Time For Some Woodworking: How to Build A DIY Wooden Framed Bike
Turn old pieces of wood into a new DIY bicycle.
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If you have need of a new bike, and can't seem to find the right one for you, then why not build your own? Better yet, why not make the frame completely out of wood?
If that sounds interesting, then follow this simple guide to find out how.
As you can imagine, like any project of this nature, you'll need some tools and materials before you get started.
Materials and gear needed
- Lumber (reclaimed or new and dark and light)
- Table saw
- Clear liquid epoxy/wood glue
- Bicycle parts and wheels (reclaimed or new)
- Liquid polyurethane
- Metal tubing
- Hand planes
- Wood router
- Table router
- Band saw
- Wood-boring bits
- Various nuts and bolts
Step 1: Prepare your lumber
The first step is to grab your lumber (reclaimed or other), measure to size, and cut it into pieces using a saw. Next, mark out and cut the lumber pieces into strips.
Plane down the pieces as needed. Next slice the lumber pieces into a series of thinner planks using your table saw too. You will need a variety of tones, as shown below.
Next, mix up your epoxy, and create laminate composite pieces of wood using your strips. Clamp and hold the pieces into place until fully cured.
Step 2: Begin to make the rear frame
Once cured, plane down the sides and sketch out the shape of the bike's main body frame. Take your composite wooden plank, measure against the various angles of the frame, and cut/trim down to size.
Make the planks slightly larger than the template as they will be properly worked to size later.
Mark out where the composite strips need to be trimmed to fit one another and make the necessary adjustments. Drill sacrificial holding pieces of timber around the frame, remove the composite strip frame, and begin to assemble a second frame piece using varying layers of light and dark wood and epoxy.
Clamp into place and leave to cure.
Next, cut out your template frame and route out the holes in the frame, as required.
Next, secure the two wooden frame pieces together using dowels, place the template over the top and mark out the design of the frame, and then trim off the excess wood, as needed.
Round off the edges using a mixture of a band saw and router and secure the composite strips together using screws. Next route out a channel in the middle of the two frame sections to take some thin metal tubes later and core a hole to take the seat pole.
Once complete, separate the two halves of the frame, drill holes between the channel you routed earlier, and feed the metal tubes between them. These will act as conduits for the brake cables once the bike is complete.
Add the seat pole, and glue the two halves together. Clamp and hold in place until fully cured.
Step 3: Make the chainstays
Next, take some scrap pieces of wood and mark out a wavy shape for the bike's seat-stay and chainstay. Transfer the shape to some larger pieces of wood and cut out using a saw.
You will want eight identical pieces slightly larger than the final width of the stays.
Clamps together and screw the shapes together to make larger pieces. Smooth down the wavy edges using a table router as needed. You want to be left with two halves of a mold as shown below.
Next, take some more of your main light and dark timber and cut it down into smaller lengths to make the stays. Plane them down as needed, and then cut them into thin strips as you did for the central frame of the bike.
With your wooden strips ready, add some thin cushioning to the curved parts of the molds. Tape into place as needed.
Then make another composite strip using your strips of light and dark wood. Glue them together as required, and place the strip inside of the mold.
Clamp the two halves of the mold together and leave the glue to dry fully. Rinse and repeat for a second identical curved composite strip.
Once both are complete, sketch out the basic form of the stays directly onto the strips.
Once complete, cut out the shapes using a bandsaw. With the pieces cut out, transfer them to your table router and smooth off the cut edges all the way around the piece.
Plane down the edges of the stays as needed too.
Step 4: Make the seat stays and build the frame
Next, make some more dark and light wood composite strips, and shape them in the stay mold as before. Mark out the shapes of the seat stays, and cut out using your band saw, as before.
Next, create a template for the stay-to-frame joints, and add dowel holes, and dowels, to the bike's frame to receive the stays.
Route a groove in the bike's mainframes to receive the chainstays if needed.
Next, take the seat stay pieces and mock them up on the partially assembled bike frame. Mark out their position, and refine the angles as needed using carpenters' geometry tools.
Route spaces in the central frame to receive the stays, as needed.
Step 5: Mount the stays to the frame
With that complete, drill a pair of holes in the wheel end of each stay. Then cut a channel through the middle of the wood between the holes.
Next, cut some small plates of metal using your bandsaw. Take the plates and place them in the channel you've cut in the stays and continue the holes through the metal sheets, as needed.
