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  1. #1
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    Tricks to measure and cut a fork steerer with homemade guide

    I'm hoping to hear about any tricks and tips on how to (and how not to) cut a steerer without one of the fancy Park Tool guides. The best I've come up with so far is using 2 hose clamps and a shallow guide.

    I've never cut a steerer before but am confident I can do a fine job, as long as I measure correctly. I need to add my head tube with headset cups installed + the spacers I want to use, then subtract 2-3mm? Or is the formula different?

    The fork is a Fox 34 Factory and I believe that's an aluminum steerer so a hacksaw should work fine. Regular saw blade or is there a special one i want?

    Any tips are very welcome! I'm trying to do this build 100% on my own and the frame should finally be delivered on Friday.

    Thanks!

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  2. #2
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    Two stainless hose clamps have been my Ghetto go-to field guide for many years. Blade choice is yours, but my suggestion would be a new 32t blade. A 32t will afford you a smooth action and a clean cut. It's might take a minute longer to complete the cut, but you might find it worth it.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cleared2land View Post
    Two stainless hose clamps have been my Ghetto go-to field guide for many years. Blade choice is yours, but my suggestion would be a new 32t blade. A 32t will afford you a smooth action and a clean cut. It's might take a minute longer to complete the cut, but you might find it worth it.
    Great, thank you! I've been trying to think of anything else that I could use as a guide but the clamps seem the best, glad for confirmation.

    I'm going to check a couple shops tomorrow to see if they have an actual guide I can buy, if not I'll just Jimmy-rig one in the garage.

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  4. #4
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    A bench vice and appropriate jaws can make the task even easier.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cleared2land View Post
    A bench vice and appropriate jaws can make the task even easier.
    I have a bench vise, just the regular jaws that would gouge it up though.

    A local buddy just told me he uses two threadless stems as a guide, that might be much better than the hose clamps.

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  6. #6
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    I never cut until the fork is ready to install. Pre-setting some things is just extra work. Install the fork, set the desired spacers and stem on it and mark the tube. Wheel 1/8" below the mark with a medium pipe cutter.
    I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!

  7. #7
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    Take the hacksaw & rehang it on your bench.
    Use a pipe cutter. It will cut a perfect 90 cut every time. No crooked cut, no metal shavings, no burrs no effort. Also works great on handlebars including carbon. I'm honestly taken aback this isn't common place. Maybe park needs to die a pipe cutter blue & charge $120 for this 1916 technology to take off.
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  8. #8
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    Yeah I used a pipe cutter. It was perfect. And cost about $20. From your local hardware store.

  9. #9
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    Most hardware stores do pipe cutting. You don't even have to buy the pipe cutter. They'll do it for you for less than you'd pay for a reasonably good hacksaw, using a pipe cutter that you'd have to pay $25 for.

  10. #10
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    Yepper, a pipe cutter will provide the cleanest cut.
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  11. #11
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    Pipe cutter here as well.

    It obviously doesn't work on carbon steerer tubes, but I avoid those anyway. It also slightly mushrooms the steerer at the cut, which is easily taken care of with a file.

  12. #12
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    While I prefer a tube cutter for performing this task, carefully performing the job with a fine blade hacksaw (and the use of a guide) and cleaning the cut up with a fine file can be accomplished with equal quality. I have done both with high quality results.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bad mechanic View Post
    Pipe cutter here as well.

    It obviously doesn't work on carbon steerer tubes, but I avoid those anyway. It also slightly mushrooms the steerer at the cut, which is easily taken care of with a file.
    I haven't found a pipe cutter with quality cutting wheel alignment that prevents wandering of the cut. I always end up filing.
    I just use a Park Cutter Jig and a 32T blade. Very little clean up needed. It even works on handlebars.

