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Tools

Tools are devices that provides a mechanical advantage in accomplishing tasks.

Necessary Shop Tools

Transportation Alternatives' "Tools for Life" guide has two suggested lists for startup shop tools. One is the deluxe ideal set which runs at $2,600. The other is a budget bare-bones list for under $200. Have a gander.

Tool sets

Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective

When we had one tool bench, we observed what people used. Then put the most common tools on 7 identical tool sets.

Each tool set contains the following:

  • Professional Wheel Truing Stand with the three common Spoke Wrenches (Park Tool TS-2, SW-0, SW-1, SW-2)
  • Pedal Wrench (Park Tool PW-3)
  • Combination Wrenches (Cornwell Metric Sizes 17-10)
  • Ball-Peen Hammer (Cornwell 16oz)
  • Cone Wrenches: Two 13mm, two 14mm, two 15mm, two 17mm (Park Tool SCW-13, SCW-14, SCW-15, SCW-17)
  • Crank Puller (Park Tool CCP-2)
  • Crank Wrench (Park Tool CCW-5)
  • Professional Cable and Housing Cutter (Park Tool CN-10)
  • 8 & 10 mm AND 9 & 11 mm Metric Wrenchs (Park Tool CBW-1, CBW-4)
  • Screw Type Chain Tool (Park Tool CT-3)
  • Spanner for one piece cranks (Park Tool SPA-4)
  • Chainring Nut Wrench (Park Tool CNW-2)
  • 32 & 36 mm AND 30 & 32 mm Headset Wrenches and Lockring Hook Spanner (Park Tool HCW-15, HCW-7, HCW-5)
  • Spoke Ruler also determines bearings and cotter pin sizes. (Park Tool SBC-1)
  • Magnetic strip to hold freewheel removers, bottom bracket removers and a magnet for pulling bearings out of hubs. (Park Tool BBT-22, FR-1, FR-2, FR-3)
  • Vice & Heavy Duty Axle and Pedal Vise Axle Vice (Wilton Armetale 4 1/2 In. Workshop Vise, Park Tool AV-4)
  • P-Handled Star-Shaped Wrench for Disc Brake Rotors (Park Tool PH-T25)
  • P-Handled 10-2 mm Allen Wrenches (Cornwell)
  • Flathead screwdriver (Cornwell)
  • #2 Phillips screwdriver (Cornwell)
  • #0 Phillips screwdriver (Park Tool SD-0)
  • Grease
  • Chain Lube (big, refillable, non-pocketable container)
  • 3/16 bearings (most front wheels)
  • 1/4 bearings (most rear wheels)
  • Each bench has a small dust pan and broom hanging under the truing stand, makes for easy small parts cleanup.
  • Each bench has the most common shop supplies (see Shelves with Holes)

Specialty Tools - Hand Made

Housing Awl / Poker

Grind a spoke into point, keep out of reach of children, do crazy things to prevent people from thinking they are recycled metal.

Cheater Bar

Take the longest, largest diameter down or top tube from an old dead bicycle frame. Cut it as long as you can, grind off the burrs so that it's smooth on both ends and not likely to snag or cut someone holding it. Put the tube over the end of a wrench to be able to apply more force to the wrench. If you need even more leverage, you can "stack" cheater bars together, effectively creating a wrench that is several feet long...

Use judiciously, as this tool will allow you to apply LOTS of force. Generally, you'll want to use this "tool" only when removing things.

It's a great tool to hand to new mechanics, especially those who are anxious about not being strong enough, or feel that bike mechanics must have a certain amount of strength. We often tell new/smaller mechanics "It's not about strength, it's about leverage."

We also had an old dead portable bike stand which was built with lots of large diameter--2 inches?--aluminum tubing, and the tubes were several feet long. This cheater bar only comes out when the others fail, as it's monstrous, and is definitely a tool of last resort.

Specialty Tools - Manufactured

Let's face it, when you deal with really old bikes, you face really hard problems that require specialty tools. There are a few tools that you see in other shops and wonder how you lived without. If you see one of those tools, please list it here...

Image Name Manufacturer Use
Evt stripped crank extractor.jpg Stripped crank quick-extractor EVT Removing Stripped Square Tapper Cranks.

Here is a real time-saver. This tool quickly and easily removes cranks in which the extractor threads have been stripped. Rather than spend valuable time and money re-threading and installing a repair insert, this tool removes the crank, which, most often will be scrapped anyway. It works by using two “pilot” threads which are followed by oversized threads which fit very tightly in the “remaining” threads. This tool works far more often than not.

