Sunday, January 17, 2010

Making a Spoked Wheel (Part 3)

Part 1|Part 2|Part 3

I've made the hubs of my spoked wheels using a jig with a peg on a board that allows me to cut a circle using a bandsaw with a thin blade. If you are careful (which you always have to be) it is a pretty fast and easy way to make tiny "doughnuts" (mmmmm doughnuts....) However, I have to admit, it is really easy to allow your fingers to get too close to the blade, and that is a really bad idea.

I've recently found that you can buy 3/4" or even better yet 5/8" hole saws and just cut hubs using them. Use a pilot bit the same size as the hole on your previous disk and you can cut use that piece of waste. The disk will still have the radial holes drilled in it, so just use the same sort of jig with the 1/8 dowels to keep it in place. 
Okay, time for the spokes so one more jig. All you need is a thin disk cut with your 2" hole saw and a dowel the size of your axel hole (in this case 1/4".)
  • Glue the disk to the dowel (or is it the dowel to the disk?) and make sure the disk and dowel are perpendicular while they dry.
  • After your jig dries, clamp the rim to the disk and place the hub over the dowel and push it flush with the disk.
  • Push 1/8" dowels through the radial holes of the rim and glue the ends to the hub. (You may need to sand the dowels slightly or run a 1/8" drill bit through the holes quickly to widen them a bit or make the hole more "true.")

The jig guarantees that the axel hole of the hub will be at the center of the wheel.
A snug fit is good because the spokes are glued to the hub and not in the holes of the rim. You can go back and put some glue on the spokes on the inside of the rim if you want.

After the spokes dry, remove the wheel from the jig and cut off the excess dowels.

Sand the wheel and take a moment to revel in the fact that you have stuck it to the man and made your own spoked wheel rather than just buying one.

If your pirate ship should happen to need a new helm, you can always stop a this point.
The finished wheel next to a "pirate" cannon. In the same way that spoked wheel aren't right for the pirate cannon, solid wheels wouldn't be a good match for a field artillery piece.

So there you go. It took far longer to record and photograph the process than it did to make the wheel. Just a couple more words:

Remember, you're building little toy wheels, not components for the Space Shuttle. Don't expect perfection.

I probably should have mentioned to make at least two wheels at a time. (Wheels tend to be needed in even numbers for some reason.)

The bronze and green cannon shown in the first post on this topic was a heavily modified $1 craft store kit that will have its own post one day. This latest wheel is destined for a future toy of this local landmark:

Making a Spoked Wheel
Part 1|Part 2|Part 3


  1. Hey! This is really cool stuff. You should start a business making these toys!

  2. i saw all you blog and i thought i would like my father did what you do, i remember playing with a piece of wood using it as a are a good man!! thanks for sharing..


  3. Teknikily,not to sownd too ignamant,butt squar weels am eezier to manumafacturize,and am moor stabbl,butt moor boompy......sined 12 yeer oold made scyeenteest,PS,I'm powrles wifout my glassas!!NYAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!

  4. I like your post, entertaining and informative


Just Saying...

While we don’t necessarily need more objects, we just might benefit from more making.
- John Dunnigan


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Regular guy who likes to make stuff who lives with a very patient wife, three daughters and three cats.