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

The other challenge during this process was the fact that I did not want to buy new drill bits due to my tight budget. I could not sharpen the bits I was using because they were Forstner drill bits, so to prevent them from overheating and dulling, I drilled only a little at a time. I would remove the bit from the partially drilled hole, and while it was still turning I would take a bar of soap and rub it against its side to reduce the friction in the hole. This also cooled the bit slightly. I was lucky because the inexpensive set of Forstner drill bits lasted the entire project.

I decided to add a ratcheting system to the bicycle. This would allow me to ride down a hill without having to pedal. If it was a direct-drive bicycle, I would have to pedal at all times.

This piece was another difficult one to build because I was unsure how many fingers (the thin pieces sticking out of the center piece) it should have and how strong they should be. After designing all the pieces and determining the correct angles, I cut each one using a table saw, a jig saw and a bandsaw. The design process took much longer than usual because I faced so many unknown challenges. My main concern was that the notch would not be big enough and the fingers would slip. Thankfully, everything turned out fine. I cut the fingers with the wood grain, so that they would be as flexible as possible and, hopefully, not break. They needed to be flexible so that they would bend over each little notch when turning backwards.

Ratcheting system
The bicycle's ratcheting system
  Ratcheting system in use
The ratcheting system in use

After gluing all 18 fingers, I found that the ratcheting system was much too difficult to turn, so I weakened each piece using the Dremel, sanding off a thin layer of wood from each finger. Even after doing this, the system was still too difficult to turn, so I cut every second finger down. Afterwards, it turned smoothly, just as I wanted it to.

I finished the rest of the bicycle without too many problems.

In the future I hope to find another challenging woodworking project, but for now, I plan to focus on my schoolwork, my part-time job and sports.

Marco Facciola

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