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This article was fist published on Sept. 24, 2008 in my personal blog Its All One Big Adventure.

Bicycle tools are somewhat expensive. If your like me and don’t like paying for labor you can do yourself, but don’t want to buy tools that you might be able to make a lot cheaper, then you’ve come to the right spot. I have made a few tools from stuff you can buy at any decent hardware store. Just about all of these tools have been made in some form or fashion before this, so I’m not claiming anything, I just want to share my knowledge.

Headset Cup Remover: This one is easy. Take 12″ piece of 3/4″ copper tubing and cut two slits about 4″ long as on-center as you possibly can. (You can also cut just one slit, but you sacrifice having even pressure on the cup when you go to smack it out.) In other words, the slits should have the same distance between them on both sides. For cutting I use a craftsman version of a dremel tool, but a hack saw and vice may work as well. When your happy with the slits, carefully separate the two prongs. Copper has a low yield strength, so take care in separating the prongs. You want to try to bend the full length of the prong as opposed to just at the joint. At the end of the tube you want the separation to be enough so you can slide the 3/4″ uncut end into the head tube and pull the prongs into the head tube until you hear the tool “click” into place. One or two hard smacks with a hammer will pop your cups right out. The copper will not damage steel cups no matter how hard you hit it, so don’t back down. The less hits to remove the cups, the more times you’ll be able to use the tool. Copper is soft and will deform when you hit it so you might be able to get two or three uses out of one piece. If you plan on removing cups on a daily basis (or more than just a few times) buy a remover tool. Once I start removing cups on a regular basis, I’ll switch over to a real tool, but for now, that length of copper tube sitting in my shop is good enough. Here’s a photo of my latest one. Its a one slit deal.

Single Slit Homemade Headset Cup Remover

Single Slit Homemade Headset Cup Remover

Fork Crown Race Setter: A crown race must pressed or tapped down with even pressure all around it. For 1″ steel forks I use a 1″ copper sleeve and a 1″ by 24″ steel pipe. Grease the race, slide it into place and twist it while putting downward pressure. By doing this you should be able to get it started onto the crown evenly. If it didn’t happen evenly all around, start over or skip this step. Next, slide the copper sleeve onto the steertube, and then the steel tube. (A 1″ piece of steel tubing typically has an inner diameter of 1″. A 1″ steertube typically has a outer diameter of 1″ so the tool should slide right onto the steertube.) Turn the whole thing upside down, center the copper sleeve on the race, hold the fork blade and steel pipe in and tap until the pipe on the groud (or floor) until the race is fully seated. Sometimes a slam is required to fully seat the race. Here is photo of my trusty tool.

Homemade Fork Crown Race Setter

Homemade Fork Crown Race Setter

Headset Press for 1″ Headsets: This can be made using a 3/4″ stainless steel piece of all-thread, brass bushings, washers, and nuts. The bushings must be softer than steel, so brass is a good choice because it is a copper alloy, and bushings will typically come in plastic, rubber or brass. Bronze is fine too (it is also a copper alloy) so if you find bronze bushings, your good to go. The size of the bushings should be 3/4″ inner diamter, 1″ sleeve diameter, and 1-1/4″ flange diameter. A good hardware store should have this size. The press is to be constructed as shown in the photo below with the head tube and headset pieces in between the brass bushings. All headset cups are a bit different, so when setting up the press, experiment to see if the sleeve end of the bushing, or the flanged end of the bushing fits on better. More often than not, I find the flanged end applying the pressure to both the upper race and lower race to be the way to go. Assemble and slowly tighten one nut while holding the other in place.

Homemade Headset Press

Homemade Headset Press

Dropout Alignment Tool: Start with two steel eyebolts, four nuts, and four stainless steel washers. I use 3/8″ eye bolts that are about 8″ long. 3/8″ translates to about 9.5mm, so they are just a hair too big to fit into front fork ends. To fix this, I ground off as close to 0.25mm on each side as I could making flats on either side of the bolt. I recommend lining the flats up with the eyelets so that your eyelets are parallel when installed on the fork. I also ground the threads off the end of the bolts so they would not get caught on each other if they happen to overlap (this would happen in a serious case of dropout misalignment.) Rear dropouts are typically 10mm, so fit is not a problem. Just make sure you have them seated as far back as possible. Here is a photo of mine:

Homemade Dropout Alignment Tool

Homemade Dropout Alignment Tool

Other Frame Alignment Tools: I’ve also used a 2×4 and a piece of string to align rear triangles. Use Sheldon’s cold setting method.

Other Homemade Tools: I’ve heard of people making their own repair stands, and truing stands as well. I can imagine how this is done, but I have not done it. I bought both.

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