thanks everybody

“who’s more grizzled?”

best in show

i really enjoy going to NAHBS each year, and the awards ceremony is necessarily part of the event. that being said, the reason i enjoy going has nothing to do with seeing who gets what award. richard sachs; stephen, bob and carl from bilenky; drew and ed from engin; curt goodrich; jordan hufnagel; dave from ellis; mitch from MAP; jason sanchez; mike barry; adam hammond; these folks (and others who i’m forgetting to mention) are the reason i go.

hats off to don walker and the NAHBS support crew – until next year.


NAHBS crunch time


Originally uploaded by cicli polito

Getting all sorts of things ready for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Indianapolis.

Included among the run around will be the launch of a brand new website. In preparation I brought a few bikes into pete jenning’s photo studio on the near west side (birdtown). The shots looked great in the studio, and I can’t wait until the new website gets up and going.

Also included on the new site will be an integrated blog, so I’ll have easier access to update information and (hopefully) more frequent updates. As usual, most activity is on the flickr page, at

Take care, and hope to see some of you in Indy.

it’s all in the family

cicli polito is, well, expanding operations.  it’s been an extremely busy fall.

here are the three newest pals; hardinge HSL-59, steinel SV4, elgin 2nd op lathe (no model number indicated).  they are sitting in my father’s garage in suburban cleveland (thanks dad) until the new shop is worked through.  much more news on that front later, once everything is finalized and i can share the details.

for more photos, and to see a bit about how you actually go about moving a mill, check out my flickr page at http://

paint! and the days leading up to it

here are some of the final shots from skip’s build, including paint.  to see his entire build documented as a slideshow, head on over to flickr:

alignment via headtube on the flat plate.

alignment mark II – note necessary accessories

working hard to get that extra little fillet in there for you

here is a whole frame and fork shot.  the frame was designed to be a fast commuter for typical cleveland riding.  it also has eyelets on the fork and an undercrown mounting for a rack, not shown.

demi-lams (wish i coined that one) turned out looking nice after paint.  i think i’ll play with this design again sometime in the fiture.

and lastly, the whole kit

this bike was great fun to build, and i’ve seen skip tearing around downtown on it the past few days.  i can’t quite catch up to ask him, but it looks like he’s having fun.  there are many other shots in the flickr set linked above, but these are a few of my favorites.

stay tuned for some forthcoming exciting news from the shop!

update: faux lams

here are three quick shots after a bit of clean up.

and finally in the jig

defiling lugs

bilaminated construction is SO it right now. since i can’t afford the bilaminate dinner, i opted for the quarterlaminate lunch special. all yuks aside, these are three in process photos of some kind of brass brazed construction. instead of having a fillet totally encapsulate the downtube, there is a half-moon fillet along the tip of one lug point to the tip of the other. working out my inner rene singer of course.

in this first photo, the lug has been completely brass brazed. i’m using gasflux type b flux and gasflux co-4 low fuming bronze rod in 1/16, to flow a smith aw2a torch with a 205 tip. the flux has not been cleaned off this joint, and i’ve started step two of the brazing process for this particular lug. starting at the tip of the lug curve on the dt, i’m about to lay some fillets over both the lug edge and the tube itself so i can blend them into that “half-bilaminate.”

in the next photo you can see the fillet line. more important than perfect fillets here is the timing of laying them down, as this is all done in one heating cycle of the joint. temperature control is necessarily the name of the game, and the little puddle fillets are floated down over the top without flowing out the brass from underneath the lug. i’ve already started bulk cleanup on one side of the fillet line.

and this third photo is of the joint after being thinned and shaped with a 10″ half round bastard file. the tube itself has been scraped with 60 grit cloth to help give me visual clues for a smooth transition. the “shoreline” area that is left underneath the fillet arc has not been touched yet. in the photos to follow, the finished lug will blend out of the tube on the top, and underneath the shoreline will pop out.

just a few laughs in the cicli polito kitchen. this is a bike for skip, and he said “make it interesting.” if you’re interested in more photos of the build, please view the in-progress photos at flickr

know fillets, know no file fillets

the first time i saw an unpainted “no file” fillet was on a jack taylor that was to be refinished.  it was raw, kind of wavy, and pleasing to the eye.  a few years later i saw a ritchey fillet brazed mtb without paint and was floored.  15 minutes later i heard the owner of that frame talking about how he’s pretty sure that it was a “no-file fillet,” – double floored.  compared to that jack taylor, the ritchey fillets looked absolutely sculpted.

more and more recently i’ve been getting into fillet brazing bikes, and parts of bikes.  it’s a different sort of challenge than building with lugs, and fillet brazing makes sense for some frames and some it doesn’t.   finding the balance of that “appropriateness” is something i enjoy.  it’s just not as simple as “the lugs aren’t out there for the angles i want,” which i feel is something that both builders and non-builders mention.

those ritchey fillets have become a benchmark for me, and on certain frames i’ll try one or two no-filers to see how they turn out.  i’m pretty proud of this bottom bracket, which was from one of the city bikes, which are now waiting for paint.  i’ll post a photo or two of them when they are done.

excuse the rust, i left the frame to soak and went and got lunch, came back, and then snapped the photo before any clean-up whatsoever.

no file fillets are a different sort of beast than “stack” style fillets, and they require (at least for me) a different type of flame, and a different kind of filler pattern.  i’m still working on both those set-ups, but generally i use a louder flame when attempting a no file, and i use the proximity of the flame to the metal to alter the temperature.  i start pretty far away, move in real close when adding, and then gently bring the torch back away to smooth out the layers.  the copper color is filler that the flame got a little too close to, but it’s not problematic to me considering it’s a) not charred black and copper, b) not a deep reddish color, and c) it’s located at the edge of the filler-to-metal contact zone.  even with those flaws, i had fun with this one.

for all the ultra-experienced fillet brazers out there, any tips are kindly appreciated.