Tools and Projects
My Tools page has a full list of tools I’m currently selling, but I also wanted a place to catalog some of the other interesting pieces I’ve developed to help with my own framebuilding process over the years, and other miscellaneous projects I’ve undertaken. I genuinely enjoy the problem solving that goes into projects like these, and I can imagine other framebuilders appreciating details, too. Hopefully you find some of these interesting or they spark some ideas of your own.
I spent about nine months of nights and weekends in 2016-17 building this frame-welding fixture. 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 frames. It’s not something I’m making and selling to the public, and if I do end up making and selling a frame fixture, it will look different from this. I was just building it for my own use, so I didn’t concern myself with whether I was ripping off other people’s ideas. When it comes to making and selling products, I take intellectual property more seriously, and I wouldn’t crassly copy someone else’s ideas without at least advancing the tech or trying to make it different and hopefully better for the end user.
DIY Tubing Chop Saw
I wanted a chop saw for rough cutting steel bike tubing prior to mitering. It's really not very hard to keep a couple 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 so 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 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 framebuilding fixture, 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, and 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 to me for a time, but in the long run a full frame fixture was a much better solution.
I made this extra-large set of calipers for measuring the true size of a bike wheel with a tire on it, so you can know exactly how much clearance you need when designing the frame. The tool is just a simple modification to a yardstick, used in conjunction with a Swanson speed square.
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. I made this crude fork blade bender 8 years ago, and it actually works pretty well. It's a cheap and easy project to make one, so I shot a video to explain the details for anyone interested.