bolt heads of the vise mounting bolts to interfere with the spindle
where it pushes against the vise.
Figure your own positions for the vise mounting holes. The dimensions
drawing work for my vise. But mine is several years older than the one
Harbor Freight now sells, and is slightly different. So the holes may
need to be in a different place. The important thing is that the
spindle pushes against a vertical surface of the vise about 7" from the
front end of the aluminum angle.
|Three simple parts on this sheet:
- The claw is made from aluminum angle, drilled and slotted according to this drawing.
- A stock 1/4" eye bolt does not have a large enough eye to
pass the spindle through. It has to be bent open until the spindle can
pass through and turn freely. The eye bolts I found at Lowe's had
larger eyes than the ones at Home Depot, but either needed bending.
- I use a drop-in collar to fit the slot of the claw more
closely to the shaft diameter. The part shown has two slots, suited to
the two most common shaft diameters. The shaft diameters accommodated are .335" and .370".
spindle is the Harbor Freight Pulley Puller with the arms removed.
Without the arms, there are three parts: the spindle itself, the
carriage, and an end cap. The carriage and end cap have to be removed
during assembly, to get the spindle into the eye bolts.
The arms had been held on with a pair of knurled bolts. I kept one of the bolts,
which I use to attach the drop-on collar to the carriage, hand-tight,
so it doesn't get misplaced when I'm not using the Shaft Puller.
|The vise is simply carriage-bolted to the main beam.
The eye bolts need to be held in position, implying each eye bolt needs
two threaded parts working against each other. We deal with this by
threading the holes in the main beam, then snugging up a hex nut on
each eye bolt to lock it in place.
pan head cap screw must be tightened enough so the claw does not turn
under pressure. Unlike the prototype, where the carriage was pulling
the claw, this design is pushing the claw, an inherently unstable
position. I have not encountered any difficulty due to instability, but
it could happen.
you encounter any instability -- any tendency of the claw to turn that
can't be fixed by a tight pan-head bolt -- here is a suggestion from
Ron that should fix it immediately.
The roll pin will prevent the claw from turning, but the assembly can be taken apart just as easily as before.
the claw properly fastened to the carriage, drill a 1/8" hole through
the base of the claw and at least 1/16" deep into the carriage.
(Slightly deeper is OK, but don't try for as much as 1/8".)
- Remove the claw and slightly enlarge the hole in the
carriage. 9/64" diameter should be enough, and 5/32" is the maximum you
- Press-fit a 1/8" x 1/4" roll pin into the hole in the claw
base. Reassemble the claw to the carriage, and tap the roll pin in
until it is at least flush with the claw, and perhaps even slightly
recessed . (The drawing shows it recessed.)
I use this shaft puller as a workhorse in my shop. It is easy to use,
and more effective than other pullers I have used. (The only exception
is a custom-made hydraulic puller with a massive clamp that was way too
expensive for me to ever consider.) Thanks for the idea, Ron. It's a
Ron Blanchard came up with the idea of using the part from Harbor Freight
as the spindle and carriage, pushing against a vertical plane of a
drill-press vise. This is the key to the whole design.
Ken Doyle of Mindscape
was the instructor for the video course that taught me how to use
TurboCAD. In subsequent email, he gave me more information and
considerable encouragement. He also told me about the Foxit
which is considerably better than the usual Adobe Reader.
Last modified - Dec 3, 2011