|Project by BillG||posted 01-19-2012 08:41 PM||8625 views||5 times favorited||33 comments|
Occasionally I am asked to make some unusual pieces. This cat wheel clearly fit the bill. It was a for my son and his fiance’, so I didn’t spare the effort or expense on the design or the build.
I used 3/4” flame birch plywood for the cabinet, base and wheel back. Quarter sawn white oak was used on the moldings and hoops on the wheel. A fir post supplied support for the axle and bearings.
The cabinet is a counter balance for the wheel, I opened it at the bottom and made a tunnel for the cats to play in and added a drawer in the upper part to store cat toys. The drawer box is 1/2” baltic birch plywood with a overlay front of birch ply and oak trim. Full extension drawer slides were used for the drawer. The top of the cabinet has is a tray that is removable to allow access to the inside to fasten the inner bearing and axle.
I used a go-kart hub, 1” axle and two pillow block bearings to support the wheel. A 4” X 4” fir post gave support and spacing to the bearings and is attached to the cabinet side. Feet at the bottom also add stabilization for the wheel.
The wheel is 42” in diameter and the track is 10” deep. I used wiggle wood (bending plywood) to create the track. The wiggle wood is soft and not attractive as a finished surface. I wrapped the wheel with the wiggle wood and veneered the outside surface with flame birch veneer. I added 4 steam bent hoops to secure the wiggle wood to the back panel. I also added 4 hoops on the outside edge of the track and 4 hoops to the inside of the tracks outer edge to stabilize it. This also capped the veneer to help hold it on as well.
Since the steel hub was mounted on the inside of the wheel, it created a dangerous surface with bolts sticking out that may hurt the cats. I covered this with a turned sapele cap with a 1” square ebony insert in the center for interest. The turned cap is held in place with two 1/4” dowel pins and two rare earth magnets.
The entire piece is unstained and sealed with Bush Oil and then sprayed with three coats of catylized lacquer.
Now, I hope the cats will run in it!!
Update – 4/2013 – The cat is running in it regularly. I added two additional pictures to clarify some questions that I have been getting. The last two photos show the go-kart hub and how it is mounted to the wheel. In one for the earlier photos you see the sapele cover that is magnetically attached over the bolts to protect the cat from hitting the hub bolts. The axel goes completely through the 4 X 4 post to the inside of the cabinet with an additional internal pillow block bearing. A wheel this large and heavy needs to be well supported. The kart hub, axel and pillow block bearing were purchased at NorthernTool.com.
-- Bill G - West Springfield, MA