Wooden bicycle build

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I’m dying to give you more advice here, but I really hesitate to interfere with your artistic concepts. I’m gonna stand back and watch the glue fly!
I have some options (brackets on the steel frame among them) on the table which does not require wood turning. But its no problem if you give advice Ulu, love to see other views from another part of the world and very thankful for all the advice so far :thumbsup:

As mentioned before, in my job as mechanical engineer, I work with a set of requirements (temperature, shock, vibration, corrosion and general use) and the design grows from those set of requirements.

In this build, I use a different set of requirements and I want to mess around with stuff that is available to me:
  • The bicycle has to be rid-able and strong enough most of all.
  • I am trying to make something beautiful, something people can look at for quite some time and talk about all the details.
  • The bicycle has to look good and I'm trying, where possible to utilize the oldschool fabrication methods, so the bicycle looks antique as well. At least that is what I am going for.
  • Have fun is a requirement! Having fun so far.
  • It does not have to be practical like a commuter regarding racks and weather conditions. I don't want an cardboard bike either.
  • The bicycle must be repairable like any other bike.
  • And the budget. I am not building 1K euro bicycles to build.
  • Technically, mechanically sound. No squeaks, rattles, bad bearings and a low efficiency.
Not trying to build the stiffest, lightest and high-tech bicycle ever, but you probably already knew that :grin:
I found the perfect helmet.
If I were to give you a bit more advice it would be this. Look at the FEA charts of a typical bicycle frame under stress, and for the sake of artistry, do not limit yourself to cylindrical sticks of wood. There is no structural requirement for them to be cylinders.
Thats true, though bicycle tubing is usually round since that is the stiffest regarding torsion.
You probably already know, but thats why these lighter modern crankshafts (and frame tubing) is larger in diameter. You have a stiffer shaft or tube with a thinner wall and similar weight. I can show that with some equations, but I guess you'll understand what I am talking about with your knowledge :thumbsup:

I found the perfect helmet.View attachment 224381
Wow that is gnarly! Thanks for that share Kevin B.

Just to give you even more options, I found this one on Boatbuilder's/Camper Plans site:

Thats a cool bike and website. The guys builds everything with wood. Boats, bikes, trailers. I'll take my time to read that tomorrow. Thanks!

Smashing the Hoopy

Ouch! That thing is incredibly tough. Especially the headtube.
Since the pieces don't fit in the turning machines that are available to me, I had to think about an alternative method for the downtube to bottom bracket connection.
I decided to laminate a smaller piece, four stacks, with two stacks sticking out enough for a solid lamination. Then, laminate and glue the rest on there. The first picture below gives an impression of my description.

Remember, two pieces can easily hold my weight in the direction of the weaker 10mm (flat) side on a distance of 40cm.

Top tube to seat tube connection will be made fit by drilling. The steel section is 1 inch in diameter. Alignment and a drilling jig is key.



Four pieces fully sanded! A lot of work to get the hard white glue off.


First lamination piece!!
The 'four stacks high' bit will be round 32mm when I am done wood turning. And it will fit inside the frame tube there.
I will glue and rivet/screw it after alignment in the frame.

I wonder how the rivets in the below picture you sent earlier, are expanded in the wood. Is the wood that hard or the rivets that soft?
Or are they held in by a weld or even a tight fit in the wood? :whew:

Thanks guys!!
The wood is pre-stressed & compressed by the rivet.

The stick is shoved into the ferrule hard. Until the wood almost starts to yield.
An undersized drill bit is run thru each hole, then each pre-headed rivet is pressed thru hard, and peened over with an arbor press.

The rivets aren’t hard on the end until the peening work hardens the tip.

They don’t have to be large in diameter, because the wood is so much weaker than metal. It would fail first.

Making the rivets/bolts large diameter for style would weaken the wood further. 4mm bolts would probably be plenty thick if you use enough. Will the steel be over 2mm thick? My thinking would be to use a minimum of 3 small bolts (or more) per connection, properly staggered and oriented to reduce splitting.

In your case, don’t put the screws or rivets all from one direction. They help maintain the shape of the steel pocket or ferrule, under stress. Smaller and more will be best to distribute stress and achieve a direct load path.

The tapered ferrule design reduces the steel thickness needed while minimizing stress on the wood. It doesn’t need to be round in section either.

Round is strongest for the ferrule, but the wood will be your real concern.
Thank you @Ulu , tomorrow I am heading to a local tech shop that might have these rivets.
Reminds me a bit of this:

A few updates, I made the first piece near the bottom bracket round. 31,9mm.
Had it the other way round in the lathe at first.



Centrered and clamped!




In due time I will align it, and hammer it in with glue. Add some screws/rivets.

And I saw this beauty on the internet, dreaming about new builds...
Hi guys,

This is a tryout for me.
I watched a awesome movie the other day called "Porco Rosso" and got into a great conversation with a friend and fellow nerd about World War One planes.
Wood, steel, oil, craftmanship, danger and freedom. I think that makes for a great concept.

I instantly got ideas for a wooden bicycle and wood/steel joinery. I searched for inspiration on pinterest and here I am writing a thread with plans to build a wooden bicycle.

