Drill Powered Toy Wheel making Lathe

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Project by George_SA posted 05-12-2015 11:02 AM 7492 views 9 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m busy making an toy lorry as a gift for friends son who is turning 1 in August. Making the wheels has been somewhat of a problem. Unfortunately toy wheels can’t be purchased in South Africa like in the US. You either make them or do without them. I wanted to put my lathe to work, but that will involve it’s own problems as I don’t have any chucks for it and I would like to do some face turning on the wheel.

I asked some advice on the woodturning forum a few weeks back which gave me a few other ideas. In the end I decided to cut the blanks for the wheel with a hole saw and then finish them up in the “Drill Powered Toy Wheel making Lathe” which I cobbled together yesterday. It clamps to the bench and can be easily stowed afterwards. The drill is held tight with a wedge clamp in the back to facilitate ease of removal from the jig when it is not in use as I don’t want to dedicate the drill permanently to a jig that will be used on an infrequent basis.

EDIT 25 May 2015
Added two more photos. Also see the blog about making wheels for my Old Time Farm Truck.

-- Sometimes life gets in the way of one's woodworking :)

8 comments so far

View GerardoArg1's profile


1014 posts in 3005 days

#1 posted 05-12-2015 11:29 AM

Great idea George. Very useful jig. Look very simple. Thank for share.

-- Disfruta tu trabajo (enjoy your work) (Bandera, Argentina)

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 2188 days

#2 posted 05-12-2015 11:36 AM

Ingenuity solves all problems. Great solution.

Why can’t you buy toy wooden wheels in South Africa?

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View ChrisK's profile


2051 posts in 4093 days

#3 posted 05-12-2015 01:57 PM

Very good idea.

-- Chris K

View George_SA's profile


440 posts in 3225 days

#4 posted 05-12-2015 02:40 PM

I think that there is not enough demand for somebody to stock them and or make them. Importing wheels would make them much too expensive. I suppose that I can’t categorically say that wooden wheels are not sold in any part of SA, but in my neck of the woods (Northen KZN) there is none. The toy making woodworkers that I know of all make their own wheels. Sometimes I long for all the “nice” goodies sold in the US :)

-- Sometimes life gets in the way of one's woodworking :)

View Dutchy's profile


4007 posts in 3180 days

#5 posted 05-12-2015 05:15 PM

Nice to see your home made lathe. Now you can make your wheels. Success

When you like I can send you some wheels but you have to except a very long dilevery time. And therefor it is better to order them by T and J. for 50 2” wheels the shipping cost to SA are US $ 21,50.


View George_SA's profile


440 posts in 3225 days

#6 posted 05-12-2015 05:29 PM

Hi Dutchy
Thanks for the info, but at this stage I only need 4 wheels :) I will consider that option if I need some more wheels on a bigger scale though.

I would like some other advise though. What is the best way to affix the wheels to the dowel axles? Keep in mind that this lorry is destined for a small boy and thus it needs to be able to withstand some robust playing.

-- Sometimes life gets in the way of one's woodworking :)

View ralbuck's profile


6684 posts in 3278 days

#7 posted 05-12-2015 10:59 PM


I use the whole axel and let the wheels turn as a pair on my toys.g
Then you can use a good glue; or even an expanding shim in the axel end! If you want the wheels to turn independently, you can make a “hub cap” that is solid on the axel with the wheels center hoes just slightly oversize. I also cheat and use old candles to wax my places that need to move! Axel centers etc.

Hope this helped and we want to see the completed toys too!

We know you will not stop on one toy! Toy-making is fun! You get to play with them.

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

View bushmaster's profile


4122 posts in 3294 days

#8 posted 12-12-2017 07:24 PM

Great idea. I cheat and use my metal lathe for wheels allot of toy parts. Like those indexing discs, !/2 in hole in the center, roughly cut out on the bandsaw, 1/2 in bolt in the chuck, one cut, done, leave the cross slide at that position and cut as many more as you want.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

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