History of the U-Swivel

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History of the U-Swivel


Above is a photo of the original 1970’s era U-Swivel Nunchaku as patented by Douglas Dolan of Dolan’s Sports. He filed patent number 4017073 in January 1976, went into a short production run and then mysteriously stopped. Original U-Swivel hardware, like those seen above, has been actively hoarded by longtime Nunchaku experts and most recently have been known to sell for $100 (for just the metal hardware)!

Woodall’s Custom Workshop first came to know the original U-Swivel when customers sent us their hardware to create Nunchaku for them. Below are some photos showing the original U-Swivel hardware added to our Nunchaku wood.

A.  Purpleheart 12 inch Nunchaku
B.  Indian Ebony 12 inch Nunchaku
C.  "Tiger Stripe" Hard Maple 12 inch Nunchaku
D.  Bocote 12 inch Nunchaku
E.  Zebrawood 12 inch Nunchaku

As I have mentioned elsewhere, Nunchaku experts who have been swinging chux for 20 or 30 years almost always choose 5 chain links for their Nunchaku. All five Nunchaku below are five link.


Jim MacDonald of New Hampshire ordered completely assembled pairs of Nunchaku from Dolan’s Sports in the late 1970’s and thirty years later was able to produce the original assembly instructions which have been scanned and reproduced below. Thanks Jim!


The biggest advantage that the U-Swivel hardware had over the typical ball bearing hardware (seen below) was durability and resistance to wear. If dirt gets into the typical ball bearing Nunchaku, the bearings would freeze and could not be replaced. The U-Swivel Nunchaku has no ball bearings to seize and can be disassembled to have parts replaced.


Having repaired many U-Swivel Nunchaku for customers we have noticed a design problem with the original U-Swivel Nunchaku (no disrespect intended) and here is the problem:

A two inch screw is tightened into the top of the Nunchaku to hold the U-Swivel cap on. Tightening of the main screw causes cracking which allows the screw to back out over time or worse, causes the wood to break when the Nunchaku is used in a strike.
What is really needed is another way to hold the U-Swivel hardware on that doesn’t require drilling a hole parallel to the grain. Cross-grain holes are best in wood.

Despite the advantages over ball bearing listed above for the U-Swivel Nunchaku, production of the U-Swivel Nunchaku ceased more than twenty five years ago. Woodall’s Custom Workshop has received many, many requests for U-Swivel Nunchaku and knowing that production has ceased and knowing the tendency of the top to crack, we were hesitant to restart production until the problem of the cracking could be fixed.

Well, in late 2008 and after many hours of design, production and tooling costs, Woodall’s Custom Workshop has created the Reproduction U-Swivel Nunchaku.

Below are two photos of the Reproduction U-Swivel Nunchaku:


Let’s look at the design improvements which overcome the problems associated with the original U-Swivel.  The first thing to notice in the figure below is that a metal cap is now used to hold the U-Swivel hardware to the wood. The metal cap is fitted over the wood and a brass pin is used at the bottom of the cap. The brass pin is fitted into a hole drilled cross grain, not parallel. The metal cap is one inch long and the hole for the brass pin is about one inch away from the top. The top of this Nunchaku is not going to crack.


The U shaped bracket just above the metal cap is riveted to the top of the cap and can freely rotate just like the original U-Swivel.  The clevis pin can still be driven out to add longer or shorter chain links. The brass pin is also added to the Nunchaku instead of the typical spring steel roll pin normally associated with Nunchaku.

Since the original U-Swivel hardware is no longer in production, Woodall’s Custom Workshop specially contracted with a tool and die shop to reproduce the hardware you see above.  We have put many hours into the research and production of the Reproduction U-Swivel in the hopes that you enjoy our Nunchaku for years to come just like you have for the original U-Swivel produced by Dolan’s Sports.

The Reproduction U-Swivel is available in our “Online Store” (see the link in the navigation menu above) for any weapon which uses chain – including Nunchaku and sectional staffs. Due to the cost of research and production, there will be an extra cost for selecting the Reproduction U-Swivel. Thanks for your understanding.

Damien Romero of Los Anglos California recently sent us his original assembly instructions for the ball bearing U-Swivel, No. 145. The instructions have been scanned and reproduced below. Thanks Damien!


For those readers who noticed the blacked out text at the bottom of the first page of instructions (of the No. 145 sheet), below is a detailed scan of that area. You can clearly see the text "Back off on the screw until the swivel just spins free." This is clearly an error left over from the instructions on the non-ball bearing (No. 121) instruction sheet.


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