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Homemade dishing tool

Old 07-06-06, 01:58 PM
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Fatty Lumpkin
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Homemade dishing tool

Hi folks,

Sorry, the search function still will not work for me, so I have what might be an oft-covered question. Does anyone have any advice on how to measure dish accurately without a $20-$30 dishing tool? Perhaps recipes for a homemade dishing tool?

Any recommendations for a solid dishing tool? Features to be aware of/look out for?

As always, thanks a ton for the help and time.
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Old 07-06-06, 02:31 PM
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This homemade dishing gauge is from "A Practical Guide to Wheelbuilding" by Roger Musson, and is fabricated from 20 mm plywood (from local hobby shop). If you're only doing a few wheels, you can make it from corrugated cardboard.
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Old 07-06-06, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Scooper
This homemade dishing gauge is from "A Practical Guide to Wheelbuilding" by Roger Musson, and is fabricated from 20 mm plywood (from local hobby shop). If you're only doing a few wheels, you can make it from corrugated cardboard.

Stan, thanks for getting back to me. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if I understand how to put together a homemade dishing gauge from this image - it looks to me to be a picture of how to use a dishing tool, not how to build one. Could you provide any further clarification?
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Old 07-06-06, 02:46 PM
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Ummm, how about the very cheap dishing tool called "Put the wheel in the fork/frame, set up one brake pad so it only just touches the rim, and then flip the wheel?" Alternatively, you can use the "put the wheel in the frame/fork and measure with a caliper" tool. you want it to be centered in your frame, not your truing stand anyway... That's what I did on my wheels.
'Course it's not fun if you build dozens of wheels, but I suspect you won't.
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Old 07-06-06, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Fatty Lumpkin
Stan, thanks for getting back to me. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if I understand how to put together a homemade dishing gauge from this image - it looks to me to be a picture of how to use a dishing tool, not how to build one. Could you provide any further clarification?
Maybe the resolution wasn't good enough to see the dimensions.

After it's built, the gauge is placed on one side of the wheel and the indicator positioned so that it just touches the outer edge of the hub locknut (the lower picture on the attachment to my first post). It is then placed on the other side of the wheel and the indicator should reach the same position relative to the other locknut if the rim is centered.

You can also just flip the wheel in the dropouts and check to ensure the rim is centered by measuring the distance from the brake pad to the rim with the wheel flipped both ways as LóFarkas suggests.
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Old 07-06-06, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by LóFarkas
Ummm, how about the very cheap dishing tool called "Put the wheel in the fork/frame, set up one brake pad so it only just touches the rim, and then flip the wheel?" Alternatively, you can use the "put the wheel in the frame/fork and measure with a caliper" tool. you want it to be centered in your frame, not your truing stand anyway... That's what I did on my wheels.
+1 Even wheels dished with a dishing tool can come out slightly off on the frame. It shouldn't, but user error or a misaligned frame (Taiwan anybody?) can happen. I use the Park truing stand and have never needed a dishing tool, though.
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Old 07-07-06, 07:46 AM
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I put a couple of blocks on the edge of a table, place the wheel on the blocks and measure the height of the locknut, then flip it over and measure again. That's as accurate as any dish stick. Reversing the wheel in the stand only works if you have a pro quality stand.
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Old 07-07-06, 12:04 PM
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I made mine from two pieces of wood and some wood glue.
  • I used 1/4" plywood, starting with a piece about 30" x 8".
  • I used the factory-cut plywood edge as the part that rests on the rim.
  • I cut an arc out of it that left enough room for 1" clearance from a rear MTB wheel. I figure that will give me room for 165mm tandem axles if I ever build wheels with them.
  • To lay out the arc, I just bent a piece of cardboard, held at the ends, such that it went far enough out, and still came back to the edge of the plywood, and traced along the arc.
  • The ends of the arc on my dish tool accomodate an MTB rim, but I couldn't do a bmx rim on it (arc is too wide).
  • For the back side of the dish tool, you can do whatever you like. I just matched the arc, and left about 3" of space between the two arcs.

This is tough to explain:The pointer on mine is made from a single 3/16" x 1" strip of solid wood cut into three pieces of different lengths. The first piece is a short 1"x1" block, glued near the center of the dish tool, edged up to the inside arc. The second piece is 2.5" long, and is glued to the block such that its length runs along the length of the dish tool. The 3rd piece slides between the 2nd piece and the dish tool, and adjacent to the block. This piece is my pointer. Since all three pieces are the same thickness, friction holds the pointer in place. If friction isn't high enough, a couple wraps of the 2nd piece with some masking tape will fix it up.

Works like a charm.
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