Tractor Trailer Wheels #2: Drive Wheel

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Blog entry by SouthavenToyMaker posted 12-15-2018 04:55 PM 791 reads 3 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Wheel Jig Part 2 of Tractor Trailer Wheels series no next part

In this blog I will explain how I currently make the drive wheels for my tractor trailer models. I will say that I use a 2 X 4 for materials and ripped and planned to desired thickness.

Each wheel is made from three pieces of 1/4” stock. There are eight drive wheels so twenty four circles are needed. Cutting out a few extra is always a good idea. I cut each piece using a 3” hole saw, a circle cutting jig on the band saw can also be used. ( I personally have found that using the band saw creates more waste)

Before cutting out the circles, in at least four of the circles I make shallow hole in the center with an 1 5/8 ” forstner bit. These will be used as the four outer wheels and will receive the rims. I have found that making all eight wheels with rims is a waste as the inner wheels are never seen.

Once I have cut out all my circles I use a step bit to expand the center hole made by the hole saw to 5/16”

Using my disc sander I clean up all the circles and sand to final diameter. (2 3/4”)

Now the circles are ready for the slots to be cut in them using the fixture for the miter gauge. I cut three pieces at a time; a wheel set. The height of the blade is completely your discretion. However, keep in mind that you do not want to cut into the indexer. I have found that about an 1/8 works well for me, using a ruler to adjust to the height. If you choose you can add more tread detail by cutting a 5 to 10 degree angle in outer circles.

Attach the three pieces to the indexer, this is where the bearings come to use, the wheels and indexer can now be tightened as one unit, but still turn freely on the miter gauge. Using the pick as a stop, cut each slot out. I made a start / stop mark on the indexer so that I do not cut a slot already cut. The pick will put mark on at each point, take care not to put one of the pieces with the forstner hole against the miter gauge.

Once each circle is slotted its time for glue up. I use a 5/16” bolt to line everything up and then three to four clamps on each wheel. Alternate the slots to get a tread pattern that you like. The slots sometimes do not work out perfectly, so no worries they will still look good on the truck and only you will know.

When the glue is dry you should have four wheels with the forstner hole exposed and four without.

Now drill the forstner hole down to 1/2” depth

I now route the outer edge of each wheel and inner edge of the wheels that receive the rim. I use a 1/4” cove bit with bearing, set at a very low height. (just creep on the height until you get the desired look)

The next blog will be for the rims

-- Sean

3 comments so far

View ralbuck's profile


6556 posts in 3077 days

#1 posted 12-15-2018 05:03 PM

Nice work; very well explained too.

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View Edwin's profile


157 posts in 3809 days

#2 posted 12-15-2018 05:15 PM

I will be following this, thanks .Ed

-- Ed Port Republic

View RituGupta's profile


27 posts in 610 days

#3 posted 12-27-2018 04:15 AM

Very nice work! The final tires look really good and very realistic. I can tell that you’ve taken a lot of effort to make sure that that’s exactly how it would turn out!

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