Nothing attracts a healthy crowd like a prize wheel. Games of chance can be fun for all ages, and when used at your station in a business event or a fair, they can increase interest in your goods and services. A fully decorated homemade prize wheel not only costs less than a store-bought assembly, but it can offer quaint design to your next event, ensuring great crowds that will have fun.
Things You'll Need
Prize Wheel Assembly:
4-foot by 4-foot section of 3/4-inch plywood
4-inch wood dowels
1/2-inch lag bolt, 2 to 3 inches in length
3-foot section of string
4-foot long section of 2x4
4-inch long leather piece
Wood scraps, preferably 2-1/2 inches long by 1-1/2 inch wide (2)
Drill bits (3/8-inch, 5/8-inch, or comparable)
Different color paints
Draw a circle on the plywood to establish the size of your prize wheel. Tack a 3-foot piece of string to the center of the 3/4-inch plywood. Secure the other end of that string to a pencil. Carefully trace a circle, making sure to keep the same amount of pull on the string to maintain circular shape. Use a jigsaw to cut out the shape, and sand any rough or misshapen edges.
Mark out the pie sections of the wheel. Use a pencil and make a plus sign on the wheel by drawing a line going top to bottom through the center, then another line going left to right through the center. How many prize sections you want is up to you, but at least eight is ideal for a basic prize wheel. Make sure to measure the sections evenly, and mark them with a pencil going from one side to the other, straight through the center of the wheel. At this point, paint and decorate your prize wheel to your liking.
Attach the wood dowels to the prize wheel. This will allow the spinner to stop and point at a specific section. The ideal setup for wood dowels on a prize wheel is one dowel for each line that separates a pie section, as well as one in the middle of each pie section. Dowels should be placed at or near the circumference of the wheel.
Measure the diameter of your prize wheel. This will create the dimensions of the base. The base will be an X-shaped piece of wood cut from a 2x4, with a stand reaching up through the middle. Cut one section of 2x4 into the length of the wheel's diameter, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide. This will run parallel to the prize wheel.
Create the other half of the base by cutting two equal sections of 2x4 that will fit around the center of the first base support, perpendicular to the prize wheel. Make sure to account for the width of the first support in determining the length of the two pieces of 2x4 that will make the second support. Attach the first leg of the second support to the center of the first support using wood glue and 2-inch screws. Repeat the same procedure for the other side, drilling at an angle through the first support.
Make the stand that will attach to both the wheel and the base. Cut one more section of 2x4 the length of the prize wheel's diameter plus 12 inches, to leave room for spinning and the flapper. Make it the same width as the base supports. Stand it straight up in the center of the X shape created by the supports, and secure with wood glue and a 2-inch screw. If you are decorating or painting the supports and stand, do so at this point.
Drill the holes that will allow you to mount the wheel to the stand. Measure the radius of your wheel. Measure the same distance down from the stand, plus four inches. This will allow space for the flapper above the wheel. Mark the position with the pencil. Drill a pilot hole into the mark on the stand using the 3/8-inch drill bit. Drill through the center of the wheel with the 5/8-inch drill bit. The 1/2-inch bolt should fit snugly into the stand, while allowing the prize wheel to spin freely.
Thread three washers onto the top of the lag bolt. Thread the prize wheel over the three washers. Thread the other three washers over the prize wheel. Secure the lag bolt into the pilot hole on the stand using a ratchet wrench. Tighten so that the washers are not moving loosely, but the prize wheel can spin as freely as possible.
Use scraps of leftover wood and your leather to create the flapper. Take two pieces of wood long enough to attach to the stand and reach beyond the prize wheel slightly. This will probably be about 2 to 2-1/2 inches. The combined thickness of the two wood pieces, which you will be screwing together, should be greater than 2 inches to ensure that screws you use will not be exposed. Place leather scrap between wood pieces and create a clamp by attaching the two wood pieces with wood glue and 2-inch screws, securing the leather flap. Leather flap should be able to hang down over prize wheel easily.
Attach the flapping unit to the top of the stand using wood glue and 2-inch screws. It should be high enough to allow the wheel to spin freely, but low enough to allow the leather piece to catch the wood dowels.
Use a variety of different prizes to increase interest in your prize wheel. Classic favorites include stuffed animals, vouchers for goods or services, or good old-fashioned money.
Always take the proper precautions when working with power tools.