Cat Wheel, Over the Top Effort

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Project by BillG posted 01-19-2012 08:41 PM 6177 views 4 times favorited 33 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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

-- Bill G - West Springfield, MA

33 comments so far

View SASmith               's profile


1685 posts in 1805 days

#1 posted 01-19-2012 08:47 PM

Nice setup.
I had never heard of such a thing.
Thanks for sharing.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Brandon's profile


4145 posts in 1770 days

#2 posted 01-19-2012 09:03 PM

Wow, that’s amazing. You’ll have to get some photographs of it in use! Wait, no, I want to see video!

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View BillG's profile


78 posts in 2369 days

#3 posted 01-19-2012 10:10 PM

Video will be added if the cats cooperate.

-- Bill G - West Springfield, MA

View Dallas's profile


3338 posts in 1305 days

#4 posted 01-19-2012 10:19 PM

I think I would be making some plans for a steel screen over the outside and a motor and pulley.

Then, like one good ol’ boy said… “Hold my beer and watch this!”

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View DrDirt's profile


2804 posts in 2560 days

#5 posted 01-19-2012 10:27 PM

Need a video of the cats running in it…. that would get a ton of youtube hits for sure. It would be like a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

-- "Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." Ronald Reagan

View rmac's profile


195 posts in 1878 days

#6 posted 01-19-2012 11:15 PM

It was for my son and his fiance’, so I didn’t spare the effort or expense on the design or the build.

They should have a lot of fun in that thing. Do they have any cats? :)


-- My table saw laughs at hot dogs.

View woodworm's profile


14140 posts in 2409 days

#7 posted 01-19-2012 11:51 PM

The overall design is very nice & the function is interesting.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View Sodabowski's profile (online now)


2114 posts in 1651 days

#8 posted 01-20-2012 12:51 AM

Try some good catnip to help them spin ;)
Very nice looking and unusual!

-- Holy scrap Barkman!

View Chris 's profile


71 posts in 1172 days

#9 posted 01-20-2012 01:18 AM

Don’t let my wife see this one….or I know what I will be making next…lol It looks like to would be side heavy?... I would like to see a cat use it.

-- Chris ~ Central Michigan

View Woodstock's profile


240 posts in 2106 days

#10 posted 01-20-2012 01:27 AM


Try some good catnip to help them spin ;)

It will just give them a really bad case of the munchies…...


-- I'm not old. Just "well seasoned".

View Manitario's profile


2379 posts in 1701 days

#11 posted 01-20-2012 02:14 AM

I’ll join in with the others asked for a video of the cat running in this!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Dallas's profile


3338 posts in 1305 days

#12 posted 01-20-2012 02:28 AM

I saw another version of something like that:

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Sam's profile


64 posts in 1510 days

#13 posted 01-20-2012 02:51 AM

If you have trouble getting the cats to cooperate, perhaps you should look into getting a giant hamster or a capybara.

Looking forward to the video!

-- Sam S. - Hebron, KY

View Brandon's profile


4145 posts in 1770 days

#14 posted 01-20-2012 02:54 AM

I actually looked up videos of these things on Youtube and they’re rather fascinating. I also saw this photo:

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Brian Strothcamp's profile

Brian Strothcamp

111 posts in 1512 days

#15 posted 01-20-2012 03:00 AM

My cats prefer a pillow lol… One of my cats is a 35 pound Maine Coon

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