Shop jigs #6: Wheel making Part Two Step by Step With a Simple Jig

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Blog entry by htl posted 02-09-2019 07:13 PM 6057 reads 2 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Wheel Making Part One Rim Making Jig for my Wheels. Part 6 of Shop jigs series Part 7: Wheel Making Part 3 Making the rim hole. »

A quick wheel making how2 using pictures from some of my blog posts.
This is a very simple tread pattern that will look great but doesn’t take three weeks to make.
Once you have the jig made and the steps figured out for your tools you can make these wheels in hours not days fast and safe!!

I have added extra ideas to the end so don’t miss them.

Haven’t been able to get in the shop lately so thought I would play around with making a wheels making How2.
This is for those that just need a few wheels but want something just that little bit nicer.
Once you get it figured out and the jig made, this is a very simple easy and fast way to add that little extra to your models.

Please remember as you read through this, we’re making the wheels pictured at the start and not the split tread wheels which take a lot more work, but once you master this jig your on your way to some interesting wheels.

Here’s what we’re aiming for.

So first prepare some blanks.
Cut these wider than needed.

We’re going to be making 3/4” wheels but some pictures will show thinner. [keep this in mind]

Now’s a good time to plain and or sand.

Draw a line down the center and draw out the wheel blanks, make bigger than needed so you can sand them to size later.

Drill out the centers with a 1/4” bit or what matches your hole saw’s drill bit.

Now cut out the wheel blanks but they don’t need to be close because we’re going to use the disk sander to get then just right, the disk sander will make sure the wheels are right with the axle holes.

Extra pictures.

Now we have our wheel blanks, lets put them on the disk sander wheel jig.
There’s many how to’s for making them, Ducky has a great one but mine works with the Shop Smith.

Now we have our blanks made it’s time to make some treads.

These are picture of when I made my Hummer wheels, so some picture will show making the angled cuts but just look at them for the placement of parts.

The toys and joys wheels use 36 treads for most truck wheels, so you need a paper pattern to glue on your wheel blanks so you’ll know where to cut each tread. Sounds like fun doesn’t it!!!

Ryobi makes a great drill set at Home Depot.

You could now mount the blanks to the tread cutting jig that I will be showing you and cut using these 36 marks on the paper glued to the blanks. Lining them up with a mark on the top of the jig fence. Holding the blank in place as you go around and line up and cut each mark. This is how Toys and Joys shows you how to do in their plans.
But my eye sight isn’t that good and I don’t like holding the wood in place for every cut so I made a jig for this.
You could stop here and just use the jig and get some nice wheels but the jig with an indexer and clamp make the wheel cutting more consistent and safer to me. When you’re cutting out for four wheels fine but the semi and trailer needs 18 to 22 so the jig will save your nerves and be safer. lol
Just my $.02

If you have made a sliding table for your saw you can just add the jig to it.
As you can see in the pictures below it all works with that board bolted to the miter gauge, so just screw or bolt the jig to your sled as it will do the same thing as most miter gauges which are junk.

At the time I followed the directions from T&Y’s for the jig using my miter gauge, so that’s what picture I have.

This is what we are going to be making.

Remember you could just stick a bolt through the board, bolt it down and using a knob to hold the blank.

I love making jigs and knew I would be making lots a wheels so wanted something better faster safer.

It surprises me now how many models I made wheels for with this jig.

If I knew what I know now I would have got on Ebay and bought a small indexer plate of $15-20.

This is what I use now to make my indexers, they come with different number a holes but we want one with 36.

You could make your own and it will work just fine but I have found as my wheels get more complicated I need the indexer to be spot on.
You won’t need this at this time just putting ideas in your head for later. LOL

So not knowing about indexers at the time I made one using the table saw and my sled.

First we need a wood base bolted to the miter Gauge that will hang over the saw blade slat and slid on the table.
Next find the center of the blade by running this board through the saw, now we know where to drill a hole for the axle bolt. We’re making this for just one size wheel but you could make it adjustable but here we’re after the basics. Truck tires for the T&J are usually 2 7/8 or there about, so half of that would be close to where we would want to drill our hole for the bolt.
By raising and lowering the blade you can cut different size wheels.

The longer the all thread the more blanks you can cut at one time but if it hangs out to far you’ll need to add a board to keep the bolt from sagging and moving about, that’s when the fancier jigs come into play.

