Dave Wood Arts
WB Golf
Classical Wood Restoration Process

The wood has now reached the point of final finishing. All club head details related to function and aesthetics have been accomplished. We'll now blend all the surfaces together harmoniously.

Begin the first layer of finish sanding with 180 grit wet-or-dry paper. The level of abrasiveness in this paper will reduce scratches and blemishes on the woods surface.

Its not necessary to be aggressive with this sanding layer, its simply intended to smooth and blend by removing a thin layer of the woods surface skin.

As with all previous stages, take extra care when sanding around stampings in the wood.
For this second level of finish sanding, use 220 grit. The fine abrasive quality of this paper promotes smoothness and clarity to the woods grain. It is also ideal for blending and softening the transitions between surfaces, such as top-line, toe, profile and skirt edges.

The photos in figure 15 show the wood completely sanded with 180 (smooth) and 220 (fine) papers.

The M85 sample club used to illustrate this process, had never been refinished. Its original factory code on the neck remained intact (fig 16).

Preserving the registration, (like a birth certificate) was a finishing goal for this classical driver. Extra care with this area had to be taken through all stages of preparation.

Wood Stamp Detail

From the beginning of this guide, much attention has been paid to the careful preservation of the markings, as original identity and authenticity are vital details to a classical wood's interest value.

Factory Process

When originally built, the wood stamps were pressed through the finish coating and filled with paint, just before its final coat was applied. The foil stamp registration marking on the back of the neck, was performed after the club had been completed and is only within the surface of the finish coating.

In original condition, markings will appear to be wider and deeper than they actually are, as the stamping die also expanded the surface of the finish coating. The illustration on the left, shows a cut-away view of the marking tool's v shape as it indents into the wood and leaves behind the cavity to be filled with paint.

The tip of the V is the deepest point in the marking and the top is the widest. When the finish coating is removed, the stamping will lose a fraction of its depth and width. Sanding the wood's surface further reduces the marking's volume and clarity.

Understanding the original marking process helps one to appreciate the need for taking care through all stages of restoration. As every collector must know, finding a prized classic model in mint original condition, is far from the norm. Most wood's have been refinished at least once since their manufacture. Hopefully, the previous craftsman handled the markings very well and the golf clubs new restoration, won't require much more than stripping paint from the stamps and detail etching with a fine metal point.

Pointillist Engraving is a method my brother Charlie and I employed for restoring lost, or ghost markings in classic woods. This process takes a lot of time and requires very good lighting, strong reading/magnifying glasses and patience. (Practice this technique on a piece of scrap hardwood to get the feel for it, before attempting on your classic club project)

1. With the finish removed and fine sanded, wet the stamp area with water to create contrast and bring out ghost image details of the marking.

2. While area is damp, carefully trace over the visible image/marking details using a sharpened HB pencil.

3. Trace over your pencil marking with an ultra fine felt tip, or art marker.

4. Begin making tiny dot impressions within the inked marking with the point of your etching/engraving tool.

5. With a light touch, connect all the small dots together, section-by-section, using a vibrating engraving tool on its lowest setting.

6. Once it appears that most of your ink marking has disappeared, wet the engraved area to check your progress. Touch-up and blend markings with etching/engraving tool and softly smooth over the marking surface with 400-600 grit sandpaper.

Pointillist engraving technique used to create the sculptural effect in this Driver featuring "The Last Supper". I stained and tinted areas within the image with graphite powders to enhance its dramatic 3-D scene. Made for Bernhard Langer as a gift for his 1993 Master's win with a WB Texan driver. (Last Major Championship won with a persimmon Driver)

Face Masking

Use clear fingernail polish to mask and define the shape of the entire face and insert top-line. This operation seals and protects the face against any absorption from the wood stain and grain filling processes that follow. (fig 17).

This water clear fluid is very viscous and applies smoothly. It dries quickly, is very inexpensive and comes with a small applicator brush for controlled detail. When defining the face shape, remember that scoring lines extend a little outside of its perimeter and into the stained areas of the heel and toe.

After you have painted on your face mask and it has dried, angle the coated surface about 30 degrees to a light source for reflection to see if you have missed any areas or spots. If so, touch-up those areas before applying stain to the wood. You do not want to have to remove stain from the defined face area, or insert.

Stain and Tint

Some observations for consideration and contemplation, prior to staining the wood.

A. The bare wood itself, with its natural light or dark colors, grain pattern and density, mineral marks or carbon deposits within the block.

B. Previous stain saturation or paint colors.

C. The desired contrast to other color/optical components, such as scoring, stampings and definition of the hitting area.

Every block of wood is unique and possesses its own characteristics. In a set of three, we can stain each club identically and the set will appear familial. However, identical matching requires opacity, toners, or saturated dye's, especially with oil hardened woods. This is why MacGregor and other brands used opaque or glazed coatings to achieve production model uniformity.

If a player wants to see strong finish contrast between the profile and strike surface to perform a defined optical, utilitarian function, opaque, or very dark finishes work well. Think... Mr. Hogan.

The Cleveland TC15 driver pictured in fig. 18, is a wood I got during the 88' US Open. The model was Roger's take on a SS1W Velocitized. This club was built by Cleveland's John Gonzales for a Tour player who ordered the wood finished black for face alignment optics and strong profile definition.

My personal preference is to see the wood. But removing an opaque finish is a bit like Forrest Gumps box of chocolates, "You never know what your going to get"...

After stripping away the finish, I discovered the driver had a tight grain structure that ran into its face. The problem was that the wood had been dyed a deep black.
Sanding through its black stain layer was not an option. As doing this would change its form and greatly reduce its weight.
The solution was to bleach the wood to significantly reduce the intensity of its saturated stain. Even with the bleaching process, the woods color remained dark with traces of black within its pores. A red walnut stain blended very well to maintain a high level of contrast, while enhancing the richness of its grain. Its final finish color reminds me of "Root Beer".


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Dave Wood Arts

info: davewoodarts@gmail.com