The SPOKE WHEEL challenge, HOW TO.

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Project by bushmaster posted 02-27-2019 06:12 PM 2067 views 3 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have been wanting to make another model of an old time car from the 30’s, and wanted to make some spoke wheels for it. I also wanted to come up with a method that would be very easy for anyone including myself to do. The scale of my models work around 2 inch diameter wheels. Small enough to make it more difficult. The first one I made had 12 spokes.

This used 1/8 inch dowels, the smallest that I think they make. The method was easy but wanted smaller dowels and more spokes. I thought of those tooth picks that are milled round, why wouldn’t that work. That led to the two bank 24 spoke wheel.

Much more interesting and you may notice the outer row slant towards the hub. These wheels where my first prototypes. Then I made 5 more and documented the process for a You Tube instruction video.They can be viewed at:
The first one was just a short introduction video as most people would not want to watch long boring instructions to finally see what they look like.

The complete process was split into two segments of about 20 minutes.
Part 1 Up to installation of spokes:
Part 2 Up to the completed wheel:

The process is very simple and a complete set of wheels can completed in less than a day. I will outline the process with a few pictures so you get the idea.

Bore a hole with a Forester bit, lathe project of course. Length of dowel is over twice the width of tire you are making

Next bore a small hole all the way through, glue in a dowel for the hub, center drill and then drill all the way thorough for an axel. More information on this in the video.

That was easy, next step is to accuately drill the holes for the spokes using a jig with an indexing plate. A number of you have built some great ones. I found the one that I made worked well and quickly. It was posted awhile back.
I had put two lines where I wanted the spokes.

Just a mater of drilling a tooth pick size hole right through to the hub. Going slow at a high drill speed to counter act defelection by the grain of the wood. To drill the outer bank I tipped the drilling jig. I used a block of wood under one end, or one can tip the drill press table. Before long you have all the holes drilled.

Then on to inserting the spokes.

Back to the lathe to profile the tire, sand and part off.

some lathe work will be need on the other side of course.

Before long doing each step on each of the parts one will have a complete set. Felt pen is fantastic for coloring the tire part.

Now I just have to put the wheels on a model. I have a picture of a 1933 Packard That I should select some wood for today and get started, but a sunny day here, cold and lots of snow. Skiing sounds like more fun,

Thanks for looking, comments always appreciated.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

24 comments so far

View DMiller's profile


539 posts in 1387 days

#1 posted 02-27-2019 06:18 PM

Very neat! It’s interesting to see how they are made!

-- Dale Miller Modesto, CA "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "Woodworking minus patience equals firewood."

View Dutchy's profile


3867 posts in 3083 days

#2 posted 02-27-2019 06:33 PM

Nice to see how others, in this case you, make spoke wheels. As htl always have said: There are a lot of ways how to do something and it depends on the tools you have. It’s also clear to me that I’m not the only one with drill bit deflection. Well done Brian and thanks for sharing.


View Ivan's profile


16395 posts in 3782 days

#3 posted 02-27-2019 06:41 PM

Tremendous amount of work! Great looking wheels. I think I will skip that if I will ever make some vehicles..hehehe

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View fivecodys's profile


1674 posts in 2551 days

#4 posted 02-27-2019 06:47 PM

Wow! That is amazing. They look great too.
Thanks for sharing your method with us.

-- A bad day woodworking is still better than a good day working.

View ralbuck's profile


6607 posts in 3181 days

#5 posted 02-27-2019 06:54 PM

Wow! That is amazing. They look great too.
Thanks for sharing your method with us.

- fivecodys

Just Brian being WHEELMASTER!

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

View bushmaster's profile


3980 posts in 3197 days

#6 posted 02-27-2019 07:01 PM

Nice to see how others, in this case you, make spoke wheels. As htl always have said: There are a lot of ways how to do something and it depends on the tools you have. It s also clear to me that I m not the only one with drill bit deflection. Well done Brian and thanks for sharing.

