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Fully Equipped mailbag: Can you strip a chrome finish to make raw irons?

October 24, 2019

Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF’s managing editor of equipment, Jonathan Wall) fields your hard-hitting gear questions.

I know it varies, but — generally speaking — if you have chrome stripped off irons, how many grams are lost in the process? Is lead tape acceptable for replacing the lost weight? And do Tour pros have irons specifically made raw or are they just stripped? — Nad Roj (@bindolio)

Let me start off by saying there’s really no good reason to strip the chrome off a set of irons. I realize you’re probably a gearhead who’s itching for a DIY project, but seriously, just go out and buy a set of raw heads off the rack. The proliferation of raw products — meaning those without a plated finish — in recent years leads me to believe equipment manufacturers are listening to consumer requests for different finishes.

Of course, not every product comes in a raw finish, and I realize some golfers are going to strip the chrome off their favorite set of sticks even if I discourage them to go a different route. Be aware that some chemical solutions used to remove the thin layer of chromium are highly toxic. Don’t skimp on a pair of heavy-duty gloves for the project.

The weight removed from a set of chrome heads is probably in the neighborhood of 2-3 grams, which might not seem like that big of a deal. Just remember a reduction in weight can alter the overall swing weight of the club and make the shaft play differently (potentially stiffer). Not to mention it’s going to alter the CG properties in the head — along with other variables.

Lead tape is your best bet when attempting to add weight back to an iron head. A four-inch strip of lead tape will generally add two grams of weight, and you’ll want to keep in mind where you’re positioning the lead tape on the head to ensure the CG is positioned in the proper spot. I point all of this out because unless you know what you’re doing or have “master clubmaker” in your title, it’s probably best to leave this sort of thing up to the professionals

Professional golfers have custom raw heads built to their specifications. They don’t spend their off days stripping the chrome off their irons and wedges. Similar to baking, you can’t build a set of raw heads with guesswork. Everything needs to be precise.

The good news is there are custom shops out there that specialize in this sort of thing. So if you don’t want to break the bank for a new set, the entire process be done for the right price. Just remember raw grooves will wear out quicker, which means you’ll be looking for fresh sticks frequently if you play a lot.

To hear more gear insights from Jonathan Wall and True Spec’s Tim Briand, subscribe and listen each week to GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast: iTunes | SoundCloud | Spotify | Stitcher