Question: How do you make toy wooden wheels?

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Forum topic by Pezman posted 01-17-2010 11:03 PM 31167 views 4 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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17 posts in 3581 days

01-17-2010 11:03 PM

I’d like to make toy cars, trucks, and trains for my young son. I am however frustrated that I have to go to woodcraft to buy toy wheels with a 1/4” hole in them all the time. I’d prefer to just make them myself but I don’t know how.

Can you share how you make toy wheels? I don’t have a lathe and would need to rely on my drill press I assume.

I’d like to make wheels similar to those that I buy at woodcraft. They seem a touch fancy, is there a drill bit I can buy?

Here is an example of a toy I made that required woodcraft wheels.

Toy Truck And Car

15 replies so far

View JAGWAH's profile


929 posts in 3384 days

#1 posted 01-17-2010 11:20 PM

Consider the rossette cutter. These can be for your drill press. Drill your 1/4” hole and then use the rosett from both sides.

An economical solution is to take a 1 1/2” quality padle bit and grind the shape you want on the bit .

-- ~Just A Guy With A Hammer~

View Karson's profile


35162 posts in 4700 days

#2 posted 01-18-2010 12:48 AM

I made some from Walnut for a truck

that we made at the Toy Workshop.

I used a hole saw but didn’t cut al the way through. I then used a bandsaw to cut the wheels free from the board (Cut the back off the board). We then used a forstner bit to cut a little recess in the middle so the wheel didn’t look so flat.

The other wheels we bought.

Good luck,

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View thiel's profile


394 posts in 3592 days

#3 posted 01-18-2010 03:25 AM

I’ve seen people cut the rough shape with a hole saw or bandsaw.

Then, they use a simple jig with a stationery sander. Here’s how I’d describe the jig:

—a t-track mounted sled (small, say only a foot long) that will run in the track parallel to the face of the sander (usually a disk sander)
—a set of drilled holes which run perpendicular to the t-track/sander face. These would be spaced so that each hole would be a “common” distance away from the sander disc. Each of these common distances would be the common radii of wheels you need to make
—a pin long enough to go through your wheel blank and into the sled.

And here’s how it works:
—Place the pin through the wheel blank
—Insert the pin (with wheel blank attached) into the sled at the desired radius for the wheel you’re making
—Fire up the sander
—Work the sled back and forth, rotating the wheel blank as you like, to smooth the blank to a perfect radius.
—Since the distance from hub to sander never changes, there’s no chance that you’ll get a flat wheel.
—If you do this with a belt sander, the belt itself will turn the wheel blank so that it automatically eliminates the high spots.

I hope that helps!

-- --Thiel

View Gary's profile


1351 posts in 4624 days

#4 posted 01-18-2010 04:00 AM

Do you own a lathe?

-- Gary, Florida

View Pezman's profile


17 posts in 3581 days

#5 posted 01-18-2010 06:37 AM

On a recommendation in this thread, I drove to Home Depot and bought a 1 3/4” hole saw drill bit.

STEP 1: I put it in my drill press and punched out the holes from a 1×6”. The biggest problem is it leaves a really rough poor quality edge on the side of the board that is facing down since once it punches through it stops cutting and just starts spinning the wheel.

STEP 2: I then take out the bit, and disassemble it (it is an interchangeable size model) so I can get the wood out nicely without marking it

STEP 3: To remedy the poor quality rough edge, I then run both sides of the wheel across my router table with a 1/4” round edge bit spinning.

STEP 4: To sand them I take my belt sander, clamp it upside down to my table and turn it on. I then put 2 wheels at a time on a thin screwdriver and I use a drill depth clamp that is used for drill bits (assuming that is what they are called) on the screwdriver so it doesn’t fly off. I then run the wheels on the belt sander at a small angle so they don’t “just spin”.

It worked pretty well. I am pretty frustrated that they don’t “look” like the ones I buy at woodcraft, I guess I’ll have to buy a $100 drill bit to achieve that look.

@Gary: Sorry, I don’t own a lathe.

