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Project: Fabricating a Headset Wrench
#1
Hey all,

I promised some photos of my project to make some cone wrenches. The project is not yet completed but will add more photos when I am done. Weather is the determining factor because I don’t like working in the cold and also paint requires a minimum of 60 degrees to dry properly. I won’t use paint or perform metal grinding indoors. You can follow the same procedure when creating cone wrenches using thinner material. It will be easier too.

This project is a headset wrench that is 3/16” inch thick flat cold-rolled metal, 2.5” wide and 16” long. New plans include cutting a handle out of the middle so that it isn’t so wide and easier to handle. I decided to make this one a ‘double open-end’ 30mm and 42mm wrench because that’s my immediate need. For cone wrenches I am planning to create single open-end wrenches that are longer than usual (an average of 10” in length) for better leverage.

TOOLS:
Angle Grinder, 4.5” with metal cutting disk, grinding wheel, and ~80-grit flap-disk.
Bench Grinder, convenient for straightening cuts.
Chop Saw, metal abrasive (optional)
Hand-File, metal, flat
Scribe or marking tool
Caliper for measurements
Drill or Drill Press, and medium size standard drill bit
Vise (to safely clamp the work down)

MATERIALS:
16”x2.5” – 3/16” thick Cold-rolled Steel
Electrical Tape (for handle)
Paint, flat black, to prevent rust

ALWAYS use safety goggles/mask, gloves, and respirator when grinding or painting. And be VERY careful with grinders and cutting tools. An angle grinder is like a Dremel tool on steroids.

Cold-rolled steel is very tough compared to hot-rolled steel, it is very difficult to bend, and so this is why I decided to use it. I think it is very comparable in strength to “stamped” steel. (more to come)

Steve
I clamped the piece of metal in my vise and rounded the corners using the angle grinder and grinding wheel shown in the photo. (more to come)
NEXT - Then I measured 30mm width at one end and marked it in the center noting that I needed to stay inside the lines in order not to cut out too much metal. I was about 2-3 mm inside after cutting, and then would remove small amounts using a bench grinder (fine grit) and hand file later. Note the angle grinder with grinding wheel in the background and the cutting disk laying on top of the metal stock. (more to come)
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#2
NEXT PHOTO - The next step was to drill holes in a line in order to remove the cutout piece from the wrench. I used a drill press but you can also use a hand drill. Any medium size bit can work but I used a quarter-inch bit just because it was readily available. (more to come)
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#3
Drill several holes across to remove the section. You won’t be able to connect the holes without slipping into a previously drilled hole so just get as close as possible. (more to come)
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#4
Clamp the wrench in a vise and hammer the piece out bending it back and breaking it. You can also use a channel-lock wrench to bend it until it breaks. It’s not pretty at this point but persevere. (more to come)
Then use a bench grinder (easier for this task) or an angle grinder with grinding wheel to smooth the edges. Keep measuring the width at several points of the opening using a caliper to make sure you don’t go beyond the desired width of the wrench opening. I used a $2 plastic Caliper I bought from Harbor Freight but be careful to wait until the metal cools or the plastic will melt. Smile When I got to 29mm of a 30mm opening I started to use a hand file to finish the job and smooth out any imperfections. (more to come)
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#5
The closer I got to the proper opening, the more I tested it with the headset nut that I intended for use with the tool. At this point you should be using the hand-file. (more to come)
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#6
The next step was to cut an opening for the opposite end of the wrench, which is to be 42mm wide. Here I am going to show another method of cutting the slot using an abrasive metal chop saw. This is much easier to use and will give you a straighter cut so you don’t have to smooth things as much or work as hard at getting the surfaces as straight. (more to come)
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#7
This photo shows the result after using the chop saw instead of a cutting wheel on an angle grinder. I will be repeating the same tasks mentioned above and then cut a handle in the center, painting and completing the project so stay tuned. (more to come when I get to it again in a week or two depending on the weather)
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#8
Wow that's really awesome Steve! Bet that no headset nut will ever give a problem with that wrench Big Grin . Really awesome work there bravo!!!
Good maintenance to your Bike, can make it like the wheels are, true and smooth!
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#9
Thanks Bill ! I thought I would return the favor of all the help people here have given me. Production bicycle tools cost a lot of money that we can better use for other things. Smile

Steve
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#10
I'm back to finish this thread with the remaining photos. This is the same photo I used previously above, but more importantly, it follows the time-line of the project. In this photo you will once again drill holes across the piece so that you can bend or break the channel for the wrench opening.

Also drill a hole somewhere in the center of one end so that you will have a way to hang it on your tool peg board. Smile
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#11
Then sand the metal surface with 400-grit or 600-grit sandpaper so that primer and paint with adhere to the metal properly. Doing that will also go a long way toward resisting chipping of the paint.

Then hang your new tool for painting. I used a flat-black or semi-gloss black paint similar to what Park uses.
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#12
I started this thread back in February and it was far too cold to finish the job back then. Paint requires at least 60-degrees (f) in order to dry properly.

So here is the finished headset wrench. It's not the prettiest tool in my shop, but I saved several dollars making one that is arguably better than any manufactured wrench because of my choice of materials (3/16" cold-rolled steel). And it gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment as well. Big Grin

Thanks for looking,
Steve
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