OK! Keeping it simple, see where the aluminum comes through the base, that’s the center of the wheel and marks where the blade will cut through the blank, by using the paper pattern glued to the blanks you can line up the blank to the base mark and make all your cuts. EASY!! RIGHT!!!

If you were to hold it, it can slip or like me I have trouble seeing the mark to get it just right.
But for now keeping it simple. Which is very hard for me, I want to soap it up, Stop #4 just stop it!!!

So we have the base bolted to the miter gauge.
A hole for the bolt to go throw, now lets make the way so the wheels won’t move while cutting.

Take one of your extra wheel blanks, [you are making extras arn’t you???] with the 1/4 holes in the center, we want some all thread to go through both sides and we will bolt it to the blank. The nuts that lock the all thread to the blank need to be flush so we can bolt the wheels up to the blank and the blank can be tightened up to the base board.

Once the all thread is bolted to the blank your all set to add a wheel or wheels and lock them down.

The picture above I was making treads for the Hummer a much bigger wheel.
The picture below I’m making treads for my semi which has much smaller wheels so had to raise the blade way up.
This is where you need the extra wood behind the jig to cover the blade as it comes through the jig.
We are making our jig for the truck wheels to start with so the raised blade will not be a problem at this time.

Now you can slide the other end of the all thread through the base and add a knob so you can lock it down.

With the wheel blanks locked to the all thread you can now turn the whole thing on the base and lock it down at the different points to cut your treads. It would be a good idea to add some wood at the back of the jig where the blade will be coming through just to be safe, the blade won’t be up very high but I just don’t like it.
You’ll be cutting tons a treads, 36 per blank so can get monotonous after a while so cover that blade.

This is one of the reasons I came up with the wheel jig down the road.

The straight treads can be cut many at a time but the angled ones should be cut one at a time and you will need to change the angle for left and right treads.

Here is the blog where I made my first indexer using the table saw.

The blog where I cut all the blanks.

Another wheel making blog where some of the pictures came from.

A quick look at the newer jig.

Making the new jig.

I hope this makes sense as it’s hard to make a blog for something you used 4 years ago and there’s so many things that could be added.
I need to get this posted before something goes wrong but will be up dating it as the day goes on.

I keep thinking of other things to add and this is the place.*

+++This blog will need to be read many times before it starts making any sense,and as you get started just do the first steps get that done then on to the next, if you try to see it all at one time it can look over whelming but step by step and you’ll get er done and all will be clear.+++

++++ The more I think about this project I come up with ways to make them even faster and easier. If $$$ isn’t a problem you could buy 2 3/4 store bought wheels and just add tread to them. I did this on one of my Bod Cats and had a cool looking 1 1/2 tractor tread really quickly.

The BUT to this is the big store bought wheels use a 3/8 hole so you will need to change a few things but one advantage is that 3/8 all thread is much stiffer so your jig will be stronger in the long run. I have been thinking of switching to 3/8 for my jigs for this reason.

One more thing.
When making something to hold your tires between tread cuts.
Be careful using quick change mechanisms that might slip or be sloppy, we’re working with wood so things can and will be loss.
One thing I found out with my finger joint jig was if you would put pressure to the right as you cut parts and the fingers were to tight, the next one I did I would put pressure to the right make a cut and then put pressure to the left and make a cut and all would be well. In other words theirs play, may be just 1/32 or so but with 36 treads per tire it can make a difference.
So what I’m trying to say is always keep the same pressure on all cuts it doesn’t matter if you hold it to the right or left just do it the same every time or some teeth will be wider than others and you will be wondering why.

One more area I need to add is the saw blade and I’ve been using the Dewalt 7 1/4” Thin Kerf blades for this thanks for reminding me stefang.

Home Depot doesn’t seem to be selling the blade I was using any more but their
40 Dewalt looks interesting.

If and when you get one keep it for your tread cutting chores as once you start using them you’ll not want to use any thing else on a small Dewalt style table saw.
They are super sharp and that’s what we want but we need to keep it that way, helps keep the chipping to a minimum.
If you do like using the smaller blades be sure you’re using the right blade for the job.
40 and 60 tooth for cross cutting and 24 and the like for every thing else.
For long rips stick with the 10” blades and I was surprised at how good the blade that came with the saw was for this.

How about one more? LOL
If you cut your treads a little deep when you start sanding and have chips they can be sanded out on the disk sander, then on to the drill press to hand sand and round the edges for a real tire look.

