Pallet shaving project

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by aimr75, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    So i decided to try my hand at shaving a Wilson pallet and thought id post my experience doing it. Now i took a bit of a risk doing it as i have never done it before and decided to just do it without attempting it on a test frame first. Another risk was shaving a size 6 grip to a size 3. Thats a big jump and probably wouldn't recommend doing it on a first attempt if i did it again. Thankfully it turned out pretty good, not absolutely perfect, but good enough to pass for a 4 3/8 wilson shaped grip.

    Now the things i used to undertake this project:

    - A reference frame to measure the required grip size
    - A digital caliper
    - Two sanding blocks
    - Sand Paper
    - Sharpie

    I took my reference frame, a 2012 blx Tour 90 with a 4 3/8 grip, took the leather grip off and measured all the sides of the handles at three places on the pallet, at the top of the pallet before it tapers off, in the middle and at the end. Interestingly, even the molded handle wasn't all the same size at these points. Not a huge difference, but not exact.

    Once i took these measurements, I took the sharpie and made a dot near the top of the bevel that i was going to start with so that i didn't lose track of which side i was shaving and how many times. i proceeded to start shaving the grip 6 pallet firstly on the largest side of the pallet (bevel no. 3). Starting from the top of the pallet and running down to the end of the butt end with consistent pressure on each stroke. I sanding each side 10 times, so i would shave 10 times on one side and 10 on the opposite pallet face (bevel no. 7). After each shave (10 and 10) i would measure the grip with the caliper at the 3 points as per the reference frame. Once i got the measurement close or on the reference, i started on bevel 1 and 5 and did the same thing. I then did the smaller bevels using the same method.

    I noticed one of the issues was that the size of the pallet was always a bit larger at the top compared to the bottom since i started the sanding from the top to the butt end, so i had to compensate a bit by sanding the top of the pallet a bit more to get it close.

    I mentioned i needed 2 sanding blocks. One was for what i just described. Its a hand size sanding block with a handle (which makes life easier), but the other sanding block was for the tapered part of the handle at the top. I just used a spare piece of wood i had that was close to the size of the tapered section on the reference frame and proceeded to shave the taper to create the required angle down to the frame.

    Another thing with starting with such a large grip size is that the end of the pallet at the throat was quite thick, and if i left it that way, then there would be a pretty large bulge when ultimately wrapping the leather grip. So i had to sand the tapered portion so that the pallet was almost flush to the frames surface.

    All in all, not an easy job and by no means its perfect, but its pretty good in that i can't notice a difference to the reference frame. Again, shaving from a grip 6 to 3 presented its own challenges, but most would typically only go one size down, so would invariably be an easier task than what i had to undertake.

    Hope this helps if someone is thinking about doing this.

    Here is a pic of the shaved pallet:

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. corners

    corners Legend

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    Nicely done! Three sizes is a lot. I took a K90 down one size a couple years ago with a very similar method, and although I still play with that frame I wasn't super happy with the results. Tough stuff. That wasn't a Dmitrov pro stock was it?
     
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  3. mykoh

    mykoh Rookie

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    fantastic job there aimr.

    you mentioned the end product isn't perfect, but it seems like the steps you took were very deliberate and precise. if the digital calipers says its the same as your reference frame, shouldn't it be perfect? lol it definitely looks good to me. :) what did you not like about the end product exactly?
     
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  4. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    Yeah its not an easy task, especially 3 grip sizes, it could have turned out pretty bad.. not good since that is the dimitrov :) but im happy with it
     
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  5. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    Its just that anything done by hand will never be like something that has been machined.. so yeah, im happy with it, but its not completely precise, but pretty close.
     
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  6. corners

    corners Legend

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    Well, it had a custom handle (or something like it) to begin with, so you just customized it some more. :) Happy hitting!
     
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  7. corners

    corners Legend

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    The thing I would be afraid of in taking it down three sizes is getting off axis. The caliper only tells you how thick the handle is in four axes perpendicular to the hairpin. I would think it would be easy to drift away from the longitudinal center axis and end up with a handle that's not perfectly centered on the pallet.
     
