Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 2, Issue 3
January 2008
Making a Wooden Bicycle

When I look back at the completed project, I realize that building the chain caused the most problems and also took the most time (nearly 40%). One of the biggest difficulties was drilling a hole in the spacers—the hollowed-out, cylindrical pieces of wood that keep the two plates apart.

I attached a drill bit to our Shopsmith, which was in the lathe position, and used a chuck to hold the dowel. The job was difficult because the hole had to be drilled exactly in the center of the
  Chain details
A detailed view of the chain.
dowel. If it was even slightly off-center,
the dowel would explode. However, it was only after I had successfully drilled some ten spacers that they began to explode. At first I thought something had loosened and the piece was no longer centered. I readjusted everything, but even after doing so, the pieces continued to explode. I then suspected that the drill bit might be getting dull. I was correct—as soon as I sharpened it, it drilled through nicely again.

Drilling the spacers alone took me pretty much an entire day. It was a labor-intensive job, since each hole had to be drilled separately and there were close to 100 pieces. It didn't help that I made a small miscalculation and drilled nearly 1.5 times as many pieces as I needed!

Another challenge was drilling the holes into the blocks of rock maple that held the dowels in place for the frame. The difficult part was making sure all the holes were drilled in exactly the right position at the perfect angle to receive the dowels. This became even more difficult because some of the holes had to be drilled with compound angles. I used our Shopsmith and tilted the table to drill the angles accurately. To make sure the angles were correct, I placed a straight metal rod in the chuck and measured them using a simple school protractor.

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