View MrsN's profile


987 posts in 3826 days

#6 posted 01-18-2010 06:00 PM

To smooth wheels that I have made I have used my drill press. Put the wheel on a threaded rod between a couple of nuts and put that in the drill turn it on and the wheel spins, then sand. This makes the wheels more round then I can manage with my belt sander.
Karson’s use of the fostner bit to make the wheels less flat is very useful, it can make the wheels look like they have hubcaps or something.

On another note – Some of the big box craft stores sell wheels for cheaper then Woodcraft. It might take some of the sting out of having to buy them to get the look you want.

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3500 days

#7 posted 01-18-2010 06:28 PM

Also, you might want to take a look at Micheal’s and Hobby Lobby. Both of those places have sold toy wheels in the past, ready for finish. If you are not in a rush, these guys carry all kinds of wheels.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View mikeberry's profile


59 posts in 3387 days

#8 posted 01-18-2010 06:31 PM

-- It's hard to plane a door when you have to use the crack of your ass for a vise

View TemplateTom's profile


93 posts in 3581 days

#9 posted 01-19-2010 05:33 AM

“STEP 3: To remedy the poor quality rough edge, I then run both sides of the wheel across my router table with a 1/4” round edge bit spinning.”

In the year 2005 when Teaching the blind many routing skills I sat down and prepared a method of making some wheels as I saw they were into that type of project when I was there as a volunteer and as I was now the teacher I had to produce a Safer method of making wheels. This is my answer to the problem keeping safety at the forefront.

(1) I made a simple square box (a) to hold the jig that the material was fixed to and (b) to hold the templates secure to control a number of routing processes required to complete the project with safety.

With a collection of template guides and a variety of cutters I was able to produce the wheels from start to finish with the router.

I hope the photographs will explain the various stages required.

Oops I forgot to submit the pics to Photobucket
I’ll be back
Template Tom

-- Getting more from my router with the aid of Template Guides Selection of Projects listed on You -Tube "Routing with Tom O'Donnell"

View TemplateTom's profile


93 posts in 3581 days

#10 posted 01-19-2010 05:55 AM

STEP 3: To remedy the poor quality rough edge, I then run both sides of the wheel across my router table with a 1/4” round edge bit spinning.

Box constructed I call it my Jig Holder

Routing the external shape and also adding the round over.

Rout the internal of the wheel

Rout the external edge of wheel

Sorry if I have not put them in the correct order as all this is fairly new to me.

I’m sure there could be a few questions I have not answered yet.
Template Tom

-- Getting more from my router with the aid of Template Guides Selection of Projects listed on You -Tube "Routing with Tom O'Donnell"

View Vicki's profile


1111 posts in 3644 days

#11 posted 01-19-2010 06:44 AM

Wal-mart sells inexpensive wheels too.

If you don’t have a disk sander and drum sander in your dp would work well too.

Here’s a link for the jig to round wheels:

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View Gene Howe's profile (online now)

Gene Howe

11326 posts in 3728 days

#12 posted 01-19-2010 01:21 PM

When I needed 2 3/4” wheels I cut a divot with the forstner (for looks) then cut them out with a 3” hole saw which gave me a disk about 1/16” oversized. Then used the method linked by Blondwood, above.

For sizes readily available, I just buy them. More efficient use of time and resources, IMO.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View wcndave's profile


6 posts in 3189 days

#13 posted 06-29-2010 10:33 AM

Any ideas on how to do this if you DO have a lathe.

i was thinking specifically about how you hold the wheel in place whilst still having access to the face of the wheel…

some kind of mandrel?

View essexe's profile


3 posts in 2991 days

#14 posted 09-29-2012 03:45 PM

I see that this is old thread but here are some bits for the drill press.

-- Edward ......... It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools .....Stupid scrollsaw never works right!

View bobsmyuncle's profile


110 posts in 2991 days

#15 posted 09-29-2012 04:44 PM

For $100 of tools and a lot of time per wheel, you can really afford a lot of wheels:

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