How do you make wooden wheels?

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Forum topic by HuntleyBill posted 11-25-2010 07:22 PM 7645 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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109 posts in 3117 days

11-25-2010 07:22 PM

Happy Thanksgiving LJ’ers:

I’m looking to make some wooden wheels for some toys for the kids. Some wheels will be 4 inches and some will be about 3 inches. I have made a few on my lathe but they didn’t turn out as well as I think they should ( no pun intended)!

My lathe is a home made lathe I picked up and it doesn’t have a lot of fancy features…in fact id doesn’t have any fancy features. Basically has t centers and thats it. Anyway, I thought maybe if I used my router to to recess the insides hence making an outer wheel and an inner hub. I then thought I’d drill some holes in that recess to simulate spokes…sort of.

My questions are: Can I do it with a router?
Has anyone already made a jig to accomplish this?
Is there a better way to do it (besides buying the wheels)?
If so, please explain.

Thank you all for your help

-- If you think you can, or think you can't...your right!

9 replies so far

View Luke's profile


545 posts in 3321 days

#1 posted 11-25-2010 07:36 PM

How big are you wanting to make the wheels?

You could use a router with a circle cutting jig that you could make yourself but not if they will be really small. I believe it’s called a router trammel. Sounds like a good idea drilling out the middle, it would kind of have the look of billet truck wheels that you see on some pickups?

-- LAS,

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3102 days

#2 posted 11-25-2010 09:15 PM

Have you considered a circle cutter like this?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10542 posts in 3456 days

#3 posted 11-25-2010 09:44 PM

Just use a Forstner for the recess, then cut the wheel out with a hole saw.
Drill press necessary!

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3612 days

#4 posted 11-25-2010 09:54 PM

The lathe will make the very best result no question I have made many you need to make them individually with an expanding mandrel or block wiith between centres making up to four or more at a time this way it’s easier to visualize what the sizes are like but for facing cuts/finish with some kind of expanding jaw mandrel set up don’t cut into end grain they won’t be strong you must cut the wood as if for a bowl turning session have fun Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View MrsN's profile


986 posts in 3553 days

#5 posted 11-26-2010 12:22 AM

I buy most of my wheels, they are a lot of work to get right and I would rather spend my efforts elsewhere.
3 and 4 inch wheels are bigger then most of the toy wheels that I use, With the proper jigs you may be able to safely use a router. I would use a hole saw like Gene mentioned.
Good Luck

View helluvawreck's profile


31407 posts in 2894 days

#6 posted 11-26-2010 12:55 AM

I don’t think there would be anything at all wrong with making wheels on a lathe. As a matter of fact you could gang them up to machine the outside if you were set up to do it. You might have to make a fixture to do it. Then you could chuck ‘em up and machine the inside or make a fixture and do it on a drill press. I’m not speaking from experience on a wood lathe but I’ve done similar things with steel on a metal lathe. I’m just thinking out loud here – sometimes you get in trouble when you think out loud – somebody might hear you. :)

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View bobdurnell's profile


315 posts in 3924 days

#7 posted 11-26-2010 02:28 AM

HuntleyBill—I have made many wheels for all sorts of vehicles without using and lathe or router. Just the desired size hole saw. I remove the wheel from the hole saw and then I make a mandrel using another wheel a little smaller in diameter and then gluing a 1/4” dowel thru it some goes thru to allow the wheel to spin and the other is for the hand to hold. Now I use a horizontal drum sander or a 6×48 vertilcle belt sander and let the wheel spin as you touch the belt or drum and the profile of the wheel can be established accordingly. I hope this helps. bob

-- bobdurnell, Santa Ana California.

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1106 posts in 3001 days

#8 posted 11-26-2010 03:04 AM

My way:

Easy and consistent; the center hole is always dead on

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View RalphBarker's profile


80 posts in 2797 days

#9 posted 11-26-2010 08:09 PM

Another vote for a (good) hole saw of the desired diameter – on a drill press. You can glue the “tire” board to a sub-board with craft paper in between to avoid the wheels staying in the hole saw. Just set the depth short of drilling through the substrat.

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