  14. #14
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    My local mechanic, that I trust very much, told me specifically not to use a pipe cutter because it'll mushroom the steerer. I have a hacksaw, pipe cutter and files

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dubya3 View Post
    My local mechanic, that I trust very much, told me specifically not to use a pipe cutter because it'll mushroom the steerer. I have a hacksaw, pipe cutter and files
    The slower that you feed the cutting wheel, the less it will deform and 'mushroom'. Cleaning up the mushroom with a good file is no more difficult or different than cleaning up your hacksawed cut.
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  16. #16
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    Cleared2land is exactly right (as per usual). Use really light pressure and many rotations and repeat. Do that for the first 1/8-1/5 of the cut & there is very little mushrooming. I followed up my last one with a 1-5/8" deburring tool & some light sanding. Excellent results, slips right through the headset o-ring. Pipcutters do cut carbon, no problem.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Cleared2land is exactly right (as per usual). Use really light pressure and many rotations and repeat. Do that for the first 1/8-1/5 of the cut & there is very little mushrooming. I followed up my last one with a 1-5/8" deburring tool & some light sanding. Excellent results, slips right through the headset o-ring. Pipcutters do cut carbon, no problem.
    I'm sure that works. But 10 minutes ago I was done with a hacksaw and a Park cut jig.

  18. #18
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    I may use my pipe cutter to start the cut and more less have something the blade can follow better, but I'm going to use a hacksaw for the majority of the cut. Hopefully by Saturday I'll have a finished project to show.

    I appreciate all the input, I received more than enough to assure me it's not too tricky. Thanks!

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasejj View Post
    I'm sure that works. But 10 minutes ago I was done with a hacksaw and a Park cut jig.
    And with a tubing cutter, you'd shave even more time off the process
    I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!

  20. #20
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    Park guide (or similar) is fastest and best IMO but pipe cutter is ok too, like others I find the cutter mushrooms the steer tube a bit no matter how slow you go but not such a big deal to clean up.

    I really like the 2 junk stems idea too.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasejj View Post
    I'm sure that works. But 10 minutes ago I was done with a hacksaw and a Park cut jig.
    Lol.
    Pretty sure the pipe cutter has not been improved on in 101 years of use for good reason. Try one.
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  22. #22
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    I use an old stem as a guide. Works like a charm.
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  23. #23
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    On the three stems that I have cut, I've used a pipe cutter (hardware store did it for me), an old Harbor Freight metal-cutting band saw I've had sitting in the corner of the shop for ages, and a chop saw. I used the chop saw because the band saw broke the blade and it was at night when the hardware was closed. The band saw did the nicest job, but I still haven't bought the blade, and I'm going to use the chop saw again when the Bluto I have on order gets here. All three methods do a nice job. After you dress the cut with a file (I use a grinder), you can't tell the difference between methods. Any way is fine as long as it's square.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    On the three stems that I have cut, I've used a pipe cutter (hardware store did it for me), an old Harbor Freight metal-cutting band saw I've had sitting in the corner of the shop for ages, and a chop saw. I used the chop saw because the band saw broke the blade and it was at night when the hardware was closed. The band saw did the nicest job, but I still haven't bought the blade, and I'm going to use the chop saw again when the Bluto I have on order gets here. All three methods do a nice job. After you dress the cut with a file (I use a grinder), you can't tell the difference between methods. Any way is fine as long as it's square.
    Off topic but are you in Minnesota?

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by dubya3 View Post
    Off topic but are you in Minnesota?
    Yup. Dead smack in the middle.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    Yup. Dead smack in the middle.
    I figured so with your username. I'm north of Anoka about 20 minutes.

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  27. #27
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    Heh. As it happens, I live right on the Cuyuna Iron Range.

  28. #28
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    I purchased the Park tool guide several years ago. Works great for it's intended purpose. Also works fantastic for working on dropper post, and fork service as well.
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Notched View Post
    Yeah I used a pipe cutter. It was perfect. And cost about $20. From your local hardware store.
    Piece of cake. I did the same when I bought a new fork. I was sweating bullets but it went really well. The cut was perfectly straight and very clean. A pipe cutter will burr the tube out a little bit making the diameter slightly larger, I panicked at first as I couldn't get the crown race on the tube, but a few gentle strokes with a fine file on the tube will clean it up nicely.
    AreBee

