After seeing the other wooden balance bike instructables I was inspired to try my hand at building one. It so happened a good friend of mine has a son who just turned one and was a perfect candidate for the bike. I started with a Google image search for wooden balance bike and was shocked at how many different designs were out there. So I picked my favorites, drew a few possibilities, changed my mind 100 times. Then got to work.(when I say got to work, I mean it, as in, I didn't take too many pics, if you see something you want more info on, comment and I'll be happy to try and expand on it. I also rushed to get this 'able done and will update it very soon. Thanks)
Step 1: Finding Wheels
Wheels were the one thing(aside from hardware) that I knew I would have to buy. I found plenty of 10-12" wheels and tires at hardware stores but that consisted mainly of lawnmower wheels with solid rubber tires. Typically at a price of $10-15 each.
I decided to search Craigslist and thrift stores for a used child's bike to salvage wheels from. I finally found a little huffy for only 5 dollars at my 2nd Goodwill stop. The bike was rough, flat tires, spider webs, and literally everything was covered with fossilized sticky substances. The wheels were yellow so I knew I would be painting them.
Step 2: Painting Wheels
-Pull the tires off(swap tunes if needed)
-Tape off/cover spokes and hubs
-Sand any area to be painted with 220 grit or higher sandpaper or simple scuff with scotchbrite pad so new paint will adhere to the surface.
-Clean well with soap/water/alcohol wash and let dry
-I used 3 coats of satin black and 2 coats of satin clear coat.
-Let dry 24 hours then remount tubes/tires and air up.
Step 3: Basic Design
I didn't take many pics of the process because honestly, I was winging it, though I did take a few and I'll attempt to explain my thought process.
I had an "ok" idea of what I wanted to do but really all I had to start with was very rough paper template of the frame(the whole body of the bike really) that I held over the 2 wheels and seemed to match pretty well, size-wise. From this I figured out a general cut list for everything except the forks(see below):
Two 1/2" plywood frame cut out,
One 3/4 MDF "tank" spacer,
One 3/4 MDF "rear fender" spacer,
Many 3/4" MDF spacers made with a 2" hole saw,
Two 1/2" plywood "rear swing arms",
Two 1/2" plywood "rear shocks"
That's it! I basically rough cut 1 of each with a jig saw and roughly assembled to see how things fit. Then I copied the doubles with a flush trim bit on my router table. I used a chamfer bit on the outside edge of almost every piece of the build, for softer corners. Similar process with the forks below.
I knew the fork design I wanted to use. It is very simple and seen on many bikes of this sort. Made from only 5(6 including the # plate) pieces and sized according to the wheels you use (length for wheel diameter and width for hub size). The 5 pieces include:
-2 shaped like a baseball home plate for the "triple trees", mine were made from scrap 3/4" plywood. These hold the forks togethor and were mounted 4.25" apart so a 6" bolt and washers could attach to the neck of the frame (4" tall) and act as the pivot for turning.
-2 forks made from 1/2" plywood that were 20" long to start with by 3" wide. Notched 3/8" x 1" deep at the bottom for the wheel to mount. A 1" hole was drilled 1.5" from the top of each.
-1" diameter-12" long wooden dowel (not sure wood type). This ran through the 1" holes on the forks and was glued and brad nailed in place.
Once I had the forks assembled and the frame/rear pieces together, I mocked it up completely, to get an idea of the finished project. I found the forks to be too long, so I cut around 3 inches off. I then decided any wood with a grain would be stained and the rest would be satin black. It should all go well with the soft black vinyl I had for the seat.
Step 4: Paint/stain/clear
I gave everything a good sand with my random orbit and then hand sanded w/ 220.
I'm not here to teach you to paint, nor am I a pro but I know how to get a decent finish. I used a primer sealer on the painted peices then Rustoleum satin black, then Satin clear coat.
I used "All American" wood stain or something like that, put it in, wipe it off, let it dry 24 hours, hit it with a few coats of the same satin clear.
Step 5: The Seat
Seat was made of 3 peices:
-Two side triangles made of a 3/4" solid wood
-One middle piece 3/4" of the same wood, 3/4" so it would slide between the 2 plywood frame peices for easy mounting.
-The top was 1/2" plywood.
-They were cut to fit and glued/screwed/nailed togethor.
-I put chamfer on all the edges to make wrapping the vinyl easier (#CHAMFEREVERYTHING).
-I sprayed the seat and back of the vinyl with spray glue and used a heat gun to lightly heat the vinyl and stretch it over all the corners, into the under-seat area and stapled in place. I countersunk 2 screws to mount the seat to the frame.
Step 6: Final Assembly
Once everything was dry it was time for reassembly. I also went after and took a cutoff wheel to the bolts, and a file to insure to sharp edges.
Step 7: Graphics
This was for a specific person and a 1st bday present. So I figured it needed some #1's and a nickname-numberplate (reminiscent of the ones I saw on bikes as a kid). This was pretty easy and only cost $15. I used Paint to make a document with 3 number 1's and the nickname in a font I liked and took it to a local vinyl cutter on an SD card. After I put them on I hit the areas with more satin clear coat. Done.
Runner Up in the