Tools and Projects
My store page has all the framebuilding tools I’m currently selling, but I also wanted to share some other interesting projects I’ve worked on over the years. I enjoy the problem solving that goes into tool making, and I can imagine other framebuilders appreciating details, too. Hopefully you find some value in me sharing these!
Bicycle Framebuilding Jig
I spent about nine months of nights and weekends in 2016-17 building this bicycle frame-welding fixture (a.k.a. frame jig). I put a lot of time into researching other designs that already existed, and then I mixed and matched ideas to get at my own thing. I wanted it to be rigid and easy to use, provide good welding access, and work on a wide variety of bicycle frames.
It’s not something I’m making and selling to the public. When I do end up making and selling a frame jig, it will look different from this. I was just building it for my own use, so I didn’t worry about if I was ripping off other people’s ideas. When it comes to selling products, I take intellectual property more seriously, and I wouldn’t copy someone’s ideas without at least advancing the tech or trying to improve it for the end user.
DIY Tubing Chop Saw
I wanted a chop saw for rough cutting steel bike tubing prior to mitering. It's not very hard to keep a couple of wood tubing blocks and a hack saw by the bench vise, but where's the fun in that? This project used stuff I had around the shop, it works great, AND it throws a badass shower of sparks.
I removed the dust collection bag and the fence from a wood chop saw, replaced the carbide-tipped blade with a friction cutting disc, bolted down an old drill-press vise I wasn't using, and machined interlocking aluminum v-jaws for the vise. It can hold tubing from 1/4" to 2" in diameter.
It's loud and crude, but also fast and satisfying. It's certainly not necessary, but a cheap luxury in the steel bicycle framebuilder's shop.
Rear-End Sub-Assembly Tool
I made this tool as a half-measure solution. I didn't feel prepared to make my own bicycle framebuilding jig at the time, and I needed a more reliable way to build the rear end of bikes so they came out straight with the wheel centered.
I had rigged up a system for front-triangle fabrication on a heavy steel table that was blanchard ground, but the rear end was really elusive to me. Getting it to come out right was way too much trouble.
With this tool, I was able to build bike frames "ass backward," starting with this rear sub-assembly and then adding the front triangle and finishing with seat stays and bridges. It was a helpful step for me at the time, but in the long run, a full frame fixture was a much better solution.
DIY Fork Welding Fixture (2012)
This fork welding fixture was the first bicycle framebuilding tool I ever machined. It's a simple tool, and the tolerances are not very critical, so I think it's a practical tool to make for yourself.
In the video linked below, I also discuss fork welding fixtures in general. I compare this simple DIY design to more refined fixtures made by Sputnik Tool and Anvil Bikeworks.
I made this extra-large set of calipers for measuring the true size of a bike wheel with a tire on it. This allows me to measure exactly how much clearance I need when designing the frame. It’s just a simple modification to a yardstick, used in conjunction with a Swanson speed square.
I made this crude fork blade bender 8 years ago, and it actually works pretty well. Bending bicycle tubes can be fickle, difficult work: you'll often get rippling and kinking in your tube if the set-up and tooling isn't just right. But fork blades can be an exception to this.
Making a fork blade bender like this is a cheap and easy project, so I shot a video to explain the details for anyone interested.