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Old 19-04-2013, 05:30 PM   #1
the apprentice
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Default How to make a wooden wheel hub from scratch

I have decided to share an age old skill with those who are into traditional crafts.

This stage will complement my other wheel building program, this time I will show you how to do the hub from scratch.

This wheel will be the staggered spoked version commonly found on most Amish wheelbarrows and other old horse drawn vehicles.



First sellect a spindle of ash, this is a 3 foot quadrant split by hand from an ash tree, done entirely by hand using wedges and sledge hammer while the timber is freshly cut, this timber free from knots splits very easily.

The spindle I am using here has been drying naturally for 18 months, cut the spindle into a length of 13", just for extra security and any checking that might occur at the ends.



Mark out the area of hub to be used, this case I'm making it 4" dia so I have plenty to spare for the final turning later which will be 80.00mm dia.







Now with a froe and an axe remove as much waste from the block so it balances and runs in the lathe without being to far out of balance it jumps about in the lathe, the Axe is a specialist carpenters axe by Gransfors of Sweden, made for doing this kind of job.



Turn the blocks down to the 4" dia and mark out the final size of 12" and stay to one side of the line when you true the ends flat, also leave a 1/2" lip at 2" on either side so you can nold the blocks in a smaller chuck, now bury them in their own shavings for 24 hours to prevent them from drying out too fast, there is always some moisture left in air dried timber left out under cover.

Next stage will be turning down the axle or knaff and marking out the mortice/spokes, I will also show you how th make your own wooden indexing jig so the holes are drill accurately, told ways are best

Last edited by the apprentice; 19-04-2013 at 05:33 PM.
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Old 19-04-2013, 06:07 PM   #2
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Wonderful stuff, if the shit hits the fan and it goes nuclear we might need skills like these again to survive.
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Old 19-04-2013, 06:32 PM   #3
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Wonderful stuff, if the shit hits the fan and it goes nuclear we might need skills like these again to survive.
Hopefully not nuclear, everything else we can handle. The nuclear route does'nt bear thinking about, but if there are survivors they can always go and fill the rats in, down their holes .

I will be doing a project on making some longbows in the near future, done it a few times in the past for the kids when they were younger and for myself at the local club, this is a job anyone can do with very little tools indeed.

We might need bows again if this happens.


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Old 20-04-2013, 02:27 PM   #4
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Default Hub mortice jig







To make a hub mortice jig, take a piece of 3/4" ply 165 x 140, cross it and drill a 5/16" hole in the centre, secure the wood in the lathe with a bolt with the head cut off and fasten it in the chuck nice and tight as pictured. Using a thin parting tool cut the centre of the timber out so you are left with a hole 80.50mm, be carefull when the tool is almost through so it doesnt break through, just before it cuts through stop and tap it out gently.







Cut the timber in half to obtain the two hub supports, Now thake a section of timber for the base, for this I used a scrap piece of decking timber I had lying around, size 15-1/2" long. the base needs three channels cuting in it to take the supports and another guide plate pictured, the channels are 15.00mm deep and routered in for accuracy, the two supports are 10-1/2" apart end to end and the guide plate sits 2-1/2" away from one of the supports.
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Old 20-04-2013, 02:58 PM   #5
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The guide plate is 140.00 x 125.00mm with a 45.00mm hole drilled on the centre line 40.00mm from the top edge, so it lines up with the top edge of the 80.00mm dia hub.



To finish off the jig, line the supports with some 120 grit sandpaper/this helps to grip the hub during cutting out the mortices and secrure all plates with a single screw underneath.

Total cost one pound, and two hours labour.

Last edited by the apprentice; 20-04-2013 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 20-04-2013, 03:28 PM   #6
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Default Marking out and cutting the mortices.







First drill the axle end holes 1/2" to a depth of 3", before starting to turn down the axle to 80.00mm dia, also leave an extra spigot on either side to hold things until the job is complete, these will be cut off by hand right at the end, you can also turn the timber around in between lathe centres a couple of times just to make sure you iron out any inaccuracies there might be during the final stages of turning.

Turn one side down to almost the required size and then the other, then true up the entire length using a straight edge, the axle must be perfectly level right across.

Now with the axle/knaff turned down to 80.00mm and trimmed to its width of 12", mark the centre line 6" and two outer lines to where the mortices will reach, in this instance the mortices are 1-5/6" long x 5/8", just the job for two equal 5/8" spur drill bit cutting passes, see spur toothed drill bit above, this is the only bit to use for this job, other standard bits won't cut the mustard on this paticular job.

And for greater accuracy make two additional line for the very point of the spur drill to line up with, there is no real need for the side lines on the mortice becuse the outer edges of the holes are themselves the line, but for peace of mind you can draw these in later using the rest of the lathe as a ruler.

Mark out all the mortices alternately from either side of the centre line, and drill all the holes, this done all that there is left to do is clean out the remaining timber to aquire square mortices, or buy a chisel morticer for a few hundred pounds/dollars and do this part in one pass.