Closer grained wood works much better for these treads as they can stand the cutting and shaping better.
Oak walnut cherry these all so can be blackened much better with the home made steel wool and vinegar stains.

There’s one more area I need to talk about but I’ll make a new blog for that.

So this is for a fast safe nice looking wheel for our models.

Go to Part Three

#4 over and out.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

20 comments so far

View oldrivers's profile


2345 posts in 2478 days

#1 posted 02-09-2019 07:49 PM

Love to work with good jigs and it looks like you have an abundance of them, the weather will break soon and let the work begin.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View htl's profile


5291 posts in 2071 days

#2 posted 02-09-2019 07:57 PM

I am a jig junky and I can never leave well enough alone and have to come up with something else, it’s more fun than modeling. LOL
It just hit me, I model so I can make jigs, sad but true!!!

I made this blog because some had asked for more info on wheel making.
I’ve blogged about this as I figured out what works for my feeble brain and the tools at hand on a day by day bases so not very organized for some one wanting to get a grip on it.
It never fails but I also changed it up with every model build coming up with some new idea for the jig.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View FrenchGoattoys's profile


107 posts in 661 days

#3 posted 02-09-2019 08:09 PM

Thanks for sharing, Htl. Us newbe model/toy builders need all the hints we can get.

-- KJ, Spokane, WA.: Don’t count the days; make the days count.

View Woodbridge's profile


3724 posts in 3329 days

#4 posted 02-09-2019 09:08 PM

I have not made many toys so far and the ones I did used purchased wheels. Thanks for sharing this information. I’ve often wondered how the wheels and tread are made.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4245 days

#5 posted 02-09-2019 09:26 PM

Very informative HTL, now I have an idea of how these wheels are made, so I will have an idea of what I’m getting into if I should ever make the kind of models they belong to.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View hunter71's profile


3537 posts in 4098 days

#6 posted 02-09-2019 09:34 PM

A bit more exact than my jig. I am glad you posted this as can’t count the times I have been asked to show someone how they are made. Your a damn good teacher.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View htl's profile


5291 posts in 2071 days

#7 posted 02-09-2019 09:50 PM

Thanks GUY”S as I was having miss givings about kinda going all over the place with it.
It’s so much easier to blog when you have step by step pictures you have taken as you build.
Just down load a picture say something, down load the next say something and so on.
Thanks all!!!

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View Redoak49's profile


4949 posts in 2900 days

#8 posted 02-09-2019 10:07 PM

Thank you for this valuable blog. I am going to search ebay for the indexing plate.

View htl's profile


5291 posts in 2071 days

#9 posted 02-09-2019 11:38 PM

Reaoak once you get the indexer figured out there are tons of things that can be made much easier and faster.
Like in my last jig blog, making the rims.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View Orvile Baker's profile

Orvile Baker

272 posts in 1589 days

#10 posted 02-09-2019 11:44 PM

That should make my wheels a lot easier. Thank you.

-- Bud Baker , Ojibwa, WI.

View crowie's profile


4047 posts in 2862 days

#11 posted 02-10-2019 12:33 AM

Another excellent tutorial by the master…..

Top Jig and beaut written notes Bruce, and thank you heaps for all the photos as they help lots…’

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View doubleDD's profile


9778 posts in 2954 days

#12 posted 02-10-2019 01:35 PM

Fascinating to watch someone who knows what they are doing. Some of the best wheels I’ve ever seen made.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4245 days

#13 posted 02-10-2019 07:16 PM

I forgot to ask. Are you using a thin kerf saw blade for the tread cuts?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View htl's profile


5291 posts in 2071 days

#14 posted 02-10-2019 08:22 PM

Yes I am stefang and I’ve been meaning to add that as I thought about it at 3am this morning and forgot to add. Thank you!!!

If any one can think of any thing I missed or not made clear please ask, some one here can surely help.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View htl's profile


5291 posts in 2071 days

#15 posted 02-10-2019 10:27 PM

Thank you for this valuable blog. I am going to search ebay for the indexing plate.

- Redoak49

When you find one, I had a fit figuring a way to center it or should I say find the center to mount it.
I found that one of my hole saw bits fit snug in the hole so was able to drill down a tad and then mount and add the 3 screws needed to hold it down.
May save you a small headache.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

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