28 June, 2012

More Arts and Crafts, Shellacked Cork Grips

I love the look of shellacked cork grips almost as much as the look of shellacked cotton tape. They are comfortable, shock absorbing, made of a natural material, inexpensive, and they look great. Shellacking grips is an easy afternoon project. Here's how to do it.

First get some VO cork grips. You'll also need a small can of amber shellac from the local paint store. While at the paint store, also pick up a disposable brush, but get the biodgradable wood type, not plastic.

Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It's made into flakes that are mixed with alcohol to make a varnish-like coating. You can buy flakes and mix them yourself, but for this little project I wouldn't bother.
Make a little stand for the grips by sticking a couple of pencils into a cardboard box. Slide the grips over the pencils and brush on a thin coat of shellac. Allow to dry for an hour or so, or until no longer tacky, then brush on a second coat. I like about 4 coats total; putting on more will add gloss, but it will also make the grips a little slippery. In between coats put the brush in an airtight ziplock bag to keep it from drying out.

When the last coat dries, slip the grips over your bars. Remember that cork grips fit 22.2mm bars, not 23.8mm. Usually cork grips fit too loosely for my taste, so I put a strip of tape over the bar first; it could be duct tape, handlebar tape - anything that takes up space. Push the grips on gently as it's easy to tear them. That's all there is to it--go for a ride.

16 comments:

Anthony Garcia said...

Any suggestions or recommendations when mounting bar end shifters with cork grips?

Anonymous said...

Anthony, bar end shifters don't fit 22.2mm bars.

Noah said...

Anthony, one make sure you have grips that will fit your bars like Anonymous said. Then cut out a hole in the end and a groove for the cable. Or buy these http://www.rivbike.com/product-p/gt5.htm that can be ordred pre-punched and grooved.

Martin said...

Actually, there are a couple of bars at least that are 22.2 and take bar-ends: Nitto albatross crmo, and Soma Sparrow, prob others too.
I've also found that cork grips are easily re-shaped/altered - they're soft wood - use knives, saws, sandpaper, etc.
I like to cut off the flared end to produce a shape reminiscent of vintage wood grips. That works very well with bar end shifters.
Have fun - buy a couple of pairs, experiment, they ain't expensive!

Anonymous said...

Well, actually, barcons don't fit MOST 22.2 bars. There are a couple on the market that are made to fit barcons - Soma Sparrow being one. I have this bar mounted with barcons and gave up on cork grips. I think the accepted kludge is to cut a channel in the cork for the housing and add twine to hold it in place.

Sean Dicken said...

Be careful with the tape-under-the grip method of mounting. I had a cork grip slide partially off and then rip in half on a hot day because the tape I was using lost it's tack. I nearly perished as my hand flew off the bars when I needed to be braking. I've since been gluing on my grips with 'Household Hogar' (as recommended by Rivendell)- No slippage, no rotating. And if you need to take them off, I've discovered that a heatgun will soften the Hogar enough to pull them off (remaining adhesive on the bars peels right off).

Anthony Garcia said...

In my opinion, they're not so cheap that they're throw away. Mess up a couple, and you might have well as bought the Rivendell precut version.

Any specific methods you guys have used to cut cork grips? Exacto? What kind of saw? Dremel?

Thanks!

Noah said...

Personally I like to use sharp exacto blades. I change them quickly as they dull fast. If you cut your outer edge first with the sharpest blade those more crucial cuts are best. But I bet a dremel is great for cutting the grooves.

Anonymous said...

I once shellacked some red cotton tape so much it came out as smooth and shiny as a cherry. Can't say it was a negative experience and lasted for years on my old Cagot velo, classique.

Always get lacquer and shellac mixed up.

Lastly, maybe not as a norm but I note now I can get "spray" shellac. I'm still not aware of how to judge this innovation however, I don't think it is "aerosol" so possibly nature friendly.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, let me add on what I don't think is bad form either is because of the way I have heard some people don't like the old "Hutchinson" rubber imitation covers found on some past handlebars, once I shellacked that rubber and then I shellacked the cotton adhesive tape I put over it. The first job would have lasted forever bar the wear and tear and rubbing up against things that happens to bikes in general.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking about spray-painting some cork grips to match my frame and then shellacking them. Has anyone ever tried this or know of any reason why it wouldn't work well?

Anonymous said...

Spray-painting cork grips? Sounds like one might have to experiment to see if that would work. I'd make sure the paint is totally dry. I don't know if "breathability" of the cork would be a factor.

Anonymous said...

Not sure about painting cork grips, but I used wood stain followed by shellac to match my saddle.

Anonymous said...

Actually cork is the best material to avoid slippery hands, but if you paint it... I really don´t think its a good idea...

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D. W. McClain said...

re: barcons and cork: I love that combo and use it pretty much whenever I use albabars. I like to cut the hole in my cork grips using either a round file or my dremel tool. The smell of burning cork in my basement is quite nice, actually :)
I also groove a small channel much like the riv versions using the round file.

Anonymous said...

Paint stores always get mentioned in these articles but the woodworking store near us likewise has all of these supplies except maybe the paint. They have the whole T-9 product line as well including the rust remover.