Mark out the positions at regular intervals of 30.08 mm to aquire 8 even positions using deviders, and draw in the centre lines of the mortice using the edge of the lathe tool rest, carry these lines to one end of the axle to line up with the guide plate.





Mortices complete.

Next making the spokes and spoke jig.

Last edited by the apprentice; 20-04-2013 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 20-04-2013, 04:18 PM   #7
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Thanks so much for sharing the details of the process. For theatre purposes we usually just sandwich 2 pieces of plywood together to make the wheel spokes and hub in one piece; cut "spokes" with a jigsaw then round over the edges with a router bit. I've always found the results to be dissatisfying because the wheels don't really work very well. They are sturdy enough to last for a show that runs one weekend or two and then gets trashed, but for the ballet company our shows are in repertoire: we run the Nutcracker every year and for the last few years have been building a new set of shows that will rotate for the spring production. This year it's Giselle, which involves a farm wagon and the wheels are, again, less that satisfying. I talked the designer into using a more primitive type of wheel, the ones built of planks (but still done in plywood ). The "hub" is made by layering chunks of 2x4 on either side of the plywood. It keeps the wheel from racking on the axle, but I'm still not pleased with the results.

I'm really looking forward to getting the mess in my workshop kicked into shape. You're inspiring me !
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Old 20-04-2013, 09:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by apollo_gnomon View Post
Thanks so much for sharing the details of the process. For theatre purposes we usually just sandwich 2 pieces of plywood together to make the wheel spokes and hub in one piece; cut "spokes" with a jigsaw then round over the edges with a router bit. I've always found the results to be dissatisfying because the wheels don't really work very well. They are sturdy enough to last for a show that runs one weekend or two and then gets trashed, but for the ballet company our shows are in repertoire: we run the Nutcracker every year and for the last few years have been building a new set of shows that will rotate for the spring production. This year it's Giselle, which involves a farm wagon and the wheels are, again, less that satisfying. I talked the designer into using a more primitive type of wheel, the ones built of planks (but still done in plywood ). The "hub" is made by layering chunks of 2x4 on either side of the plywood. It keeps the wheel from racking on the axle, but I'm still not pleased with the results.

I'm really looking forward to getting the mess in my workshop kicked into shape. You're inspiring me !
Good for you AG, even if one person gleans something from my hobbies I'm a happy bunny indeed.
The techniques I'm showing here relate to all wooden wheels, th hub sizes vary, so does the degrees of spoke angles, but once you grasp the basics the world your oyster for all kinds of wheel.
There is a difference between the American wheel and the British light weight pattern, being the most ellegant in the British model.
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Old 21-04-2013, 07:08 AM   #9
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I was watching a show on TV a few weeks ago, about some guy in his 70's making wood wheels for the Model T. He is one of the few people left alive that still do this, granted I don't recall the year it was filmed but it was very artistic on how everything was done.

SG I may not know you but I have tons of respect for what you can do with your hands and believe you will be around long after the shtf
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Old 21-04-2013, 07:15 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by super glue View Post
G
There is a difference between the American wheel and the British light weight pattern, being the most ellegant in the British model.
Could you elaborate on this, please?
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Old 21-04-2013, 10:38 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by rbl_4nik8r View Post
I was watching a show on TV a few weeks ago, about some guy in his 70's making wood wheels for the Model T. He is one of the few people left alive that still do this, granted I don't recall the year it was filmed but it was very artistic on how everything was done.

SG I may not know you but I have tons of respect for what you can do with your hands and believe you will be around long after the shtf
My original woodturning mentor way back has made the same car wheels, I did the research for him how to find out how they pressed the spokes into an orange segmentated pattern, which is different to a cart wheel. I spotted a short clip of the Ford factory doing this very job.

They had a large Acme threaded rod in a bench and arranged the spokes in a circular pattern rising to a point around the thread and simply wound down a plate to push them down and together, very simple really. But impossible by hand.

Artistic is what it is, its all hand to eye coordination and feel, here is my local Mill and a guy I know doing some wheels for a wooden Velo.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/h...ed/4od#3459275

I hope to be around for at least another 20-25 years yet, so I could well see the destruction of life in general in that time, but not before I finish me barrow
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Old 21-04-2013, 12:16 PM   #12
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Could you elaborate on this, please?
The differences in carriage wheels in the Amish patterns generally have spokes in line with each other and where the early cars got their design from, held together with two metal flanges and cross over bolts, model T Ford etc.

The British carriage wheel design normally had staggered spokes and an area near the root of the spoke called the waiste, this helped take the shock stresses out of the wheel at higher speeds on the rougher roads, without the staggered spokes and the waiste the spokes could break/crack.

On the really heavy US wagons they had a cast metal cage around the middle of the hub to encapsulate the spokes which slid between the slots and then into the wooden hub below.

Many different wheel for different jobs and weights.
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