Cut the plates to shape, and fully form any drill holes as required. With that complete, cut the metal plates down to size, and shape, to make the rear wheel dropouts.
With that complete, take your router and bevel the edges of the bike's frame to take off any sharp edges.
Do the same for the stays as well. Next, take your orbital sander and buff all parts of the wooden frame and stays. Where required, tidy up edges using metal files too.
With that complete, assemble the frame and stays, and add the wheel dropouts to the stays, as needed.
Next, add some glue to the stay-frame mounting points, clamp together and leave to fully cure.
Step 6: Add the bottom bracket, seat tube, and headtube
Next, it is time to add the bottom bracket to the bike's frame. Bore a large enough hole through the frame as needed using a boring bit.
Do the same for the saddle mounting tube as well.
With that complete, grab some more lumber and cut down to size and plane. We need to thicken the headtube section of the frame prior to coring a hole for the front wheel assembly.
Trim the planks down using and slice to make two equally sized thin square of timber. Take the pieces and mark out the shape of the headtube part of the frame.
Cut out the shapes using a bandsaw and glue them into place on either side of the headtube section of the frame.
While the headtube is drying, take some large-bore metal tubing and cut it down to size to fit the bottom bracket's hole.
Cover the tube with epoxy and insert it into the bottom bracket until completely flush with the frame on either side. Leave the epoxy to fully cure.
Do the same for the saddle mount too.
Once the headtube pieces are cured, secure the frame into a wooden vice and hand plane it to fit the frame's shape.
Continue to shape the added pieces to the headtube so that it blends seamlessly into the main form of the bike's frame. Once complete, core a hole through the headtube to receive a length of metal tubing.
Next, take another length of metal tubing, measure to size to fit the headtube, add some epoxy, and insert it into the headtube, as needed. You want the base to sit flush with the frame but have a small length exposed at the top.
You may need to build some form of jig to hold the tube in position while the epoxy cures.
Step 7: Continue to shape the frame
Next, take your hand planes and continue to shape the frame. You want to round it off as much as possible.
Take your time and periodically feel the form of the frame with your hands. Level off any uneven parts of the frame and continue until the frame has the overall form your want.
Work the frame using both large and smaller hand planes and curve the angles as much as you are able. You want the frame to appear as a single piece of flowing wood -- if possible.
Do the same for the headtube section of the frame. Where needed also work the wood with metal files.
Next, make a small composite piece of wood and metal plate, shape to size, route the seat stays, and glue into place with epoxy the rear brake mounting point.
Clamp and hold in place until the epoxy is fully cured. When dry, remove the clamps and use an orbital sander to blend the piece into the surrounding frame.
Next, give the entire frame a good going-over with varying grades of sandpaper.
Step 8: Treat and seal the wooden frame
With that complete, give the entire frame coat of epoxy using a brush. Work it into all the crevices and exposed parts of the wood.
Leave the epoxy to dry, and then sand down all surfaces of the wooden frame to remove any drip or pooling marks. Once complete, repaint the entire surface of the bike frame with liquid polyurethane.
Leave to cure, as required.
Step 9: Complete the final assembly of the wooden bicycle
With the protective coating of the bike frame fully cured, you can now begin to complete the final assembly of the bike.
Grease the headtube, and add in any caps and ball bearing rings required to fit the front wheel assembly. Add washers and the handlebar clamp as per its instructions.
Insert the saddle into its matching mounting tube, and secure it into place as needed too.
Next, take the peddle axle and insert it into the bottom bracket of the bike. Secure into place as needed.
With that complete, add the chainring(s) and peddles as per their instructions.
Next, take the rear wheel and mount it into the dropouts, and mount the, if not already complete, rear brake mechanism to its bracket on the seat stays.
With that complete, make (or use a pre-bought) rod of wood to form the main handlebars. Insert and secure it into the handlebar bracket.
Once secure, assemble the handlebars with brake levers, gear selectors/shifts, and grips, as needed.
Next, feed the brake cables from the handlebars through the metal tubing in the frame and secure them to the rear brake caliper, as required.
After that, mount the front wheel, add the brake calipers and connect to its handlebar-mounted brake lever.
Finally, connect the bike chain and add any other accessories you want to your bike (like lights, water bottle holders, etc).
With that, your DIY wooden bike is now complete. Now all that's left is to take the thing for a spin!
If you enjoyed this project, you might want to take on a new challenge. How about, for example, building your own wooden canoe from scratch?
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