It’s possible to build wheels with the minimal of tooling – even using an upside down fork and a couple of zip ties as a rudimentary truing stand. But to make the process as smooth and accurate as possible, quality tooling matters. In addition to the usual spoke wrenches etc, here are some of the key tools that I use:
Centrimaster Truing Stand
Equipped with 0.1mm accurate dial gauges that allow working in lateral and radial dimensions simultaneously. This allows a better holistic approach to wheel tension as you see how changes affect both dimensions. The Centrimaster Truing Stand is beautifully made, with carefully machined parts and tolerances, a pleasure to use. Centrimaster are one of the undiscovered gems of wheel building tooling – less well known, marketed (as to me) by word of mouth, and the highest quality.
Morizumi SCT spoke cutting and threading machine
This machine is only the second Morizumi SCT in Sweden – it is the very best, most accurate spoke cutting and threading machine there is. There are so many combinations of spoke lengths, colours, versions that it would be impossible for an independent builder to hold the necessary stocks of all the versions needed. It’s also the case that many spokes come from the manufacturer cut to 2mm length variations. It’s absolutely possible to compromise, to all intents and purposes this level of accuracy can work. But I prefer not to compromise – I am able to cut spokes to 0.5mm precision, and roll the highest quality threads. It’s all part of striving to be the very best.
An accurate, calibrated tension meter is used to measure the precise tension of each spoke. This is crucial information – not only do manufacturers specify maximum tensions for rims, but also the tool allows the wheel builder to be sure of evenly distributed tension. Evenly distributed spoke tension is critical to wheel strength and longevity – the natural loading and unloading tension cycle is shared between spokes as equally as possible. I use two of the very best tension meters available – the Centrimaster analog, and the Wheel Fanatyk digital. I check the calibration of both before every build.
GRS Engineering Tension Meter Calibration Device
A tension meter is calibrated to a range of spokes. There are two big advantages of being able to re-calibrate or cross check calibration. Firstly, when using a new or unchecked spoke (Pillar Gold anyone…?), it is possible to calibrate the meter for this precise spoke. This device allows the spoke to be put under tension, and an accurate, calibrated load cell measures this tension exactly – the meter reading for that measurement can be confirmed. The second advantage this gives is the ability to periodically check the accuracy of the tension meter. I can also offer tension meter calibration as a service to local wheelbuilders, or to anyone who can send their device to me.
iGaging hub measurement system
Most of the time hub measurements are well known, and available from either manufacturers’ sites or internet databases. From time to time I’ll come across a vintage hub for a rebuild where the measurements cannot be found – the iGaging hub measurement system makes this quick and ultra precise.