Making Wheels for Toys? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 12-01-2019, 10:26 AM Thread Starter
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Making Wheels for Toys?

I have toy projects in the queue. They require wheels in assorted thicknesses and sizes.

In the past, I would use hole saws on a very underpowered drill press to make wheels. It took a lot of time and care, and the results were not that great. The hole saw would not cut well, and it would burn and smoke and cause a lot of problems. The one advantage of using the hole saw is that wheels are exactly the same. With patience, I can get it to work, but there must be a better way.

I have the usual assortment of hand tools, powered hand tools, and power tools available. I do not have a router table, although I am working on it.

Wheel Making Requirements:
* Wheels in a variety of thicknesses.
* Wheels in a variety of diameters.
* Matching wheels must have exactly matching diameters, so the toys roll smoothly.

-> How would you make wheels that match the above requirements?
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post #2 of 6 Old 12-01-2019, 10:38 AM
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I'm not sure how much this applies to your builds, but I put a tutorial on how I make the wheels for my toys on my youtube channel a while back. If it doesn't apply directly to your build, it might give you some ideas.


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post #3 of 6 Old 12-01-2019, 04:01 PM
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How are you using the hole saw? One thing I observe constantly at my work is people cutting from the middle of a board rather than letting the dust escape through one or two points. If you cut on the edge so the dust has a place to escape it shouldn't burn. You could cut a hole in board of quarter inch MDF and use that as a router jig to cut them out, I use a similar method all the time for arch casings. To be honest I'd turn them but I know not everyone has a lathe.


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post #4 of 6 Old 12-01-2019, 05:26 PM
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Do you have a lathe? I cut 12 disks with a hole saw and turned them on the lathe as they were a bit larger than I needed. I think a lot has to do with the quality of the hole saw.
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post #5 of 6 Old 12-02-2019, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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I did not want to disclose too much about available tools. I had hoped for a wide variety of ideas and solutions to choose from.

Here are power tools that might be used for making wheels:

* Lathe
* Bandsaw
* Scroll saw
* Drill Press - Very bad, very cheap, very underpowered, but it works (slowly) with hole saws.
* Belt/disc sander: 1 inch belt / 5 inch disc
* Oscillating spindle sander

* Compact router and mid-size router, each with plunge and fixed bases.
* Handheld jigsaw
* Handheld drill driver (hole saws, perhaps?)

* Harbor Freight Hole Saw Set.
* Adjustable circle cutter, the "knuckle-buster" type.

Not yet: Router table. (I can probably get one going quickly enough, if it is the best option.)

Nothing to see here:
Power Tools: Table saw, Compound miter saw, Planer.
Hand Power Tools: Circular saw, Reciprocating saw, Handheld sanders: belt, finish, random orbital, etc.
Hand Tools: Basic chisels, hand planes, hand saws, etc.

The last time I needed wheels, I used the hole saw on the drill press, rounded the edges with sandpaper, and called them done. In 3/4 walnut, it took about two hours to make four wheels, and I felt like I was burning up the hole saw to do it, despite my best effort to keep the sawdust clear and give time for the hole saw to cool between each "pass". The hole saw needed a lot more time to cool than I had patience. It was a Harbor Freight hole saw set, too.

@Kenbo's video was fantastic and his wheels (and all his work) are simply amazing, but way too complex and detailed for what I need. Babies don't play with Ken's toys. They are such works of art. I wonder whether anybody actually "plays" with them.

I had expected to see some ideas for simple bandsaw jigs maybe, stuff like that.

-> If you have simple ways to make crude wheels that work efficiently and yield repeatable diameters, please share!
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post #6 of 6 Old 12-02-2019, 06:39 PM
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I made a simple jig to use on my bandsaw. It's basically a base that gets clamped to the bandsaw table, and has a pivoting arm with a short piece of dowel sticking up that's the diameter of the intended wheel axle hole. I adjust everything so the distance from the dowel to the blade is the wheel radius. Then with the workpiece (with a predrilled axle hole) placed on the dowel, I move the arm into the blade to start the cut, then rotate the workpiece to cut the circular wheel. For ease of handling on the saw, I started with squares of wood slightly larger than the wheel diameter.

If this doesn't make sense, I can try & dig it out & post a pic. I used it probably 25+ years ago when I was making & selling wooden toys to pick up a few (very few...) extra $$.
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