Introduction: Cheap Bike Wheel Truing Stand


I've been building bicycle wheels for a while just to have them trued by a very good local mechanic. But being an aircraft technician with lots of experience balancing 120,000 rpm turbine discs, I thought I should be able to true a humble bike wheel. But to do that I need a truing stand, and I didn't want to spend the money for an expensive tool I won't be using so often. So I set out to build mine out of whatever suitable materials I could have around the house.

I have trued wheels the old style: mounted on the bike. But that means dealing with the whole vehicle, the chain, and having to work in the building's garage. Since I live in an apartment, I wanted to do the work inside, with my tools and the bathroom nearby.

Step 1: Materials & Tools

I wanted to spend as little as possible, so the materials I used can be easily replaced by others of similar size.

Skil Portable workstand.

2 wooden sticks, 20x5x5 cm (8x2x2 inches)

1 rail for cantilever shelves, 30 cm (12 inches) long

2 small blocks of wood.

Wood screws, 8cm (8 in.) long.


Electric drill.

Drill bits for wood, sized to match the wood screws.

Dremel rotary tool.

Dremel 456 cut-off wheel.

Dremel 8153 & 8215 grinding stones.

Powered screwdriver & bits (I used a now out-of-production DremelDriver)

Step 2: What Does a Truing Stand Needs to Be?

1- Adjustable, to be used with different sized wheels and axles.

2- Sturdy, to avoid adding imperfections during measurements.

3- Comfortably to use.

4- Compact enough to be safely stored when not in use.

Looking at the picture of the Park Tool TS-2.2 stand, I realized it has three adjustments: fork opening (to hold axles of different length), arm angle (to use the measurement claw with wheels of any diameter), and claw opening (to measure rims of different width). Also, it is made to be secured to a bench via bolts or clamps. The entire rig can be folded flat for storage.

I decided to use my Skil portable workstand and a pair of pinewood segments I had lying around to create the fork. That way, I could simply use the workstand's built-in adjustment to hold different axle lengths. The workstand also helps to put the wheel at a comfortable height, and everything could be dismantled with ease.

I also decided to make the fork not too tall. Since I need to make measurements of the rim side, I thought it would be easier to simply position the wheel in such a way the rim goes under the workstand's table. That way I could simply attach any measurement tools right on the table instead of adding another adjustable arm such as the Park Tool's have.

Step 3: Steel Cutting

Since the wheel's axles are made out of steel, a simple wooden fork can't be used. The wood could compress and alter its dimensions after repeated use, so that's why I chose to add a steel rail to the wooden fork.

I cut a steel rail from a cantilever shelf to get two 15 cm (6 inches) segments. I used the Dremel rotary tool and a 456 cutoff wheel for metal. I strongly recommend using this cutoff wheel, since it's reinforced and you'll need a strong one to cut through steel. If I had an aluminum shelf rail it would have been much easier.

As usual, use protective goggles when working with a powered tool. Those sparks in the picture aren't CGI!

I used the same Dremel cutting wheel to create notches at the end of each steel segment. These notches are needed to hold the bike wheel's axles in place. I used the Dremel 8215 grinding stone to carve an angled bottom for the notches, to help keep the axle centered on the rail.

Once again I used the Dremel 456 cut-off wheel to create a step on the sides near the top of the rails. This is to avoid scratching the cassette or the hub sides, as seen on the third picture above.

As a last step, I used a Dremel 8153 grinding tool to smooth out the edges of the notches. This is to avoid hurting my fingers when handling the rails.

Step 4: Building the Fork

I affixed the rails in the columns with two screws, right in the openings. I did this on purpose. I wanted to have a little vertical adjustment so I can have the wheel axle perfectly horizontal over any floor.

I used these pinewood segments because I knew they were cut square on every face. After screwing the rails, I used a right-angle clamp to fix the columns to the table top and 2-sided mount tape for the under-table wood piece. Then, I drilled the pilot holes for the wood screws. This is much easier and faster than to drill on every piece by itself trying to keep things aligned.

I used three long screws to keep the fork columns solidly fixed to the table. Less than three are simply not sturdy enough.

Step 5: The Final Result

Once both columns are solidly mounted, it's time to simply move the table's cranks to adjust the fork opening and install the wheel.

In the pixture you can see al "L" shaped screwdriver. That's what I use to adjust the height of the fork's rails in order to keep the axle horizontal, with the aid of a small bubble level.

As you can see, the wheel rim goes under the table top. This way I can attach whatever measurement device I need to check wheel wobble and eccentricity.

In the last picture you can see how the 27" wheel clears the table with ample space everywhere, and also a yellow clamp on the left side of the photo. That clamp is securing that side of the table to the steel chassis of the worktable because it shakes a bit if left by itself. With the clamp keeps it is perfectly still now.

Feel free to add your suggestions.