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Any tips for cutting shafts to exact length?


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Kind of an odd ball question, I know.  Whenever I want to cut a steel shaft to a certain length, I take a tape measure and try to mark the shaft with a sharpie all the way around the perimeter of the shaft but the mark is never perfectly straight.  Then I use a Rigid brand pipe cutter and because the sharpie mark has some thickness and it’s tough to get the Rigid blade on an exact spot, the final length is sometimes up to 1/8” off.  
 

Does anyone have any tips/tricks for measuring and cutting with a tape measure, sharpie and pipe cutter?  Thanks. 
 

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if you want a smaller mark for your length measurement, put masking tape around the the shaft and mark your length with a pen or pencil.  Don't try and mark it  all the way around the shaft, just make

Yes, you turn the pipe cutter into a chop saw. 😁

I have a 6”. Little more now than I expected they would be, but they have those 20-25% coupons all the time which will probably work with them.    https://www.harborfreight.com/power-tools/powe

Mark to length and cut it square. What are you using to cut it?

 

I usually just make a single mark.

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15 minutes ago, e-man said:

Does anyone have any tips/tricks for measuring and cutting with a tape measure, sharpie and pipe cutter?  Thanks. 
 

e


Yes, you turn the pipe cutter into a chop saw. 😁

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14 minutes ago, Golfrnut said:


Yes, you turn the pipe cutter into a chop saw. 😁


Ha, believe me I’ve thought about it.  For the few projects I work on though, it’s not worth the expense.  
 

Here’s the thing.  The pipe cutter works great and cuts clean and straight.  My issue is that the sharpie line has some thickness and I don’t always line the blade up perfectly on it. 
 

One other question.  When using a tape measure, do you use the metal clip on the end as the zero, or do you line up the end with say, the one inch mark, and then measure length from there?  Does it matter?

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8 minutes ago, e-man said:


Ha, believe me I’ve thought about it.  For the few projects I work on though, it’s not worth the expense.  
 

Here’s the thing.  The pipe cutter works great and cuts clean and straight.  My issue is that the sharpie line has some thickness and I don’t always line the blade up perfectly on it. 
 

One other question.  When using a tape measure, do you use the metal clip on the end as the zero, or do you line up the end with say, the one inch mark, and then measure length from there?  Does it matter?


Well, to an extent, your accuracy is only as good as the equipment you are using.  Personally, I have a chop saw, a cut off wheel, and use a Mitchell ruler that has a measuring block. I can use a sharpie just fine as the block covers up the shaft so all I need to do is cut to the edge of the line. 
 

Biggest point of me typing that, to an extent, you’ll have to live with some inaccuracies without upgrading the equipment to a certain extent. 
 

FWIW, I think you can get a chop saw from Harbour Freight (if you are in the US) for like $20-30 IIRC. 

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7 minutes ago, e-man said:

That’s it???  I thought they were over $100.  I’ll have to look into that.  I have a Harbor Freight retail store not too far from my house. 


I have a 6”. Little more now than I expected they would be, but they have those 20-25% coupons all the time which will probably work with them. 
 

https://www.harborfreight.com/power-tools/power-saws/cut-off-saws.html

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if you want a smaller mark for your length measurement, put masking tape around the the shaft and mark your length with a pen or pencil.  Don't try and mark it  all the way around the shaft, just make one small mark.  Put your cutting wheel directly on that line.  That's about as accurate as you can be with a pipe cutter, if it walks on you while cutting, there isn't much you an do about it.

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9 minutes ago, 76mpg said:

I have used a pipe cutter on the high side of my sharpie line and use either a dremmel or my grinding wheel to fine tune from there. It is pretty easy if you dont have room for a chop saw.


Same here, most of my cuts end up being a hair long.  I have a dremel.  Which attachment do you use and how to you grind down the end of the shaft evenly?

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9 minutes ago, trav_158 said:

if you want a smaller mark for your length measurement, put masking tape around the the shaft and mark your length with a pen or pencil.  Don't try and mark it  all the way around the shaft, just make one small mark.  Put your cutting wheel directly on that line.  That's about as accurate as you can be with a pipe cutter, if it walks on you while cutting, there isn't much you an do about it.


Thanks for this. I’ve tried this but the tape seems to make it more likely that the pipe cutter will walk a little.  It seems much more stable on a bare shaft. 

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4 minutes ago, e-man said:


Same here, most of my cuts end up being a hair long.  I have a dremel.  Which attachment do you use and how to you grind down the end of the shaft evenly?