Evt universal bb cup remover.jpg Universal BB cup remover EVT Removing fused bottom bracket fixed cups. Works regardless of Standard or French threading.

This tool works as a “last resort” when trying to remove stubborn BB cups after the standard removal flats or splines have failed. Tool simply “pinches” the faulty cup and removes with friction.

Bottom-Bracket-Remover.jpg Shimano Bottom Bracket Remover Not sure who makes this one, but Mel Pinto Imports sells it. Removes fused Shimano style bottom brackets.

Genius. Secure the tool using the axle, and then give two points of leverage instead of one.

Var fixed cup remover.jpg Fixed Cup Remover VAR Removing fused bottom bracket fixed cups.

This grabs onto the fixed cup the way a regular wrench would have, and pulls it off without slipping.

PedrosViceWhip.jpg Vice Whip Pedro's Used instead of a chain whip.

Vise Whip- For the professional mechanic, Pedro’s has devised the most secure way to manage cogs of any size. The new Vice Whip is the world’s first locking chain whip. Fits cogs from 11T to 23T, makes cassette and cog removal safe and simple.

Spoke Cutting and Threading Machine Phil Wood and others. Make your own spokes.

If you ever ever wondered what to do with all the used spokes sitting around, and volunteers are sick of sorting them, you have probably thought about this tool. They require you to only stock one spoke length, and quickly cut and roll (not thread) the threads to the perfect spoke size. But they are mighty expensive.

Wheel Roller Kraynick’s Bike Shop (412-621-6160) has one. The Kraynick’s owner says a guy in Virginia made them for $1000 and then J&B started selling them for a little while for $400. Straightens taco'd wheels.
Ball joint separator.jpg Ball Joint Separator Many, see your local Automotive parts store. Last resort for removing stripped cranks.

Ok, this isn't made for bikes, it is made for ball joints on cars. But it works great as a last resort for getting off stripped cranks. Just wedge it between the bottom bracket and the crank, and pound it off. Again this is a last resort for someone who cares about the frame, but not the bottom bracket or crank.

Buying Tools

Quality

The old adage, "you pay for what you get," comes to mind. The best tools are the ones with a life-time warranty and fast replacement turn around. In the long run you will NEVER save money by buying cheap tools that have no warranty. Like it or not, everything will eventually break and wear out especially when they are heavily used by people that are still learning how to use them.

Sources

Check the references section to see a list of Manufacturers.

  • Getting a tool manufacturer to donate tools costs nothing but requires a good deal of begging.
  • Buying tools directly from a manufacturer at OEM cost is roughly 75% less than retail cost.
  • Buying tools via a distributor account costs roughly 50% less than retail cost.
  • Buying tools from the store costs the most money but can be really convenient.

Tool Theft / Loss

A recovering theft addict is the postmodern version of a kleptomaniac, known to the police and retailers as a shoplifter. These people have a problem, some debate it is even a disease. However, instead of concentrating on this demographic, concentrate on un-intentional lost tools and theft as they can be easily avoided.

Keep a frequent inventory

If you don't know what you have, you won't know what or when something went missing.

Provide aprons in your shop

This prevents someone from forgetting they put a tool in their pocket and being too embarrased to bring it back. So what happens is they leave it in the apron and the aprons stay in the shop. This works so well that sometimes you are left with their keys.

NOTE: If regular cleaning of the aprons is not done, people will not use them.

Everything should have a place

  • If you have different tool sets they should be spray painted different colors. Use paint tape to protect the places on the tool you don't want to get paint on (like rubber handles) and try to paint the places that get the least wear. That way the color will last the longest. Don't use colored tape, it will just fall off.
  • Zip tie tool hooks down and outline your tool boards.
  • Paint an obnoxious color (like fluorescent orange) underneath the tools. That way it is easy to see what is missing at a quick glance.

Lock down expensive tools

Have you spent $500 on re-threading tools? Consider putting them in a locking tool chest that only core volunteers have keys too.

Buy bigger tools

It is easy to put something small in your pocket, but it gets harder as things get bigger. For example, instead of buying lots of cheap 15 mm box wrenches buy the more expensive Park Tool PW-4 Professional Pedal Wrenches. Not only can it be used to take off wheel nuts and pedals but it can be used as a battle axe.

Tool Storage

When storing tools, it's important to make them accessible, but also to find a way to keep them organized.

For ideas on this, see Tool storage.

References

Bike Specific Tools:

Generic / Hard-line tools: