Shop jigs #8: Building a wheel indexer

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Blog entry by htl posted 11-21-2019 08:14 PM 484 reads 2 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Wheel Making Part 3 Making the rim hole. Part 8 of Shop jigs series no next part

Been thinking about building a new Low Boy Trailer and Semi so will be needing at least 22 tires and rims so thought I better make a better rim indexer, so here’s what I came up with.

I got on the net looking for a 10 point indexer to print out and just didn’t find one that fit the bill and then remembered one of Ducky’s posts about Matthias Wandel’s free Wooden gears program for making wooden gears

So went over there and played around till I got just the indexer I needed.
I ended up making both a 36 and 10 point indexers.
Here’s a shot of the page with the settings I used to take out all the gear making stuff and ended up with just the indexer I needed.
I tried to make the picture bigger but LJ’s wouldn’t let it happen.

The biggest thing is setting the gear 1 teeth to what ever amount of teeth you need and the turning off all the other thing not needed.
I then zoomed it out to the size needed and used Windows 10 snipping tool to copy and print the screen.
Matthel’s program can print it out but was to small, there’s probable a way around this but just used the snippet program instead.

I now had the two indexers printed out so off to the shop to play with them.

I don’t know why but I started out making the 36 point indexer, [even though I was needing the 10 point indexer] for my rims, but the info works for both???

1 I selected a nice flat 3/4 plywood for the base, want it wide enough to be able to clamp to sides of drill table.

2 lock down the fence so the plywood is center [center not critical but just like it better]

3 Drill a 1/4” hole where you will glue in a dowel to hold the indexer in place. [plywood is up against the fence and centered on the table.]

The dowel needs to be glued into the base and go through the indexer and be high enough to hold the wheel blank, so make it long you can cut it down later.

4 Now we make up the indexer.
Glue your printed out indexer on some plywood and drill out the center with a 1/4” brad bit. [use a brad bit so you can be as accurate as possible with all your drilling]

5 make an index pin now so you’ll know what size to drill all the index holes. [ It can be seen in later pictures]

6 Now putting the indexer over the dowel, slide the base over till you are in line with the first index mark. Clamp the base down when you have it set just right and it’s time to drill all the index points.
The indexer is now made.

7 Now to drill out for the index pin hole so we can lock the indexer at each point when needed.
I will hand drill one of the points close to me so it’s easy to find.
I also mark this point on the base to help find it while drilling. As you can see in the picture I also mark one point as top and will always us it to start and stop my drilling.

Now at this time I don’t need to go any farther with the 36 point indexer so will switch over to making a 5 point indexer for my mag rims.

Here’s what I really need to be working for.

The 5 spoke rim looks really nice on the cars and a six spoke rim with a bigger rim looks nice on the semi’s, for this how 2 we’ll make a 5 point rim jig.

So now back to jig making.
As you will see in the next picture we’re using a 5 point indexer, if I was really making one for tires a 10 point index would work much better as after I have the 5 spokes made I could go right back and drill out for lag bolts between and below the spokes, so keep this in mind for your jigs.
When making a index jig, drilling more index points than needed will take a little more time but can save tons of time down the road, that why the 36 point indexer was made but will not let me make 5 point rims but works great for 6 point rims I will need for the semi later on.
This 5 point jig is just for the how2.

OK back to work!!!

I’m using 1 1/2” store bought wheels in this how to but you will see some wood blanks used later on.
When I make my semi rims I will probable use 2” store bought wheels for my rims.
The 2” wheels have a larger center so works great for lug nuts.

8 Place a 1 1/2” wheel over the dowel on our 5 point indexer.
I will be using a 3/8 brad bit or fastener bit depending on how close to the edge of the tire the hole will be drilled.
Now we need to unclamp the base and slide it to where we want the drill to drill out for the spokes.
With the wheels I’m using I’ll drill it just past the wood ring on the tire rim.
Once you’ve figured out what looks good make an extra rim so next time you need to figure it out just place you extra rim on the dowel and you got it.

9 Once you’ve found the right spot clamp the base back down and your set to start drilling holes.
Put the index pin in the top spot and drill you first hole, drill almost all the way through the 3/4 indexer plywood because your going to put a 3/8 dowel in this first hole to hold the wheel in place as you drill the other holes as you work your way around.

You may be thinking those are pretty ugly looking holes but remember they will be drum sanded down to fit in the tires so all the ugly will be gone.

You could stop here and have one nice looking rim but lets go one step farther and add a little shaping to the hole we’ve drilled.
Since I used a 3/8 drill bit for the spoke holes and a router can be fitted with a 3/8” bearing you have what you need to shape out the spoke centers.

This is a job that needs hold downs and clamps so think it through and be safe or don’t do it.
This just shows it can be done but you have different tools to use so have to come up with the safest way to get it do.

Now I’m making some rims out of wood blanks.

Here’s our wheels all set up.

Remember that if I had made the 10 point jig I could now go back and moving the indexer closer to center could drill out all the lag nuts with out marking anything and would be done with it in minutes.

For me building jigs is just as much fun as building the models, and when you have a ton a wheels to make jigs gets it done fast fun and safely.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

10 comments so far

View crowie's profile


3330 posts in 2516 days

#1 posted 11-21-2019 08:48 PM

Thank you heaps Bruce for a first class tutorial by a master craftsman.

Thank you for sharing your “know how”, photos and notes to help so many others of us…

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

View htl's profile


4861 posts in 1725 days

#2 posted 11-21-2019 08:51 PM

Haven’t been able to get in the shop here lately but can still have some wood working fun adding to the blog.
Thanks Crowie!!!

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View Redoak49's profile (online now)


4286 posts in 2554 days

#3 posted 11-21-2019 10:13 PM

Thanks for showing how you made these. I have worked at making index wheels and gotten better but still not up to your level.

I cheated a bit and had my son 3d print index wheels with a variety of number of holes.

View oldrivers's profile


1893 posts in 2132 days

#4 posted 11-21-2019 10:55 PM

Good tutorial thanks for sharing.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View hookfoot's profile


325 posts in 2515 days

#5 posted 11-22-2019 12:51 AM

Wonderful tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

View htl's profile


4861 posts in 1725 days

#6 posted 11-22-2019 01:07 AM

Cool 3d printing can come at it from a different angle.
Love seeing the many different ways this project can be done.
As you all know I’ve shown a bunch a different ways to make rims and tires well it’s just me coming at it from a one at a time angle to trying to make it faster safer and better.
Wanting to get away from having to measure and mark every hole, to putting in a blank and drilling or cutting the parts, and I’m not saying I want to mass produce the whole thing just the parts where there are 10-20 parts like with wheels.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View bushmaster's profile


3735 posts in 2848 days

#7 posted 11-22-2019 02:01 PM

Your method are always very interesting. enjoyed seeing your jig and the most interesting wheels you produce,.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View stefang's profile


16875 posts in 3900 days

#8 posted 11-23-2019 01:00 PM

Great work and an excellent indexing jig.

In case you are not aware, there are several websites that can very easily generate indexing plates for printing so you won’t have to work with the gears. Here is just one of them.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View htl's profile


4861 posts in 1725 days

#9 posted 11-24-2019 12:27 AM

Thanks Mike! I knew there were others [I had seen them years ago] but they didn’t come up in my search for one for some reason.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View crowie's profile


3330 posts in 2516 days

#10 posted 11-25-2019 01:19 AM

Haven t been able to get in the shop here lately but can still have some wood working fun adding to the blog.
Thanks Crowie!!!

- htl

Not good to hear you’re out of the shed Bruce BUT thank you sir for continuing to share your knowledge and know how; very much appreciated thank you.

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

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