A lot of times I use my larger grinding wheel, but when I use the dremmel I use one of the discs (dont know exactly which one it is, kinda looks like sandpaper but is firm) and just go really slow. Its never going to be perfect without a chopsaw but you can get it pretty close. I definitely have more control with the grinding wheel and just touch it here and there to even it out. The other thing I have done is clamped it flush in a vice and evened it off with a dremmel from there as well, just level off the imperfections.

Edited by 76mpg
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22 minutes ago, 76mpg said:

A lot of times I use my larger grinding wheel, but when I use the dremmel I use one of the discs (dont know exactly which one it is, kinda looks like sandpaper but is firm) and just go really slow. Its never going to be perfect without a chopsaw but you can get it pretty close. I definitely have more control with the grinding wheel and just touch it here and there to even it out. The other thing I have done is clamped it flush in a vice and evened it off with a dremmel from there as well, just level off the imperfections.


Are you using the edge of the disk to cut or are you using the face of the disk head on with the open butt end of the shaft?

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21 hours ago, e-man said:

Kind of an odd ball question, I know.  Whenever I want to cut a steel shaft to a certain length, I take a tape measure and try to mark the shaft with a sharpie all the way around the perimeter of the shaft but the mark is never perfectly straight.  Then I use a Rigid brand pipe cutter and because the sharpie mark has some thickness and it’s tough to get the Rigid blade on an exact spot, the final length is sometimes up to 1/8” off.  
 

Does anyone have any tips/tricks for measuring and cutting with a tape measure, sharpie and pipe cutter?  Thanks. 
 

e

Measure once, mark with as fine a tip sharpie as possible. If you feel the need, measure a second time on opposite side of shaft. Pipe cutters should go on square by design so as long as you put the blade on your mark you will be fine.  You can also put vey little pressure on the cutter for the first turn and ensure you are hitting your marks. 

 

 

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Using a fine tip sharpie like commented above will help getting the pipe cutter on your line. Hook the metal end to the tip of the shaft. Using the 1” mark and measuring from there requires math and adds a opportunity to mess up. I bought the $49 chops saw from Harbor Freight to cut a set of parallel tip shafts because of all the cutting that needed to be done. I was not impressed with the quality of the saw or the cut. Also the coupons I got did not work on that. 

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DIY method thats kind of idiot proof...

First the measurement itself...make sure you measure correct...measure at least twice, cut once.

To mark the shaft, get a piece of copper or plastic PIPE that has a OD and ID large enough
Make sure that "mark pipe" is cut 90*

Slide that pipe piece over the shaft, slide it to position and draw the cut line around the shaft.

when you cut, cut "on the long side" of the cut mark so the shaft becomes longer than planned.

Now GRIND down the rest down to your measure mark.
This will both give you correct length and a butt end thats cut as strait as possible. 


Measurements itself is close to an art form, but never mind what ruler or system you use, as long as you use the same system and the same measure tech on everything.

No OEMs has a common /shared standard for their measurements, so we will never see the same numbers unless we use the same measure equipment as they do.

Thats means 45.00" and 45.00" is most likely 2 different measurements if they comes from 2 different OEMs, so make sure you measure on YOUR ruler and find the DIFFERENCES to be correct, so with physical length .

(put them side by side on the table, and dont get hung up in what "numbers" they return on your ruler as long as the shaft you copy is identical with the other on your table, or 0.5 longer or shorter if thats target.)

Never make clubs in a rush, take your time and enjoy the process.
 

Edited by Howard_Jones
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4 hours ago, Howard_Jones said:



when you cut, cut "on the long side" of the cut mark so the shaft becomes longer than planned.

Now GRIND down the rest down to your measure mark.
This will both give you correct length and a butt end thats cut as strait as possible. 
 

This is great advice and what I do. Allows you to be very precise and gives a nice finished look on the butt end.

 

Edit to add that I use a 1" belt sander to grind into the mark.

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Thanks for all the great suggestions guys.  I cut some extensions today and they came out spot on to the 16th of an inch.  Here are the tips I found most helpful:

 

(1) Use the metal clip at the end of the tape measure as opposed to starting at 1” and measuring from there.  That clip is there for a reason.  I never knew this but there’s some play in that clip.  It actually moves about 1/16” depending on whether you’re measuring an inside dimension (like a wall) or an outside dimension (like a golf shaft).  Very cool. 
 

(2) Use a fine tip sharpie.  
 

(3) Measure twice, cut once. 
 

(4) Cut on the high side of your mark.  You can always grind it down with a dremel if you need to.  
 

(5) Take your time. 

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