A Wooden Bicycle Wheel

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Its time for a new project, Christmas is long gone, the weather is getting marginally warmer, or at least warm enough to allow glue to cure properly and I have some time to play in between real work. So its time to have a go at something I have been thinking about for some time.

I have started to make a wooden bicycle wheel. If you go looking you discover that wooden bicycle’s and wooden bicycle wheels whilst not exactly mainstream have a steady and loyal following, with some superb examples of craftsmanship out there. The benefit of wooden wheels and wooden frames is that its a more flexible material than steel and helps to cushion the rider against the bumps and holes in the road, giving a more comfortable ride.

Unfortunately whilst there are lots of pictures and websites showing off the finished article there is very little to show you how to make one, so I have had to make it up as I go along, but that’s fairly normal for me. If I was making a carriage wheel, something I have done a number of times, I would make the rim in sections cut from a solid plank and joint it together, however a bicycle rim is really too thin to enable me to do this. Vintage bicycles that have wooden wheels use that method but then have a steel rim shrunk on, which this wont have, just a pneumatic tyre. I did consider steaming the wood, in the USA its quite a common method for carriage wheels, but in this instance I have decided to laminate the rim from strips of Beech wood.

I started off by cutting out a circle in 25mm ply to act as the former in which I can mould the wheel. I then cut some 5mm strips of wood, with one thick side planed the other side left sawn for maximum glue adhesion. The picture above shows the now 5 ply laminated rim, glued up and drying, so tomorrow we find out if my plan will work or will it be time for plan B.

 

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