tubing blocks

over the past couple days i've been working on tubing blocks. i had planned to make them from 2x4s, but the shop i'm working in has these maple blocks, sort of like flooring pieces, available for $0.50 apiece.
i'll post pics later on, but the basic procedure is: plane the blocks flat (the shop flooded a while back so there was some water damage), then laminate 4 of them together, then clean up the edges with the jointer and planer, cut to vise width with the chop saw, drill the appropriate holes, then split them lengthwise on the table saw. total cost should be under $10 for the whole set of blocks (1.125", 1.25", plus a set for chainstays, seatstays, and fork blades), including a couple spade bits. the problem i ran into right before having to close up today was drilling the holes. they have to be quite deep, maybe 4" or 4.5", as well as pretty accurate in diameter so they'll hold the tube well. the maple's pretty hard, so the bit kept getting real hot and smoking. the bit's brand-new, too. i sharpened it with needle files and tried going a little at a time, with a break in between cuts to allow cooling, but the progress was slow. i got maybe halfway through the 1.125" block before i had to go to class.


Steven Shand said...

Just a quick suggestion. I always cut my blocks then clamp them back together before drilling/boring. If you do it the other way, the material you remove when splitting the block always makes the block to tight.

thefastfifty said...


do you make your blocks out of maple or what?
have any suggestions for drilling out hardwood? i'm thinking of pre-drilling a few smaller holes with twist bits to lighten the load on the big spade bit.


Steven Shand said...


I've always used offcuts of softwood. I drill a biggish hole with a twist bit and bore to size using a spade.

It'll sometimes smoke but I just back off a little before going at it again.

I'm sure something like maple would be great and last for a long time but it takes me less than 5 minutes to do a new block and I've usually got more than enough softwood off-cuts kicking about.

If I had and endless amount of time I might think about making up some nice finished blocks but there are other things I'd rather spend my time on.

I'm sure they all pretty much work the same anyway.

Anonymous said...

I made some using scrap, soft maple and they've lasted five years.

Also, use an old piece of leather to fasten the two halves together so they don't get separted.