So what are my intentions? Geometry? Style? Practicality? Use?

I'll let it evolve while planning and building, but my first ideas and thoughts are as follows:

-Antique style in looks and build. You have these beautiful modern laminated bicycles, but I am not going for that. I am aiming for antique, rough, oily, greasy used looks. Antique screws/bolts and nuts. Steel joinery by brazing or rivets if the budget allows it.
I would love the "Elgin Twin" in wood aswell.

-Geometry. Not fully decided on that too. I absolutely enjoy my Porucho build and my self built "Pope Roger" bike. So I measured both, pictures below.

-Use/Practicality: Able to ride hundreds of kilometres on a day with it. Just for fun sunny-day tours. Not necessarily a rack for luggage.
Haven't decided on fenders, although I love the looks of my mahogany wooden fenders.

Inspiration pictures (not mine) and then my notes and parts pile:

View attachment 221570
Found this picture on Ratrodbikes. I just really enjoy that rough look and shape. Thanks!

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Industrial looks, awesome!

View attachment 221572
Not antique, more vintage, but potential!

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Very similar and simple build found on instructables.

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Not rough, but gorgeous nonetheless!

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Checkout that left cruiser.

View attachment 221578
This looks antique, oily. 1898 I believe. This picture alone makes me drool.

My own notes and ideas so far:

View attachment 221581
View attachment 221582
Geometry comparison between my bicycles.

My parts pile:

View attachment 221583
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1940 Wooden wheelset with Torpedo coasterbrake hub.

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Choice between candle lamps.

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Stem, very old and nice!

View attachment 221592
Stamp brake!

So lots of thoughts and ideas.
I enjoy restoring a bike, but then a crucial piece of creativity is missing for my experience. I enjoy design freedom.
It will certainly be a large bicycle.

First I will make more concepts and notes. And plan for materials, wood type and joinery.
Then I will think of a assembly JIG. The most crucial parts need alignment: Bottom bracket shaft.
The wheel axles and their frame dropouts.
Seat tube (if there is a seat tube). Seat log? :grin:

Thanks for reading!
That one is a wooden take on an Elgin/Sear Twin Star. Very nice
First things first: Since I will utilize the cut up frame and attach wood, is it still suitable for the 'built from scratch' section @Captain Awesome ? Can you move it to the 'builds' section please? Thanks in advance.

This project received a new spark, since I found a 'Hammock' antique seat that fits my vision for this build.

I tried it on my 'Rustacean' bike, but it is too big.





Stored for now. First wood sanding and lamination to do!

I welded the down tube piece to the frame, need to clean the welds a little bit for that brazed look of antique cycles.
First things first: Since I will utilize the cut up frame and attach wood, is it still suitable for the 'built from scratch' section @Captain Awesome ? Can you move it to the 'builds' section please? Thanks in advance.

This project received a new spark, since I found a 'Hammock' antique seat that fits my vision for this build.

I tried it on my 'Rustacean' bike, but it is too big.

View attachment 250119
View attachment 250120

View attachment 250121
View attachment 250122
Stored for now. First wood sanding and lamination to do!

I welded the down tube piece to the frame, need to clean the welds a little bit for that brazed look of antique cycles.
Thank you kindly sir!

Found the cranks that come with this frame as well.
I believe the chainring is forged!



I am not sure where I end up with all projects going on.
Some times I dream to continue this one in a buildoff...
So I laminated the parts together. Looks a bit square and beefy, but I will round and sand them later on.
Or I might change my mind and round the wood pieces before mockup. I'll meditate on that...


Before glueing. I use Titebond 3.


Degreased, sanded and degreased again. Ready for the juice.



The ends are rough, will work on that.



Seat stays. Two glued together and I will cut them in half on the other end.



From left to right: Downtube. Seatstays. Toptube (not really tubes, but you know what I mean).


Downtube in the frame for a visual. The wooden stake is not pushed entirely in, but now you get an idea of the direction I'm heading in.

Sidenote: the frame is not small, the seat is VERY BIG!

Stay tuned!


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I found a great woodworking shop and repair cafe in my town. It is very cheap to work there, silly that I did not notice this before.

They have a lot of cutting and sanding machines, so I'm preparing for some work next week.

I have an idea how to attach the wood to the bottom bracket part.

I'm not 100% sure about the top wooden part attachment. I'm trying to avoid welding steel. I noted some ideas.

I also made some "quick n' dirty" models to get and idea how much I can cut and round the wood pieces.


Gorilla wood glue seems water resistant and pretty good.


Before I drill this hole, I need to think about an alignment tool.




Pictures below: checking the space for drilling a large hole.



I probably will work step-by-step.
First attach the lower parts. Then measure and align again. Make a plan for the headtube attachment.


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You really do not want an inside corner here. This should have a generous radius for stress relief.View attachment 252442
I fully agree with you Ulu. Thanks for pointing that out, these 'sharp' angles are not desireable.
In preparation (before I laminated and turned the first part) I did some 'quick' calculations on the 'cross section', but having an sharp corner there is different, I agree.

The previous pictures with the chamfers is a first step to 'cut' that of with a saw then round and slope everything with the sanding machine. So I might mitigate these sharp edges. We'll see :thumbsup:

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