Wood Rim Straightening

Bulletin #: 11b
by Julian Zwolski
Prepared April 1973
Revised: 1994-01-01

Steps used in straightening a wood rim:

  1. Remove all paint, shellac and varnish so the wood grain is clean and open.
  2. Sand wood smooth.
  3. Soak the warped rim in a tub of hot water, moving the wood rim in a continuous circle. Do not leave the wood rim standing in the tub of hot water. Soak the rim for 1/2 hour. Do not dry after removing from the tub.
  4. Lay the wood rim on a flat surface such as a piece of plywood or something flat and bigger than the size of the rim. Always place the wood rim so that the warped area is facing downwards - not up.
  5. Then place another piece of wood which is the same size on top of the rim so that the rim is in between two pieces of wood. If plywood is used, it should be at least 3/4 inch thick.
  6. Now place heavy weights on top of the wood. The weight should be determined by the amount the wood is warped. The best weight is obtained from using concrete cement blocks. For an average warped rim the minimum number of blocks should be four. Distribute the weight equally with the three blocks, then in the warped area add the fourth block so more weight is applied to this area forcing it to be straightened.
  7. Now let the weights remain on the rim for two days.
  8. After two days, remove the weights.
  9. Soak in a tub of hot water as in Step #3. Remember to turn the rim while in the tub.
  10. Repeat Steps #4, #5, #6.
  11. Warped rims should be soaked every two days for two weeks.
  12. After applying the weight the last time, make sure the rim is dry.
  13. Sand again and refinish the wood rim right away.
  14. After the rim is refinished, have the rim spoked with new spokes as soon as possible.
  15. If the rim is not perfectly straight, the slight differences can be pulled out when truing the rim.
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