Introduction: Big Game Trophy Mount Bike Rack and the Powers of Baking Soda
My current bike storage system is comprised of a utility hook hanging from the ceiling in my garage. It's a bit of an eyesore and honestly, I've always wanted to do something more interesting.
I was cleaning the garage the other day and found an old set of bicycle drop bars hidden behind a shelving unit. I remember commenting how much they reminded me of a set of antlers. It was at this moment I began designing this project.
As always, before we start any woodworking project, follow these famous words from Norm Abram - "Before we use any power tools, let's take a moment to talk about shop safety. Be sure to read, understand, and follow all the safety rules that come with your power tools. Knowing how to use your power tools properly will greatly reduce the risk of personal injury. And remember this: there is no more important safety rule than to wear these — safety glasses."
Step 1: Prepping the Trophy Mount
I found an old piece of 3/4" cherry that appeared to have come from an old drawer. Knowing I wanted the overall width of the mount to exceed 16" (distance between two wall studs), I decided to trim off the dado at the bottom the board, resulting in the overall width of the board measuring in at 9 inches. I then used the jointer to ensure I had a flat edge on the face of the board. I trimmed the box joints from the edges of the board and split the board in half, resulting in 2 pieces of wood that each measured roughly 20 inches in length. It was at this point I came to my final dimensions of 18 inches by 18 inches and trimmed the boards to length. I placed the 2 pieces together and began laying out the design.
Using a compass set at 4 1/2 inches, I was able to find the center points at the top of each board and trace the design so the outside edges would come to a point as well as the center when joined together (#1). 18 inches below my top lines, I used the same compass settings to trace the inside halves of the design from the center of the board (#2). I measured up 9 inches, found the board centers, and traced from my previous mark to the outside of the board, giving me a rounded edge which connected the sides of the mount to the bottom point (#3).
Step 2: Cutting and Assembling the Trophy Mount
Using my band saw, I rough cut the individual pieces. I then placed the 2 pieces together and laid out locations to place 3 biscuits between the boards to join them together. After cutting the biscuits holes and gluing everything up, I clamped the boards together using a combination of bar and C clamps. (The C clamps were necessary due to the fact that the bar clamps caused the two boards to peak in the middle and not lay flat.)
After this joint set up, I took an orbital sander to the faces of the boards to remove my pencil marks and also to help remove any glue which pushed out from the joint. I took the piece to the drum sander to bring my finished edges to the original layout. I then used a router and 3/8 inch ogee bit to place a detail on the outside edges of the mount.
Step 3: Adding Support to the Mount
Drop bars connect to a bike by allowing a cyclist to turn an allen screw to tighten or loosen a metal wedge at the end of the bar. Since the overall length of this wedge is 1 1/4 inches, I had to add another 3/4 inch piece to the front of the mount to ensure a proper connection between the mount at the drop bars. I used an 11 inch by 2 1/2 inch piece of walnut to gain that length. After applying the same design on the edges with the 3/8 inch ogee bit, I centered the piece on the front of the board, measured my distances, and then flipped the board over and connected the front piece of walnut to the mount by screwing them together from behind using 1 1/4 inch wood screws.
I found center on the piece of walnut and used a 7/8 inch paddle bit to drill a hole through both the walnut support piece and the mount. I was then able to dry fit the drop bars to the mount and tighten everything up. SUCCESS!!!!
Step 4: Protecting the Mount
I have never been a huge fan of wood stains (except for Minwax Polyshade Classic Black Satin 395, which is basically a single step down from painting wood boards black. It does a great job at subtly highlighting the wood grain but still adding some character to a piece of wood.) If I am using nice cuts of wood like cherry, walnut, white oak, etc., I tend to stick with clear oils and polyurethanes to protect my projects. I proceeded to coat the mount in 3 layers of rejuvenating oil, lightly sanding with 0000 steel wool between coats.
Step 5: Polishing the Drop Bars
I used 3 different grits of sandpaper to get rid of some of the imperfections on the drop bars. I then adding some buffing compound to a buffer wheel and proceeded to learn that I suck at polishing metal. It was at this time I decided to only finish the center mount and wrap the actual handlebars with material to both protect my bike frame from the metal handlebars, and to continue without the need for additional metal polishing.
Step 6: Adding Cushion to the Drop Bar
After the "Buffing Incident of 2016" (Without getting into details, there was an incident. No injuries.), I started to look around for adequate material to wrap the metal handlebars. It was at this point I remembered that I had the perfect thing - my father's old leather motorcycle jacket.
I know what you are thinking but there is actually a pretty good story why it is now project material. I guess it was a coat that an old girlfriend had given my father before he met my mother and she was not the biggest fan of him holding onto it. It also looks like the jacket Dennis Hopper wore in Easy Rider, except way less cool on my father. Anyway, I cut a sleeve from the coat and cut 8-10 1 1/4 inch strips from it. I needed 2 long strips, one for each side of the handle bar, and began to connect the pieces using super glue and baking soda. (Baking soda is a great accelerant for super glue, turning a 10 minute cure time to something closer to 10 seconds.) I simply added a thin bead of super glue to an edge of the leather, sprinkled a little baking soda on the super glue, and pressed the other piece on top of that. Hold for 10-15 seconds and you now have a joint that will last forever.
I dry-wrapped the long leather strips around the handle bars, ensuring I had enough material for the job. After confirming everything was good to go, I gave the leather a quick soak in warm water to soften. After ringing the excess water from the leather, I added a bead of super glue and baking soda to the metal handlebars and attached the leather on one end. I wrapped the leather around the handlebars, overlapping the previous layer by about 1/4 of an inch. I added a little super glue along the way to help keep everything in place and when I reached the end, added another bead of super glue and baking soda to finish the joint.
I then added a 3/4 inch metal cap to the ends of the handle bars and cracked open a beer. (A beer is my celebration drink for not totally screwing up a project.)
Step 7: Mounting and Testing the Big Game Trophy Mount Bike Rack
I really wanted to use a flush mount hanger for each stud but I couldn't find them at my local hardware store. Until I find a more permanent solution, I opted to simply screw the darn thing to the studs of my garage wall using pipe strapping. I screwed 2 pieces of pipe strapping to the back of the mount, spaced at 16 inches so I could attach one to each wall stud. I then leveled and screwed the pipe strapping to the wall. It's not my favorite looking thing in the world but for the moment, it does work.
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Please be positive and constructive.