Mini Wooden Bike Wrench

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June 14th, 2013 | 4 comments

I was doing a wheelie down the center lane of the Golden Gate Bridge the other day. Why, you ask? Well, I had a flat front tire and no wrench with which to remove the wheel. (I always ride in the middle lane, not gonna let a silly flat change who I am.)

finished-bike I looked around for a cool, lightweight 15mm wrench and didn’t really like anything. So, I time travelled to the year 3467, but still nothing. So, I made my own.

All the wrenching details

1 I started by band sawing some 3/8″ Birch plywood into the basic shape that I liked. You can see the errant cuts from where I was texting, LOL.

2 I had some extra sockets, so I decided to use one. Wooden sockets don’t work so well, what with the eternal wood vs. metal battle.

3 I decided my 3/8″ handle looked too wimpy, so I glued it onto another piece of ply. After several days like this, I figured out that the glue works best between the wood, and not soaking down through it. My neighbor has the worst advice.

4 Clamps remind me of being a kid. Those were the days, clamped down to the dining table until I finished all my veggies.

5 Back to the bandsaw to remove the excess flange.

6 I used a following bit to trim the second layer perfectly the same as layer 1.

7 It works like a charm!

8 A bit of spindle sanding got things smooth. I also started to bevel the middle of the handle to make it more comfy.

10 I used a file to contour the bevels into a more round shape.

9 I did most of the final shaping on the belt sander.

12 Instead of trying to grip the round socket, I decided to us a nail to lock it in place. I drilled two holes through the top of the socket.

13 Perfect fit!

14 After driving the nail through the wood, I used a bench grinder to round off the nail head. I also round of the nail head on my thumbs this way. I just can’t recommend bench grinders enough.

15 I thought about leaving it raw wood, so it would get a disgusting patina from my dirty biking hands and dusty tool bag.

16 Hmm, to patina or not?

finished-1 I was fresh out of old coffee grounds to rub into the wood, so I went ahead and varnished it. Three layers later, and this beautiful butterfly emerged from a chrysalis of patina nightmares.

finished-2 It looks super wrenchy. I think the next one will be a bit more abstract.

finished-hand Best feature – quick replacement thumb if one falls off.

What do you think, should we produce a small batch of these for the Tinkering Monkey store? Let us know in the comments below.

  • pedro


  • Rebecca

    That is a VERY beautiful wrench. Very beautiful indeed.

  • Paceman

    I definitely agree that you should make a few of these for your store… You might just sell one of them to a friend from Georgia. Happy cycling, but try to avoid that middle lane. It’s a killer!


    @Paceman:disqus yes