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Wooden Bike Fenders Laminations LeadLaminations ready for gluing.
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Fnished Wooden FendersThe finished fenders.
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The JigThe jig.
By Erik Neumann
Fenders are often one of the biggest annoyances of biking: they go out of alignment, rub on your wheels, crack, and break. Every year I dread putting them on, but regret it when I don’t have them. Wood fenders are strong, relatively easy to build, and are affordable to make. They require little more than basic woodworking experience and access to a shop. Here is a basic “how to” on wood fenders, for those with a little carpentry experience or those just curious about how it’s done. Please read the entire article before beginning to make your own.
What you’ll need:
* Six strips of wood, three inches wide by four feet long, 1/16th - 3/32nd inches thick.
* Two or three pieces of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) big enough to trace a plastic fender on (about 26 X 26 inches)
* Glue: wood glue or epoxy
* A large band clamp
* Table saw
* Band saw
* Measuring tape
* Rasp, file, sanding block with several grits sand paper
* A plastic fender as guide
laminations ready for gluing.
Selecting your wood
The strips of wood (called “laminations”) should be thin enough that you can easily bend three pieces at a time. The wood grain should run length-wise, and should be clear of any knots or cracks. Softwoods such as fir and cedar are more likely to hold their shape when removed from the jig.
Making a jig
Jigs hold several pieces of wood in place where they can be fastened together and hold their shape. For this project, a jig will create the curve of your fender by sandwiching your laminations together with glue. Once dry, the laminations will retain the jig’s curve.
To make your jig, you’ll need an existing plastic fender to trace its curve. Be sure to use a fender, rather than a wheel or tire. A fender is larger than a wheel; if your jig is based on a wheel or tire, your wooden fender will be too small.
First, glue the pieces of MDF together so the resulting slab is roughly the width of your laminations (three inches). Clamp and allow to dry. Trace the curve of your plastic fender onto the fiberboard. Now, cut out the curve on your band saw. It is best to cut just outside of the line, and sand the remaining distance to the line to prevent bumps. This is your jig.
First lay enough newspaper down so that your jig is not touching the floor – there will be some wet glue. Take three of your laminations and glue them together in a stack. Apply glue only between the laminations – NOT where the laminations touch the jig, otherwise your fender will be glued to your jig! Next, use a band clamp to tighten the laminations around your jig. A band clamp is a nylon strap that can be tightened around curved surfaces. You can also use C-clamps with a smaller jig, or bar clamps. Allow to dry for as long as your glue requires.
Once dry, release the clamps and remove your rough fender from the jig. Using a table saw, cut a smooth, square edge along one side. Then measure, mark, and cut the desired width for your fender. Mine are 1 5/8 inches wide, but it depends on what looks good to you, and the mounting space available on your bike (space between fork and seat stays).
Shaping your fender
Using a rasp, file, or sanding block, smooth your fender’s square edges and shape the ends into a curve. Sand until smooth with a coarse grit sandpaper, such as 80 grit. Repeat with finer 220 grit for a smoother surface.
Sealing your fender
Once your fender is shaped and sanded it’s important to seal it – after all, you now have something on your bike that can rot! Use varnish, paint, or a coat of epoxy to seal your fender and protect it from rain and UV rays. I use a coat of epoxy resin, brushed on to add strength and bring out the fender’s wood grain.
For the second part of this article, see related links.
View more photos by Galen Maynard aka "Dapper Lad Cycles" at www.flickr.com/2kings