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  8. mykoh

    mykoh Rookie

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    hmm yeah that makes sense, so one side would be more shaved down than the other? you'd end up with a lopsided handle. still, it sounds like a really fun thing to do.

    and aimr! you're playing with the dmitrov!? i would've practiced this with 3 other racquets before i'd dare to touch a racquet as prized as that. you, my good man, have balls.
     
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  9. PKfan1

    PKfan1 Semi-Pro

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    Has anyone tried using a block planer before for a project like this?
    I would think it would save a lot of time and be a little more accurate taking a lot of mass off. You would sand after of course.
     
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  10. A.Reader

    A.Reader New User

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    Planing is possible

    @PKfan1: I just used a block plane to shave down a Prince size 5 to a Head-like size 3. (Don't ask.) It was easier than I expected and I was satisfied with the result, though I was not as careful or precise as aimr75.

    The plane I used was the cheapest one you can get at hardware stores, RB5 model by Stanley. I also used a cheap vernier caliper and a bench vise. I set the blade where I thought it would take off 0.4 mm per pass, but it took off somewhat more, maybe 0.6 mm per pass. So obviously, don't try to take off your full amount in one pass--you will likely go over. In my case, the bigger cut just meant fewer passes required, so I didn't adjust the blade. I did a total of 3 passes each on the #3 and #7 bevels, then 2 passes on each of the diagonal bevels. Finished off with a small amount of filing and hand sanding near the throat.

    Here was the main problem: on 6 of the 8 bevels, the throat gets in the way of the plane at the end of your stroke. (You dig the blade in to start at the butt end after removing the cap.) If you yaw the plane sideways while keeping it flat on the bevel you're working, you can avoid the throat as you push through the last couple of inches. Or else you can break off your chip somewhere before the plane hits the throat and finish the remainder by other means. I scratched my paint in one or two places on the throat by not being careful enough. I'd suggest wrapping the throat in some kind of protective tape.

    I was doing this on a "fully depreciated" racquet, but I'd do it again (more carefully) if necessary on any racquet. The plane cuts through the foam with moderate pressure, requiring less force than I expected to need. The wider bevels take more force than the narrow ones, but it is by no means a strain on the widest bevels. The surfaces actually looked flatter when I was done than they did before, and the corners were really exact. By taking off thinner curls, you could be as precise as anyone could need--small fractions of a millimeter. (Then again, I'm not sure how thin you could go while still getting a nice uniform curl, but probably thinner than what I was doing.)

    Safety first--put the racquet in a vise and don't cut yourself. Take your time, measure as often as required, and it's not a bad way to go.

    Didn't take any before/after pix, but here's the layers of foam I shaved off the large bevels.

    [​IMG]
     
    #10
  11. schap02

    schap02 Semi-Pro

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    A local guy in my area makes custom pallets for me, he starts with 5/8 head pallets and works em down to 1/2 wilson shape for me, will try to get some insight on how he does it.
     
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  12. Squidward

    Squidward Rookie

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    Don't sell yourself short. Nice Job, Well Done!!
     
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  13. corners

    corners Legend

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    That's great. I went with sanpaper over a plane as I assumed the pallet foam would be too soft to plane cleanly. Clearly not the case. Since the plane removes a specific amount on each pass, i would think it's superior to sandpaper and would use your method if I were to do it again.
     
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  14. namja

    namja New User

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    I really need to bring my 4 1/2 grips down to 4 3/8. I just wanna use a sharpie and sandpaper. Is that risking too much? Do I really NEED to buy calipers? Or a plane??

    :(
     
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  15. Bdarb

    Bdarb Hall of Fame

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    This thread is literally exactly what I needed. Love this site. I have a Wilson ntour 90 5/8 and I love it but it's just too big. Would like it down around a half. Did it retain the same edges in the pallet? Awesome looking job btw thanks for posting.
     
