Homemade Tools for the Frugal Fabricator



People: XsSpeed

Times are tough all over—a cliché you will hear a million times in your life. I can’t remember the saying ever being more relevant than it is right now. This magazine has always catered to the shade-tree, home-builder, and with the fashion-bike industry going down the shitter, more and more people (if they stay into bikes) are learning to x or customize them themselves. The checkbook is quickly becoming replaced with wrenches.

This will be the first in series on homemade tools for the thrifty chopper fanatics out there.

Homemade Tools For The Frugal Fabricator

For many a homebuilder, the luxury of a parts truck pulling up to your house to offer buyer specials isn’t happening and you’re having to make unique tools for yourself. Historically, when I ran into a situation where a regular wrench won’t t, I have bent or cut it for the application. I am too lazy, cheap, and impatient to see if there is a specific box wrench for that job. Over the years, my yard sale scores have resulted in duplicate wrenches so sacrificing one to make a situation- specific tool is no big deal.

Money becomes an even bigger factor for specialty tools that are in demand. Take, for example the Transmission Countershaft Sprocket Nut Socket from Jims with a $165.57 retail price! I bought a 1 7/8” Deep Well Socket from Grainger for $15.87 and took it home and cut it in half. Then I welded a one and a half inch long piece of 2” pipe in the center of it and slapped a 3⁄4 to 1⁄2 reducer on it. Voila! – there’s my new Countershaft Sprocket Socket! See that on the left in the photo with the fancy hockey tape around it.make do in situations where there is no other option. My front pulley sprocket socket for Evo’s is an example. I could only find a 3⁄4 drive version when I needed it so I just welded an extra half inch drive 15/16” socket to it. You can see that on the right in the photo.

Also you see (on the top in the picture) a bent wrench and a cut down wrench welded to a socket to get in tight areas for bolting up motors and bolting down transmissions (with oil bags under them). The bolts welded to each other in the picture isn’t really a tool, it is more of a trick. When you go to take out the countersunk Allen bolts in a brake rotor, sometimes the bolt hole strips because they’ve been in so long and are stuck Just take a hex-head bolt and weld it to the offending Allen bolt and back it out with a socket driver. Then keep welding the bolts in a daisy chain as you remove them.

Homemade Tools For The Frugal Fabricator

A couple months ago, I needed some dents knocked out of an aluminum gas tank so I called on my buddy, Chuck Eisel. Chuck has some serious skills working sheet metal. He made the body hammers you see in the photo out of round stock and odds and ends he had laying around. They worked superbly!

Homemade Tools For The Frugal Fabricator

Chuck showed me a neat little fork cap remover for Jap bikes. The fork cap has an inverted bolt hole pattern and Chuck just welded a metric bolt to the end of a 9/16” socket. He was able to use that to back the cap right out. Check out the picture of the cap with the tool.

Homemade Tools For The Frugal Fabricator

Speaking of shocks, Chuck also fabricated a neat little shock absorber disassembly tool. He used scrap angle iron and welded it to his mobile work table (which he made out of scaffolding). 

Homemade Tools For The Frugal Fabricator

The picture demonstrates the simple tool in action. A quick internet search of a Shock Absorber Compression Tool yielded a price of $214.14 plus shipping – ouch! I bet you would rather put that money towards a nice springer, wouldn’t you?

Speaking of springers, last year I wrote about my addiction to springers and girders and included a couple tips. One is worth rehashing: instead of spending $83.17 plus shipping on a spring fork assembly clamp, just put the axle back in your springer and run a ratchet strap from your trees around your axle and hook the ends together. Then ratchet it down to take most of the pressure off the top springs. With a gloved hand (and safety glasses) you can use a wrench and back to top nuts off and remove the top springs (internal too, if you have them) and undo the ratchet. The whole fork will be disassembled. It works on reassembly too. PVC pipe works well for a fork seal installer on hydraulic forks. All thread, nuts, and fender washers can save you $54.83 plus shipping for an “official” neck bearing race installer tool.

Stay tuned for the next installment which will include a homemade band saw, tubing bender and more!


“Hard times spreading just like the flu. Watch out homeboy, don’t let it catch you” Hard Times – Run DMC 1984