- Dutchy This first row of spokes I tried little jabs with the drill, the second row because the wheel was at a slat I started just tickling the surface with the bit so it would not slant off, then very slowly drilling, they pretty well came out perfect, the quick jab not as good. I watched yours when you drill completely through to the hub and removed the center latter. My theory was with a small drill there would be more of a chance of hitting the hub right on if the center was taken out first.. Drilling and inserting the dowel for the hub greatly speeds up the process.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4249 days

#7 posted 02-27-2019 07:03 PM

Nice work Brian. I like the double spoke wheels too, though I have never made any. They do make the model more authentic when they are appropriate.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View pottz's profile


12256 posts in 1899 days

#8 posted 02-27-2019 07:05 PM

thats some nice work on those wheels,i dont think id have the patience for it.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View htl's profile


5293 posts in 2074 days

#9 posted 02-27-2019 07:49 PM

Got to love this, everyone trying spoke wheels and adding their own spin to it.
I love your adding the drilled out center, then doweling it, this will mean I can have a thinner smoother center. Great!
Keeping the back part on helps keep everything lined up [spokes]for drilling, then for me a quick hit with the band saw will get the backer cut off and done.

There may be a hundred way to do this but love the 7 interesting ways I’ve seen it done so far.
Thanks Bushmaster for you great tips and tricks.

For me it was the different processes of building these spoke wheels that got my attention, love figuring out how things can be done, and doesn’t hurt if they just happen to make our models look better too. LOL

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View hunter71's profile


3537 posts in 4101 days

#10 posted 02-27-2019 08:03 PM

Great tutorial on spoke wheels. Your wheels are the best.
MY greatest challenge was the 72 spoke wheels I made for my Servi Car. I guess I never posted it with the spoke wheels. It was originally posted as with solid wheels. Doubt that LJ’s would allow me to post it again, even though the wheels took longer to do that the whole motorcycle.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View htl's profile


5293 posts in 2074 days

#11 posted 02-27-2019 08:22 PM

That’s one great trike!!!
Bushmaster just made a project page about spoke wheels,
hunter71 show us your 72 spoke wheels please!!!
There’s so much back in the early days of LJ’s that is there but is so hard to find now a days.

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View crowie's profile


4060 posts in 2865 days

#12 posted 02-27-2019 10:01 PM

Thank you Brian for the great tutorial and beaut videos sir.
BUT the snow skiing is all yours as we prepare for another week of mid to high 90’s deg”F”....

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

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


5954 posts in 1735 days

#13 posted 02-27-2019 11:24 PM

Very novel way of making the wheels bushie... love the way you keep the hub and rim together for accurate drill “allignment” and spoking before separation from the lathe spindle (have favourited it for later reference as it is a method worth considering).

Due to it’s size, deviation from your method may be impractical, however, one thing I would try is to separate the tyre from the rim. If for no other reason than being able to blacken the tyre without any leaching onto the rim… no one else might notice but it annoys the hell out of me on my models.

.... It s also clear to me that I m not the only one with drill bit deflection….
- Dutchy

I believve I have mentioned this before, however, I will make reference to it again here for those that may not be aware of it.

I use these hollow shaft mini chucks that permit you to choke up on the drill bit to minimise deflection.

The above is pictured with a 2mm cobolt bit.

For larger depths, the minimal tip will give a good starter and you may need to increase length to suit.

I use cobolt bits or, as Dutchy has suggested, TCT bits to assist in minimising bit deflection.

PS. I believe I bought my chuck from Lee Valley, however, I cannot find it on their site now.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

7685 posts in 4267 days

#14 posted 02-27-2019 11:42 PM

I never thought wheels could look so great and your tutorial is just as great! Nice work!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View kiefer's profile


5812 posts in 3581 days

#15 posted 02-28-2019 12:49 AM

All I can say excellent craftsmanship and tutorial Brian .
I am sure many of us appreciate this and can learn something exceptional .


-- Kiefer

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