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  16. corners

    corners Legend

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    I reduced by one grip size using sandpaper and vernier calipers and I would definitely use a plane!!! I think it would make it much, much easier to do a good job. And you may not need calipers with a plane because you know that you're taking the exact same amount off with each pass. Sandpaper is much less precise - I wouldn't recommend it, especially without a good caliper.
     
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  17. brownbearfalling

    brownbearfalling Hall of Fame

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    Aimr75: looks like a pretty good job.

    Two things I would is that it is highly recommended that you take off the butt cap to change gripsize. Thus before starting the job, you must buy a new butt cap in your desired size. Along with this, you are going to need a staple gun and appropriate staples.

    Another thing I did was put masking tape at the part of the racquet were the foam mold ends. I did this because it is pretty easy to scratch your frame without the masking tape protecting it. The masking tape also allows you to do long fluid strokes without scratching the frame. This will help you with the problem of having a larger top half. I had the same problem but I have a one handed back hand so it's not such a big deal.

    I've done 6 racquets all Wilsons. 1 was going from a 5/8 to 3/8. 1 was taking off some size from a racquet that was marked 3/8 to match my other 3/8. 4 were taking 1/2 to 3/8.
     
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  18. Veninga

    Veninga Rookie

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    How much weight did it loss by taking off this much?
     
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  19. brownbearfalling

    brownbearfalling Hall of Fame

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    I didn't think about weighing the racquets because I sold them for cheap shortly after I shaved the grip. The reason being is that they played a lot different than stock 3/8 frames. I had to go back and forth from play testing the frame to correcting the shape of the grip. Another problem I had to fix constantly was the butt cap. Some of the staples stuck out too much or wouldn't go all the way into the handle so the butt cap would be loose. It was too much work to fix these frames in my mind and the results were frustrating to deal with.

    I suppose if I weighted and balanced the frames they would have played closer to stock. If I ever take up this feat again, which is highly unlikely, I will keep track of the weight and balance.
     
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  20. alancalan

    alancalan Rookie

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    BB, you convinced me to do nothing with such a small change. That's what Fred told me at his Delreay Tennis Shop.

    One question I have, when I took the rip off the 4 1/2 aero pro I saw what looked like very poorly applied cellophone, with wrinkles and prominent ridges. What is that like that? I got both racquests from TW. I didn't think Babolat did such sloppy work. I took a picture but I can't figure out how to get it in here. There are no attachments, only links?

    alancalan
     
    #20
  21. yongxing

    yongxing New User

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    what kind of plane do you use and how do you slide the grip in to start shaving?
     
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  22. JohnBPittsburgh

    JohnBPittsburgh Rookie

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    Great Work!!!

    I just did this to my racquet (no caliper, just sand paper, sharpie, enough time to not feel rushed, and a lot of care) I am very satisfied with the result. I did it on a frame that I got cheap (and as a beginner), so if I messed it up, it wouldn't matter, but I love it now. There is something satisfying about fixing something yourself and polishing up or learning a skill. I think your racquet turned out great!!! I hope you get many hours out of your "new" racquet!! I am glad you posted this, because I have another Wilson frame that I am going to do. Thank you for sharing your experience. The idea of selling my racquet and buying another with the grip I need is waaaaaayyyyy more annoying and not nearly as satisfying as a successful DIY project.
     
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  23. Blade0324

    Blade0324 Hall of Fame

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    I customize all of my handles. I play head prestige but like the wilson shaped pallet. I tried one from **** but was really disappointed with the quality. I get. 3/8 size to start and then begin by sanding down the bevels on the 2 sides along the frame sides of the racquet to make the shape more round instead of oval. I then take a sharpie and color all side of the pallet and then begins sanding each side one at a time working all the way around the handle taking off just enough to remove the sharpie. I measure after each time around (usually about 3 passes total) to get to the desired size of about 1/4 or slightly less. I leave the 3/8 buttcap as I like the bigger feel there.
    I use a dremel with a sanding disc to do this and it goes very quickly. I've done racquets for lots of friends this way and the results are very good. After I put the leather grip and over grip on it feels perfect for me. But everyone likes something a bit different.
     
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