How to Build a Wooden Wagon Wheel for a Small Model

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Building wooden models is a time-consuming yet very rewarding hobby. Spoke wheels are a fitting addition to any wooden wagon replica. These small wheels take a few hours of diligent handiwork to complete, but having a realistic wheel to finish a wagon project will make your efforts worth it.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden craft ring
  • Bench vise
  • Sanding bands (coarse and smooth)
  • Rotary tool
  • Blank paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Small wooden spool
  • Crafting knife
  • 12-inch wooden skewers
  • Wood glue
  • Set of small c-clamps

Creating the Wheel

  • Put your wooden craft ring vertically inside the vise and secure it so the ring is stable but not being crushed by the vise. If the vise is too tight it may cause cracking or splintering.

  • Put the coarse sanding band on the sanding tip of the rotary tool and use it to shape the inside of the wheel by sanding it to your desired size. Do the same for the outer part of the wheel.

  • Install the smooth sanding band after removing the coarse band. Gently finish every surface of the wheel until the surfaces are as smooth as possible. Remember to remove the wheel from the vise and reinstall it in the necessary position to sand down every part of the wheel while still keeping it firmly, yet gently, in place.

  • Remove the wheel from the vise, lay it flat on a blank piece of paper and trace the inside circle of the wheel. Set the wheel aside and use the ruler to draw a straight line from the top to the bottom of the circle. Draw an intersecting line from left to right on the circle. The point where they intersect is the center; the wooden spool will be placed here on the wheel.

Creating the Spokes and Axle

  • Place the wooden spool in the vise. Cut the spool through the middle with the crafting knife and set the two pieces aside for later use.

  • Find the radius of the wheel by measuring the distance from the center to the end of the circle you drew in Step 4. Subtract 1/8 inch from the radius to find the length of your spokes.

  • Mark the length of your spokes on a wooden skewer with a pencil and cut the skewer with the crafting knife. Repeat the process to make five more spokes.

  • Take out the circle drawing again and place one half of the wooden spool at the center point. Place six dots of glue around the perimeter of the spool (it should be wide-side up) and put each of the skewers down on a dot of glue.

  • Take the second half of the spool, add a ring of glue to the inside of it (remember, the wide side should be facing up) and place it down on the skewers. Use the clamp to hold the two spool halves together until the glue is dry. Remove the clamp and place a thick line of glue around the inside of the wooden ring and slide the ring onto the spokes. Use the clamp to hold the wheel together while the glue sets.

Tips & Warnings

  • Determine what thickness you want your wheels to be. Generally, they should be between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick.
  • Use high-quality wood like pine or birch and avoid wood that has a very coarse grain.
  • Use caution when working with power tools and always wear protective eyewear and gloves.

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References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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