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Pipcutters do cut carbon, no problem.
    The only time I've tried to cut carbon with a pipe cutter it didn't go well at all. Made a point to feed it really slow but it left a nasty cut and crushed the end of the bars with the compression. We had to cut them before the start of a race and we wound up re-cutting them with a hacksaw a couple days later. I'd love to see this work well but I'm extremely skeptical it works well.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by customfab View Post
    The only time I've tried to cut carbon with a pipe cutter it didn't go well at all. Made a point to feed it really slow but it left a nasty cut and crushed the end of the bars with the compression. We had to cut them before the start of a race and we wound up re-cutting them with a hacksaw a couple days later. I'd love to see this work well but I'm extremely skeptical it works well.
    I was unsure untill I tried it & find carbon cuts easier/faster /cleaner than aluminium because it doesn't deform. I've done several sets of bars now & am always surprised how well it works. I've also used it on a seatpost that went super smooth. Crushing would suggest a dull wheel, to much pressure, or perhaps weave is a factor here?

    Here is what I've come to find with pipe cutters over the years, more with plumbing & electrical/conduit (I'm a contractor) projects, but it translates. The larger the wheel the better it cuts. This may seem counterintuitive as a larger wheel could be more prone to wonder but I find the exact opposite. This must have to do with pressure on the cutting edge or somehow the circumference is a factor otherwise. Wheels with bearings work much better than wheels with bushings, you don't want a sloppy wheel. The cutting edge angle makes a difference, especially acheiving clean cuts on bike parts. The steeper the angle the better, but I have cracked wheels. And of coarse I'm sure how sharp/hard the wheel is will obviously matter.

    Pehaps a bike specific pipe cutter would be nice? Say one with a quality fold out file instead of a scorer.

    Edit* I follow up carbon cuts up with a razor.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by customfab View Post
    The only time I've tried to cut carbon with a pipe cutter it didn't go well at all. Made a point to feed it really slow but it left a nasty cut and crushed the end of the bars with the compression. We had to cut them before the start of a race and we wound up re-cutting them with a hacksaw a couple days later. I'd love to see this work well but I'm extremely skeptical it works well.
    For the one cut I made of my wifes RF Sixc bars I bought a carbon cutting blade(I think it was a Park) . Provided a nice clean cut with little to no cleanup required.

  33. #33
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    using the pipe cutter make this part of building a bike one of the most fun.

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    I received the frame after work and got busy right away. I used the two stem and hacksaw method with a little cutting oil I had leftover from some gunsmithing I did in the past.

    The cut was correct but not perfectly straight, a little file work took care of that though.

    Thanks for all the ideas and opinions, I truly appreciate it!

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  35. #35
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    Super sweet frame! I musta missed that in the original post. I had an independent fab steel road bike that I wish I never got rid of.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHALENARD View Post
    Super sweet frame! I musta missed that in the original post. I had an independent fab steel road bike that I wish I never got rid of.
    Thanks Whale! I've sold off all my aluminum and carbon rides and just have steel these days, a 85 Stumpjumper Team (that I'm prob going to sell), this new one and a 95 Yo Eddy. There's something about steel frames, probably from my BMX days.

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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by dubya3 View Post
    I'm hoping to hear about any tricks and tips on how to (and how not to) cut a steerer without one of the fancy Park Tool guides. The best I've come up with so far is using 2 hose clamps and a shallow guide.

    I've never cut a steerer before but am confident I can do a fine job, as long as I measure correctly. I need to add my head tube with headset cups installed + the spacers I want to use, then subtract 2-3mm? Or is the formula different?

    The fork is a Fox 34 Factory and I believe that's an aluminum steerer so a hacksaw should work fine. Regular saw blade or is there a special one i want?

    Any tips are very welcome! I'm trying to do this build 100% on my own and the frame should finally be delivered on Friday.

    Thanks!

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    i bought pipe cutter from Home Depot. make sure you have something debur and cut out the mushroom, or you won't get the star-nut in.


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  38. #38
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    Nice! I bet that 2.1 is rad and is now calling my name in 29er. Damn you!
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  39. #39
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    27fiver for me

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